“My family and I just moved to St. George” is Mike Quandt’s standard conversation starter.
Quandt says, “This inevitably is followed up by the question, ‘Oh, why, what brought you here?’ (Insert big grin!) Now I can and am glad to say, ‘We are here to build a church from the ground up. Do you have any ideas for us?’ ”
Quandt says that this approach has opened many doors for him since he and his family arrived in St. George, Utah, in September 2013, after accepting a call from the WELS Board for Home Missions to start a new mission there.
Quandt says that St. George is different from most communities in the United States because of the strong influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as LDS or Mormon). Quandt’s background as a pastor in Salt Lake City for 13 years equipped him to understand the LDS culture and theology and how that even affects local politics and business. His time as a West Lutheran High School teacher and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary professor is also paying off as Redemption’s ministry is currently focusing on using instructional classes as entry points to the church.
Quandt explains that he has spent months meeting people and establishing relationships, while also trying to place the name of Redemption into the public eye through evangelism events such as the community’s Dickens Fest in December 2014. After assessing the community’s needs, Redemption has decided to offer “a multi-tiered curriculum for adult Christian education,” says Quandt. “This educational ministry will equip adults with basic Bible study skills and basic Christianity know-how.”
Morning classes and workshops will be geared toward the community’s large retiree population. Higher-level classes and instructional events that lean more toward dialogue-based learning will be held to appeal to faculty and students at Dixie State University. Quandt also wants to develop services for those who have lost their way due to addictions. As he notes, “St. George has tens of thousands of folks who have left the LDS church or are leaning that way, but most of them are not interested in jumping back into a church setting.
The ministry center that Redemption opened in January will be the site of the classes and workshops that it offers. The center is located in a busy building that sees a lot of traffic, so Quandt will have the opportunity to use his favorite conversation starter with the proprietors and patrons.
During his exploratory work in St. George, Quandt has found a small group of WELS members who are now meeting together for Bible study. Those members are beginning to identify friends to bring to some of the classes that Redemption will offer.
As Quandt says, “The bottom line is that there are tens of thousands here who haven’t heard the sweet, unconditional gospel, and we are just beginning to offer them entry points (beyond our personal witness) to dig in and discover it by formal study of the Word. Redemption is ready and eager for the next phase of interaction with this spiritually starving community.”
Volume 102, Number 3
Issue: March 2015
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