“To Seek and save the Lost”

droppedImage_2I was having a conversation with a good friend and one of our board members about a benefit golf tournament I played in recently for the Kiwanis. The chapter that hosted the tournament is a service organization pledged to reduce or eliminate neonatal tetanus (NT). NT occurs in many countries where deliveries take place in unhygienic circumstances, and would be eliminated by immunizing mothers with a tetanus vaccine that is cheap and very efficacious. In 1988, the World Health Organization estimated that 787,000 newborns died of NT and by 2013 that number had been reduced by 94% to 49,000. Kiwanis International, which has 660,000 members, is committed to serving children and their needs, and is making quite a difference in that area of need, as we see the reduction in NT worldwide. As I was talking about Kiwanis to my friend, he asked, “are you a member of Kiwanis?” I said no, but I answered that I am a member of the largest service organization in the world, the Church.

Last Sunday, our gospel reading was Luke 10:1-20. This is the text that we began our St. Louis ministry with in 1996, as we prayed about how God was sending us into “His harvest.” 2 by 2, with no apparent means of support, we wrote our “mission and ministry plan,” and called it the Luke 10 model of church planting. Since that time, while we have yet to plant another church, we have planted several new mission stations and are prayerfully keeping our focus on the mission of the Church, which is, by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, “to seek and to save the lost” (Lk 19:10).

I think the Church, unlike Kiwanis International, may sometimes lose focus in the face of such need. There are 7 billion people in the world, and 2.2 billion Christians by the last Pew report. “The harvest is plentiful,” but today are there few laborers? One would think that with 2.2 billion Christians in the world, we could no longer say that the laborers are few. But so much of the activity of the Church is not directed toward the mission of the Church, to seek and save the lost. We get caught up in social ministry, administration, or education. These things are important but only useful if it serves our mission. May the Church, in all that we do, keep our focus until that day that our Lord returns!

Our ministry still suffers from few laborers. We are blessed by 4 in Detroit, 2 in Atlanta, 3 in Florida , 2 in Kansas, 2 in Wisconsin, 40 in St. Louis. I’ve just written my quarterly letter to the members of our ministry’s congregation Chai v’Shalom, and noted that over the course of the next quarter, we have 34 opportunities for outreach and fellowship on the schedule already, including Sunday worship services.  And while I don’t really consider worship services an outreach opportunity, they better serve the mission by helping us keep the focus on the mission of the Church and preparing us to go into His harvest! These are all among many opportunities to focus on our mission, to seek and save the lost. May all that we do serve that mission, and may we all rejoice that our names are written in heaven.  Peace to your house!

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org http://www.ChaivShalom.com http://www.facebook.com/ChaivShalom


5 thoughts on ““To Seek and save the Lost”

  1. I believe seeking and saving the lost was Christ’s mission (self referential with Son of Man in Luke 19:10). We are called to make disciples and not converts. Salvation is firmly in His court, and I believe it is dangerous to phrase it otherwise. God does not need our help, we need His. This is not to say that he doesn’t include us in the process for His glory. Please, explain why you chose that phrase as a mission statement.


    1. Without straining at gnats, I agree with you. It is still His harvest, God’s grace, and the Spirit’s power. But we are His disciples. The process of salvation includes His sending of us (Acts 1:8). “We are called to make disciples and not converts,” could be taken as that we simply wait on God’s Spirit to move on people, and when it does, and if they come to us, then we can baptize them and teach them everything He has commanded (a sort of Field of Dreams approach). That process is important, but there is still a sending that happens for us to seek. Yes, we don’t save, God does, but He sends us out armed with His Word, to seek. In all things, He doesn’t need us, we need Him. But if Christ’s mission is not His Church’s mission, then all we do is serve ourselves.


      1. For sure, as Kid Rock said, you have to get in the pit and try to love someone. But I think the mission of Christ and the mission of the Church are two distinct deeply interwined things. That’s why I always winced at the WWJD concept. Well, Jesus would encourage people to identify him as the Messiah and eventually die on a cross. I am definitely sure we shouldn’t do the first part, and hoping we won’t end up doing the second. Jesus was here to preach and die for our sins, establishing the process outlined in the Book of Romans and enacting substitutional atonement. He was here “to seek and save”. We are here to obey. That sounds a little like the Borg, but I just get nervous sometimes. Your church is obviously doing a lot of awesome stuff and your ministry seems very interesting. As a Presbyterian, I think we hold onto the doctrine of election/grace like it will scare people away. That is ironic on many levels, but the precision of words is important. I simply believe that there could be an easy misinterpretation of the idea that the Church is here to seek and save. People can’t save people. And in Field of Dreams, he had to build the field. I am about to go to dinner, but I will catch you later. It is also good to talk to a brother in Christ.


  2. Have a great dinner! And yes, I’m just grateful their are brother’s like you who appreciate distinctions. You are right, it is too easy to think we can do anything, and when we do, we get it into our head that we can do everything! Blessings.


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