“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
VOCATION. All who are baptized are called into the ministry of the Gospel but not all are called to do the same thing within our collective effort.
We start with the call to serve in Christ’s name as baptized ministers. Baptism is replete with the promise of forgiveness and new life on “earth as it is in heaven” with God and an invitation to living vocationally:
“Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father!” (Mt 5)
The community of Jesus followers is worldwide and diverse. First Lutheran Church is one of several local expressions of Christ’s global church in Lodi, WI. The Church is in the world actively serving the greater good through its members in their respective vocations and collectively as communities committed to God’s realm of justice and shalom.
All the time, consistently? Of course not. Churches are, at their base, communities of people of varying levels of motivation and commitment to Jesus and God’s mission to heal the world. Not all who self-identify as Christians or church members are yet aware that this means being Christ’s servant-disciples who love others as Christ sacrificially loved them. However, the call from Christ to love God and our neighbor and to make disciples still is core to our Christian identity in the world.
Our Christian vocation is living out this calling of Christ in the realms we dwell, work, and recreate but in a variety of ways (Romans 12, 1 Cor 12, Ephesians 4). Meaning, not all ministers of the Gospel are ordained clergy. Some are farmers, stay-at-home dads, teachers, social workers, philosophers, scientists, assembly line workers, students, artists, and others. However, all are called!
Being missionally and theologically conversant is a core value and expectation of all First Lutheran Church’s servant-leaders. This takes time, much time and practice, and intentional redundancy. However, the sustained effort over time is sharpening our theological imagination and sensitivity to seeing God already active locally, while deepening our compassion and the courage to join God beyond familiar comforts and attachments.
Equally important and related is the formation of our souls in the likeness of Christ. Who we are and what we do is situated locally in community with one another and an outflow of our life together with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The challenge is simply to do such life together that brings glory to God, serves our neighbor and forms community that is healing and blessing the world (the locus of God’s redemptive mission). Spiritual practice, guidance, ritual, community, reconciliation, proclamation, compassion, worship, and listening are all means through which we cooperate with the Holy Spirit toward becoming more fully the embodied love and presence of Christ for others. And, all of this is possible by the grace of God.
Missio-theological fluency and spiritual praxis and formation in Christlikeness don’t just happen by chance, easily or neatly. First Lutheran members, staff and leaders are on a spectrum of ecclesial and spiritual commitment, formation and vision – from the novice to the nostalgic. Becaue of that, we pray a lot and are actively attempting to establish a more sustainable ministry rhythm. We do that by getting away with God and away from church work in the form of retreat, intentional silence, Sabbatical, getting outdoors, gardening, reading novels, learning and humor to avoid the all too familiar companions of congregational leadership: burnout and bitterness. Forward!
EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING. It’s so important to remember who we are and how vital our emotional health is to the congregation’s missional capacity. So many wonderful ideas, visions, best intentions, ministry efforts are eaten for breakfast by the congregation’s emotional climate. Members cannot take this issue for granted or wish it away. First Lutheran is increasingly committed to facing it head on.
Four-Part Lecture Series by the Rev. Peter Steinke.
PRACTICAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP.
- Church Next: Building Healthy Congregations. Interviews of leader-practitioners covering a wide-spectrum of ideas, theological slants and traditions.
- Faith & Leadership: Where Christian Leaders Reflect, Connect and Learn, Duke Divinity School.
- Keeping the Sabbath…Wholly, Marva Dawn. (iTunes U.)
- The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard. (iTunes U.)
- Dialogical Attunement Resource Page.
THEOLOGY: Missional and Practical.
- For the conversation about and between religion and science, check out our “Big Questions” page.
- Lutheran Theology: An Online Journal.
- Word and World (Luther Seminary theological journal concerned with the practice of ministry “in and with” the world.
- The Other Journal.
- First Third: Dedicated to cultivating faith in the first third of life.
- Institute for Youth Ministry (Princeton Theological Seminary).
- Journal of Childhood and Religion.
- Missional Journal. David Dunbar, Biblical Seminary.
- Reggie McNeal, Missional Church. For a more humorous delivery of missional thinking, Reggie is a respectable place to start.
- Crossways Bible Course.
- Enter the Bible (Luther Seminary).
- Introducing the New Testament, Mark Allan Powell.
- Manna and Mercy, Daniel Erlander. A wonderful narrative-theological overview of the scriptures in sixteen chapters plus 46 supporting video clips.
- Holy Moly: Sparkhouse. Fun, beautiful, and even contemplative curriculum for experiencing the Biblical narrative with kids. Adults love it, too!