Mark G. Schroeder
The synod convention is taking place this summer (or took place, depending on when you are reading this) July 31–Aug. 3. Much time is spent at the convention looking back at the work that we have done as a synod during the past two years and at the blessings that God has granted to those efforts.
But a synod convention does not just look back. It also looks forward to the opportunities and challenges that we will meet in the coming years. Even though the details of the future are graciously hidden from our view, faithful stewardship demands that we look ahead as best we can to evaluate where we believe those challenges and opportunities are and to plan how best to meet them.
To accomplish that, the synod adopts a long-range plan. The new long-range plan has the same name as this year’s convention: “Our Great Heritage.” It looks out to the year 2025 (when, God-willing, our synod will celebrate its 175th anniversary) and describes how the synod will, under God, build for the future on the foundation of the heritage that God has preserved for us from the past.
The introduction to the “Our Great Heritage” long-range plan beautifully outlines the basis for the plan itself: “We exist to proclaim the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ. We affirm that only the gospel can create and sustain faith. Thus, spiritual results related to the growth of the Holy Christian Church in every nation, tribe, language, and people are completely in the hands of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the means of grace to accomplish the results that only he can work, and he has entrusted the means of grace to human beings as his messengers. We fear God, preaching and teaching the law. We give him glory, preaching and teaching the gospel. We do that as individuals and as congregations working together in a confessional Lutheran church body, that is, we carry out our gospel ministry together while standing squarely on all the truths of Scripture as expressed by the Lutheran Confessions. At all times and in all we do our focus is on the cross of Jesus.”
With that foundation, we make plans. In World Missions, we look to increase efforts to train national pastors and church leaders to serve their own people and to create mission networks that transcend national boundaries. In Home Missions, we will continue to strive to open at least ten new missions each year, to serve self-supporting immigrant groups in urban areas with pastors and leaders drawn from those groups themselves, and to work more closely with synodical subsidiaries and parasynodical organizations to support mission opportunities. Our ministerial education schools will work to reduce educational debt for future called workers, to increase the number of teachers specifically trained for urban settings, and to find ways to identify and train future principals and early childhood directors. The Congregation and Ministry Support Group will make use of an extensive study to help congregations as they are affected by declining birth rates, demographic changes, and an increasingly post-Christian culture. Around the world, we will actively seek to develop relationships with Lutheran church bodies that are ready to embrace and confess biblical truths.
This long-range plan represents a renewed commitment to remain faithful to the Word of God and to the mission our Savior has given us. With God’s promises in hand, we look forward to a future in which God continues to build his church and to bless the spread of his saving gospel.
Mark Schroeder is president of WELS.
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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 104, Number 8
Issue: August 2017
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