Home > Mission and Outreach > Know doctrine, know mission. No doctrine? No mission!

Know doctrine, know mission. No doctrine? No mission!

June 27th, 2008
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Sadly, we still continue to hear, from time to time, comments and statements that would tend to create an unfortunate separation between doctrine and mission, between faithfulness and outreach, and between doctrine and practice. How can we help one another better understand and more fully comprehend these simple realities?

No doctrine? No mission. Know doctrine, know mission. lf you aren’t doctrinal, you aren’t missional and if you aren’t missional, you aren’t doctrinal.

This is precisely why our Lutheran Confessions often repeat the necessary and essential two-fold assertion: “We believe, teach and confess,” and, “we reject and condemn.” Some would have us only be about the first task, not the second. Others would have us spend most of our time on the second part of that phrase, not the first. It is both! It is always a blessed both/and, and never an either/or.

It is no coincidence, at all, that in nearly every single instance in the last twenty years or more where The LCMS has entered into church fellowship with an overseas church body, it has come as a result of intensive doctrinal teaching and outreach. This holds true in Asia, Africa, the Baltics, Russia, etc. In most cases, new mission fields have been opened, and partnerships formed with existing churches as a result of a very vibrant and hearty confessional Lutheran teaching activity in these countries.

Let’s have an end to the “Yes, but…” kind of rhetoric on either side of these kinds of comments. Here’s what one of our pastors had to say in response to those who were lamenting an emphasis on doctrine.

“It is true, brethren, as you well know, that in our day it is
common for people to say, “Emphasizing doctrine so much only harms and
hinders the kingdom of God, yes, even destroys it.” Many say, “Instead
of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned
with souls and with leading them to Christ.” But all who speak in this
way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing. As
foolish as it would be to scold a farmer for being concerned about
sowing good seed and to demand of him simply to be concerned about a
good harvest, so foolish it is to scold those who are concerned first
and foremost with the doctrine, and to demand of them that they should
rather seek to rescue souls. For just as the farmer who wants a good
crop must first of all be concerned about good seed, so the church must
above all be concerned about right doctrine if it would save souls.”

(C. F. W. Walther, “Our Common Task: The Saving of Souls” [1872], Essays for the Church [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992], Vol. I)

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Categories: Mission and Outreach
  1. June 27th, 2008 at 10:11 | #1

    Much the same thoughts that I have had for a while, but much better articulated. Thanks!

  2. pastor george spicer
    June 27th, 2008 at 11:02 | #2

    I am reminded of Pres. Barry’s exhortation to the people of the LCMS – “Keep the message straight, Missouri. Get the message out, Missouri.” I really miss Dr. Barry.

  3. Pr. D. Bestul
    June 27th, 2008 at 19:48 | #3

    Your excellent comments, Paul, may have something to say to some of the unfortunate quotations from the most recent “Pastoral Education” newsletter which is a supplement to the Reporter. The issue is promoting the new SMP program.
    “We can’t assume we will have the luxury of training workers [pastors] first when people are dying without the Lord Jesus.”
    [[McCain: The Lord Christ knew precisely what he was doing when he carefully handpicked and trained 12 men for three years, and when he led St. Paul into the wilderness for his 1-1 training program, for two years, and when St. Paul carefully nurtured and cultivated pastors in the cities he visited, for several years at a time. This kind of talk is emotionalistic and lacking in proper awareness of the need for well educated pastoral theologians. People are dying every single day, and I do not see med schools rushing men out undertrained.]]

  4. David
    June 28th, 2008 at 04:45 | #4

    Thanks for keeping things where the focus needs to be. It it was, is and always will be about right doctrine and mission. We have been commissioned by Jesus to make disciples of all nations with Word and Sacrament. We need to train clergy and laity alike to declare the word of God with boldness and clarity. We exist to spread the kingdom of God.

  5. Steve Newell
    June 29th, 2008 at 06:37 | #5

    The Church is not called to reinvent the Gospel but the remain faithful to the Gospel. We can only accomplish this by remaining true to what Holy Scripture says.
    When we place a higher importance to the “mission” of the Church than to the “message” of the Church, the message will get lost. Another thing we hear today is “deeds not creeds” which is just a spin on mission over message. When we focus only on the mission, we tend to replace the true message of the Gospel with what we think people need and what to hear. We then comprise both the message and the mission.

  6. Pr. L. Bradt
    July 1st, 2008 at 08:14 | #6

    Even Saddleback Church has realized the reality of your statement,”No doctrine? No mission. Know doctrine, know mission.”

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