For years, Christians of all traditions have sent missionaries overseas to bring the gospel to people who have never heard it. Now, the world is coming to us. What is more, many of the immigrants coming into our cities and towns are from countries that are closed to Christian missions. We have an unprecedented opportunity to show people the love of Christ and share the gospel with them. How do we begin?
Under the leadership of its pastor, Roland Wells, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis has pioneered the work of reaching across cultures in its neighborhood, where over 100 different languages are spoken. Students from ILT’s Doctor of Ministry program recently spent five days with Pastor Wells to learn how congregations can break out of their comfort zones to serve immigrants effectively and create relationships in which people may be open to hearing the gospel. Pastor Wells provided a model that was theologically sound, culturally respectful, and practical. It turns out that rightly distinguishing law and gospel is precisely what enables us to meet people’s needs without losing the word of the gospel, which alone is God’s power for salvation for all who believe!
The participants stayed in the neighborhood to experience what is is like and spent the mornings learning from Pastor Wells. In the afternoons, they visited various ministries to see first-hand how people were serving the neighborhood. In between and in the evenings, there was ample opportunity for deep reflection on how their learnings could be applied in their own congregations.
ILT’s Doctor of Ministry program focuses on reaching the unreached, specifically from a Lutheran theological perspective. Students take five online classes in social analysis, apologetics, evangelism, catechesis and research methods, leading up to a final project.
This year’s experience in Minneapolis was one of two required one-week “Missionary Journeys” to places were exemplary outreach is happening. ILT’s extraordinarily affordable and accessible Doctor of Ministry program places powerful tools in the hands of mission-minded pastors who want to lead their people in reaching out to those who are hungry for the Bread of Life.