Story Magazine - Winter, 2012
God is calling us to focus like lasers on God's mission. How instructive, then, that the New Year always begins with the season of mission, Epiphany. However else we celebrate the New Year, and however else we imagine the church's business plan shaping up in the coming months, God's mission must be its driver, its heart and its unique starting point.
The 2011 Celebration of Biblical Preaching, a conference consisting of plenary presentations, inspiring worship services, informative workshops and great fellowship, was held at Luther Seminary from Oct. 3-5. Nearly 300 pastors, ministers, priests and Luther students and faculty participated in this annual lifelong learning opportunity designed to strengthen and inspire preachers for gospel proclamation to the whole church. This year's theme centered around Preaching on the Edge.
"When we first started work with this project, I was excited," said Charles "Chick" Lane, director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary. "When I followed up with congregations a few months into the project, I was almost speechless. The creativity that is being turned loose by this project is inspiring."
The fire is warm. The lattes are freshly brewed. Chatter about theology and church mission is overheard, and a fresh energy fills the air. The Charles and Sharon Olson Commons and Cafच is more than a traditional coffee shop.
In the late 1980s, the Rev. David Howell hit a preaching wall.
Just a few years into full-time parish ministry, the Presbyterian Church (USA) pastor was running out of creative ideas for the pulpit.
"I went back to a seminary professor and asked him if there was a good preaching journal I could subscribe to," Howell said. "He said there wasn't one."
And so the journey began.
While driving one day, Meta Herrick Carlson, a 2008 Luther Seminary graduate who is currently a pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, saw a homeless man holding a sign at the exit of the freeway. It gave her an idea. What if, instead of seeing someone holding a cardboard sign that represented scarcity, Lutherans took to the streets with cardboard signs expressing abundance?
For countless students, a call to ministry isn't the only factor in the choice to attend seminary.
The Center for Stewardship Leaders is working to educate such students and improve their overall financial health. Through all that, the Center hopes to also influence students' future stewardship ministry in the congregations they go on to serve.