I traveled to Sweden in early April to take part in two amazing gatherings. (I also wanted to escape the last snow of the season in St. Paul.) A snowstorm greeted me, naturally, as I got off the plane in Stockholm. Nevertheless, I looked forward to addressing a gathering of students at the Johannelund Theological Seminary in Uppsala.
The seminary, founded in 1862, is run by the Lutheran Swedish Evangelical Mission. This school began its existence as a training institute for inland and overseas missionaries. And although a number of students may end up working internationally in a variety of mission agencies, the majority of students have their eye to future ministry in Sweden. In fact, around 25 percent of the clergy in Sweden have graduated from Johannelund.
What did they want from me? They wanted to hear about the missional church movement. Luther Seminary is a recognized international voice of how the church can change its imagination, and programs and structure, around what God is doing in the world. (Or the "missio Dei" = the mission of God). The conversation about the missional church is changing congregations all across the world. They wanted to hear more about this conversation and how it might influence their Swedish churches.
The second meeting, called Capital, Faith and Business, also focused on mission. This time, however, it brought together business leaders from Sweden and Norway. They came together to discuss, in short, their vocations. These Christian business leaders are striving to live out their faith in daily life. Their complaint is that their pastors don't seem to be equipped with the theology and know-how to connect Christian discipleship with their daily lives.
What did they want from me? Luther Seminary is a recognized international voice for how Christian leaders might be equipped to lift up the powerful Reformation idea of the "priesthood of all believers." In other words, Luther Seminary is training leaders to live out their callings, or vocations, in the work place--and Luther's focus on this continues to grow. Two Lilly grants have allowed us to do more work in congregations around the area of vocation; alongside of this is the Centered Lifeی Initiative, which has always focused on faith and daily life. This work is a key to the renewal of the local congregation and the world.
The call to mission is at the core of Luther Seminary's mandate. This mandate is taking Luther Seminary into some fascinating arenas. And this mandate has become global. As our strategic plan confirms: "The biblical and confessional heritage we receive and confess leads us, under God, to participate in the mission of the triune God in and to the world." The conversation about mission is growing and thriving. The Spirit is moving all around the world.
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