Moments with missionaries: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Kevin K. Schultz
When I received the call to St. Matthew, Spokane, Wash., to start a multi-site church across the state line in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, I was excited. Planting another church has always sounded interesting to me. And so, when I asked how many people would be part of the core group in Coeur d’Alene, the response caught me off guard: “Well . . . basically . . . no one.”
No one? I’ve always thought that new churches got started because a core group of WELS people lived in that area. No one? How do you start a church with no people?
After arriving in Spokane, I talked with some of the leaders. It quickly became clear that with no core group in Coeur d’Alene, we needed to recruit members from St. Matthew. These people would partner with me to plant this multi-site church almost an hour away.
But who in their right mind would travel one hour every week to do canvassing, community service projects, outreach events, relationship building, and weekly worship services, when the current church in Spokane is only a few minutes away? I couldn’t imagine that anyone would say “yes.”
One by one I started contacting people in the Spokane congregation. I asked them if they would be interested in being a part of a launch team for two years to get a new church started in Coeur d’Alene.
I was honest and told them that it would take a lot of work and time out of their already busy schedules. They would need to travel almost one hundred miles round trip multiple times every month. They would be going door-to-door in the community talking with people about Jesus. They would be driving right past their current church every week to worship an hour away in a rented facility with perhaps only a few other people. I fully anticipated that no one would agree to do this with me.
But I learned quickly how God works in the hearts of his people. He reminded me not only how the gospel changes hearts but also how the gospel motivates hearts.
Twenty-five people said “yes” to my request. 25! And shortly after that, another 5 people asked if they could be a part of it too. That’s a far cry from the “no one” that I had anticipated. God showed me once again that he is in control. His people are eager to be a part of the greatest adventure on earth—telling other people about Jesus.
Many of these people may not remain a part of our mission in Coeur d’Alene long term once the congregation gets established there. They may return to worship at the main church campus in Spokane. But it’s been humbling for me to see so many of God’s people excited about doing evangelism, outreach, community service, and relationship building for the purpose of sharing the gospel. God is using them to build his church.
Start a church with no people? Hardly.
Kevin Schultz serves as a home missionary at The Vine, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the second church site of St. Matthew, Spokane, Washington.
In 2016, the Board for Home Missions authorized five established congregations, including St. Matthew, to start second site ministries. A National Multi-Site Conference on Nov 14–16 at Grace, Tucson, Ariz., will further discuss this strategy of a church reaching out to more people by worshiping and carrying out gospel ministry at more than one physical location. Find out more at wels.net/events.
Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.
Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.
Author: Kevin K. Schultz
Volume 103, Number 10
Issue: October 2016
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2021
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us