From 2004 to 2017, 122 new LCMS churches were started in the Texas District. We praise God for this blessing and the thousands of people who are now hearing the Good News of Jesus through these congregations.
But now, it’s 2018. What’s next?
Around the world, the Lutheran Church is reaching millions of new people with the Good News of Jesus. In the majority world—the Global South—the message of grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is transforming people’s lives for eternity. Much of this outreach is happening through active church planting and the intentional deployment of lay-evangelists. What if we joined this movement?
The LCMS has sounded the call to step forward. The 2013 LCMS task force to study Licensed Lay Deacons recommended that, “A major emphasis in lay training programs be placed on the role of evangelist and the task of outreach…” A 2016 LCMS convention resolution (13-01A) stated: “Resolved, That congregations and districts be encouraged to facilitate lay training…for lay people to make use of their gifts in evangelism…”
In Texas, a grass roots movement of lay servants has commanded our attention. So much so, that a new training course has been developed to help support and deploy evangelists in their contexts. “Evangelism 101” has been piloted in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and will be expanding to the whole Texas District. More courses are slated for development to train and certify evangelists around the district.
At the 2018 Texas District Convention, delegate voted to “strongly encourage churches and church members in the Texas District to pray diligently that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into His harvest” and “to utilize a portion of its mission budget to provide training for ordained, commissioned and lay servant-leaders to engage in outreach for the sake of the Gospel” (Resolution 01-03-18A). The district in convention also resolved to encourage the development and funding of new ministries in the Texas District (Resolution 01-05-18A).
What if we these actions show that we aren’t stopping our celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation; we’re just getting started by paying homage to it!
In 2031 the Texas District will celebrate its 125th birthday. That’s just 13 years away.
Can you imagine raising up 500 new servant-leaders and reaching 500 new communities by 2031—not just geographic communities, but people groups, cultures, new generations AND new places?
Can you imagine not only growing our strong commitment to church planting, but also leaning into developing new communities through local churches to reach new people with the Good News of Jesus? Can you imagine an army of trained evangelists sent to start new outreach efforts?
This will take fervent prayer and the ministry commitment of church planters, evangelists, pastors, congregational leaders, members of churches, all church workers and people from the community. But it is Jesus who sends us. He pleaded and declared in Luke chapter 10: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (vss. 2–3).
Will we, by God’s grace, set our sights on a Gospel movement in Texas? Let’s begin by making the commitment to raise up 500 new servant-leaders and reach 500 new communities by 2031, the 125th anniversary of the Texas District. May God grant us the privilege of seeing this great mission and vision become reality!
By Rev. Michael W. Newman
President Elect and Mission & Ministry Facilitator, Area C