Christ our Lord says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50).
One of the ridiculous thoughts of the church is that she can define herself and her vocation in this world. She can declare herself to be something or someone besides what Her Husband, the Lord Christ, declares her to be. The Church cannot, not shouldn’t, but cannot define herself and create her own vocation in this world. When she stops doing what Christ gave the Apostles to do in JOhn 20 and Matthew 28, then she is no longer the church, but a non-profit organization along side of other groups. The Church is not a social group! She is a Bride, The Bride of Christ, and it is Christ who defines her and gives her her mission in this world.
What is that mission that Christ gives to His Bride the Church. The message of Matthew 13, to caste out the net of the word and nothing else. The Church is not called to be a visionary of new ways to get that word out. It is simple. Open your mouth and forgive sin. Preach the Law and the Gospel and let God do the worrying about who repents and is forgiven, as the text in Matthew calls us to do. Luther called the Church the sheep who hear the voice of their shepherd. Luther says even a seven year old knows this. Clearly we need to have more seven year olds to remind us that the Church is the place where the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed and the sacraments are administrated in accordance with the Gospel for the forgiveness of all sinners.
What should the Church’s vocation look like then? First, for Pastors! Preach the Word in season and out of season. Pray, meditate on Scripture, preach, teach, and administer the Sacraments. If you’ve found a better set up than this, pray some more to have the revelation that this is not biblical, but comes from the mind of the devil himself in an attempt to tear you away from the cross of Christ. Second, for hearers. Hear the Word, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it. Live in your baptismal grace by confessing your sin and receive holy absolution. Go to the Sacrament when it is offered and eat and drink your Lord’s Body and Blood. Third, all the baptized, love your neighbor. This is it. This is what has been and will always be given to us in Holy Scripture. Anything outside of this is not from above, but proceeds from our fallen conception of mission work and conversion. Every program created by Man fails because it is not blessed by the Word of God. Enthusiasm, Pelagianism, Kennedy method, or any programs currently being practiced in our LCMS will not work because they do not proceed from Above, but from below in man’s fallen reason and sense.
One good example of how to grow your church, if you need an example. Parents, catechize your children. More specifically, Fathers., catechize your children and your wife. Bring them up in the six chief parts of the Catechism, take them to church ,pray for your food, be Christ to your wife and your children. If there is not a father around, mothers fulfill the vocation of catechizer in the house. If anyone can find a better example than this, repent and forsake any false notion of a miracle program that will make man stop hating God and turn to loving Him. There is no program for conversion, only the Gospel, only the Word of Christ can kill and make a man alive eternally.