Describe your understanding of the Church and its mission, especially regarding outreach to the lost. As Lutherans we believe that the Church is the community of believers gathered around Jesus in the preaching of the Word and administration of the Sacraments. Our churches teach that one Christian Church will remain forever. We find unity in the doctrine of the Gospel and in the sacraments administered to us by Christ’s holy hand. The ministry of Word and Sacrament builds up the body of Christ for every good work. It is the Church that rubs shoulders with the world and moves about in the valley of the shadow of death. The Church bears the burdens of the whole and moves each other to speak of the hope they have in Christ Jesus.
A Lutheran pastor must be one that continues to study the Word of God and then continues to carry that Word to his people as he teaches and cares for them. It is an active and father-like role. He teaches them the Word of God in their place. He gives them the gifts of Christ to strengthen them in their vocation and relationships. It is the church’s work to know nothing but Christ and him crucified and to believe in the one who sent him.
But the Church lives with the lost. Her people work and trade with those that do not know Christ and him crucified. Thus the Word of God serves to build up these dear ones in their place. The Holy Scriptures are useful for teaching and correction, but are the foundation and identity of each person. Thus, the ministry of Word and Sacrament is how the Holy Spirit brings faith and strengthens the Church to do good works and speak of Christ to the world.
God’s mission is the Church’s mission. The Church is one flesh with her Lord and thus his work is her work. We cannot say that it is not the congregation’s duty to reach out to the lost in their neighborhoods and towns. It is exactly her mission to be a light on a hill. The Sunday School song, “This little Gospel Light of Mine,” is a perfect example of the congregation’s role. Hide the Gospel under a bush? Oh NO! Try to shhh it out? Oh NO! Of course, Jesus will make it shine, make it shine, make it shine. All the time, Christ Jesus shines forth for the world to see, to warm our cold and sinful flesh, energize us for service, and point the way to his loving arms… all the time.