Lutherans Are Not Alone! A Call to Rediscover Vocational Discipleship

As of late, I continue to be flabbergasted by the admissions of many on the front lines of the missional movement. This is particularly so when such admissions clearly affirm historic beliefs and practices of confessional Lutherans. In turn, this makes me wonder all the more why it is that many Lutherans enamored by the glamour and lights of the recent missional movement (and it associated parts) want to trade out a historic confession and practice for those now being revealed as, at best, incomplete?

Consider another recent (Oct. 4) post by evangelical missional guru Skye Jethani on the site Out of Ur, which fascinatingly calls for “rediscovering a theology of vocation.” In fact, he is not alone. His push for this rediscovery is being spurred on by another evangelical author, David Kinnaman, (who is president of The Barna Group) and who recently wrote the book entitled, You Lost Me: Why Young People Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith.

Central on David’s mind, notes Jethani, was rediscovering a theology of vocation. A quote from his book articulates the problem:

For me, frankly, the most heartbreaking aspect of our findings is the utter lack of clarity that many young people have regarding what God is asking them to do with their lives. It is a modern tragedy. Despite years of church-based experiences and countless hours of Bible-centered teaching, millions of next-generation Christians have no idea that their faith connects to their life’s work. They have access to information, ideas, and people from around the world, but no clear vision for a life of meaning that makes sense of all that input (You Lost Me, page 207).

Lutherans ought to sit up and spit their drinks out upon hearing this! This is precisely the point that this blog, along with other more eloquent Lutheran authors, have been aiming to recognize and lift up regarding the robust Lutheran doctrine of vocation. Namely, that there is a profound and God ordained connection between one’s faith life and one’s daily vocational life as part of the mission of the Holy Christian Church.

In fact, Jethani notes that people, especially youth, are in desperate need of this profound realization: [Y]oung people in the church will need a vision of life with God that is far larger than the one often presented. It must go far beyond serving the church and vocally sharing the message. It must include their work and how it connects to God’s purposes in the world.

For Lutherans, author and professor, Klaus Detlev Schulz, sums it up aptly in his must read Mission from the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of Mission:

Christians contribute toward furthering God’s kingdom through their witness, which speaks to their cultural situation yet flows from Word and Sacrament into their lives and their Christian vocation. The arena of mission is precisely where Christians are placed at home in the family, at work, and in their daily activities. This is a fundamental Lutheran doctrine (p.231).

The irony is that though this is certainly a “fundamental Lutheran doctrine” it will, at least in some settings, take the voice of evangelical fundamentalists to make Lutherans consider returning to it.

As always, this blog aims to foster collegial, honest, and candid dialogue about Lutheran theology and the mission of the Holy Christian Church in the 21st century. For those who are willing to enter the fray, I welcome your constructive thoughts and reactions.


Rev. Woodford


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