Life Together and the Koinonia Project
You already know that Witness, Mercy, and Life Together describe what we, as the Body of Christ, do for the sake of the world. Each of the three depends on the other two. If our witness is separated from works of mercy, both are truncated. When we live together in the fellowship of the Gospel, our witness and mercy are strengthened.
That’s why we are using the Greek word “koinonia” or “fellowship” in Christ to talk about Life Together. Informally, as part of the restructuring of the Synod’s work, we have referred to the new Office of National Mission as the “Life Together” unit. This is the place where a number of the important support efforts of the Synod are grouped together – youth, schools, stewardship, support for district and congregational outreach, and more. These efforts all seek to enhance our Life Together, though all of them are also permeated with Witness and Mercy as well. Again, the three cannot be separated.
On August 1, 2011 (he actually began July 1), the Reverend J. Bart Day was installed as the head of the Office of National Mission. He has “hit the ground running” and is already bringing blessing to the National Mission team. However, response to the publicity regarding his installation has revealed a bit of confusion on the part of some. Because the Office of National Mission includes many of the efforts that support our “koinonia” or “Life Together” some have thought that Bart Day was actually installed as the head of our “Koinonia Project.” This is understandable because both are using the same Greek term because both have to do with our fellowship in Christ.
But there is a distinction. The Office of National Mission (informally our “Life Together” unit) has a very broad focus, including many areas of our work. The “Koinonia Project,” however, is the term we have coined for a narrowly focused effort by the Office of the President to organize theological study to work toward greater harmony under the Word of God. Certainly the “Koinonia Project” is part of our efforts to strength our life together, but it is a special project separate from the work to which Bart Day has been called.
Regarding the “Koinonia Project,” as I write this, my wife is driving me towards Chicago for a meeting with the leadership of the Northern Illinois District. Northern Illinois is seeking to develop several pilot groups to begin theological discussion. I will also be making trips in the near future to Kansas, to South Wisconsin, and other places to talk about the project. Please pray for this effort and check out the Koinonia Project concept paper on www.lcms.org.
+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President