'It's Not About the Past'
One path to maintaining a positive identity is to proclaim the gospel to those who do not know it. For Lutheran CORE, that means recapturing an emphasis on global missions. One source told me that from a peak of 1,000 fully supported missionaries in the mid-1960s, mainline Lutheranism's global outreach has declined to about 150 fully supported missionaries, with only about 9 of those having "evangelist" in their job description. Expect the new Lutheran network to work hard to reignite commitment to global missions.
The Lutherans also hope to succeed at church planting where the ELCA has stumbled. The new Anglicans are decidedly more aggressive on the domestic front. The ACNA's Duncan has called church leaders to plant 1,000 new congregations over the next five years. With 700 congregations in the new body, Duncan believes they can surely plant 1,000 more. AMIA is similarly committed to growing new congregations. The September 2009 issue of CT featured an interview with Todd Hunter, who has been charged by AMIA leadership with supervising the planting of 200 new congregations on the West Coast alone.
This outward focus on global missions and domestic church planting signifies a healthy identity. It's just the thing to keep these groups from "a harried withdrawal into an ecclesiastical cupboard."
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David Neff also wrote "How the Early Church Read the Bible."
CT's coverage of recent changes in the Lutheran and Anglican bodies includes:
ELCA Assembly: Was God in Either Whirlwind? | Tornado touches convention center as Lutherans approve sexuality statement by the exact margin it needed to pass. (August 20, 2009)
The Heresy of 'Individualism'? | The 'individualism' we profess is not only not a heresy—it is at the heart of the gospel. By Richard J. Mouw (July 15, 2009)
Q & A: Robert Duncan The archbishop of the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) explains an alternative to the Episcopal Church. (July 30, 2009)
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