Planting churches as Sacramental Minions doesn’t look like setting up a coffee house or starting a new business venture. Rev. Steve Schave, director of Urban and Inner-City Mission and coordinator of LCMS Church Planting with the Office of National Mission, recently described a thoroughly Sacramental approach that remains faithful to the Lord’s will and command. In describing the proven approach he took when planting a church in an area that he called, “a blank slate for Lutheranism.”
And so if we were to start a church, we asked, how would we know it was Lutheran? Well, why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth? Not only did we focus on Luther’s catechisms as our evangelist training materials, we also spent a great deal of time studying what Luther said about what it meant to be the church, for example:
Well then, setting aside various writings and analyses of the word “church,” we shall this time confine ourselves simply to the Children’s Creed, which says, “I believe in one holy Christian church, the communion of saints.” Here the creed clearly indicates what the church is, namely, a communion of saints, that is, a crowd assembly of people who are Christians and holy, which is called a Christian holy assembly, or church. Yet this word “church” is not German and does not convey the sense or meaning that should be taken from this article.
In Acts 19 [:39] the town clerk uses the word ecclesia for the congregation or the people who had gathered at the market place, saying, “It shall be settled in the regular assembly.” Further, “When he said this, he dismissed the assembly” [vs. 41]. In these and other passages the ecclesia or church is nothing but an assembly of people, though they probably were heathens and not Christians. It is the same term used by town councilmen for their assembly which they summon to the city hall. Now there are many peoples in the world; the Christians, however, are a people with a special call and are therefore called not just ecclesia, “church,” or “people,” but sancta catholica Christiana, that is, “a Christian holy people” who believe in Christ. That is why they are called a Christian people and have the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies them daily, not only through the forgiveness of sin acquired for them by Christ (as the Antinomians foolishly believe), but also through the abolition, the purging, and the mortification of sins, on the basis of which they are called a holy people. Thus the “holy Christian church” is synonymous with a Christian and holy people or, as one is also wont to express it, with “holy Christendom,” or “whole Christendom.” The Old Testament uses the term “God’s people.”
Rev. Schave concludes his article saying:
Wherever the Word is planted or sustained in a distinctly Lutheran confession of faith, these are seeds for reformation. And indeed there is no greater way to honor the legacy of the reformation than to continue it right here in our own Missouri Synod. We have an opportunity to honor Luther’s legacy by purifying the church’s confession and being steadfast in our mission. This can only happen through true reformational leadership which stands on the Word to bring concord among us. Make no mistake, the reformation was a difficult time in the Church which required sacrifice and suffering to bring forth the truth of the Gospel. But united in confession, the mission would once again have the foundation needed to stand the test of time. Long live the Reformation.
And we, at Sacramental Minions, could not agree more! Thank you, Pastor Schave.
Read the rest of Rev. Schave’s article on Planting a Reformation on the LCMS Leadership blog.