Sunday, July 10, 2011

Historical "Church Mission Statement"

Yesterday a man showed up in our driveway who was interested in seeing the church. He told us that his father was the pastor here before WWII, and that his older siblings were born in the parsonage. There is a lot of history here, and I find it fascinating. Here is another bit of history that I find very relevant to the discussions about "Church Mission Statements". The church has recently printed this in its bulletin, regarding handbills that were posted to advertise the church services during the Depression years:

English Services-First, Third, and Fifth Sundays

German Services-Second and Fourth Sundays

English Bible Classes-Sunday 9:00

This seems quaint and far away from us today-but one part of the handbill is as relevant to us today as it was when it was published, probably about 1930. It says:

The Lutheran Church

*Recognizes the preaching of the Word as its only business

*It proclaims to man, without fear or favor, the whole counsel of God

*It avoids sensationalism and practices plain Gospel preaching

*Its service does not aim to entertain but to lift up the heart to God

*It leads you to know your sins and your Savior from sin, Jesus Christ

The parts that really got my attention were the statements about avoiding sensationalism and entertainment, since that is such big part of many American churches today. There really isn't anything new under the sun, and the church's mission will never change, no matter how much "new-fangled" technology is available. Technology is a gift from God, but the church must not let the technology lead it away from the ministry of Word and Sacrament.

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