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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Diaconal ministry as evangelism

Those who serve remind us who Jesus is

"I came because I was searching," she said as we sat in the church. "I'm staying because the church is friendly. But I want to join this congregation because it makes a difference in the world."

With those few words, she helped me understand something that is essential for the church: We aren't only people of worship, we are also people of service.

I'm fortunate to work with two other rostered leaders—a deaconess and a diaconal minister. Both of these women remind the congregation every Sunday that the church is in the world to be a blessing to the world.

Through these women's ministries to people who have been ignored by the structures of society, our congregation began several ministries of hospitality and service. One of these is our weekly food pantry, which serves about 50 families. We carry on this ministry cooperatively with other faith communities: Roman Catholics, Baptists, Jewish, as well as with scouting groups and various public schools. In this we are reminded that God is at work in many ways to meet the needs of God's people in the world.

Renewal comes to the church, not only from new programs but also from more fully living out what we already have in the church: the rosters of word and service.

Those who serve on diaconal rosters who connect the church and the world and our expression of the church with other faith communities. Yet while diaconal ministers serve at the edge of the church, they represent its very heart by reminding God's people that our life is to live out the love of neighbor that Christ calls us to make real.

Congregations can find renewal for ministry by considering bringing leaders rostered for word and service into their lives. Our church needs to celebrate this gift of the Spirit with enthusiasm. Our candidacy committees need to make these ministries of first importance to the life of the church, and our seminaries need to fully integrate preparation for these rosters into the curriculum. In doing this we will have living reminders of who Jesus is—one who came, not to be served but to serve. And in serving the world, we'll find Christ's life in our own.

This week's front page features:

Table GraceTable Grace: In Christian unity they explore everything from spiritual matters to the phone bill (photo at right).

Called to make a difference: Human rights advocate will travel for LWF.

Father and son: Wangerin and son tell a story each from their own perspective: the story of their relationship.

Groce marks 90 years: “I’ve got lots of energy ... that’s God’s gift," she said.

Also: No surprises.

Also: Rwanda's Lutherans host a youth gathering.

Also: Youth gathering seeks young adult volunteers.

Read these articles on our front page ...

Discuss fathers and sons:

Doug HaugenToday through June 10: Join Doug Haugen (right), director of Lutheran Men in Mission, to discuss relationships between fathers and sons.

Consider reading Walter Wangerin Jr.'s column, "Father and son" before joining in.

Join the discussion...

The May/June issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived:

The Little Lutheran Don't let them miss another issue.
The Little Lutheran helps children 6 and younger learn about God's love for them and the world in which they live. It teaches them about Jesus, their friend and savior.
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