Pictured above is Rev. Jonathan Scharf facilitating an Everyone Outreach workshop at Abiding Word, Houston, Texas.
WELS Congregational Services exists to serve congregations and schools and their leaders by providing resources, training, and personal assistance so that they may carry out gospel ministry in the most faithful way on the local level. Congregational Services consists of six commissions—Congregational Counseling, Discipleship, Evangelism, Lutheran Schools, Worship, and Special Ministries. These commissions give focused attention to specific areas of congregational life.
Congregational Services shares its resources at welscongregationalservices.net, which was created to serve as a clearinghouse for its materials. It includes training videos, leaders’ guides, Bible studies, ready-made graphics, and more covering a wide variety of topics.
Analyzing WELS Statistics
For about seven decades, at the end of each year, WELS has asked congregations to supply church statistics. Generally, over 95 percent of congregations do just that. A compliance rate that high yields very reliable and significant data. That data has been published each year in the WELS Statistical Report—over a hundred pages of numbers: membership, worship attendance, ministrations, and more.
In 2021, WELS Congregational Services published a statistical summary report that analyzes the data from 2020 and previous years. It translates those hundreds of pages of numbers into information that can be used by congregations and the synod as we plan how to best steward the resources God provides as we seek to do all we can with the gospel.
Find the WELS 2020 statistical summary at welscongregationalservices.net/stat-summary-2020.
WELS Commission on Evangelism is now offering Everyone Outreach workshops to congregations that want to build a culture of outreach so that every ministry and every member is thinking about and participating in outreach. The workshop and extended program include group activities, thought-provoking discussions, and a process to keep outreach in focus and track engagement. WELS Commission on Evangelism trained 21 facilitators to help lead these workshops in 2021.
Equip Women to Teach the Word
Equip Women to Teach the Word provides online training to Christian women, enabling them to teach the Word of God in home and congregational settings. Resources include five online lessons with accompanying videos to build a biblical foundation and provide step-by-step instruction that replaces fear with confidence to serve.
“Equip Women to Teach the Word is for the woman who wants to be well prepared, improve her teaching, and stand firm on the Word of God despite the influences of the world around her,” says Mrs. Dawn Schulz, a member of WELS Women’s Ministry, which was commissioned to develop the resource. It stresses the important partnership between pastor and laypeople as they work together to carry out their church’s ministry. Find it at welscongregationalservices.net/equip-women-to-teach.
A God-Lived Life
WELS Commission on Discipleship released a new stewardship challenge titled “A God-Lived Life.” As Rev. Donn Dobberstein, director of the commission, explains, “ ‘A God-Lived Life’ is about more than stewardship. It’s a whole-life challenge to God’s people to live the life to which he has called them. The hope is that being challenged in specific ways will urge Christians to put into practice a closer walk with God and a life of love toward others. That’s a God-lived life.”
This four-part stewardship program focuses on the aspects of a God-lived life—a life of being a disciple, a life lived for others, a life of hospitality, and a life lived shrewdly. It is available at welscongregationalservices.net.
One by One
“In my former life [as a detective], there were times if someone did not step up to lead, people could get hurt or die. The same is true for you—and for all of us—as Christians. Someone you have not met yet is counting on you to step up and lead—to lead them to Christ so they will live. Your church doesn’t have to grow by a thousand. It can grow one by one.” So begins Rev. David Rosenau’s article in the February 2021 issue of Forward in Christ.
Rosenau (pictured left) created a Bible study with the title “One by one” for WELS Commission on Evangelism. To see the Bible study, visit welscongregationalservices.net. To read the full Forward in Christ article, visit forwardinchrist.net.
July 2021 WELS Connection
Did you know?
WELS Congregational Services is hosting a second WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership from January 16–18, 2023, in Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit lutheranleadership.com.
Finding spiritual support while in the military
Paul Wolfgramm (pictured), a 35-year-old Marine Corps Reserve veteran with deployment experience, understands the importance of the work of WELS Military Services—even though he admits he didn’t know about the resources offered by WELS during his own service. “It’s a time when your faith can be unraveled or it’s a time when your faith can really be strengthened and you can grow in your relationship with your Savior,” he says. “To be able to reach people who are in such a critical junction in their lives with God’s Word and sacraments is really special.”
As a laymember of WELS Military Services Committee, Wolfgramm now works to make sure other WELS members in the military know where they can find that spiritual support. The best place to start is at wels.net/refer. “You can sign up yourself or you can refer someone else who is actively serving,” explains Wolfgramm.
In addition to receiving military-specific spiritual resources, service men and women who fill out the referral form will be put in contact with the nearest military contact pastor and potentially other WELS members in their area. WELS currently has 120 military contact pastors serving congregations near military installations and military service men and women on base.
Learn more at wels.net/military.
Together video update – May 25, 2021
WELS schools by the numbers
- 2,922 WELS teachers
- 423 schools
- More than 44,900 WELS students (infant through high school seniors)
- 68% of WELS schools had enrollment growth during the 2021-2022 year
For more school statistics, visit cls.welsrc.net/2021-stats.
National Hymnal Week introduces hymnal
WELS Commission on Worship introduced its first WELS National Hymnal Week in September 2021 to provide an opportunity for WELS members to think about the blessings of worship as well as get a sneak peek at what the new Christian Worship hymnal has to offer.
The week involved a worship service that was based on the new lectionary readings of the day and included hymns and music from the new hymnal, a hymn sing, video presentations on new hymnal resources as well as on broader worship topics, and a pre-recorded concert. These resources are available at welscongregationalservices.net/hymnal-introduction-resources.
To learn more about Christian Worship: Hymnal, visit christianworship.com.
WELS National Hymnal Week Hymn Sing
WELS Prison Ministry
WELS Prison Ministry administers an extensive ministry-by-mail program. During the pandemic, demand for the Bible study books provided by WELS Prison Ministry soared. A small staff utilizes the services of hundreds of volunteers to manage the ministry-by-mail program, which has reached more than 70,000 inmates. Eighty-three percent of the Bible study course books that are distributed through WELS Prison Ministry produce a response from an inmate. Volunteers prepare regular mailings, correct Bible correspondence tests, and serve as pen pals to inmates.