Each home mission has the same goal—to reach out in a new area with the saving message of Jesus Christ. But while the goal is the same, each mission field brings with it unique opportunities and unique challenges.
Take Castle Rock, Colorado, as an example. When Jared Oldenburg, pastor at Eternal Rock, Castle Rock, arrived in 2010 to start a new mission, he quickly discovered that he couldn’t use the same ministry plan he used when starting a mission church in Covington, Washington. “You have to try to find what’s unique in your community,” he says.
He learned that Castle Rock is an affluent community, located in one of the top 10 wealthiest counties in the U.S. People from multiple different states and backgrounds are constantly moving in and out of the area. Many are families with children, where both parents work. They are active and searching for ways to get involved.
“They’re looking for something, no matter how successful they are,” says Oldenburg. “There still are problems, and there is still is an emptiness. My job is to show people that there still is going to be emptiness until they find value in their Savior, until it gets filled with the one thing that can fill it up.”
Due to the transient nature of the area, Oldenburg says the 170-member congregation works to help people feel connected—to Christ and to each other. “It’s providing a place where they can have community in church,” he says. Because people tend to make friends quickly in Castle Rock, the congregation wants Eternal Rock to be “a place to get to know some other people and to get to know God’s Word, a place where they feel supported and feel that there’s genuine people who care about them,” says Oldenburg.
Finding or building a permanent facility wasn’t high on the list at first, so Eternal Rock has been worshiping in a middle school since 2011. “Land is expensive, and buildings are expensive here,” says Oldenburg. “We’re waiting and saving money to build the right size when we do.”
Instead Oldenburg says the congregation has kept to basics—providing Bible studies and worship plus multiple ways to serve and interact in the church and community. New members and repeat visitors get plugged in quickly—even if it’s just picking up donuts for fellowship time or packing up chairs after worship. “People are pretty quick to move on if they don’t click,” says Oldenburg. “You have limited time.”
The congregation also gets involved in their community. “We worship God with our words and our actions,” says Oldenburg. Last December, members provided one thousand lunches to give to the homeless in Castle Rock. They also look for ways to help the middle school where they worship—including bringing in treats for the teachers, giving them gift cards at Christmas, and even building a shed for school use. “During that time of service, you get a chance to talk and a chance to let your light shine,” says Oldenburg.
Letting their light shine is something Oldenburg encourages in all his members. He says 90 percent of the congregation’s visitors are from members or prospects inviting their friends and neighbors to church.
Eternal Rock now has a new opportunity to engage in the community. In April, the congregation received a WELS Church Extension Fund loan and grant to buy land and an existing building in the historic downtown. Future plans are to renovate the building into a church. Oldenburg says local business are already asking about using the congregation’s facilities and noticing how the church is contributing to the community. “[They say,] ‘These are the people who go to this church. They’re trying to make downtown better.’ . . . But we’re trying to make their lives better in a way bigger sense—here’s my value in Christ,” says Oldenburg.
Learn more about Castle Rock and its outreach opportunities in the June edition of WELS Connection. Learn more about Home Mission opportunities at wels.net/missions.
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Volume 104, Number 6
Issue: June 2017
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