As you know, “Synod” means walking together. Literally it is to be on the same road. When we in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod hear that word, our inner GPS dials up St. Louis and the International Center. That needs recalibration.
It is important to remember that Synod starts here, in your community, in your circuit. The journey of walking together in faith and faithfulness as followers of Jesus begins locally.
And now more than ever.
Throughout our District we have many small congregations, and we have congregations that cannot afford a full-time pastor. These congregations are small, but that does not necessarily mean dying.
At the same time, we have congregations with great capacity for ministry. They have a large worshipping community. God has blessed them with large staffs, robust programs, and large facilities.
And in between are plenty of mid-sized congregations. They are “holding their own” in an increasingly non-Christian environment. They work to expand their touch into their various communities.
We also see fewer pastors available for ministry. For many years now the graduating classes from the Seminary have gotten smaller. The average age of pastors has risen; the baby boomers are retiring.
Of course, in the midst of this, many, many around us languish in unbelief: our neighbors don’t know Jesus; people are living lives of distraction, distortion, and drug-induced dullness. Mission opportunity is at our every doorstep.
Now more than ever, we need to be Synod locally. Our congregations and pastors must band together not only to maintain ministry, but to increase faith and faithfulness, to expand Gospel outreach. We can work together with the confidence that Jesus will build His Kingdom and neither the gates of hell, a hostile culture, an aging congregation, nor a limited pool of pastors will prevail against it.
Here are three ways you can be Synod locally:
- Work with other congregations around you to share resources, properties, and workers. Smaller and medium-sized and very large congregations can strategically unite in ministry. A key to this is not to worry about “what is ours.”
- Embrace rather than criticize the differences between congregations. Set suspicion and competition aside. We are in this together. Let’s leverage the distinctions between us for outreach around us.
- See your Circuit as the seedbed of the Synod. Use your Winkel meetings and Circuit Convocations as mission strategy centers. You do not need to wait for a Synod program to get started.
The Kingdom of God is never in retreat. Jesus taught, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how” (Mark 4:26–27 NIV).
Let us walk together here and now. Let us be really Synod—on the same road. Let us prayerfully, joyfully, and humbly work in the Spirit for a season of church planting and revamping. Synod starts here. Now. You and me.