They’ve got a common goal, but they’ve been working independently for several years. And now the LCMS-related, but independent, North American Mission Endeavor (NAME) church-planting group and the Synod’s Office of National Mission (ONM) are hopeful that they can accomplish much more together than apart.
“Both entities agree that multiplication of congregations and ministries is the main issue, and that all need to speak positively about multiplication, building trust along the way,” explained NAME Secretary Rev. Dr. Paul Mueller, executive director of the Center for Applied Lutheran Leadership and director of the Mission Training Center at Concordia University Portland.
NAME members — which include LCMS entities involved in mission work, such as districts, the Center for U.S. Mission, Lutheran Hour Ministries, Lutheran Bible Translators and others — already have “a boatload” of church-planting “info and strategies and focus and methods and insights” to share with the ONM, said Mueller.
The ONM, too, has resources for the church at-large that include technical support, community-development assistance (through Gospel Seeds, The 72, Lutheran Housing Support and Lutheran Social Enterprise Support) and grants.
“NAME intends to collaborate with all willing partners to advance the cause of Christ in the North American mission field” and “believes that each plays a vital role in the body of Christ,” according to a statement from the organization’s executive committee to Reporter.
The Rev. Steven Schave, director of LCMS Urban & Inner City Mission and LCMS Church Planting, acknowledges that “we have common ground in that we both want to see new churches planted.”
And it’s a very good thing, he added, that NAME “wants to partner with us here at the International Center” because the two can work together to create an awareness of the need to plant churches and to identify locations in which to plant them.
Schave and the Rev. Todd Kollbaum, director of Rural & Small Town Mission with the ONM, attended the Feb. 25-26 meeting of some 50 NAME members at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Phoenix.
One agenda item at the NAME meeting was to discuss how NAME and the ONM can work together collaboratively in view of the LCMS restructuring — which began in late 2010 — while supporting church planting and multiplication efforts.
“Though each [LCMS] district develops its own mission ministries and vision based on its particular context and needs, NAME serves as a forum for the exchange of mission ideas and strategies,” according to a NAME news release. “In the past, ONM has also been a helpful resource and partner in that conversation.”
At the meeting, NAME members discussed the group’s role in helping to develop a strong mission and multiplication movement in the LCMS and how that vision and subsequent strategies might be shared with the church at-large. And they reiterated NAME’s mission statement: “To vigorously make disciples through a multiplication movement of new starts in the LCMS.”
Mueller said “it was good to hear that Synod is also supportive of these multiplication endeavors,” and he added that he is hopeful that what the ONM representatives heard, in turn, about the church-planting efforts of NAME will provide “greater clarity and collaboration in God’s mission as He uses His church.”
Schave shared the ONM’s view of planting “distinctly Lutheran” congregations with “easily identifiable” characteristics.
“The whole approach for us is based on Luther’s seven marks of the church” which include “an ordained clergyperson, the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the cross will be there, and the Word will be there,” he told Reporter.
The ONM, he added, wants to be “very intentional” about including those tenets in the training of church planters, and plans to develop a “framework” to make it easier for them to plan a new congregation, start it and charter it in conjunction with the Synod’s theme of “Witness, Mercy, Life Together.”
Mueller said “NAME is familiar with and agrees with Luther’s seven marks of the church,” but also “recognizes the Synod’s flexibility as it becomes more and more involved in God’s mission movement throughout the world. NAME is also keenly aware of that post-modern world in America — both in people groups, but also in how people understand and approach faith conversations today.
“In that light, LCMS approaches to faith conversations and faith’s confessional expression in the context in which multiplication efforts occur are valuable endeavors,” he added.
At the meeting, NAME members elected the organization’s executive committee. Besides Mueller, as secretary, the committee includes:
- Rev. Mark Gerken, chair;
- Rev. Doug Kallesen, treasurer; and
- at-large members Rev. Dr. Mark Larsen, Rev. Dr. Peter Meier, Rev. Dr. Johnson Rethinasamy and Rev. Dr. Brent Smith.
The next NAME meeting will be held in the fall.
Membership in NAME is open to mission organizations, missional leaders, mission instructors and others “who serve or lead in significant mission roles in the Synod.” The membership fee is $100 per year.
For more information, contact Mueller at email@example.com or 503-493-6550.
Posted May 21, 2015