Cyril and Methodius were ninth-century missionaries who brought God’s Word to the Slavs in their own language. We remember them today with a devotion about the personal focus of mission work from 8 Models of Ethnic Ministry.
Christ sought the people where they lived and in their everyday struggles. He preached the Good News of the kingdom. He healed their diseases and sicknesses. He had compassion on them. He saw their need to be connected to God and asked the disciples to pray to the God of the harvest to send more workers in the harvest field. But He did not leave it at that; Christ then sent the disciples out to do the same, to model this mission mandate for the kingdom of God. This was three pronged and wholistic in its goals and objectives: Gospel, mission, people.
Notice Christ’s announcement and approach in Luke 4:18–19. He is quoting from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1–2), as Christ is fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy and ushering in the messianic age. Here we see a Gospel-centered, mission-focused, and people-sensitive approach to mission and ministry outreach.
The Rev. Dr. John Nunes, in his book Voices from the City, interviewed and quoted many African American and urban pastors who are still serving in the heart of the city. As each of them spoke, he gave credence to the need of this wholistic approach to outreach ministry; it is Gospel-centered, mission-focused, and people-sensitive. These pastors spoke of the need to stay Gospel-centered; that is to be incarnational, correctly dividing Law and Gospel as you deal with the brokenness of sinful lives and providing a Gospel-centered means of grace in the Word and Sacraments as effective freedom from the poverty of sin and its consequences.
You notice how this approach has a scriptural foundation, a Lutheran foundation based on grace, faith, and the Scriptures. Christ understood that God cared about people, not buildings and traditions. He engaged the religious ruling authorities constantly in their need to be servants of the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law. He pleaded with them to proclaim God’s broad wholistic counsel of the forgiveness of sins, spiritual healing, physically and socially living as a disciple of the God who loved the world so much that He gave His all, His Son as an atoning sacrifice for all people (John 3:16).
Devotional reading is from 8 Models of Ethnic Ministry, pages 31–32 © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Almighty God, You have called Your Church to witness that in Christ You have reconciled us to Yourself. Grant that by Your Holy Spirit we may proclaim the good news of Your salvation so that all who hear it may receive the gift of salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer is from Lutheran Service Book, page 305 © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.