Biblical and Theological Foundations
The ELCA is called and privileged to participate in God's mission to the world. We offer God's salvation to the world through a ministry of Word and Sacrament. Worshiping in the Spirit, we baptize people in the name of the Triune God, proclaim the Word of God as Law and Gospel, and nourish the baptized with Christ's own body and blood partaken in holy communion. Repenting and confessing our sin, we receive God's forgiveness. Thus, we live in the world as justified sinners who have been reconciled to God through Christ and who witness to the gospel of Christ through word and deed.
God calls and empowers us for mission through baptism. As people baptized into Christ, we share in his death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5). We are made into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and born into a living hope (1 Pet. 5:3). When we witness to this new life, we boast not of our own accomplishments, but proclaim Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Our lives as individuals and as a community are marked by the cross of Christ, who died for us (Rom. 5:8) and lives in us (Gal. 2:20).
As a community of believers justified by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), we do not describe mission in terms of our own work but with reference to the healing, salvation, and restoration that God accomplishes through Christ. We identify all our activities as loving responses to the love that Christ has first shown us (1 John 4:19). As members of Christ's body (1 Cor. 12:27), we become the people through whom the risen Lord Jesus continues to work in this world. Like branches on a vine, we allow the fruit of Christ's mission to be borne in us and through us (John 15:5).
We are called to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:28-31). Thus, our mission is internal and external: we are gathered by God to worship (Ps. 107:2-3) and sent by Christ to serve (John 20:21). We embrace Christ's commission to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20) and to extend gifts of healing and life to a broken world (Matt. 10:7-8). We pray for God's kingdom to come and we celebrate its presence wherever there is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17); we pray for God's will to be done and we celebrate its attainment whenever there is justice and mercy and faith (Matt. 23:23).
God's mission is carried out through a priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:5) as God inspires, empowers, and blesses the work of the church in its many manifestations, both organizationally and individually. Such mission is ultimately global in vision and impact, for Jesus calls us the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-14). We further acknowledge that our mission constitutes but one part of God's saving activity in the world. We affirm the work of God wherever it is found, trusting that God is active in and through other churches and, indeed, in and through everyone and everything that God has made.
Finally, we recognize that God's mission is directed by the Holy Spirit, whose work cannot be controlled or even predicted by human agencies (John 3:8). We seek the guidance of the Spirit in our planning, while expecting surprising developments and unanticipated opportunities to be granted by a God whose ways are not our ways and whose thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa. 55:8). We are certain only of God's promises and of the confident hope that all God's loving purposes will be fulfilled when our risen Lord Jesus Christ returns (1 John 3:2).