The North American Lutheran Church is a mission-driven, confessional Christian church striving to mobilize its lay and clergy members for the sole purpose of enhancing Christ’s mission in this world. The following provides a broader framework of our efforts and lays down the strategic direction of our mission. Every mission is targeted and tailored to the local and contextual reality of individual disciples and congregations. Therefore, each mission plant is required to develop its own prayer-based and Holy Spirit-driven strategic mission plan. Our hope is that the following information sheds light on the NALC’s collective missional mandate and what we are called and commissioned to do together.
Mission Planting Categories
A mission post is where a small group of people is interested in joining the NALC but is not in a position to have a worship location, pastoral leader and full mission plan. This is a way to acknowledge mission groups regardless of size and to honor their faithfulness by walking beside them to help focus their energy towards the possibility of mission. A mission post can easily grow into a house church or mission fellowship.
The NALC mission plan intends to reactively acknowledge currently existing mission posts and proactively start many more throughout the country. This model can be a great entry point into a potential mission field. It is also a mission approach that creates local ownership and grass-roots movement. This approach encourages and empowers the laity to develop courage for mission while sharpening their leadership skills to move mission and ministry forward.
A detailed plan that offers a step-by-step process for starting and nurturing mission posts in a specific targeted missional territory (TMT) is available from the NALC missions office (614-777-5709; [email protected]).
The house church mission model comes to us straight from the Book of Acts, where groups of people gather at someone’s house for prayer, Bible study and worship. A number of house church mission groups meet in people’s homes across the United States, and this mission model is used frequently in China, Africa and many parts of the Middle East. It is a very effective way of expanding the Christian faith without front-loading a mission plant with the burden of renting or owning a worship space.
House churches start with one’s own family and involve the whole household. There are numerous small groups that are starting to gather for worship and mission. These groups meet at a designated place to pray, study and worship. The intimate size of the meeting place can create a sense of urgency and intentionality to go out and look for a larger space. What usually happens as the group grows is that the original group that met at a home for worship remains with the mission congregation as a core group of the ministry, with leadership for the growing congregation typically emerging out of that core group.
The NALC missions office (614-777-5709; [email protected]) has a detailed plan on how to form, frame, guide and grow a house church. This ministry model is pursued in a reactive way to deal with the opportunities that are emerging nationwide and also to guide mission posts in a proactive way to enhance the mission opportunity that comes with their growth.
Mission fellowships in the NALC help larger groups to focus their energy and motivation towards mission and away from anger, bitterness and discouragement. The main mark of mission fellowships is that they are very mission-driven groups without full-time pastors but with tent-making ordained or lay ministers. In this model, groups don’t own their buildings; they intentionally use rented space in visible locations for the sake of reaching out to the unreached.
Mission fellowships form in one of the following ways:
- Members of congregations that were unsuccessful in their effort to depart from the ELCA—thus losing their buildings and their pastor—are left with this option of regrouping and starting their own mission fellowship.
- Mission posts and house churches that show good pace and signs of growth also develop into becoming mission fellowships. They move into a bigger worship and mission space, identify a key lay leader or leaders, and move on with a strong sense of ownership and leadership.
- Mission fellowships also are formed when current NALC congregations with a desire to start a second site use mission fellowship as a model. In this situation, the new group does not have a full-time minister but has a tent-making leader with strong lay support and mechanisms of oversight and support from the lead pastor of the home congregation.
- The NALC starts mission fellowships proactively where a mission opportunity presents itself in a very self-evident way.
A detailed plan to guide groups in the step-by-step process of forming mission fellowships is available from the NALC missions office (614-777-5709; [email protected]).