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In What Sense are LCMC & NALC Different in Personality, but still Share a Common Mission?

Pastor Steve King

18 February 2011

(LCMC = Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
NALC = North American Lutheran Church)

Photo of Pastor King"When James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me [Paul], they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised." (Galatians 2:9)

In the Scriptures, two of the Apostles we get to know quite well are Peter (Cephas) and Paul. Not only did these two men have very different backgrounds in occupation and education, but they also had different personalities. This can be seen in their writings, as well as in what Scripture says about them. It is also fair to say that the two men had different "experiences" of Jesus. Peter had traveled for years with Jesus during the Lord's earthly ministry, where Paul did not become an apostle until his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.

Both men were missionaries for Jesus and lived their lives in Christian service - sometimes crossing paths, but for the most part independently. Paul came to be designated as an "apostle to the Gentiles" (i.e. non-Jewish believers), while Peter ministered primarily among the Jews. Scripture does not call either apostle "better" than the other. Each had their different focus and a different "audience," but shared the same passion for the mission of Christ.

The same might be said of LCMC and NALC. They share a common mission, but have different "personalities." Recognizing that broad generalizations are always risky, some have tried to describe this difference between the NALC and LCMC in terms of external characteristics, such as worship style and denominational "feel." Some have used terms like "high church" and "low church;" others have made comparisons to the differences between the predecessor Lutheran denominations of LCA and ALC as comparable to that of NALC and LCMC, respectively. Others have made comparison to more recognizably different Christian traditions.

Consider the following scenario: Imagine you are traveling across country and you come to a small town on Sunday morning. You want to attend worship, but there is no Lutheran church. The only two churches in town are the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Free Church. If you were going to choose between these two options, which church would you attend? Why?

In considering the "personality" difference between NALC and LCMC, it must be said that both strive to be biblical and confessional Lutheran church bodies. Within that solidly Lutheran perspective, it might be fair to say that the NALC represents Lutherans who tend to lean more toward the catholic tradition, while LCMC represents Lutherans who tend to lean more toward the evangelical tradition. This, of course, is a gross over-simplification and there are certainly exceptions and variations, but each group is attempting to reach a slightly different "audience" with the same biblical and confessional Lutheran message of Christ.