Story Magazine - First Quarter, 2009

"...All things are becoming new"

by Richard H. Bliese, President, Luther Seminary

Richard H. Bliese, President, Luther Seminary

There is nothing more energizing for a congregation, a synod and, yes, for a whole denomination than giving life to a new congregation. Healthy churches give birth to churches. It's that simple. Life breeds life. "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (II Corinthians 5:17)

Luther Seminary sees this ministry of equipping leaders for new mission starts as part and parcel of our calling to "educate leaders for Christian communities." We have put together a strong infrastructure to form missional leaders who will be experienced, trained and energized to start new congregations as soon as they leave the seminary. In fact, some will be ready even before they leave our halls! Right now mission starts as internship sites are being identified around the country. Specific faculty have already been brought to the seminary to make sure we have the right resources in place to mentor mission developers for these budding ministries.

The Chinese have a proverb: "If you visit for a week you can write a book; stay a lifetime and you won't be able to finish a sentence." The same could be said for starting new congregations. There are no easy rules for starting healthy new congregations. One size doesn't fit all.You will read about various approaches to mission development in these pages from pastors Rob James, '06; Molly Juntunen, '06; and Justin Grimm, '05.We could also add other emerging churches around the country like Jacob's Well, which grew out of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis; Mercy Seat in Minneapolis (Kae Evensen, '95; and Mark Stenberg); the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver (Nadia Bolz-Weber); and Mount Olivet Lutheran Church West in Victoria, Minn. (Paul Youngdahl). These leaders, in small settings and large, are pointing the way to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

The world needs what we've been given. For God's mission to be accomplished, leaders must now be trained to form new communities of faith. May God grant us the grace to have the courage to form these new communities around the best story that's ever been told. In Christ, we are indeed a new creation!