The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) has recognized seven organizations as mission organizations of the church (see the list at the bottom of this page). Legally they are private associations.
In the ELCF Church Council there is a Department for International Relations and the Office for Global Mission to coordinate relations between the relatively independent mission organizations, congregations and the central administration.
Lutheran congregations and individual Christians support the mission organizations. The church sends the missionaries through these mission organizations to bear witness to Christ through deeds and words. Mission organizations are also channels for cooperation between ELCF and other churches.
The Church of Finland is also involved with various internationally active organizations in development and humanitarian aid and various fields of education.
In the nineteenth century, Pietistic revivals and a rise of national identity in Finland raised awareness of the fact that many parts of the world had not been reached by the gospel. These movements marked the beginning of mission activities in and from Finland.
The Finnish Missionary Society (FMS, Suomen Lähetysseura, SLS in Finnish) was founded in January 1859. In 1868 FMS sent its first team of missionaries to Ovamboland in present-day Namibia, where they arrived in 1870. Since 1985, FMS has been known in English as the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, abbreviated FELM. It is the largest Lutheran mission organization in Finland.
All congregations of the Lutheran church are members as a matter of course at the annual meeting of FELM that elects the mission board. Besides its ministry abroad, FELM is active in Finland. It is known e.g. for its youth work and its magazines Lähetyssanomat and Mission.
The Lutheran Evangelical Association in Finland, LEAF (called Suomen Luterilainen Evankeliumiyhdistys and abbreviated SLEY in Finnish) was founded in 1873 for the inner mission of one the revival movements within the church. LEAF started its foreign missionary work in 1900, in Japan. Since the 1970s, it has carried out mission work also in other parts of the world. Its Swedish-speaking sister organization SLEF has also been recognized as a mission organization of the Lutheran church.
The oldest of the organizations now recognized as a mission organization is actually the Finnish Bible Society (Suomen Pipliaseura), founded in 1812. As a member of United Bible Societies (UBS) the Finnish Bible Society works for the widest possible, effective and meaningful distribution of the Holy Scriptures and for helping people worldwide to interact with the Word of God.
This they do in partnership and cooperation with all Christian churches and with church-related organizations. The board of the Finnish Bible Society is elected by representatives of congregations of the Lutheran Church and minority churches (Orthodox, Catholic, Free Church Council of Finland).
New revival movements led to the formation of new organizations in the 1960’s and 1970’s. These include the Finnish Lutheran Mission (FLM, Kansanlähetys), the Finnish Lutheran Overseas Mission (FLOM, Kylväjä) and Radio Mission the Messengers (Sanansaattajat). The FLM, as a revival movement, is also active in inner mission, whereas the Messengers have specialized in supporting international radio ministries such as Trans World Radio.
Within the central administration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland there is an Office for Global Mission to coordinate activities of congregations and mission organizations. This office also publishes information and promotes mission-related studies, training and activities.