National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Mission Focus challenges mindsets

July 2017

by David Grulke

St Luke’s Albury, which is located in southern New South Wales, on the northern side of the Murray River border with Victoria, is a uniquely gifted congregation which has planted several ministries over its 80-year history.

These include Lutheran Aged Care Albury, the largest aged-care provider in the region, and St Peter’s Lutheran Church, in nearby Lavington. St Luke’s also assisted the setup of Australian Lutheran World Service, which operates out of Albury.

Consequently, when the congregation was offered the opportunity to join the LCA’s church-planting initiative, the people of St Luke’s didn’t hesitate. It was a natural fit.

The journey towards partnering with the LCA’s New and Renewing Churches department began several years earlier. After deciding not to merge with St Peter’s Lavington, St Luke’s looked for a new direction. NSW District’s Bishop Mark Lieschke asked me to help St Luke’s consider what this future may be. I was Assistant Bishop at the time and was transitioning out of defence chaplaincy.

After opting for a mission-based future, St Luke’s called me as its pastor and began journeying towards being a missional church. Over the next 18 months they contemplated what this kind of church could look like and reflected on the opportunities of doing something new, rather than renovating the old.

The congregation then met with the LCA’s Church Planting Mentor and Mission Facilitator Dean Eaton, and collectively agreed that mission was the focus they wanted to take.

The journey towards being a sending church began in 2016, during which 25 of the congregation’s leadership spent time with Dean to explore what ‘a sending church’ really was.