Unleash New Leaders

The confirmation class at Elim LB Church in Malta, MT
As baptism and communion, rest and life, God come near in Christ—all in the new covenant are anticipated in the old, signaled by such things as circumcision, Passover, promised land, Jerusalem, temple; so while less obvious yet as profound is Jesus’ commission to go make disciples pre-echoed in the very first commission of the Old Testament. Even before God’s directive concerning the tree in the garden, God gives hint of his heart and way of spreading his blessing and kingdom within boundaried time and earth: be fruitful and multiply. The atomic center of life and identity and mission are anchored in this blessing of calling: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…’” (Genesis 1:27-28, ESV).

This whisper of essential calling ever stirs in the hearts of God’s people; it beckons us to dream with Abraham and Jacob of generations to come; it bonds us in core familial human love, and at the same time voluminously expands our contemplation of our Father God’s love for us. This absorbed urge to be fruitful and multiply moves humanity to venture out in pioneering risk; in it we expectantly labor and endure; we build homes and communities of protection and provision, and do so less for our sole blessing than for those to come. Be fruitful and multiply summons and wills the stretching and sacrifice of our comfort and preference. In this calling we even content ourselves in the rapid path of life, embracing the humbling aches of aging and end—calm, glad, and enthusiastically expectant for the generations that follow.

And so, it is decidedly essential that one of the four core objectives of our vision as a Disciple-Making Church is that we would: Unleash New Leaders. It is our great desire and intent to: “Call, empower, and support young men and women to lead in making disciples and forming disciple-making communities” (DMC case statement, 2022 CLB Biennial Convention).

Two brief personal engagements with the Church in the last couple weeks give me an encouraging hint that this is happening, and absolutely is our rightful priority. A brief morning text from Pastor Orvin Solberg with attached picture of the students of the Elim LBC confirmation class (Malta, MT), and the affirmation that these students are diligently seeking after the Lord, led to a brief facetime call with the class the following Wednesday. After introductions they were given the opportunity to ask a single question before I said goodbye and their class resumed. A young man named Lane asked, “When did you first get in to God’s Word?” I told them, when I was actually about their age I realized, from the influence and modeling of mentors, that this book, the Bible—it was not so much anymore that I was reading it, but that it was reading me. A little conversation followed about the pulsing, living Word of God that works in us repentance and faith.

Then, the Sunday following after worship, a young husband and father, a family friend and former confirmation student, approached me and wanted me to know that he and his wife had given time to do some life planning to set out before them the priorities and dream for their family, and that what they came to—that their children trusting and following Christ was the only thing that mattered—was rooted in what they had heard and seen modeled in the church.

Yes, Lord. May it be that we…
Be fruitful and multiply.
Go, make disciples.
Unleash new leaders.

Rev. Paul Larson is President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.

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