Mission Driven

We believe that the mission of the Church is to preach the Gospel and to make disciples for Christ. We believe that making disciples — in our congregations, in our communities and nations, and around the world — must be a priority of the Church in the present age.


Matthew 28:16-20:  Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


Rationale for “Mission Driven”

Some historical background will illuminate the NALC’s priority for mission as disciple making. Carl Braaten, speaking at a Lutheran Core conference in 2010 shared his observation on Christian mission. “Lutheran churches,” said Braaten, “are sending fewer missionary evangelist than any time in the last two centuries.” He then goes on and explains a probable reason. “The mission of the church,” he said, “has been reduced to a concern for ameliorating the conditions under which people live in the global village.” In other words, Braaten was stating that Christian mission as actually making disciples for Jesus Christ was being less and less prioritized over against other concerns such as “ameliorating condition under which people live.” Braaten’s observations along with many others at the time undoubtedly aided the formation of the NALC’s second core value, Mission Driven.

Mission driven, therefore, simply means prioritizing Jesus’ own commission in Matthew 28 as our own mission over against any other purpose.  It means that as his church our primary aim is to make him known to all so that those who are lost in darkness may see his light and confess him as Lord and savior. It is not wrong or remotely unfaithful, however, to care for those who are in need, but if the priority is not the proclamation of the risen savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, our mission is reduced to a welfare program which utterly diminishes the unique role of the church and does a great disservice to those lost in the darkness of sin and death.  For as Braaten has also said, “If the church does not evangelize people who have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ, there is no one else in the world to do it.” 

“You can’t pick the fruit before planting the tree.”

The NALC has indeed prioritized global mission as proclamation of the risen Lord and Savior with the goal of making disciples. However, on a congregational level, more needs to be said about the relationship between the first and second values. 

Mission driven, is the second core value for a reason. For seeking to be Mission- Driven without first being Christ- Centered is like trying to pick fruit before planting the tree! Most congregations share the want of increasing numbers, but if the entire focus is simply filling pews to fill pews, we are “picking the fruit before planting the tree,” and failing to actually “plant the tree.” Therefore, we first “plant the tree,” that is occupy ourselves with being Christ- Centered through worship, prayer, and study before we can even imagine bearing fruit in mission efforts. Simply put, to make disciples we must be disciples, and to be a disciple requires an adherence to that first value, Christ- Centered.

What shall we be called?

Since we are to be disciples to make disciples it may be worth our energy considering the above question, what shall we call ourselves?  Take some time this month and ponder this following question. What would it look like if St. Luke’s used the term “disciples” rather than “members” to define our role in the congregation? Members is a biblical term when used appropriately. Indeed, we are as baptized children of God made members of the body of Christ, which is the church. However, my mentor explained to me the advantage of using the term, disciples. He said it like this, “members have their benefits, disciples have their responsibilities.” So, what do you think? Do you like the idea of being called disciples and bearing the responsibility of ministry together?

Christ Centered
Congregationally Focused
Traditionally Grounded