On Wednesday afternoon, Rev. Jonathan Hein, coordinator, WELS Congregational Services, shared with the convention the vast and varied work of WELS Congregational Services. Congregational Services comprises several areas all focused on encouraging and equipping congregations for faithful and fruitful gospel ministry.
These areas include the Commissions on Congregational Counseling, Lutheran Schools, Evangelism, Worship, Discipleship, and Special Ministries. Hein provided an overview of the many resources created by these areas of ministry to support congregations including evangelism training, elder training, child abuse awareness training, prison ministry programs, Bible studies and ministry programs for teens and millennials, worship planning, stewardship programs, resources for women’s ministries, and marriage resources. Resources, Bible studies, and programs are on the Congregational Services website, welscongregationalservices.net.
The Foundation provides churches with weekly worship plans, a preacher podcast for each week, thematic graphics, school devotions, and promotional text. In its first year, The Foundation had 83,000 engagements on its web pages.
New from the Commission on Discipleship is the launch of the Stewardship Legacy series, which will focus on five Ts of stewardship: time, talent, treasure, temple, and truth. Four weeks of worship, sermons, and Bibles studies are available on welscongregationalservices.net for the first installment on “time”—”A time to prioritize,” “A time for perspective,” “A time to plan,” and “A time to pause.” In the coming biennium, resources will be developed for talent, treasure, temple, and truth.
Hein introduced two upcoming evangelism programs—Come & See, to encourage and equip Christians for invitation evangelism, and Local, designed to help regional churches establish a local presence.
Following Hein’s overview of the many congregational resources, Mr. Jim Rademan, director of the Commission of Lutheran Schools (CLS), provided an overview of the resources and programs provided by CLS as well as enrollment trends of WELS schools around the country. Rademan reported that 156 WELS educational ministries, including all of the WELS area Lutheran high schools, are currently accredited, either through the WELS School Accreditation program or another accreditation agency.
Rademan also noted an uptick in WELS schools’ enrollment post-COVID. Notably, schools are seeing an increase in non-WELS families enrolling. These non-WELS families are bringing the mission field to schools. Telling the Next Generation is CLS’ program to help WELS schools and early childhood ministries maximize the opportunities to share God’s Word with all children and families they serve.
Rev. Joel Gaertner (pictured), director of WELS Commission on Special Ministries, shared a snapshot of the different areas that Special Ministries serves, including Prison Ministry, Military Services, Ministry to the Visually Impaired, and Mission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Gaertner was commissioned as the director in June, following the retirement of Rev. Jim Behringer, who had served in the role for 11 years. Learn more about Special Ministries at wels.net/special-ministries.
To see the entire presentation, watch the archived livestream. The Congregational Services presentation begins about 29 minutes into the video.