Reaching one soul at a time

On Wednesday morning, Rev. Mark Gabb, chairman of the WELS Board for Home Missions, gave an update on the 100 missions in 10 years initiative, which was passed at the 2021 synod convention. The initiative, which began this year, involves planting 100 home mission churches and enhancing 75 ministries over the next 10 years.

In March 2023, the Board for Home Missions approved the first set of 15 new home mission starts and enhancements. Gabb shared updates about each during his presentation.

Gabb also addressed a common question about the initiative. “One of the biggest questions I’ve heard is, ‘How can we do this with so many [pastoral] vacancies?’ That’s a fair question,” he said. He then spoke about the Great Commission that Christ has given us to go and make disciples, while faithfully and wisely using the resources he has given us for both outreach and nurture. “It comes down to reaching the lost,” Gabb continued. “It’s still about one Savior, one mission, one synod, one soul at a time.”

Gabb pointed delegates to for updates and encouraged them to pray, get involved, and continue to support the work with their offerings. He concluded, “Trust God’s promises. . . . God will bless us immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.”

In its report, the Home Missions floor committee noted: “Our committee would like to underscore our support of the 100 missions in 10 years initiative adopted at the last convention in pursuit of the Great Commission. . . . This initiative gives us the opportunity to establish more footholds of gospel proclamation where the harvest is increasingly plentiful.”

On Wednesday evening, delegates heard ministry updates from three WELS home missionaries.

  • Paul Biedenbender is pastor at Christ, a bilingual congregation reaching out to its culturally diverse neighborhood in the middle of Denver, Colo. Christ serves and meets people from all over the world. Biedenbender showed a photo of a hallway at Christ, which displays the flags of the 12 nations represented in its congregation. In cooperation with local nonprofits providing for the community’s physical needs, the church has established itself in the neighborhood as a place people can go for their spiritual needs. Biedenbender shared multiple stories of God’s hand at work at Christ as entire families have come to be baptized into God’s family.
  • David Koelpin, Foundation, Folsom, Calif., shared photos of Foundation’s unique approach to worship. Because Foundation began worshiping during the pandemic in 2019, members worshiped outdoors at community parks due to necessity. They soon found that their flexible, creative, and welcoming approach has made them known in the community as “the church that worships in the park.” They have continued to worship outside, providing a natural community awareness. Foundation members are also challenged to make new friends so they can invite those new friends to church—tapping into the strength of one-on-one evangelism.
  • Timothy Spiegelberg, pastor at Carbon Valley, Firestone, Colo., reported that the congregation is in an area of extreme population growth. Since members knew that they wanted to be proactively in the path of that growth, they purchased and repurposed an existing building into a versatile ministry center that could serve the community, with the goal of having people in their building at all times. Carbon Valley’s motto of “Connecting Christ . . . Connecting Community” places a heavy emphasis on building personal relationships as a way to reach out with the gospel.

Mr. Joseph Purcell, a lay delegate from St. Paul’s, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was inspired by the success stories being shared by WELS home missionaries in new locations. “Consistently all of them are considering what their community needs and asking how they can best serve them,” he said. “I think if we can keep following that model, doing 100 mission congregations in 10 years is realistic.”

Learn more about WELS Home Missions.





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