Being Stewards of God's Mission (excerpts from Bishop's Synod Assembly Report)

Being Stewards of God’s Mission (excerpts from my Synod Assembly Report)

             Mission, mission, mission – I sometimes hear the rostered leaders and laity of our congregations observe that mission is the new buzz word in the church.  It very well may be, but it is also a word I hear congregational leaders using as they seek focus and direction as God’s people in Christ. 

The Allegheny Synod’s mission has been and continues to be “inspiring, encouraging, and supporting the church by walking with candidates for public ministry and caring for our rostered leaders; by inspiring and encouraging God’s People in and through their congregations; by listening to and communicating with God’s People effectively and faithfully; all the while being stewards of all of the resources God has given to us.

            The Synod Council has regularly sought your input regarding our life and work together.  Two years ago now we had the Synodical Relations Office of our Churchwide Partners guide us through a synod ministry review.  An area you and we identified in that review as needing assistance was helping each of our congregations re-conceive their mission.  In addition you said help us discover or re-discover excitement and commitment to mission and help us get excited about mission possibilities on the territory of our synod.

            Earlier this year when I asked our rostered leaders what the number one problem in our congregations was … three items surfaced – becoming and remaining mission centered, being better stewards of our time, talent, and treasure, and being resistant to spirituality which leaves us with a ‘thin’ spirituality upon which to build the church.

            That thought troubles me.  If disciples of Jesus in our mission centers have no depth of spiritual grounding, it is no wonder we are wallowing; and unclear as to our mission and how being stewards figures into our faith-lives.

            Says Jesus, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have command you.”  [Matthew 28:19-20a]  “It is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.”  [Luke 24:46-48]     Mission … mission … mission.

Dr. Craig Nessan, professor at Wartburg Seminary, says of it … “Congregations exist for the sake of mission. … and are uniquely situated … to serve as centers for mission that both minister to the needs of members and carry forth the gospel beyond themselves to their communities and world.”  Clearly our identity as people of the risen and ascended Jesus sharpens the focus of our mission … And, our mission is possible, because we are not in charge … God is! 

That is the good news; and as Dr. Larry Folkemer, recently deceased professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, was heard to say frequently, "God has things up his sleeves that we ain't seen the likes of yet!"  Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

                                                                                    +Bishop Pile