People have to fuss and fume about something, don’t they? I have my days where that is true for me too so I’m not pointing fingers. After all, if you read my blog you know that I have been fussing and fuming myself over things that I cannot control. I can’t control what people think about the Ablaze Initiative in any way shape or form. And just because they choose to fuss and fume, does not mean I need to follow suit and be discouraged. Do you know what I mean?
My family and friends are heartfelt and dedicated to mission work in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Most days we plug along and do well, and some days we make the mistake of listening to the nay sayers who accuse this Initiative by LCMS as “UnGodly” and “Bad Theology.” They are arguing over words and over chinks in the planning.
We try really hard to stay out of the muck and mire of those commentaries, unfortunately that isn’t always possible. I’ll be honest, we are more discouraged by the open (and at times brutally harsh) discourse among the pastors against this movement than anything else. Listening to those comments (cheeky or otherwise) is (to us) the equivalent of a pastor having to read or listen to his congregation attacking his work as shepherd. We feel greatly discouraged by it and cannot understand the real issues behind the issue.
The trick to not being so open to discouragement, is to find the worm-holes (rings, social networks) and stay out of them. Granted some of their issues are good and some do need to be addressed. Those of us in the field, however, are too busy working to fight it out with the big dogs, so we stay out of it.
Our Mission Start is actually a daughter congregation of the Lutheran Church of Our Savior. We are financially supported though voluntary contributions of members (into a dedicated fund)and not District offices or the Synod office. “Ablaze Funds” do not reach us. That is in part because our congregation can afford most of the expenses, we just can’t afford payroll – so none of us get paid. Pastor goes back and forth between the home congregation and the mission start every weekend. We are looking at programs that would allow funding and we may receive it down the line.
Other questions that I hear in church from other boards are these:
“How do we know this whole outreach thing is even going to work?”
I hear this one a lot. We are called to go forth and make disciples. That was Christ’s commission. God will take care of the harvest. I can’t promise anyone that our “numbers in the pew” will increase greatly. Having them be baptized or confirmed and join is great, no doubt and yes that is what we want long term. What I do know today though there are enough of us who walked ourselves to church or events as kids and while we did not join the church that hosted the event? We are pastors, youth leaders (DCE’s), and vital members within our present congregations and communities. Someone sowed seeds, God grew them, and LCMS get’s the harvest of those efforts today. I think we count as well.
Speaking of counting: Synod decided to set up a counting page, a tool really, nothing more nothing less. It’s meant for encouragement and not demographics. To keep it simple they are only counting one on one experiences of sharing the Gospel with someone else. This is just a tool to help inspire people to share the Gospel. They are not counting “saved souls,” they are counting experiences. For a better explanation on the whole counting process – click HERE
“Is Ablaze theologically sound?” YES it is – Click HERE to see Synod’s explanation.
What about funding? How are the funds being disbursed?
Okay that’s a real issue. We don’t understand it ourselves. Programs that would allow for funding are still being developed and all of the churches are looking into them.
“I don’t like the word FIRE in this campaign. Fire is a bad thing in the Bible.” – If you are just looking for the word “fire” then yes, I’m in agreement that most scriptures are negative about that word. But what about the synonyms? See Foundations of Ablaze for a better explanation on this topic.
“Igniting the world with God’s Love” – is figurative language. Fire is not always bad. Christ himself said “I’d rather you were hot or cold instead of Luke Warm” God does not want a lukewarm church – he wants heat, he wants passion. He wants fire. A Holy Fire instilled in us by Him –
Those aren’t bad things.
So.. for more information on the Ablaze Movement click HERE and see.
Is it perfect? No. Are there bugs to be worked out in how all of this shakes down to the workers? yes. Is it worth it? Well, if you call having a young girl (who first started coming because of an Egg Hunt two years ago) go flying through the air and into your arms every time she sees you worth it? Then yes, I do believe it is.