IWO Personnel Present in Pacific Northwest

I had the opportunity to be in Portland, OR for three days last week to present to the Missionaries Conference of the Pacific Northwest. As soon as I stepped off the plane I realized that things were different. Those who serve in ministry in the Pacific Northwest serve in a very different context from the one in which I serve in Middle Tennessee. The dress was different. The accents were different. First impressions told me that attitudes toward religion were also different.

God’s Mission

But we had gathered in Portland to consider something that does not change. No matter where we serve, God’s mission is the same. God has called us to faith through the power of his gospel message. We have been reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. That message of reconciliation has been entrusted to us. We are spokespersons for God. Our mission (God’s mission) is to proclaim Christ in our world. A part of that mission is to proclaim Christ to those who don’t know him. In grace, God offers us the privilege to be involved in his work. We play a part in the gathering of the elect of God. That is grace upon grace.

The Means

We discussed something else that does not change. God gathers his elect through the means of grace (gospel in word and sacrament). We proclaim Christ crucified and risen. We use the means that God has provided. It is all that we have. It is all that we need. It is a tremendous comfort to know that the work of conversion is God’s work and not mine. I am called to proclaim but the results are outside of my hands. I am a servant who humbly handles the glorious truths of God’s gospel. When serving as God’s spokesperson, we put all confidence in the power of the gospel. The word works. That, of course, does not mean that I don’t examine my own activity. That is a matter of stewardship. We seek to take the means entrusted to us to the world around us.

The Methods

The conference also discussed things that might change. The methods that we use in proclaiming the gospel might change. Your church and my church might do things differently. The contexts of our ministry are not the same. But it is important that we examine our context and plan our activity to proclaim the gospel to those in our community. A community canvass is a method. We are seeking to discover the unchurched so that we might gain an opportunity to share the gospel. In our ministry, our preschool is a method. We carefully plan ways to share the gospel with children and their parents. We use certain worship services (Christmas Eve and Easter) as opportunities to invite others. This is a method. As we plan our activity (methods), we do not display a lack of trust in the means of grace. We are simply seeking every opportunity to unleash God’s powerful means.

Chuck Westra and John Steinbrenner (IWO members) presented a workshop on methods and means in Portland, OR. If you are interested in having them present or offer workshops for your gathering, contact the Institute.

Rev. Charles Westra

Charles Westra serves as pastor of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Columbia, TN. In addition to his congregational duties, Pastor Westra serves as the chairman for the WELS Board for Home Missions.

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