I recently attended the Best Practices in Ministry conference at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, in Columbus, IN. One of the breakout sessions was led by Lou Jander, a retired teacher and church leader. He and his wife Martha have a ministry called Sow the Word. Their mission is to give a booklet of the entire Gospel of John to as many people as they can.
In their travels, they have given the Gospel of John to waiters, bus drivers, store clerks, gas station attendants, whomever they meet along their way.
Lou talked about the fact that he and his wife serve simply as sowers of the seed, as in the parable of the sower. When you look closely at that parable, Jander said, you see that the sower simply sowed the seed with the expectation that not all the seeds would “take.” Some would fall on rocky, thorny or dry soil and not take root. That was just part of the reality of “broadcast” farming in those days. But what seeds did take root would produce greatly, the parable says, “yielding thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:8).
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The term missio Dei has come up more often as of late in religious literature I am reading, so I have done a little research into it.
It is a Latin Christian theological term that literally means “the mission of God” or “the sending of God.”
It is a term first coined by German theologian Karl Hartenstein in 1934, but had a resurgence in the late 20th century with the rise of the missional church movement. Popular modern theologians Timothy Keller and Ed Stetzer have been instrumental in increasing its use and visibility in Christian circles.
At the heart of the missio Dei is the concept that mission is not just something the church itself does, but something that is the result of God’s initiative and his desire to restore and heal creation. The church serves as a tool in the larger purpose of God to reach all nations with the message of the Gospel and to bring glory to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In other words, the church is not the mission of God, the spreading of the Gospel to the world through the church is the ultimate mission.
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