Reaching students with campus ministry

Divine Word, Plover, Wis., serves the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus ministry. Every Thursday, 20 to 25 students meet to study God’s Word and to share in a meal prepared by volunteers from the congregation.

But the congregation has decided to take its campus ministry efforts further. With financial support from the WELS Campus Ministry Committee, Divine Word plans to call a second pastor to serve not only the campus, but eventually the Stevens Point community. The goal is that a second pastor will be able to offer more fellowship opportunities and spiritual guidance as well build stronger relationships with the students.

Campus ministry has been an important ministry to Divine Word, as it offers nearby college students a church home and the opportunity to continue building their relationship with God, explains Mr. Scott Dimler, congregation president. He says, “In order to have any successful program that we do at Divine Word, the congregation has to be not only supportive with volunteering their time and talents, but also it is an important part of our ministry, so we do have budget money set aside each year to support it.”

Rev. Ken Brokmeier, chairman of the WELS Campus Ministry Committee, says, “If a congregation is interested, the Campus Ministry Committee is happy to try to partner with local congregations to get something going.” Brokmeier says the Campus Ministry Committee has funds available to help congregations get a campus ministry off the ground and is able to provide guidance on operating a campus ministry program and how the congregation can get involved.

Casey Urbanek, a student at UW-Stevens Point, says, “Being able to meet with other students who share a faith with me and being able to study God’s Word with them is truly a blessing. Campus ministry provides an opportunity for me to step away from all the stress and challenges of college life and focus on my relationship with God while growing in faith with other students.”

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FIC debuts parenting column

In the January issue, Forward in Christ (FIC) magazine is debuting a new column devoted to parenting topics. Titled Heart to heart: Parent conversations, the new column is designed to have the feel of a conversation between parents. Each month one topic will be discussed by a diverse group of parents.

“The idea isn’t for these parents to give readers the ‘right answer’ to the topic,” says Nicole Balza, FIC’s staff editor of the column and mother to three. “After all, how many parenting topics really have one right answer? Instead, the column will explore multiple facets of the topic and give examples of how parents have handled this topic in the past—with both good and bad results.”

More than anything, Balza says that the editors want this column to be an honest forum for Christian parents to build each other up and support each other. An important component of that support will be the opportunity for readers to join the conversation online. and look for the link to the Heart to heart site. Read uncut versions of the articles, learn more about the authors, and share your thoughts and reactions.

The first topic discussed in Heart to heart is how families are adjusting to life in the digital age. January’s writers tackle iPad use, texting, and digital multitasking. Learn how three WELS families are dealing with our world’s digital distractions—and hear some of their tips for keeping technology in check so that it’s a blessing for families.

Looking for other great articles to help you in your daily walk of faith? Go to to subscribe to Forward in Christ.

Congregational counseling training

Thirty pastors met this fall at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry in Waukesha, Wis., to be trained to work with congregations in the Commission on Congregational Counseling’s (CCC) Self-Analysis and Assessment Program.

Through this program, counselors take congregations through a process that helps them examine their ministry and make decisions about where they want to go in the future. “These aren’t outside experts who are coming in to tell you how to run your ministry,” says Rev. Jon Hein, director of the CCC. “These are guys who are trained to be good listeners, to facilitate conversation, to look at background information about your church and see certain things so they can ask smart questions.”

The program has four phases. First a congregation provides the counselor an extensive look at the congregation’s current ministry program, statistics, and history; its community’s demographics and characteristics; and its membership’s analysis of the congregation’s ministry through an online survey.

Next, the counselor visits the congregation for a weekend-long assessment. “The heart of this program is an all-day Bible study where a congregation really gets to think about what can we do to the glory of Christ in our community in various areas of ministry based on what Scripture says,” says Hein. Through information gathered from breakout groups at the Bible study, the counselor then works with the congregation to analyze how the congregation is doing in various areas of ministry—what is working and what needs improvement.

The counselor then takes that information home and puts together a summary report as well as recommendations for the congregation. Different modules—or virtual libraries of information—provide the resources that will help the congregation tackle an area it wants to improve. Then the real work begins for the congregation—implementing the action plan.

According to Hein, the whole process will take about a year. But the final goal isn’t just to complete this process—it’s to show congregations how to continue to analyze and assess ministry in the future. “This isn’t a magic bullet that when you’re done with the CCC program, everything’s going to be going well,” says Hein. “It’s not. In fact you’re going to be more acutely aware that things aren’t always going well. But you’ll also have an idea of how to address that.”

Currently 25 congregations are involved in the Self-Analysis and Assessment Program; 120 more have shown interest. Besides supporting the new counselors, Hein is continuing to gather material and to work with the Congregation and Ministry Support Group commissions to produce resources for the program’s modules.

Part of the Congregation and Ministry Support Group, the CCC works to assist congregations to assess and evaluate current ministry and to develop and carry out plans to adjust or expand that ministry.

WELS, ELS, LCMS representatives meet

Representatives of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and WELS met last week for their third in a series of annual informal discussions. This year’s main topic for discussion was the doctrine of fellowship and how biblical principles of fellowship are carried out in practice.

The main purpose of these meetings is to provide the synods with the opportunity to gain a clear understanding of their respective doctrinal positions and how the synods put those doctrines into practice as they carry out their ministry.

While there are many areas of agreement in both the doctrine of fellowship and its practice, the group also identified areas in which there are differences. Having a clear understanding of the doctrinal positions of the synods is an important starting point for any future doctrinal discussions.

These informal discussions have proven to be very valuable for all involved. WELS and ELS participants are gratified to know that their Missouri Synod counterparts are committed to the Scriptures as the inspired and inerrant Word of God and that they continue to strive to lead their synod in a way that is faithful to God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions. All participants agree that the open and honest talks have been a forum in which future communication can continue.

The group will meet again next December to discuss the biblical principles regarding God’s role for men and women in the church.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder