“Rejoice always.” St. Paul wrote these words to the Thessalonians, who had “received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6).

In the face of a world that moves from one tragedy to the next, and in a church body full of saints who happen every one to be sinners too, being “Joy:fully Lutheran” might seem a pipe dream. Not so.

In what follows I will make the case for the beautiful nexus of being “Joyfully” and “Fully” Lutheran. The Gospel is a joyful message that takes sin away and produces joyful saints.

This blessed Gospel of Christ’s free forgiveness enlivens every teaching, every aspect of being Lutheran. “Joy:fully Lutheran” is not a program but a divinely wrought attitude, born of the Word of God, which brings repentance.

A portion of this “white paper” takes up the demographic challenge of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The facts are elucidating.

If we don’t know the facts — that is, why we face what we face — our response will not only miss the target, but we may also be led into unhealthy, unbiblical and negative attitudes that will only exacerbate the challenges, weaken our biblical Lutheran convictions and rob us of joy in Christ and each other.

Excerpt from preface by Pastor Matthew C. Harrison, President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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