How do WELS churches get started? How do we decide where they should go? This is not a secret nor is it a simple process. Through Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s 2023 Winterim course, 14 seminary students were able to experience firsthand the earlier steps in exploring potential churches in three communities outside of Austin, Texas. The students began the week by meeting with WELS Mission Counselor, Matt Vogt and the core group of WELS members in each of the three cities. The 14 students were divided into three teams, one for each city, and asked to research thoroughly and report how much potential each community had for growth in the coming years.
The communities of Leander, Jarrell, and Kyle/Buda, seem to display potential for a new WELS church. Mission Counselor Vogt and Professor Allen Sorum worked alongside the South-Central district mission board, local area pastors and home missionaries, and their district president to prepare for the week. The students were trained and tasked with conducting community and church leader interviews, doing some door-to-door canvassing, and interviewing other potential core group members. When asked about their favorite part of the experience, students shared many examples of how the Holy Spirit opened hearts to conversations about the gospel.
Once their research was complete, the 14 students were able to present the information they gathered with their team (pictured). Students, local pastors, and Home Mission representatives listened, reacted, and asked questions about each location. With these insights from the seminary students, the South Central District Mission Board will prioritize which location(s) to pursue first.
As for the 14 seminary students, they were able to gain real experience exploring a potential mission field and sharing their faith before they receive their divine calls. Many students expressed greater interest in serving as a church planter after the trip was over. One student noted, “It was eye opening to see the grand scope of what WELS Home Missions does and the support we give to our home missionaries. It makes mission work less scary.” These men are going to be a part of the first few Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary graduating classes to potentially receive assignments to new home mission churches approved as part of the 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative. WELS Home Missions is thankful for partners at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary that are training the next generation of church planters.
Next week, the Board for Home Missions will meet to carefully consider and prioritize each request submitted for a new home mission or enhancement. Stay tuned to hear where those first new home mission starts and enhancements will be located as we work towards our goal of starting 100 missions and enhancing 75 ministries in the next in 10 years.
Learn more about our 100 missions in 10 years initiative at wels100in10.net .
Learn about the ministry work of WELS Missions.
Support the ministry work of WELS Missions.