Tag Archive for: 100 in 10

Faces of Faith – Sean

“It was amazing. It was the greatest thing. . . just to know that Jesus still loved me and still cared about me and wanted me to be part of his family again, that meant the world to me.”

Hear more from Sean O’Doherty, member at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Nampa, Idaho, about how the gospel shared with him through a WELS home mission congregation brought him back to his Savior.

Learn more about the WELS 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative at wels100in10.net.

WELS Home Missions approves new missions and enhancements

On April 18–19, WELS Board for Home Missions approved 12 new missions and enhancements for the synodwide 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative.

“We’re seeing a large increase in interest rates, and land, building, and health insurance costs that impact budgets for our current and future missions,” says Rev. Mark Gabb, Home Missions administrator. “As we considered new ministry requests this year, we worked hard to find balance between trusting God to do immeasurably more than we can imagine and not putting God to the test as we aim to wisely manage the dollars God’s people have given to WELS and Home Missions. Our goal remains the same: to aggressively go after the lost with the gospel.”

In the end, Home Missions approved five new starts and seven enhancements with the possibility of approving more in September. The five new mission starts include:

Bend, Ore.: Bend was identified in 2020 as the second-fastest growing city in the U.S. A core group of eight families has been gathering twice a month for Bible study and planning as it plants a church in an area where 62 percent of people are not involved with any religious community.

Cedar Lake, Ind.: Members from Trinity and Zion in Crete, Ill., have formed a core group to plant a new mission in nearby Cedar Lake. This area of northwest Indiana is growing rapidly as Chicago commuters look for cheaper alternatives to living in Illinois.

Conway, Ark. (pictured): Conway is a growing college town in the northwest of Little Rock with no WELS presence. A group of 19 WELS members has been gathering at a local hotel on Sundays for worship and Bible study with a part-time retired pastor and getting involved in the community as it prepares to launch a brand-new church.

Easley, S.C.: Since 2016, Abiding Peace, Simpsonville, S.C., has been exploring the option of starting a second site in the greater Greenville area that includes Easley and Powdersville. Abiding Peace is currently offering worship and Bible study and getting involved in community events from a leased home base in Easley as it evaluates where a future, permanent site might be established with a new missionary.

Williston, N.D.: The core group in Williston has been gathering for 15 years, now under the name Lamb of God Lutheran Church. It rents a full-time ministry center where members conduct outreach and worship online with the WELS church in Bismarck, N.D. Members look forward to reaching out with the gospel with a full-time missionary at the helm.

The Board for Home Missions is also financially supporting ministry enhancements for Calvary, Dallas, Texas; Crossroads, Chicago, Ill. (restart); Faith, Prior Lake, Minn.; Good Shepherd, Plymouth, Wis.; Northdale, Tampa, Fla.; St. Marcus, Milwaukee, Wis.; and St. Paul, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Learn more about these new missions and ministry enhancements at wels100in10.net.

 

 

 

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Together Video Update – April 23, 2024

Rev. Joshua Koelpin was assigned to start a home mission in Boston, Mass., as a new graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary last May. Hear how he and his wife, Katelyn, have approached this first year of planting a new church in a large urban area. Also learn about some of the supports that WELS Home Missions provides to new missionaries and their families along the way.

Read more about Missionary Koelpin’s ministry in Boston by clicking on the links to two Missions blogs below:

Athens of America

Sowing seeds in urban soil

 

 

 

 

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Spring 2024 Home Missions’ milestones

A number of home mission congregations have experienced major milestones so far in 2024.

Refuge Church, Durham, N.C.

Rev. Doug Lange was called to plant a new home mission church in Durham, N.C., in 2021. The June 2023 WELS Connection showed Refuge in the early stages of development where the core group began to plan its ministry and look for opportunities to share Jesus with the community. Through many prayers, extensive planning, and outreach, God blessed the efforts, and Refuge launched public worship on Jan. 21 at a coworking space in downtown Durham.

 

 

New mission start, Idaho Falls, Idaho

On Sat., Feb. 10, Rev. Paul Krueger was installed as the home missionary for a new mission start in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Members of the core group traveled to Cross of Christ in Boise to participate in the installation service. This new mission was one of the first new missions approved as part of the 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative.

 

 

CrossView, Windsor, Colo.

On March 3, CrossView Church in Windsor, Colo., launched its public worship. This home mission plant was approved in 2022 and welcomed more than 85 guests to its opening worship service.

Home Missionary Stephen Koelpin arrived in January 2023 to work with the core group and prepare for the official launch. CrossView received a donated trailer from a home mission church in Arizona and items for its portable church from the nearby home mission church in Castle Rock, Colo. After renting a local elementary school to host worship, the group held four preview services starting in January 2024 in preparation for the launch. Learn more about what the core group in Windsor did to prepare to start its church in this special video: wels100in10.net/lightindarkness.

 

Living Hope, Chattanooga, Tenn.

On March 24, Living Hope in Chattanooga, Tenn., celebrated the grand reopening of its newly renovated facility. Living Hope began as a new home mission in May 2017 and has worshiped in a movie theater, hotel conference room, and a university campus church since then. Thanks to over $350,000 in matching land and facility grants and a loan from WELS Church Extension Fund, the congregation purchased its current facility in December 2021. Now, the newly renovated space is complete and equipped to serve the congregation and community.

 

New start and enhancement requests received

WELS Home Missions has received requests to start 16 new home mission churches and support 17 enhancements at existing congregations across North America.

Each request will be thoroughly reviewed by a dedicated team of Board for Home Missions (BHM) members. The entire BHM will meet April 18-19 to review and evaluate the requests. The approved requests will be the second round of home mission churches approved toward the synod’s goal of starting 100 new missions and enhancing 75 existing ministries in the next 10 years.

Learn more about the first year of approvals and how you can get involved at wels100in10.net.

 

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Resilient in the face of rejection

“Christianity is dying.” “Religion is a waste of time and money and energy.” “I will be blocking any further posts from you.”

Our church ran an advertisement on Facebook recently for our Lent sermon series. The quotes above are a sample of replies we got as people scrolled through their feeds and ran into our post. Encouraging, right?

You’ve probably heard similar things. Perhaps no one has said something like this to you when you’ve invited them to church. Usually, people are much more polite if you already have a relationship. But they may have thought it. “Who still cares about that ‘church’ stuff?”

When we see churches all over the country shrinking, and people reacting more and more negatively to our invitations, we can become discouraged. We might even get angry. We’re tempted to lash out at those who disparage our faith, whether online or in person.

But some people responded quite differently to our ad.

“God bless you at all times and all places.” “Thank you.” “Pray for me.”

God’s children, even in an age that seems less and less interested in the gospel, are known through our attitudes of peace, joy, and kindness. Your neighbors see Christ’s love reflected in you, which is a wondrous work of God’s Holy Spirit.

The early Christians faced similar rejection and persecution. Many people accused them of cannibalism (because they were “eating someone’s body and blood” in worship) or of conspiracy and sedition (because they claimed another Lord ruled over them).

Likewise, we may face rejection and scorn for what seems like unfair reasons. But in that, we’re no different than our Lord. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness”. 1 Peter 2:23-24

I’ve got an appointment on my calendar this week to stop by a new member’s home; someone who’s been ill recently and hasn’t made it to worship in a couple weeks. Their reaction to Christianity? A text that made me smile. “I’m frustrated. I really want to get back to church.”

This is going to sound obvious, but it’s a truth I’ve had to remind myself of more than once during our church’s restart project, “Don’t look for encouragement in discouraging words.” I found myself returning to those negative comments, reading them again and again, as if I expected a reply to suddenly occur to me that would absolutely flip their worldview on its head and convince them of the truth of the gospel. That won’t happen!

Instead, find encouragement among your brothers and sisters in your church. Cling to one another. “The family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings,” so let us “love each other deeply” (1 Peter 5:9 and 4:8). Love like that will stand out today, tomorrow, and always.

Written by Rev. Timothy Walsh, home missionary at Grace of God Lutheran Church in Dix Hills, N.Y.

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Sowing seeds in urban soil

When you think of church, what pops into your head? I think of my home church building, St. John’s in New Ulm, Minn. I can see the stained-glass windows and large wooden cross up front. I can hear the organ and bells, the singing of hymns, and the subtle crack of the microphone as the pastor proclaims the sermon. I can smell the midweek Lenten supper simmering in the basement. I recall conversing with family and friends in the narthex after the service. It transports me to another world. Maybe you can relate.

Now, imagine you don’t have most of the things in that “other world.” There is no church building. No grand pipe organ blasting “Speak, O Savior; I Am Listening.” No microphones. No midweek Lenten soup. No Sunday morning conversations that last until the lights are shut off, telling you it’s time to go home. Would it still feel like church?

It might not feel like church, but it would be.

We don’t have a traditional church building in Boston or a large music ensemble yet (and one day, I hope we do). But we still have a church. Our church meets in many different places around the city: in libraries, co-working space, coffee shops, restaurants, and homes. We don’t have a large group of people, but we gather together to take in the scriptures, confess sins, recite creeds, and pray the Lord’s prayer. We do gather for fellowship and eat food together, and we share in the Lord’s Supper – just like you do.

It can be challenging for church to always feel like church when planting a new mission congregation. No programs are established and there isn’t a regular meeting on Sunday morning. It’s hard for the members of the congregation as well. Many of them are familiar with growing up in well-established congregations. I ask that you keep us in your prayers as we continue working on planting.

This may all sound a bit pessimistic up to this point, but I promise it’s not meant to feel that way. Why? Because church planting, especially in a city, gives us opportunities to reach many people with the gospel. Some predict that 68 percent of the world will live in urban centers by 2050. That tells me that we must continue to plant churches in urban environments. We have to start somewhere. From a human perspective, if we can work in cities, we can reach more people worldwide.

Church planting efforts, like the one in Boston, may feel small to begin with. At times, they may not feel like church, but they are. Efforts like the one WELS is making in Boston are critical as we seek to see the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth.

I am incredibly grateful for all the prayers and support of the work in Boston. Continue to pray for us and all of our church plants as we attempt to reach many with the good news of Jesus!

Written by Rev. Joshua Koelpin, home missionary in Boston, Mass.

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Continue the momentum

Dear Friend of Missions,

If you received my letter this past week, you know that, as we aim to open 100 new home missions and enhance 75 existing missions over ten years, I’m encouraging us to keep in mind that “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” We thank God that the “race” has started well with 20 new mission starts and enhancements approved in year one!

We know we need to keep going to reach more of the lost and we want to equip our missions to thrive, not just survive. Yet, some might ask, “Is it worth the cost?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). As we consider our riches because of the cross and empty tomb, how can we not share Jesus with those who are still poor?

Our district mission boards have submitted 16 new starts and 17 enhancement requests for review at next month’s Board for Home Missions meetings. The financial cost to support these requests is not small, but it’s worth it realizing we’re sending missionaries out with the powerful gospel that changes hearts, just like it changed yours and mine. Will you prayerfully consider giving to support this 100 Missions in 10 Years initiative?

While there is still much work to be done, by God’s grace, we have started strong and, God willing, will continue this momentum in the years ahead.

In Christ’s service,
Mark Gabb
Administrator, WELS Home Missions

Together Video Update – February 13, 2024

Rev. Joseph Lindloff and his family moved to Marquette, Mich., in September 2023 after he accepted the call to plant a new home mission in the Upper Peninsula community. He’s been working to plant the seeds of the gospel there for nearly six months. In today’s Together video, he shares an update on the blessings of the ministry—and reveals the name for the new church. This new mission is just one of the new mission starts that are part of the WELS 100 in 10 initiative, which aims to start 100 new home missions in 10 years.

 

 

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Board for Home Missions approves tenth new mission start for 2023

Last week the Board for Home Missions met for its fall meetings and approved one new start and four enhancement requests. This brings the total new mission starts this year to 10 (not to mention the approved enhancements), which is on pace with our synod’s goal of starting 100 new mission churches and enhancing 75 existing ministries from 2023-2033.

  • Buffalo, Wyo. (new start): A group of 27 WELS members living in the Buffalo area have been worshiping weekly in the local civic center since March 2020, led by the pastor from Lord of Lords in Casper, Wyo.
  • Mount Calvary, Redding/Anderson, Calif. (enhancement): Home Missions is providing financial support for Mount Calvary, a multi-site ministry, to call a staff minister to assist with evangelism and youth/family ministry at the Anderson site.
  • Christ the King, Palm Coast, Fla. (enhancement): Christ the King will receive short-term Home Missions support to call a campus pastor to reach out to the 125 students with no church home at their growing Christ the King Academy.
  • Hope, Deerfield, Wis. (unsubsidized): Hope in Deerfield began outreach and worship in fall 2021. Unsubsidized mission status gives them access to grants from Home Missions and WELS Church Extension Fund (WELS CEF) as well as support from their district mission board and mission counselor.
  • Cross of Christ, Las Cruces, N.M. (unsubsidized): Cross of Christ started in a member’s home 11 years ago. The congregation has 73 members and owns land along a major access road where most of the city’s new development is taking place and where hundreds of young families are moving.

As district mission boards and mission counselors are looking for new places to start churches and enhance ministries, WELS members have responded to help support this gospel outreach goal with their offerings. Since starting this initiative, more than 1,500 members have contributed more than $1.7 million to help launch new home missions. Thanks be to God! Thank you to all those who have contributed toward this effort of boldly taking the gospel to people in new locations throughout the country.

Learn more about these new starts and enhancements and read updates from home missions that were approved in spring at wels100in10.net.

Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder

 

 

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Brats and building bridges for Jesus!

Sometimes you just need to be creative.

The core group for a new mission start in Kronenwetter, Wis., was looking for a way to both get the word out that a new church was coming to this growing community, and to begin building a prospect list for sharing the gospel. We knew that there was going to be a community garage sale weekend in mid-summer. This meant there would be a lot of residents moving around the village eager to find bargains and hidden treasures at the nearly 100 garage sales that would be taking place in our target area. They were going to get hungry during the day, and of course some of them would need to go to the bathroom.

The core group got creative and saw a golden opportunity! In this part of our country, folks love their bratwurst as much, if not more, than they do their Green Bay Packers. So, it was decided to hold a free brat fry. We would also use this opportunity to open the doors of Northland Lutheran High School, where the  mission will eventually begin, to allow garage sale shoppers to use the facilities and become familiar with the building and the ministry it does.

On the day of the brat fry, the Lord blessed us with perfect weather. A good number of residents stopped by to take us up on the offer of free brats and hot dogs and to use the Northland High School’s bathrooms. That got them in the door. The banner by the food table proclaimed that a new mission church was coming. This accomplished our exact goal, as questions were asked and comments were made, resulting in natural and easy conversations about our intentions. Most of the people who came wanted to give us free will donations.

While we thanked them for their thoughtfulness and politely refused their money, we asked them instead to fill out a 60-Second Survey. We told them that their opinions were valuable because we wanted our mission church to meet the needs of people living in Kronenwetter. If they wanted to be put on our mailing list for regular updates on how the mission was progressing, they could give us their name and address. Twenty-eight surveys were completed, and nine families are now on the prospect list. It’s a start!

I had the opportunity to meet (and eat with!) a young couple blessed with a four year old daughter. Not long ago they moved to Kronenwetter, they told me that they had Lutheran backgrounds from where they used to live but had not found a new church home. They were concerned because their daughter had not been baptized yet, and now she was starting to ask questions about God. It was obvious to me that they were feeling guilt for not doing a better job of Christian parenting. It was a joy to share with them the good news about forgiveness in Jesus, and to let them know I would gladly work with them to have their daughter baptized and that it wouldn’t cost them anything. I also told them they could bring their daughter to my church’s Sunday School starting this fall. They were thrilled to know that a church was coming soon to help them all grow in God’s Word and love on their journey to eternal life in heaven.

As the core group was cleaning up at the end of the day, the consensus was clear. Even if the only result of the brat fry was this little girl’s baptism, our efforts were more than worth it. But we are confident of God’s blessings and we praise and thank him for letting us use brats and bathrooms to build bridges for sharing Jesus!

Written by Rev. Jeff Mahnke, pastor at St. Peter Lutheran in Schofield, Wis., and chairman of the Western Wisconsin District Mission Board. 

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It takes a village

“It takes a village to raise a child.” Many of us have heard this old proverb, and many of us who have been blessed with children understand how true it is. In the case of my wife and I, we clearly see the wisdom behind it. Our four children continue to be influenced and shaped by the people who make up our village. Close relatives, neighbors, friends, and church family have brought something unique to the table that further creates a safe and healthy environment for our kids and helps mold them into the adults they will become in the future.

As a new church planter in Windsor, Colo., I can’t help but conclude that this proverb also applies to mission starts. Indeed, it takes a village to plant a new mission. After accepting the call and moving from Southern California in January, I have seen the extensive village that is involved in influencing and shaping a new mission. Each part brings something unique and vital to planting and raising this mission. And each part is committed to creating an environment for this church to succeed. So, who makes up this village? Well first there is the District Mission Board (DMB), which I would consider to be the parents of this mission start since they identified Windsor as a place for another mission. The DMB consists of pastors and lay leaders within the district who have passion for reaching the lost and understand the logistics, finances, etc. of starting a new mission. But that was just the beginning. Within a few weeks of arriving, I took part in a Church Planter Intensive led by Pastor Jared Oldenburg in Castle Rock, Colo. This two-day seminar provided an opportunity to think about overall vision, mission statement, and the core values of our new mission. In addition, there was practical advice and countless tips that would further shape how we did outreach, evangelism, our church structure, and the timeline to launch.

Then there is the regional mission counselor(s). These pastors assist every mission in getting off the ground and provide valuable feedback through the process. With extensive experience in mission work and a detailed understanding of the “step-by-step” approach, they are able to assist them in a strong start. They give guidance and advice on what to do next when it comes to planting a church. In my case, mission counselor, Matt Vogt, facilitated a brainstorming session with our core group (pictured above) to help gain traction in moving us to the next level of church planting.

Windsor, Colo., core group meeting with Mission Counselor, Matt Vogt

But the village influence continues! Within 30 minutes of Windsor is our neighboring WELS churches in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley, Colo. These established congregations and their seasoned pastors bring ministry experience, knowledge of the area, and additional minds to bounce ideas off of as we continue to grow.

Thus far, I can’t help but thank God for the village he has provided to influence and help shape his new mission in Windsor. It has been eye opening to see how God puts the right people at the right time in the right location to further his Kingdom. To that end, I would encourage you whether you’re an established congregation or new mission, a pastor or lay member to contemplate these questions, “Who has God put in my village?” Because the proverb applies well, it takes a village!

Written by Stephen Koelpin, home missionary in a new mission start in Windsor, Colo. 

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Nine new missions and six ministry enhancements approved

On March 24, WELS Board for Home Missions approved the first new missions and enhancements for the synodwide “100 missions in 10 years” initiative.

“Our God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” says Rev. Mark Gabb, chairman of WELS Board for Home Missions. “So how does it look to live like we believe this? That’s the question that the Board for Home Missions considered as we reviewed the many new start requests. We knew that there were questions about money and pastors, yet with sanctified common sense we made our decisions based on our trust that God can do immeasurably more.”

The nine new mission starts approved include:

  • Bentonville, Ark.: The 12-person core group has been active in its community, which is home to Walmart’s headquarters and is projected to see 35 percent population growth in the next three years.
  • Boston, Mass.: The closest WELS church to Boston’s urban center is a 90-minute drive. This urban mission has potential for college and cross-cultural ministry.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio: Beautiful Savior, Cincinnati, Ohio, is starting a second site in the Oakley and Hyde Park neighborhoods with a core group of 20 members.
  • Idaho Falls, Idaho: With the nearest WELS church three hours away, the 11-person core group has been meeting for weekly Bible studies with a pastor via Zoom.
  • Kalispell, Mont.: Kalispell, Mont., is considered the fastest-growing micropolitan city (population of 10,000-50,000) in the United States. The core group has been worshiping together twice a month for more than ten years and participating in regular Bible studies for more than eight years.
  • Kronenwetter, Wis.: Five WELS churches in the greater Wausau, Wis., area are supporting this mission, which will worship at Northland Lutheran High School. The 22-member core group has been meeting monthly since December 2021 for Bible study and mission planning.
  • Marquette, Mich.: Marquette serves as the hub of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and 52 percent of the people in and around Marquette do not have a home church or attend a church.
  • Panama City Beach, Fla.: Amazing Grace, Panama City, Fla., is expanding west and starting a second site in the greater Panama City Beach area.
  • North Collin County, Texas: A core group of 15 members from Atonement, Plano, Texas, are part of this new mission in a northern suburb of Dallas. Divine Savior Ministries, a WELS-affiliated organization with four church/school campuses, has partnered with the mission and plans to build a Divine Savior Academy by year five of the mission start.

The Board for Home Missions is also financially supporting ministry enhancements for Beautiful Savior, West Des Moines, Iowa; Fairview, Milwaukee, Wis.; Christ the King, Port Charlotte, Fla.; and Divine Savior, Sienna, Texas. It is providing unsubsidized support to Our Redeemer, Ladysmith, Wis., and Good Shepherd, Midland, Texas.

To learn more about these new missions and ministry enhancements, visit wels100in10.net.

 

 

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Together Video Update – March 28, 2023

WELS Board for Home Missions met on March 23 and 24 and approved funding for nine new home mission starts and six ministry enhancements. Learn more about these decisions and the exciting ministry that is being supported as part of WELS’ 100 in 10 initiative from Rev. Mark Gabb, chairman of WELS Board for Home Missions.

 

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