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My view

must be tempered with realism. W.F. Freemyer Findlay, Ohio

Be open to all The “News” section (April, page 8) included a request to apply for acces- sibility awards. I attend church with a person whose disability has made it painful for me to attend because, due to his disability, he is ignored, mar- ginalized, and made to feel invisible. All mail and phone calls concern- ing church are addressed only to me. If he were in a wheelchair the caring and attention would be forthcoming. Instead, he suffers from a mental disor- der. Does he ever say the wrong thing or give a funny expression? Yes. That is what his disability includes. I hope that someday including him will be as important as building a wheelchair

ramp. Edith M. Edwards St. Simons Island, Ga.

Say it isn’t so

I was dismayed at the thought in the February editor’s column (page 4) that The Lutheran, as we know it, might disappear or resort to an electronic for- mat as so many media are doing. The Lutheran does an outstanding job of keeping us inspired, informed and enlightened about so many church- related and timely world topics that it would be a sad day indeed to see it

reduced even more in the future. Beverly Seidenschwarz Seguin, Texas

Send “Letters” to: Letters to the Editor, The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631-4183; fax: 773-380- 2409; email Please include your name, city and state. Your letter will be considered for publication unless you state otherwise. The Lutheran publishes letters representa- tive of those received on a given subject. Be brief and limit your letter to a single topic. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Letters must be signed, but a re- quest for anonymity will be honored if the subject matter is personally sensitive.

“My view” submis- sions should be 400 words on a societal event or issue or on issues in the life of the ELCA. All submis- sions are subject to editing. Send to: “My view, ” The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631; email: lutheran@; fax: 773-380-2409.

By E. Dale Click

Question for the ELCA Is evangelism our first business?


Click is a retired ELCA pastor living in Moor- park, Calif., and a for- mer associate direc- tor of evangelism of the United Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor body of the ELCA.

oes my beloved church believe evangelism is our first business? Of course, evangelism is not the only business of the church. But if the church follows our

Lord’s last command (Matthew 28:18-20), a bundle of adult baptisms should occur, as at Pentecost. I did some checking. There are some 9,800 ELCA con-

gregations and last year there were 4,978 adult baptisms. That must mean almost half of our congregations didn’t have one adult baptism and the other half spent an entire year converting one person. If Pentecost had a similar track record, it would have been a colossal flop. Instead, a church was born.

For years I have been urging the whole church to make

Jesus’ last command its first business. What Jesus made primary, the church should not make secondary. It isn’t that the ELCA ignores evangelism or that it loves Jesus less. There are simple solutions, however, on a congregational and churchwide level. On a congregational level, at least once a month let the pastor in a worship setting teach parishioners a way to talk with others about faith. Let members ask people, whenever and wherever, a question: “Where do you go to church?”

If they go to church, rejoice with them and exchange ideas. If they don’t go to church, invite them to attend wor- ship with your congregation the following Sunday. Offer transportation. Or meet them in front of your church, sit with them and explain worship procedures. Businesspeople take others to lunch to talk over busi-

ness. Why not take visitors to lunch to talk over faith after the service? During that luncheon invite them to your next series of information talks for visitors. These ses- sions include five or six one-hour talks (one a week) given by the pastor that begin as if no one believes in God and describe the Christian faith, giving attendees time to be led by the Spirit to accept Christ. On a churchwide level, change the ELCA structure so evangelism is prominent (e.g. a division or unit); encour- age seminaries to establish a chair on evangelism since not one has one; set in motion a churchwide program on evangelism that teaches congregations the theological and biblical basis for Jesus’ last command. Does the ELCA believe evangelism is its first business?

It’s questionable. What Jesus commanded still stands as the greatest work. Isn’t it time the ELCA obeys Jesus’ last command? 

May 2012 49

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