Tag Archive for: 100 Missions in 10 Years

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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A marathon, not a sprint

Dear Christian Friend,

“Remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.”

Growing up and going through school, I enjoyed playing sports like football, basketball, baseball, and even floor hockey. But as full-time ministry began, it became more difficult to find opportunities to do those things even though I knew I still needed to get exercise. So, I took up running. Little did I know that running would lead to competing in 5K races, which led to friends convincing me to compete in a half-marathon.

That’s when “it’s a marathon and not a sprint” hit home. While wind sprints get you in shape for football, basketball, baseball, and floor hockey, training for a half-marathon requires far less sprinting and far more long-distance running. You must learn to pace yourself so that you can run a strong race for the entire 13.1 miles.

“It’s a marathon and not a sprint” can also apply to the WELS initiative to start 100 missions and enhance 75 missions in 10 years. The “race” has now started with ten new mission starts and ten enhancements approved in year one. We thank God for you and our partnership in the gospel that enables us to reach more lost souls with the message of forgiveness, peace, and hope through Jesus Christ.

We’ve started strong and now need to continue going where the people are to reach more of the lost. We also want to equip our missions to thrive and not just survive. Yet, in these markets, we’re seeing the cost of real estate, rental property, and construction rising dramatically. 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). Jesus became poor so that we could become rich. What we have wasn’t purchased with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood and by his innocent suffering and death. We have pardon for our sins, peace with God, and hope for this life and eternity. We are rich!

The “100 Missions in 10 Years” initiative is all about sharing our riches with those who are still poor. By God’s grace, together with you, we have started strong. We trust that we will continue running strong. We trust that we will continue to pray for this initiative as well as the ministry of WELS.

During this season of Lent as we consider the empty tomb and the riches we have, how can we not share our riches with those who are still poor? We trust that as God has blessed you financially, you will consider a special gift that will help us continue to run a strong race by God’s grace. And remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for blessing our synod’s “100 Missions in 10 Years” effort with a strong start toward the goal of 100 new home missions and 75 mission enhancements by 2033. Send your Spirit to bless the ten mission starts and ten enhancements that were approved last year. May they—and all of our congregations—stay focused on gathering around your gospel in Word and sacraments and sharing it with our communities. Amen.

A strong start!

Dear Friend of Missions,

Twenty new home mission starts and enhancements were approved in 2023—praise God! Thank you for your prayers and offerings that have helped us start strong! We know the incredible things God will do through each congregation gathered around and proclaiming his salvation from sin through Jesus. Realizing this is a marathon and not a sprint, we now want to maintain a good pace as we continue the race to reach more of the lost and equip our missions to thrive.

We do this through district mission boards, which support existing home missions and work with local congregations to identify where to plant new churches throughout their district. This volunteer group of two to four pastors and two to four laymen builds a solid foundation for each new mission, shepherding these churches and their pastors on their path from mission status to self-supporting congregations. The district mission boards are preparing a new round of mission start and enhancement requests for the Board for Home Missions to review at their April meeting.

We are confident in God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s power to continue to fuel our efforts for this marathon. Knowing there is a cost to running this race, would you consider a gift to help with the marathon ahead? We continue to pray that God would bless the efforts of the missionaries already on location and give patience to the groups of mission-minded believers waiting for their first shepherd so that in the end, more people see their desperate need for salvation and come believe the wonderful message of forgiveness and salvation through Christ alone.

Watch your mailbox for more information about this exciting initiative. And let’s remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Serving him,
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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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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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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