National Lutheran News

Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ carry missionary spirit even while building infrastructure to support congregations

Even as representatives of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
(LCMC) discuss building a sustainable infrastructure for the future, they are
quick to stay that they are a movement and not a denomination. “We have no
Divisions of This or Commissions of That,” explains, Bill Sullivan, LCMC
Service Coordinator. “As our mission statement says, we want to be free in
Christ, rooted in the Lutheran confessions, and accountable to each other so
that we can actively and effectively fulfill the Great Commission.”

More than 100 members of LCMC congregations recently met at Trinity
Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis under the theme “Our
Ministry in the Emerging Cultures.” Plenary sessions included mission-
oriented themes and practical discussions, such as medical plans and
insurance.

Clearly the association is in transition. Discussion is moving from the internal
focus of drawing congregations together and into an outward focus on
mission and evangelism, according to Eric Hulstrand, pastor at Trinity of
Minnehaha Falls. The “emerging cultures” emphasis was the rubric to
examine the message to society.

Still, pragmatic discussions were required. “We are committed to the
congregation as church,” Sullivan said, “and we want to reduce bureaucracy
because it gets in the way of the local congregation.”

As stewards, Sullivan said, it is essential to find the best means to support the
work of the congregations. To that end, there are discussions with other
Lutheran organizations, such as the Association of Free Lutheran
Congregations and the Association of American Lutheran Churches, about
exploring joint insurance and benefits plans.

Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ has a flat hierarchical structure.
Local congregations are the center of life for the association. Local
congregations hold all the power in calling a pastor and determining budget.

Such nimbleness appeals to people in this society, according to Sullivan.
Each LCMC congregation is represented at the annual convention of the
association, and each congregation votes on any constitutional changes. In
addition, congregations don’t form into geographical synods automatically,
but instead can choose to join districts, some of which are geographical and
some are topical. Districts have been formed around such topics as the
Evangelical Renewal (charismatic) and Cross Alone.

But nimbleness has its consequences and challenges do arise. Sometimes
having structures in place, such as for the theological training of clergy
leaders, would be helpful. Still, according to Sullivan, “we don’t dwell on the
past. God bless the ELCA and its mission; we are just doing a different thing.

“We could go down in flames, but we are seeing steady growth. We see
vitality. Our congregations are growing and our association is growing.”
But even if it wasn’t growing, Sullivan says, “We need to have the conviction
and courage to stand in the reformation spirit.” With that, the LCMC, with
Sullivan as its primary staff person, looks to be preparing for a long future of
maintaining the Lutheran confessions.