From Lutheran Services in America
Called to Love and Serve Our Neighbors
Lutherans believe we are called by God to love and serve our neighbors. Lutherans
approach this social ministry from a theological perspective that not only
acknowledges paradox and ambiguity, but embraces them as true of our place in the
world as creatures of God. We understand that Christians are both redeemed saints
while yet being sinners. As we seek a society that values generosity, inclusion,
justice and mutual care, we know that we cannot know all the answers, but we trust
that God is guiding us. Our work is an endeavor in faith. We form alliances with
people of goodwill in order to serve well. The good that we do in the world is in
response to God’s saving love. We believe that the church and its institutions are
always in need of reform and growth.
DIGNITY AND WORTH
Lutheran social ministry organizations demonstrate fundamental
belief in the goodness of creation and dignity of all people.
When God looked at the total creation, God declared it “very good.” This declaration
follows on the heels of the creation of humankind, and the final movement of God to
create human beings in God’s image. We fundamentally believe in the dignity and
worth of every human person. We respect differences and believe God’s will is for
wholeness (shalom) for all people and creation. This wholeness includes unity of
body, mind and spirit as we work with people. It is also expressed in community,
encompassing all forms of human relationships within the work of social ministry
organizations and in regard for the created order, including environmental
stewardship of the earth.
RESPONDING TO GOD’S LOVE
Lutheran social ministry organizations act with courage, humility and
hope recognizing that salvation is God’s gift of grace received
God always comes to us; God initiates and accomplishes our salvation. All good
things and our salvation come from God. Despite our sinfulness, God acts in Jesus
Christ to save and redeem the world. We live with faith and we live forgiven. We
respond in gratitude to God’s grace by working to demonstrate the love of God for
the world and all people. We believe Christ is with us and shown forth in our
ministry and that Christians are called to be as Christ to others. We work together
valuing mutual understanding and accountability. We exercise leadership on behalf
of others and we advocate with others for equity.
III. Cross and resurrection
HOPE IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING
Lutheran social ministry organizations, as institutions of the Church,
are marked by the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The church’s life is marked by the cross of Christ, as the central symbol of Christ’s
life death and resurrection. God is present in the midst of human suffering. Social
ministry organizations provide the physical embodiment of God’s presence in the
midst of suffering for people whom they serve. As God comes to us in the
concreteness of daily life through the Word and Sacraments, so our service is
tangible in the world. Social ministry organizations are bold in accompanying people
in difficult places. We reach out to people from the hope of the resurrection, trusting
in God’s will for the reconciliation of all things. In the meantime we believe the power
of the resurrection transforms life now.
VALUING CALLING AND WORK
Lutheran social ministry organizations demonstrate a commitment to
supporting the vocation of all people and an understanding of the
vocation of the organization.
All believers are called to live out Christian faith in daily life, and discover the ways in
which God calls us and others to work in the world, which we do in God’s name. Just
as individuals have a vocation and calling to love and serve the neighbor, so also,
organizations have a vocation in the world. Social ministry organizations will be
clear about that identity and will be places where the vocation to love and serve the
neighbor is lived out, and the value of the work of all people is recognized and
upheld. We also embrace the call to be advocates on behalf of our neighbors.
V. Faith practices
MARKS OF MINISTRY IN OUR MIDST
Lutheran social ministry organizations evidence traditional marks of
the church in their institutional life.
It is clear in the life of social ministry organizations that the Word of God is
proclaimed, professed and lived. These marks include, but are not limited to these
examples: commitment to chaplaincy, opportunities for spiritual care, life marked by
prayer and devotion, availability of scriptural and devotional resources, appropriate
worship forms, provision for ministries of baptism and care at life end. Through the
work of social ministry organizations people have the opportunity to apprehend the
love of God in Christ. Leaders are able to articulate and express the faith
commitments of the organization.