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Deepening our Lutheran identity for our mission work


by Rev. Jonathan Linman, PhD


R500logoOne of the great joys of my current call as Assistant to the Bishop for Faith and Leadership Formation is bringing my experiences in the classroom as a seminary professor to the contexts where God’s work is being done in local ministry settings. Another joy is shepherding the ways our synod is commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation toward deepening our Lutheran identity for our mission work in the 21st Century. Still another great joy is combining both of these themes in leading Reformation 500 events in congregations and other local settings throughout our synod!


So with this joy of the gospel in mind, I am making an offer to you pastors and deacons and other leaders: I welcome your invitations to me to come to you to lead educational and inspirational events appropriate for your setting, and in keeping with our Reformation 500 themes. In particular, I am available to you to make presentations and lead conversation on the following:

  • Revisiting the 95 Theses Today – Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses is that which set things in motion which began the Reformation. In this 500th Anniversary year, we do well to return to the 95 to take a closer look at the issues, and to discern wisdom of the 95 Theses for our own day in the history of church and world. See more about this resource here
  • Rediscovering the Small Catechism – The Small Catechism is not just for kids! Presiding Bishop Eaton has invited everyone in the ELCA to take a new look at this little document which binds us together as Lutherans, but which we may not have examined since the days of our youth. Some new to our church may never have had occasion to engage the Small Catechism. I can come to lead a day when we worshipfully and conversationally engage the themes of the Small Catechism to make the gospel come alive again for us in the 21st Century. What does this all mean today? See more about this resource here
  • Luther, Person of Faith: An Exploration of His Spiritual Writings – People today – the "nones" and those who are "spiritual but not religious" – seek authentic spiritual experiences. I can come to you to explore the spiritual dimensions of some of Luther’s basic writings, for it was Luther’s faith, his deep spirituality, which drove him to seek to reform the Church. Seeing Luther as a person of deep spirituality is an evangelism tool for us today to engage people who are hungry for real experiences of God. 

As you continue to make plans for commemorating Reformation 500 throughout this year, consider inviting me. You may also call on me for consultation about how you may use and adapt our various Reformation 500 resources in your settings. And there’s no charge to you or your congregation – this educational work that I do is part of my call. It’s my job, and it’s mission support dollars returned to you in kind!

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