At 5:00 a.m. on October 24, 2019, I pulled out of our driveway for an approximately 4500-mile road trip. I had some specific tasks I needed to take care of as I journeyed west, but I also simply wanted to get to know more of my brothers and sisters in the family of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren (CLB). I hoped these new friends would share their lives with me and “define the reality” of their contexts and their particular congregations.
My journey took me to a number of CLB congregations in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. I listened a lot, spoke some too, met many new friends and a few old ones, laughed, shared some sorrows, worshipped, and clearly saw our God active in the lives of his people. My people. Our people. The CLB. What a great trip! The only downside was that I couldn’t spend more time in each stop along the way.
As much as I loved meeting new friends, I also needed to gather insight that would help us in the CLB in our call to be a Disciple-Making Movement. What are the things that unite all of our congregations? What makes a CLB congregation in Washington state similar to a CLB congregation in New Jersey? And with that unity in mind on one side, from the other side we ask what makes a unique group of people effective to be a Disciple-Making Movement in a specific context—like Malta, Montana, for instance? These and many similar questions have largely consumed my energies during these beginning months of this new call to serve the CLB as Director of North American Mission.
As I journeyed to the West and back, I was hoping to gain greater clarity in describing and developing the CLB as a unified organization made up of individually unique congregations together forming a creative Disciple-Making Movement. This goal of clarity reminds me of the 201-mile section of my trip in northern Montana from Malta to Great Falls early Monday morning, October 28. My plan was a picturesque trip processing my upcoming meetings while enjoying God’s creation, but sometimes things don’t go as we plan!
The view out my windshield, for the better part of my 6-½ hour trip, was nonexistent. This was the definition of “white-knuckling” it. As I headed down this unknown stretch of two-lane highway I prayed for safety and “clarity” to see far enough ahead to keep moving forward. In those moments of nearly white-out driving I found myself very dependent on things that I did not control, nor create:
- The map was very clear—Hwy 2 west and then Hwy 87 south to Great Falls.
- The reflective poles marking the pavement’s edge and the “washboard guides” were centering me in my lane.
- The long-established rules of the road kept oncoming cars consistently passing on my left.
- Finally, in the midst of the storm, the road was real, complete and prepared for me to get from Malta to Great Falls!
I am guessing many of you know where I am going with this. God is calling us to GO! Not necessarily to Great Falls, but he is sending us to expand the Kingdom of God—the family. Jesus is inviting us to follow him “out there.” He is giving us all we need to move to that spot he has prepared for us. After all, we are a Disciple-Making Movement.
- His Word is perfect, true and sufficient.
- By the Spirit of God at work in us, we see with a Faith Clarity.
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT). “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15, NLT).
The Disciple-Making Movement that is the Church of the Lutheran Brethren is united to GO with God’s grace! Our CLB congregations first gathered 119 years ago to be a missionary people. So, for us today, may we continue to be a sent people, driven by the joy of our salvation to become a unified and unique, abiding and ever-creative proclamation of the unchanging and eternal gospel.
Rev. Nick Mundis serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren as Director of North American Mission.