Pastor Eric Swensson

August, 2011

Photo of Pr. Eric SwenssonWhy “Disciple Ship”? Why form a LCMC “cyber-church”? What is up with that?

I love preaching. I love standing in front of a congregation and talking about Jesus. I love singing with the choir, too. You can guess that I love singing the old hymns, too. One of them is “I Love to Tell the Story.”1

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

Myself, I come from a long line of “Churchmen.” I grew up in the Lutheran Church (Augustana Synod, then LCA, then ELCA). My great-grandfather came over from Sweden as a missionary. We don’t know much about his father, Sven, except he died while Jonas was young and he is listed as “Church Warden.” Churchmen.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

So, though I did the best I could to run away, I went to a Lutheran seminary, became a Lutheran pastor and found myself telling the story over and over to a congregation that knew and loved the story well. We told it to each other, we reassured and comforted each other, we would even get together on a regular basis with other representatives of congregations that knew the story well and assured ourselves that all was well and all would be well. But was it?

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

In my old church body we never seemed to reach any of our goals of telling the story to people who didn’t know it. We even quit sending missionaries to tell the story, deciding instead to support there own efforts to tell their own story. Many were unclear what salivation was, anyway. We even told ourselves we didn’t need to go overseas anyway because overseas was coming to us.

But an amazing thing happened while we were debating the meaning of salvation and sending glossy mailers to aware global mission. North America had developed a “faith problem.” Our culture had become a mix of niches and subsets and “pagan” became a box that young people increasingly checked. This happened in a time when people increasingly lost faith in government, church, and other institutions.

Why Disciple Ship? For a time like this. You can’t become a member, we are not looking for supporters, but you can be a disciple tagging along with Jesus. You can do it today by becoming a missionary in your own community.

Don’t worry. It is dangerous. You will get slammed. But you will get up again. And again. And again.

Come here. We nourish ourselves with the Word and we’ll make sure we keep coming back with a fresh supply. Come pray with us. Share your heart’s desires with people who, just like you, “love to tell the story, for some have never heard.”

Disciple Ship, grace-based missioners, deployed to a town near you, if you become a missionary, too.

End Note

"I love to tell the story" written by Katherine Hankey, 1866 Return