Askins in Asia: Lutheran Missions Plant Lutheran Congregations

Askins in Asia: February Newsletter

The latest Askins in Asia newsletter is now available. As always, pastors and secretaries, please print and post the newsletter in your narthex. Please also share the newsletter wide and far. The key articles in this issue are: 

  • Lutheran Missions Plant Lutheran Churches 
  • Sensing our Surroundings 

For the next few months, I'll be writing short bits on the six mission priorities of LCMS Missions. These priorities are that the LCMS seeks to: 

1. Plant, sustain and revitalize distinctly Lutheran churches.
2. Support and expand theological education.
3. Perform human care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministry.
4. Collaborate with the Synod’s members and partners to enhance mission effectiveness.
5. Nurture pastors, missionaries and professional church workers to promote spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.
6. Enhance early childhood, elementary and secondary education and youth ministry.

Now, to the links: 

Thank you for reading and sharing. And, in case you're not up to downloading the newsletter, I've included the feature article below. Enjoy.

In Christ,

the Askins

Lutheran Missions Plant Lutheran Churches

As LCMS missionaries, we have six mission priorities that direct our work. Here is the first mission priority: 

1. Plant, sustain and revitalize distinctly Lutheran churches.

For a deeper study of this topic, I recommend the Journal of Lutheran Mission, April 2015 issue, an article by Friedrich Wilhelm Hopf titled, “The Lutheran Church Plants Lutheran Missions.” 

We aren’t simply being exclusionary; by no means. If Lutherans are simply one variety of Christian among many, one particular church among many other particular churches, we should not seek to plant distinctively Lutheran congregations. Rather, we should seek to establish whatever church fits each context. 

But if the Lutheran Church is part of the one, holy, universal, Christian church, then she must hold to that confession. The Lutheran church is recognized by all the marks of the universal church—the pure Word of God and Sacraments, rightly administered. Where mission work violates these, the Lutheran church sees false marks that obscure the work of Christ. 

And, wherever a church bears these marks, it belongs to the universal church, regardless of the name on the sign. Our Lutheran insistence on pure Word and Sacrament is not a “Lutheran” thing, but a church universal thing.

When to Be a Lutheran, and When Not To Be . . . 

As many know, Luther did not want the church named after him. “In the first place, I ask that men make no reference to my name; let them call themselves Christians, not Lutherans” (AE 45:70). 

And yet, as is often the case with Luther, in another place boldly states that if we reject Luther’s teaching, we reject the Gospel. He writes, “Whether Luther is a rascal or a saint I do not care; his teaching is not his, but Christ’s” (AE 36:265–66). He points to Christ’s teaching in Matthew 10 that whoever rejects what the disciples teaching rejects Jesus and the Father. 

As Lutherans, we are not proud in Luther, but rather in the God who restored the Gospel to the Church through him. The moment a church bearing the name Lutheran deviates from this, we must separate ourselves from it. It has deviated not simply from Luther’s teaching, but from Christ’s teaching to the peril of those who listen. 
So, as the LCMS goes out in mission, we do so as Lutherans. We plant Lutheran congregations, not to perpetuate Luther, but his teaching which was and is not his, but Christ’s.