LUTHERAN L AYMAN Your Partner in HIS Mission!
May - June 2013
Our Destination in
by Dean Nadasdy
ith decades of experience serving as a pastor, seminary professor, and district president, I see changes in outreach methodology. With humility I can also make some educated guesses at where we might be heading.
Can You be ‘Matched’?
Don’t Forget to Vote! Page 6
I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in an inner-city Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation on the south side of Chicago. German services were held every Sunday well into the 1970s, and German immigrants were visited by our pastor and cared for by members. As a seventh grader I remember being an English tutor for a newly arrived German boy! To extend our outreach, several of us in the school formed a mission club. We also put on puppet shows and raised money for a missionary serving in Africa. Occasionally someone from the community (regardless of ethnic background) found a warm welcome and received care — my parents even took in a foster child while his mother served time in prison. Our elementary school was almost exclusively comprised of church members, but if people for some reason came to us, they were accepted — generally. Many churches grew exponentially due to over a hundred years of ethnic homogeneity and biological multiplication. Communities were eager to have children educated in a Christian school. There were few plans to evangelize the community, although some congregations had a fairly sophisticated public relations plan to attract people to worship services and school. At that time, the Rev. Billy Graham held an amazing track record of stadium-size audiences for his crusades. I never attended as a child, but I did participate in a Lutheran Hour Rally and was mesmerized by the clarity, humor, and intensity of Dr. Oswald HoffPage 14 mann’s preaching. Those rallies attracted large crowds, mostly LCMS Lutherans, and see page 3
34 Congregations Top the List Page 7
speakingup Building Bridges, Crossing Boundaries to Share the Gospel by Rev. Gregory Seltz Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
obering and daring are the verses in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 9:1922. There Paul tells us the challenge before us to share the Gospel with people who don’t know Jesus. He says, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” In the next few issues of The Lutheran Layman, I will explore the challenges and the opportunities of “building bridges” to others so that they might hear and understand for themselves how great this Good News of Jesus is for them! To build a bridge is to “cross over a chasm” that allows people to receive things that otherwise were unavailable to them and to be taken on a journey where they otherwise couldn’t go. It takes planning, effort, knowledge, even courage. But more than anything, it takes love for the people for whom those bridges are to be built. It’s a love for another’s culture, language, passions, hopes and dreams
so that they might see for themselves that Jesus is the only One who fulfills what is right in our world and is the One who will rightly judge what is not. Your love is wanting to see THE WORD OF CHRIST cross over to others, so they can share in the opportunities, the joys, the grace, AND the new life that one can only have in knowing Jesus as their Savior. Becoming master craftsmen of Gospel bridgebuilding is what our own Lutheran theology would challenge us to be and do, right? For the very Gospel message is that God built that bridge all the way to us by becoming a man, born of a virgin, born under the law, to redeem those under the law. Incredibly God keeps bridging that message to us by coming in words we can understand, “water with His Name” that can wash us clean in our hearts and “bread and wine with His body and blood” that can sustain us for the heavenward journey of the life of faith. As God’s people in this world, we get to be people in the bridge-building business of the Gospel because we follow a Savior who has bridged that Gospel all the way to us. So let’s learn together how to grow in our bridge-building work. And let’s rejoice in the challenge before us, as we probe the Scriptures as well for the resources needed to share the Gospel with those who don’t know Jesus. Remember, He has given us a variety of ways to share His grace. We can speak about it as reconciliation, redemption, adoption, justification, restoration, “all by grace through faith in Jesus alone.” But to know what bridge we need to build, we need to really know and love the ones for whom we labor, FIRST! n Next Issue: Listen like you mean it!
Vol. 84, No. 3 May-June 2013
Gerald Perschbacher (LL.D.), Editor • Denis Kloppenburg, Layout Subscription: $5. Printed bi-monthly. Send color photos for use. Photos sent to the paper may not be returned. Lutheran Hour Ministries, The Lutheran Hour, Bringing Christ to the Nations, BCTN, By Kids...For Kids, JCPlayZone, Life...revised, Living for Tomorrow, This is the Life, On Main Street, Ayer, Hoy y Siempre, Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones, Esta Es La Vida, Para el Camino, Woman to Woman, Family Time, Teacher to Teacher, Reaching Out and The Hoffmann Society are registered marks, or SM service marks. The Puzzle Club is a service mark and trademark of Int’l LLL. Copyright 2013, Int’l LLL
Bringing Christ to the Nations — and the Nations to the Church
2 The Lutheran Layman May-June 2013
At the Dedication
Dr. Bruce Wurdeman, executive director of Lutheran Hour Ministries, delivered the message at the church dedication of Trinity Lutheran Church, Keene, New Hampshire, in March. The congregation has existed since Dec. 31, 1952, and is in the LCMS New England District. Rev. Scott Geminn is pastor. More than 400 baptized members are in the congregation.
Hundreds Take the Bracket Challenge
On April 8, LHM’s Men’s NetWork Bracket Challenge came to an end. Five hundred–and-ninetyone individuals signed up for this year’s Challenge. It was the first time the Men’s NetWork held this online contest. For those hardwood hounds who finished first, second, and third in their tournament picks, gift cards from Dick’s Sporting Goods were waiting in the wings. Mark Gerken from Adel, Iowa, took first prize with a $250 gift card. Coming in second was Joshua Wareham from Acworth, Ga., who took home $100. Third went to Chris Irish from Oconomowoc, Wis., who received $50. During the tournament (March 19 until April 8), 11 regulation-sized basketballs were sent to random registrants. Each ball was embossed with the Men’s NetWork logo and added to the fun for those participating. Winners were announced on the Men’s NetWork’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lhmmen. n
Some congregations carry the questions about faith right out to the people.
Outreach, from page 1 kept alive an ethos of concern for the lost. I received no training in Christian outreach. However, seminary training gave me a strong, grace-rich theology to underpin whatever approaches I would use. Generally, that is still the case with our seminaries today. It was in the 1960s and 1970s that some churches began to use the culture’s pop music (in this case, folk music) in worship settings as an appeal to members and the community. When I was a pastor at Grace in Eugene, Ore., the “I Found It” Campaign swept the nation. “It” was new life in Christ. Participating LCMS churches were quick to rename the campaign “God Found Me,” taking their stand on the initiatory preeminence of God’s grace. By the 1970s Dr. D. James Kennedy’s book “Evangelism Explosion” swept America. Many Christians found themselves on the doorsteps of strangers, asking questions like, “If you were to die tomorrow, are you sure you would go to heaven?” As a young pastor I made many of those visits with a lay partner. There was a temptation to hope that no one was home, but they usually were. I am still amazed at how strangers would invite us in and open up. Some would even respond to the Gospel in Jesus Christ. A few became members of the church I served. Like many LCMS pastors, we used Rev. W. Leroy Biesenthal’s book “Dialogue Evangelism,” considered a Lutheran version of Kennedy’s program. When the evangelistic programs ran their course in the LCMS, there was little to succeed
them. Some churches regularly canvassed their munity. Enrollment grew from a genuine desire communities. Others formed evangelism com- to know Christ and the Bible. Some churches mittees to reach out. I have great memories of adapted the video-based Alpha course as a way making calls for our church with about 25 “am- of reviewing basic teachings of the Christian bassadors” from our church (Cross View Lu- faith. Some of my greatest memories as a pastor theran in Edina, Minn.). With rare exceptions came while sitting in a couple’s home, teaching we were received well. Some of those we visited the faith from God’s Word — and watching God became members. bring them to faith. By the 1980s popular contemporary ChrisThe LCMS North American Mission Desk tian music was folded into worship. helped us focus on the lost in our “I am still By the 1990s we heard about the own backyard and on the amazing amazed at worship “seeker service” designed influx of immigrants. When I attendto present the Christian Gospel in how strangers ed a missions conference, I sensed a non-offensive way and in a set- would invite us something of what it will be like in ting of contemporary music, drama, in and open up. heaven and how far we had come. preaching, and prayer. This type of Church planting in the LCMS Some would moved from being district-driven worship drew people who were alto being congregation-driven. Disready church members, often baby even respond boomers born between 1946 and to the Gospel in tricts still invested financially in new 1964. Jesus Christ.” church starts and provided accountability and ecclesiastical supervision. The Church Growth Movement emphasized visitor-friendly churches inten- During this period districts and synod stepped tional about welcoming people from their away from providing programs and training for communities. Most observers now see that the congregations – including evangelism. The impact of the Pastoral Leadership Institute movement’s emphasis on numbers was misguided. cannot go unmentioned. Studies show that pasStill, many churches worked hard to be friendlier. Churches in the 1980s and 1990s focused on tors who received this training led their churches small group ministry as an attraction. Some groups to attract most of the growth the LCMS has seen displayed an empty chair whenever they met, sym- in new church membership in recent years. The Ablaze! Movement, approved by the bolizing the openness of the group to bringing in new people. Though groups were designed to grow, LCMS in its 2004 convention, set outreach goals see page 4 divide, and give birth to new groups, most of the groups stayed together. Some still exist. Many LCMS schools, preschools, and early childhood centers have struggled to find an outreach-focused model for community children and families. Since 1989, the Open Arms Institute has helped Lutherans start more than 60 early child care ministries, often as tools for planting new churches. Since closing a church’s school may be a step toward closing the church, many long for a model that can make mobile app the school an effective available now! Use the mobile app to agency for presenting the • Listen or read sermons on your phone Gospel in communities. • Bookmark sermons Over the decades, the Bethel Bible Series, • Search archived sermons The Lutheran Hour mobile Crossways, and Concorapp is now available on the • Contact LHM Google Play Store and the dia Publishing House’s Apple App Store. LifeLight series attracted people from the com-
The Lutheran Hour
www.lutheranhour.org The Lutheran Layman May - June 2013 3
Outreach, from page 4
ment to spiritual disciplines, personal service, and evangelism.
for the church to be reached by 2017 (the 500th anniversary of the Reformation). Ablaze! goals included reaching 100 million people with the Gospel worldwide, 50 million in the United States; planting 5,000 new churches worldwide, 2,000 nationally; and revitalizing 2,000 existing churches in the U.S. Although the Ablaze! Movement has not been continued, a three fold emphasis on “Witness, Mercy, Life Together” has made outreach a primary focus of the synod. What do past outreach approaches tell us? 1. Generally, the worship service was the primary vehicle for reaching the lost. Clear, Scrip-
Many churches recognize that North America has become post-Christian. Missiologists warn that our culture will become pre-Christian, with a generation of people not knowing the church’s story or message. That means a growing number of people have written off the church as irrelevant, outdated, judgmental, and hypocritical. Millennials or the Mosaic Generation (those born between 1984 and 2002) have a difficult time identifying with the institutional church. The books “UnChristian” (David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, 2007) and “You Lost Me” (David Kinnaman, 2011)
“Our culture, ture-based, Law/Gospel preachprovide research on a generation that ing with a full Gospel presentation more than ever, seems lost to the church. The most continued to attract people to our recent church I served as a pastor disneeds to churches. covered that over half of its inactive hear our 2. North Americans were inmembers (those who had not worterested in our message. We built stories, our songs, shiped for over a year) were second our values, and churches, invited people to come, and third generation members. Their and they came. Outreach methour hopes.” parents or grandparents were active, ods focused on attracting people to but they are not. churches. In a still-Christian culture, those methMany LCMS churches realize they must do more ods often worked. than merely attract people to buildings and worship 3. Evangelistic efforts primarily were reliant services. National average worship attendance was on pastors but included committed lay people at 40% when I began my pastoral ministry. It is now trained in presenting the Gospel. at 17.5% and decreasing. By 2020 that figure could 4. LCMS Lutherans exhibited a commitment to drop to 14.7% (source: David Olson, “The American their theological moorings when worship music Church in Crisis,” 2008). changed for the sake of reaching the unchurched. The average church in America has 75 regular atMost recognized that worship is primarily designed tendees with an average age of 55. Over 50% of Amerfor God’s people, not those outside the church. ica’s churches have less than 100 attendees (Gary L. 5. New members were taught the catechism McIntosh, “One Size Doesn’t Fit All,” 2007). In 2011 but received little instruction in using their spe- average worship attendance in a congregation of the cific gifts in ministry, personal evangelism, and LCMS was reported as 141, a figure which may be inservice. Most churches had no intentional plan flated. As a district president I am repeatedly meeting for developing Christian disciples with a commit- with LCMS churches that no longer have the critical 4 The Lutheran Layman May-June 2013
mass to support a full-time resident pastor. In the last decade 10 churches closed in our district. Woodbury Lutheran in Woodbury, Minn., is still involved in many attracting ministries. Word and Sacraments are still at the center of their life together as they offer a variety of worship and music styles, all of which honor the historic liturgical order. Members are encouraged to invite unchurched family and friends to worship. Callers saturate selected neighborhoods three times a year: just before the school year, Christmas, and Easter. Packets include an invitation to worship services and other church ministries. “Porch Lights” visit neighborhood newcomers and invite them to worship. Members stop by with a loaf of bread when visiting first time visitors at home. Since its beginning, Woodbury Lutheran has seen itself as a community church, taking the name of its Congregations community into its own name. that connect with children Community efforts include a build for the Christian cupboard and closfuture. et; a career transitions group; Celebrate Recovery; cancer support; military family support; a youth dropin center; and an array of disabilities ministries. Over 30 community groups meet regularly in the church facilities. Preschool and kindergarten also continue to draw new people to the church. The impact of these community-oriented service events has brought Woodbury Lutheran a reputation as a serving church. The one crucial factor in this ministry is the church’s understanding that lay people must be invited, equipped, and encouraged in ministry. Like many churches, though, Woodbury Lutheran has seen that attracting people is not enough. The following ministries take the Gospel outside the walls of their church: • An approach to whole-life discipleship which encourages members in the four areas of worship, care, growth, and outreach; • A small group ministry providing a “life together” ministry of Bible study, prayer, care, and outreach. • Planting a new church, which may be the single best way to reach the greatest number of unchurched people; • Taking on as their second campus a church that couldn’t make it on its own; • Encouraging members to make their “third place” (after home and work) a place out in the community where they can bring the presence of Christ to unchurched people; • A one-on-one spiritual mentoring ministry in which seasoned Christians mentor those exploring or questioning the Christian faith; • An array of local servant opportunities which
even draw the unchurched as participants; • An array of mission experiences not only for youth but also for adults which include annual hands-on, meaningful ministries in Jamaica, Alaska, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Woodbury Lutheran is a large church with significant resources. Any church, however, no matter its size, can take this Christ-like servant posture to its community (Mark 10:43-45). These days Christians have to earn the right to have the Good News heard. That comes when the unchurched, and especially unchurched young adults, see us as listening, caring, and serving before they ever join us in Word and Sacrament worship.
What might congregational outreach ministries look like in the future, especially in the LCMS? 1. We might expect a tendency to separate from the world or simply to bash its make-it-upas-you-go spirituality. But LCMS congregations will strive to love the world even if the world’s disinterest grows antagonistic. Why? God’s love for a sinful world led the Father to send His one and only Son—and that same love was active as that Son sent His followers as His witnesses. This mission of God (missio Dei in Latin, from mittere, to send) will lead churches increasingly to become sending agencies. More and more church members will place themselves in settings where they can interact with the unchurched at school, at work, at the café or coffee shop, in community sports, in volunteer groups, etc. 2. The pastor cannot be the only doer. He doesn’t know enough unchurched people, and he simply doesn’t have time to do it all. He will become a trainer. Seminaries will train him on how to equip lay people for ministry. In larger churches, entire church staffs will take the equipping role. They will be intentional about raising up and training others for community outreach ministries. Events like the Regional Outreach Conferences (ROCs) of Lutheran Hour Ministries will provide effective motivation and training. Crucial here is the Lutheran theology of vocation, calling every Christian into the world and into ministry. 3. Congregations will be intentional about the choices they make in mission. Developing mature disciples of Jesus Christ will be primary. Even the smallest church can do a few outreach ministries well. Choices will be made on the basis of the gifts God gives each church with the attendant promise that they “are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1 Cor. 1:7) necessary for their mission. 4. The ministry of Word and Sacraments will remain crucial for congregational outreach ministry. Word and Sacrament in worship will continue to be the fuel and fire of the mission of God. God acts. God motivates. God sends. All that happens
Putting the emphasis on Christ is a key element of LHM Regional Outreach Conferences (ROCs).
as we gather around the Word of God. That “Many churches for cover. Our culture, more than ever, gathering, however, will not be the end needs to hear our stories, our songs, grew product of our life together. These means exponentially our values, and our hopes. They need to of grace are just that, means. They are the know that we are out to serve and love due to over a media God uses to equip, energize and them. They can only know that if they hundred years see and hear us — out there with them, send His people into the world. Out of worof ethnic ship, the church at Antioch sent Barnabas with the poor, the lost, and the broken. homogeneity and Saul on their mission (Acts 13:2-3). If “hell is hot, and time is short,” we do 5. LCMS churches will retain the litur- and biological not have the luxury of withdrawal. A gical structure of worship and use lyrics multiplication.” bright future for the mission of God bewhich reflect our theology. A vast majorgins when we realize that the time for ity will continue to use verbatim the services of The our engagement in outreach is NOW. Lutheran Hymnal, Lutheran Worship, or Lutheran Rev. Dean Nadasdy is president of the LCMS Service Book. Others, in their variety, will hopeful- Minnesota South District and has been a prely retain the genius of the historic liturgical order senter at a Regional Outreach Conference as a treasure. Discernment on the part of pastors (ROC) for LHM. n and worship planners will be crucial. Perhaps we can focus together on where worship takes us in terms of witness. 6. Increasingly, congregations will commit to planting new churches and starting new ministries. These will reach more people with the Gospel than any other vehicle. This was the Spirit-driven strategy of the New Testament church sent into its pre-Christian culture. This strategy says we do not need more mega-churches but more effective servant churches willing to make the hard, sacrificial choices that go with planting new churches and starting new ministries. If, as many have suggested, being a Christian today is like being an exile in Babylon, it is not a time for us to circle the wagons or to run The Lutheran Layman May - June 2013 5
by Kurt Buchholz Chairman, Int’l LLL Board of Directors
lieve will achieve the best harvest, the best fruit, the greatest return. (See the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.) The key to effective labor for today is a clear vision of what the intended future outcome of that labor is. The farmer farms to see an outcome of a harvest selling in the market and helping those who rely on their products; the lawyer and judge work to see that earthly justice is done; Christians bear witness to God’s Gospel message so that others will see Christ and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, come to a true faith in Jethe brokensus Christ our Savior. ness that a As I think about how to use the resources and blessings God sinful world has to offer. We live with the assurance that we do not need to wor- has given to me today, I must also think about what impact I ry about tomorrow. “Therefore, do not believe God would like those resources to have in shaping toworry about tomorrow, for tomorrow morrow. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves as we seek to be good and effective workers in His harvest fields: will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:34). • What is my personal vision for a healthy misDoes this verse say that “Therefore, sional church that will engage the generations of God does not want me to plan for the future? It is clear do not worry the future in bearing witness to Christ? • What core ministries, programs, initiatives, that God has always had about or institutions do I believe will be essential to the and currently has a plan for tomorrow, health of the witness of the church for our children, the future. Jesus, while living among us, carried out for tomorrow grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren? • What am I personally doing now (or need to a plan for our future. We will worry start doing) to invest in the success of that future? are, therefore, called to be The International Lutheran Laymen’s League good stewards of what God about itself.” Board is asking these same questions right now as has blessed us with not just for today but for the future bearing of we take on the task to discern and articulate a clear and concise fruit: “I chose you and appointed you vision of the future for our church and the role God has planned to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” for the Int’l LLL in that future. I encourage each of you brothers (John 15:16). We work in the harvest and sisters to pray with us and to continue to selflessly partner fields in anticipation of the harvest to with us as we seek to maintain relevancy in God’s mission of come. Not only that, but we have been witness to the whole world for not only today but as we build a instructed to work in a way that we be- legacy for generations of harvest workers to come. n
Setting a Clear and Concise Vision There has been a lot of discussion about the future lately. We hear questions asking: What kind of economy and debt are we leaving for the next generations? Will there be jobs and opportunities for our children? Will we be able to afford rising healthcare costs and have enough savings to last through our retirement? What is happening to the Christian church as numbers of believers decline in the western world? For some in our world the future is more immediate. Where will the next meal for my children come from? Will my daughter recover from malaria this time? Will the radiation treatments and chemotherapy get all of the cancer this time? Will my brother respond in faith to my Gospel witness as he lies in the hospital waiting for his last breath? What a blessing it is, as Christians, we know that our future is certain. As Christians we live in a world where the love and mercy of God transcends all
6 The Lutheran Layman May-June 2013
! W NO
The annual election for the International Lutheran Laymen’s League Board of Directors is underway. Every contributing member of Lutheran Hour Ministries is entitled to vote for the open positions on the board, as long as he or she is a member of a congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod or Lutheran Church—Canada. Vice chair and four director positions are up for election in 2013. Voting instructions and biographical information on each candidate were mailed to members recently. Voting is also available online by visiting https://vote.election-america.com/LHM and entering your election code and voting PIN to access the web site. Don’t delay! Your vote must be received by the independent tabulation firm no later than May 30th to be counted. Election results will be publicized as soon as the election committee can verify the ballots cast. Questions may be directed by email to: LHM@election-america.com or call 1-866-384-9978. n
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Don’t Forget to Vote!
34 Congregations Top the List for Adult Confirmation
by Mark Larson
Some years ago, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod recognized congregations for the number of people they confirmed in a year. So, what progress has been made in recent memory?
able 1 lists the 34 congre- Table 1: Congregations Reporting the Most Adult Confirmations in 2011 (Top 10 are highlighted) gations* in the LCMS that Baptized Adult have reached that mark of State Congregation City Members Confirmations 35 adult confirmations as LakePointe HOT SPRINGS AR 1,322 161 reported to the LCMS in 2011, the Crosspoint KATY TX 1,376 158 last year statistics are available. Adult Concordia SAN ANTONIO TX 7,075 114 confirmations measure the number Saint John ELLISVILLE MO 6,258 97 of people who receive instruction and are received as communicant Saint John’s ORANGE CA 5,434 76 members of the church. While this Redeemer FORT COLLINS CO 2,351 74 number may include people who are Salem TOMBALL TX 2,739 61 already Christians from another faith Faith TROY MI 3,501 60 background, it is the best measureRedeemer AUSTIN TX 3,290 57 ment for outreach in the church. We Prince of Peace CARROLLTON TX 1,874 55 are thankful to the Lord for the comMessiah PLANO TX 2,128 52 mitment of these congregations for Bethlehem LAKEWOOD CO 2,390 46 reaching the unchurched. LakePointe Lutheran Church of St John’s WEST BEND WI 2,111 45 Hot Springs, Arkansas, reported the Saint Paul’s ORANGE CA 1,721 44 most adult confirmations at 161, edgBeautiful Savior LAVISTA NE 2,339 44 ing out Crosspoint of Katy, Texas, by Hope WAKE FOREST NC 1,533 44 just 3. Rev. Greg Bearss is the pastor Emmanuel FORT WAYNE IN 613 43 and founder of LakePointe, a church Redeemer N CHESTERFIELD VA 792 42 that is just 8 years old. His response Summit Community BUCKEYE AZ 433 41 to how his congregation was able to Christ Church PHOENIX AZ 2,831 41 connect so many new people to the Our Savior NORFOLK NE 2,133 41 church was, “We do our best to meet people where they are. Our church Peace Lutheran EAU CLAIRE WI 2,670 41 works hard to welcome people, no Immanuel EAST DUNDEE IL 2,138 40 matter their background. You will Trinity TINLEY PARK IL 1,876 40 find people from all walks of life at Family of Christ TAMPA FL 612 40 LakePointe. In fact, you will see a lot Prince of Peace FREMONT CA 1,201 37 more young people at our church Saint Paul BOCA RATON FL 2,002 37 than most—tattoos and all!” Immanuel PALATINE IL 1,995 37 Remarkably, 5 of the top 10 Saint Paul ROYAL OAK MI 987 37 churches in adult confirmation are in Woodbury WOODBURY MN 4,071 37 the Texas district (as well as the congregation ranked 11th). Texas District Zion SAINT CHARLES MO 3,532 36 President Ken Hennings observed, “I Our Savior ARCADIA CA 1,600 35 thank God for the fruit with which He Saint Peter ARLINGTON HTS IL 2,461 35 has blessed these congregations! But, Carmel CARMEL IN 3,033 35 with a state that is growing by 500,000 Saint Peter MACOMB MI 3,734 35 see next page * Fourteen other congregations incorrectly entered their numbers, and this was confirmed by respective districts. The Lutheran Layman May - June 2013 7
Adult Confirmation, from page 7 each year, there is much more work to do in reaching these new people with the Gospel. Our Father’s heart desires all to come and know Him and His love for the world.” The Pacific Southwest District also had six congregations on this list. Pacific Southwest District President Larry Stoterau commented on the common characteristic of these churches in California and Arizona: “Each of the congregations identified has an intentional outreach into the community through schools or direct community involvement. We encourage congregations to get out of their buildings and into their communities to connect in a loving way with those who may not identify with the church.” It is clear that congregations reporting the most adult confirmations tend to be larger or well-established church plants. However, smaller congregations can still do a great job in reaching the lost. The final column on the right of table 2 reports the number of baptized members in the congregation in ratio for every adult confirmand that was gained. The list includes all churches where the ratio is 15 or less and had at least 10 adult confirmations. The statistical year 2011 was unique in that many more congregations returned their reports (5,000 instead of the usual 4,000). This greater reporting, however, did not significantly alter the percentages of churches reporting adult confirmations at various levels. As in other years, more than half of LCMS churches reported that they did not confirm any adults. (See bar graph.) Lutheran Hour Ministries seeks to be “Your Partner in His Mission” and already offers many resources for evangelism training in congregations.
Lutheran Hour Ministries seeks to be “Your Partner in His Mission”
Table 2: Congregations Reporting Best Ratio of Membership to Adult Confirmations
Congregation Hope Community Community of Faith Promise LakePointe Immanuel Crosspoint Living Water Christ Lutheran Bethany Evangelical Holy Trinity Summit Community Hope Hope Saint Paul Cedar Hill Risen Christ Faith Peace Saint Mark New Life Community Faith Our Savior The Church at Creston Emmanuel Good Shepherd Church of The Cross Trinity Family of Christ Hope Prince of Peace Shepherd of The Hills Our Savior Community Saint Paul
City State RED CREEK NY 53 SPRING GROVE IL 67 MURRIETA CA 242 HOT SPRINGS AR 1,322 MERCEDES TX 130 KATY TX 1,376 BUCKEYE AZ 98 CPE CANAVERAL FL 90 MILWAUKEE WI 142 LA GRANGE KY 132 BUCKEYE AZ 433 SAINT HELEN MI 148 LUBBOCK TX 279 ANNAPOLIS MD 155 CEDAR HILL MO 301 MYRTLE BEACH SC 305 MOBILE AL 168 GALLOWAY NJ 207 PHOENIX AZ 336 SWARTZ CREEK MI 284 BENTONVILLE AR 150 AIEA HI 315 KALISPELL MT 236 FORT WAYNE IN 613 GARDENDALE AL 361 PUNTA GORDA FL 286 FOUNTAIN HLS AZ 212 TAMPA FL 612 DALY CITY CA 157 HOWELL NJ 472 PRESCOTT AZ 205 PALM SPRINGS CA 475 HAVELOCK NC 190
We are also forming partnerships in various ways to work with others throughout the LCMS. God willing, next year the LCMS will be able to report that many more people have become followers of Christ—and this list of churches effectively reaching the lost by the power of the Holy Spirit will be much longer. n
15 13 31 161 15 158 11 10 14 13 41 14 26 13 25 24 13 16 25 21 11 23 17 43 24 19 14 40 10 30 13 30 12
Baptized Members/ Adult Conf. 3.5 5.2 7.8 8.2 8.7 8.7 8.9 9.0 10.1 10.2 10.6 10.6 10.7 11.9 12.0 12.7 12.9 12.9 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.9 14.3 15.0 15.1 15.1 15.3 15.7 15.7 15.8 15.8 15.8
Percent of Congregations
(Rev. Dr. Mark Larson directs the U.S. Ministries Division of LHM.) Number of Adult Confirmations Reported in 2011
8 The Lutheran Layman May-June 2013
by Bruce Wurdeman Executive Director Lutheran Hour Ministries
Turn, Turn, Turn I knew it as a song before I knew the lyrics to that song came from the Bible. In 1962, Pete Seeger wrote and recorded it, but it didn’t hit it big on the charts until The Byrds recorded and released it in 1965. “Turn, Turn, Turn” was the shortened name of the song. The lyrics, except for the line “turn, turn, turn,” were nearly verbatim from Ecclesiastes 3 (a bit rearranged): “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up….” The song—and the Bible passage— go on for several more verses. There is a time for everything and, after 42 years of working in the church which will include a total of 14 years at Lutheran Hour Ministries, the time has come. After much prayer and discussion with my family, it has become clear to me that the best time for me to retire— for me and for LHM—is at the end of this 2013 calendar year. I want to stress that this is my decision and mine, alone. Our Board of Directors has been nothing short of incredibly supportive of my work and ministry, and I have the luxury of working with the best staff in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. There are a couple of personal issues involved. I’ve been traveling heavily for the last 20 years, while working for LHM and while working for the Texas District of the LCMS. There is a time to stay home more, and my wife Mj and I agreed that the time is now. We have some dreams about what retirement will be like, where we want to live, and what we want to volunteer to do, and we
“I will continue to support LHM with my prayers, talents and finances.”
are ready to pursue those. At LHM the time seems right, as well. Things are going really, really well. There is a good spirit within the staff. We are getting strong encouragement from the churches in the LCMS and LCC. We are on solid financial footing. Our staff is excited about the future. At the same time, there are some major projects in development that could probably benefit from a consistent hand at the helm for the next four to five years. I knew that I wouldn’t be here for that long, so now seems like good timing from that perspective. My belief that God is using Lutheran Hour Ministries in some amazing ways and will do even more amazing things through this ministry remains firm. It is for that very reason that leaving my position is made so much more difficult. I will value and enjoy the eight
months I have left until December 31. I will continue to support LHM with my prayers, talents and finances. And I will always cherish the memory of 14 years of watching God work through some gifted, dedicated staff here at LHM. May this organization continue to be doing what God wants to bless. n
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR The Board of Directors of the International Lutheran Laymen’s League invites applicants and nominations for the position of Executive Director for Lutheran Hour Ministries with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The Executive Director provides leadership to accomplish the vision and mission (www.lhm.org/about) of LHM, and is accountable directly to the Board of Directors. As the chief administrative and executive staff member, the Executive Director will have wide latitude to lead a diverse and creative international media ministry. Successful management will assure compliance with board directives and policies, and provide a sound financial basis for ministry operations. The job description may be viewed in detail at www.lhm.org/execdirector . A candidate must be a lay member of either the LCMS or LCC who desires to speak boldly of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The successful candidate will demonstrate a track record of effective organizational, management, supervisory and leadership skills at an executive level in a secular or comparable not-for-profit organization. Experience in anticipating, defining and analyzing issues, and initiating timely actions using proven business judgment are essential. Applications and nominations will be accepted until June 15, 2013. If interested, please submit a resume with cover letter and salary history to:
Philip Krauss, Vice Chairman Board of Directors of the International Lutheran Laymen’s League For the Executive Director Search Committee E mail: LHMjobs@lhm.org
The Lutheran Layman May - June 2013 9
Thousands Rush to Order Prayer Booklet More than 12,000 copies of the recent Project Connect booklet titled, “Prayer: When You Don’t Know What to Say” have gone out the door, and orders keep coming in. “That’s unheard of!” said Suzie Sallee, coordinator of witness tools for Lutheran Hour Ministries and a real aficionado of prayer. “This booklet has gone off the shelves faster than any booklet we’ve offered since I started with LHM in 2003!” Part of the booklet’s popularity is its straightforward approach and what it means for an individual to be on a personal level with God. “Spending time with God is the ultimate relationship. Prayer is simply communicating with God, both talking and listening to Him. Through His Son Jesus Christ, we are free to come to God to share our deepest and most private joys, pains, thoughts and feelings, without having to impress someone or be fearful of criticism,” the authors write.
“Writing this booklet has been on my heart for three years, waiting for the best writers for the project,” Sallee said. Collaborating with her were Rich Cohrs, LHM’s manager for district/congregational relations, and Rev. Wayne Palmer, LHM’s theological writer/editor. Together this writing team has produced a booklet that’s resonating with readers and truly is making a difference. Prayer is that amazing opportunity each of us has to communicate with God, who is always ready to listen. Whether we’re joyful or sorrowful, He wants to hear from us frequently. As the authors remind us, “Prayer has a marvelous way of strengthening our faith, keeping us close to God, and comforting us when we’re down. Through it, God comes to us and makes Himself known to us.” For details on ordering, check www.lhm.org/prayer. n
When You Don’t Know What To Say For a limited time, purchase 20 Prayer booklets ($10 plus shipping and handling) and we will give you an additional 5 booklets for FREE!
C Projectlet from Book n Hour a Luther istries! Min
10 The Lutheran Layman May-June 2013
(Order 40 get 10 free, 60 get 15 free, and so on.)
To take advantage of this offer, enter promo code LMPRAY13 at our special ordering page www.lhm.org/prayer.
HURRY, OFFER ENDS JUNE 30, 2013!
C U C A R I N G in a Pluralistic, Postmodern Culture I C O N N E C T E D U As a Lutheran growing up in the Midwest, I learned S how religious pluralism
Witnessing to Jesus by Phillip Johnson
They look at the world skeptically. They see a perpetual struggle between competing “realities.” Their search for truth is replaced by the conviction that there is nothing to gain from the myriad of conflicting human interpretafocused on understanding other Christian denomtions of reality. inations. I was challenged to witness among neighThis world view is sometimes rebors by knowing and responding to the teachings of ferred to as “postmodern.” The only various church bodies. To do this, I developed a solid consistent factor among adherents is understanding of God’s Word. Even in the midst of a common belief that there is no obdisagreements with friends or neighbors, I was conjective, identifiable truth. “Truth” is determined by each individual. All fident that the Bible formed a shared, authoritative truths are valid because all are equalfoundation that guided our discussions. Even those ly unverifiable. Attempts to assert Jewho were outside the Christian church were familsus as “objective truth” are met with iar with the basic teachings found in God’s Word assertions that such a stance is “true and respected them, even if they did not believe. for you” but not for everyone. The only truly universal principle is Today, religious pluralism in North the knowledge that there are no univerAmerica is different. Discussions of sal principles! faith reach beyond shared parameters When this is the case, is relevant of God’s Word. Questions are as likely Christian witness possible? Let’s exto reflect major world religions as they plore the answer by meeting four young are other Christian denominations. college students who walk the path of Lutherans now must prepare “to give a Christian witness in a pluralistic, postreason for the hope that we have. But modern world. do this with gentleness and respect” Raymond is a senior who lives off (1 Peter 3:15). We convey that hope to campus in a five-bedroom house he people who had not heard of Jesus or shares with seven people who are about do not accept the authority of God’s his age. Each of his tattoos tells a disWord. How can we articulate the value tinctive story, while his heavy beard and of our “religious expressions” beyond sandaled feet strike a strange contrast in surface actions? We do so by connect- a frigid Midwest winter. He and the people he lives ing those actions to the new life we with are committed to one another and to living have through faith in Jesus Christ. their lives centered on their dynamic, intentional, If we attempt to establish “who is community setting. They want to make a difference right and who is wrong,” we may be ig- through their active participation in the developnored by a growing number of people ment of their local neighborhood and by nurturing with a distinctly different world view. connections with people.
Faiza is trim, neat, and fashionably dressed. Her ready smile and warm greeting show little evidence of the struggles she first faced in sixth grade as she adjusted to a new language and culture. That year her parents and their six children moved to the United States. She speaks several languages fluently and loves her work with various urban organizations that serve new immigrants. Her approach to service and faith was shaped by growing up in refugee camps. Dao recently served in the U.S. Military and is using his college benefits in preparation to care for his young, growing family. He is part of an extended family centered in the same urban neighborhood for three generations. His love for his country is as strong as his desire to live up to his parents’ expectations. Still, he is confused by the faith of his parents and grandparents. He seeks solid answers to his own questions regarding life and faith. Kelly grew up in a rural Midwest town, but you would not guess that from looking at her. Colorful streaks in her hair along with multiple piercings seem to indicate an urban upbringing. While she has lots of friends on campus, many of her most significant relationships were formed through the competition and camaraderie of on-line gaming. In this virtual environment, she corresponds daily with friends and acquaintances around the world who are intellectually gifted and spiritually thirsty. They, too, are highly skeptical of any interpretation of their objective truth. They are deeply invested in the virtual realms of computer animation and avatars. These college students represent a generation see page 12
Sharing the Good News is different today but just as important.
The Lutheran Layman May - June 2013 11
that has grown up in a world of instant information. To them, there are endless choices—from the coffee they drink and clothes they wear to their spiritual searching and religious expression. Getting to know young people like Raymond, Faiza, Dao, and Kelly can be a good first step in answering the question of meaningful witness within the pluralistic, postmodern and, in
sonal “fit.” They want to explore life without the traditional borders of established church expressions. Having a wide range of choices doesn’t bother them, and their investigation goes beyond face value. They want to know what lies beneath rituals, beliefs, and practices. They are interested in learning about the “what” of your faith—but even more interested in the “why.” If you witness to them about Jesus as Lord and Savior, it may take you beyond a “show-
many ways, post-Christian culture. Their generation is searching for answers to larger questions of life. They are interested in belief systems that contribute to their search. They don’t believe that all approaches to religion are equal, but they are unwilling to oppose any religious expression so long as it is not harmful. The last thing they want to see is someone left without a voice, or without a story, or who is invalidated. These young people usually are not interested in hearing what you believe. However, they are interested in knowing your “faith story,” how your faith has brought meaning and purpose to your life. They don’t want to be told about Jesus – they want to see the difference Jesus makes in your life. They want to experience the Christian story. They are not anti-intellectual, but they seek to reconcile what they have been told about Jesus with the intuitive proof of per-
but-don’t-tell” lifestyle. Faithful witness will require you to connect your actions to the promises of God in Jesus Christ. Without this connection, your actions will only point others to your good works, but fail to produce “praise [to] your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16). Equally invalid is the “tell-but-don’tshow” approach to witnessing that reveals the truth of the Christian Gospel separate from your lifestyle. As a disciple of Jesus, you are not called to offer propositional truths in a vacuum. You are called to be “salt” and “light,” influencing others by living in such a way that your “salty living” produces a thirst for “living water” (John 4:10). So it is indispensable that you speak and serve, living a life that is curious, caring, and connected. These three adjectives form the basic principles of witnessing in a pluralistic, postmodern culture. Curiosity requires that you ask questions and genuinely understand what your neighbor believes. You must really listen as others express deep values and beliefs. You must develop a sincere curiosity about individuals through meaningful questions.
Seek connection, inviting others into your experience of God’s goodness.
12 The Lutheran Layman May-June 2013
from page 11
As you adjust your “witness agenda” to listening, you will gain a better understanding of how God is working in the lives of those around you. Curiosity will help you to understand the context of your witness. Listening to others with genuine curiosity can change what you know and how you think about others. Demonstrations of genuine caring for others will begin to change how you feel about them. This caring lifestyle will require a commitment that extends beyond surface relationships. Coupling your faith with caring actions can establish trust and, over time, change not only how you think about others, but how you feel. When you demonstrate care, you can no longer keep them at arm’s length. As relationships with others are nurtured, they grow deeper. Seek connection, inviting others into your experience of God’s goodness. Help them to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Your invitation to experience a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ is actually the cumulative result of your curious and caring lifestyle. When others see your personal encounter with God through His living Word, it corroborates your witness. This is what many in our current cultural context are seeking! Do you think this sounds good but isn’t practical? Perhaps you feel that you have nothing in common with people who hold a postmodern world view. Maybe the curious and caring approach will not produce the desired connections. You will need to talk about the One who clearly identified Himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” That seemingly narrow message creates a formidable barrier to postmodernists. But do not give up. There will be opportunities to build bridges to this culture. Consider that the skepticism of the postmodern mindset is, in part, a rejection of absolute certainty. It is based on human analytical capabilities. This postmodern culture does not respect rationality as a foundation for truth. Likewise, as Christians, we can agree with them that truth does not come from inside ourselves. Yet, this agreement does not make truth relative. All of God’s truth is true—and you are not being asked to abandon your convictions but to bring them out in a different cultural setting. How? Share current movies, plays, concerts, and books with your friends. Allow them to provide mutual exploration of spiritual themes. Learn to mine nuggets of truth from these sources and use them to direct your friends to The Truth. This is what Paul accomplished in Acts 17:16-34 as he stood before the Areopagus in Athens. He gave evidence to the truth of the resurrection by using quotes from popular poetry to help listeners un-
derstand their relationship with the Creator of the universe. Paul knew the importance of conserving truth wherever he found it and used that truth to attract people to the light of Jesus’ resurrection. Another area of general agreement is that no one can remain in a culturally neutral position in their quest for knowledge. We are all participants in our own culture. Attempts to recognize and illustrate truth are unavoidably conditioned by that participation. In his devotional book “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction,” Eugene Peterson points to the old categories of world, flesh, and the devil. He refers to world as an “atmosphere, a mood. It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the world’s temptations as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water.” Your postmodern friend probably will agree that our endeavors alone will never lead to absolute truth since they will be tainted by the cultural waters in which we swim. You, like Peterson, can affirm the suspicions that “things aren’t right, that the environment is not whole, but just what it is eludes analysis.” It is a shared notion that on your own you cannot determine its source. This provides the opportunity to share your thanks for the One who has promised a different perspective and a new mind (Romans 12:2). A final agreement you may develop with your postmodern neighbor is an understanding of the role of future technology. Have you noticed an increase in the number of books and movies that explore our future as one of conflict with—or abandonment of—technology? There is a growing sense that the explosion of technology will not produce a better world. A younger generation may embrace technology but they will no longer look to technology as a kind of savior. Technological advances carry possibilities of considerable good—and, equally—possibilities of evil. There will be times to conserve truth where it can be found and use that truth to direct your neighbors to The Truth. There are times when you, as a transformed child of God, must provide a lifestyle and a message that is salt and light, acting as a transforming agent in our world. And there will be times to draw a distinction be-
tween your lifestyle as a follower of Jesus and the lifestyle of postmodern neighbors. How are you to know when to practice conservation, transformation, or separation? Decide this as you engage your neighbors with a curious, caring, and connected lifestyle. Through this engagement, you can practice conservation, transformation, and separation in specific circumstances. This approach can be messy. It lacks packaged responses. But it is personal and individual in its focus, a quality that is highly desirable today. What about Raymond, Faiza, Dao, and Kelly? If you were able to talk with them, you would discover that all four mirror our concern for people who are outside of a relationship with God through His Son Jesus. All four are followers of Jesus Christ and experience the peace that comes from God through faith. All four are part of God’s people by the Word and water of Baptism—and are devoted to living with a mission! Working among college students, I am privileged to see these four young, dedicated followers of Jesus in action. Together we reach over barriers to communicate the Gospel on While people may look and seem different, our campus and across our community. Their they need the abiding presence of God through dedicated, entrepreneurial spirit inspires me His Word. every day. Like the church in Acts 2, these young people are devoted to corporate Bible study, to common proach, but the resulting connections prayer, to worship centered on the Sacraments, and may last into eternity. You may discover that your new perto the support, encouragement, and accountability of Christian fellowship. These practices are founda- spective will influence a change within tional in reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus others in your congregation, who can across postmodern and pluralistic cultural bound- then influence more—leading to fresh aries. The lives of these four young people reflect attitudes and actions for the entire contheir commitment to living as curious and caring gregation. Like me, you may have come followers of Jesus who are connected to their Savior, to realize that we are no longer in the to one another, and to “all the people.” Like the early world of our youth. But Christ is still the Christian church, their devotion is filled with hope Lord of all, for the sake of His Church. and expectation that “the Lord [would] add daily That is the promise that gives us hope as to their number those who [are] being saved.” This we look for new ways to live as curious, result reflects more than the efforts of a few dedicat- caring, and connected witnesses! n ed witnesses: it reflects a cultural perspective of the (Professor Phillip Johnson speearly church. cializes in outreach, missions, and Now it is your turn. The cultural context for your Christian ministry as an instructor at witness has changed but the message has not. You Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn., may have neighbors who never heard of Jesus, but where he serves as program coordinaHe knows and loves them. Sharing the Good News tor for students studying to be Direcis different today but just as important. Some peo- tors of Christian Outreach. Johnson is ple consider the Bible to be just another holy book, a co-director of the Oswald Hoffmann but your caring lifestyle could help to communicate School of Christian Outreach and is its unique message of hope and peace. Methods of on the Board of Directors of the Intersharing this message may require a shift in your ap- national Lutheran Laymen’s League.)
Christ is still the Lord of all, for the sake of His Church.
The Lutheran Layman May - June 2013 13
Taking it to the Streets for One-on-One Witnessing
by Paul Schreiber
Lutheran Hour Ministries’ MISSION U School of Witnessing is designed to get people comfortable with sharing their faith. When we hear a story about how the program has helped someone, we’re always motivated and encouraged. Just such a story came from Carolyn Bolz, a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Riverside, Calif. She recently attended a MISSION U workshop at her church, which was given by MISSION U Presenter Chris Coletti, director of Youth and Family Ministries at Faith Lutheran Church in Vista, Calif. A few months after her attendance at Coletti’s MISSION U workshop, Bolz noticed her hairstylist, who is ordinarily meticulous about her appearance, was having a rough day. Though the stylist (we’ll call her Cindy) initially appeared in good spirits, Bolz sensed something wasn’t quite right. “When I glanced at Cindy, I knew
something was terribly wrong. She looked as if she had just rolled out of bed. Her face seemed pale, and there were large, dark circles under her eyes. Then she leaned close to me, so the other customers and employees couldn’t hear. ‘My grandmother died early this morning of a brain tumor,’ she whispered. ‘She was the one who raised me,’” Bolz recounted. This disclosure immediately stirred sad memories for Bolz, as six months earlier her brotherin-law had died from brain cancer, also. “Tears sprang to my eyes as I recalled the night he passed away, leaving my sister without a husband and my two nephews without a father,” Bolz said. “Cindy, I knew, was experiencing the same grief our family had gone through. I wanted to show her how concerned I was about her and her family, but what could I say this morning that would be helpful or encouraging? “As Cindy began trimming my bangs, I thought back to my previous hair appointments. I could not recall her ever mentioning attending a church or having any religious beliefs. I wanted to share God’s love…and my hope in Christ, but I hesitated. Perhaps before I did that, I needed to offer her a listen-
Bolz: “MISSION U...gave participants the chance to discuss the struggles they faced in sharing the Gospel....”
ing ear,” Bolz said. “I quickly sensed Cindy wanted to talk; she didn’t want me to give her any ‘helpful advice.’ Once she was finished telling me her story, I knew I would have an opportunity at that time to speak with her,” Bolz added. (see next page)
Can You Be ‘Matched’? You’re a faithful supporter of Lutheran Hour Ministries, or another ministry like your church, but you wish you could give more. You have felt the Lord’s blessings when you give cheerfully and you try to share His love with your loved ones and others in need, but you yearn to do something greater. Does this sound like you? If you would like to see your giving go further, here’s an option you should consider: corporate matching gifts. Last year, corporations in the United States gave over $15 billion to nonprofit organizations! Much of that money was given for one purpose: to match gifts made by these companies’ employees and retirees. If you worked for—or retired from—an American company, then a corporate matching gift may be a great option for you! Here are 3 easy steps to look into a Corporate Match for your giving: 1. Make a donation to a nonprofit of your choosing. 2. Determine if your employer, or your spouse’s employer, offers a matching gift program. 3. Locate and submit the appropriate matching gift form. If you’re not sure how to find if your company offers a match, contact Lutheran Hour Ministries and we’ll help you find the options. A great thing to keep in mind is that many companies continue to match employees after they retire! This means that, whether or not you’re still working, a gift match may still be available. Your company can share their policy with you, and Lutheran Hour Ministries is here to help you find that information as well. For information on corporate matching gifts—and for assistance in figuring out if this is an option for you—just write Lutheran Hour Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-333-1963. n Consider a corporate match!
14 The Lutheran Layman May-June 2013
It was here she drew from her MISSION U experience at the Riverside workshop with Coletti. “What came to mind almost immediately when I saw Cindy that day was the Bible verse that Chris had all of us read together at the MISSION U workshop: 2 Timothy 1:7— “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” Bolz recounted. “The MISSION U workshop ‘Dealing with Tough Questions’ at Immanuel Lutheran Church was a fantastic example of the potential of MISSION U,” Coletti said. “It gave participants the chance to discuss the struggles they had faced in sharing the Gospel, and we discussed ways each person could share the love of Christ through word and deed with the people around them. Much of our discussion focused on the widespread feeling people have that they’re ill-equipped to share the Christian faith, feeling unprepared to answer all the questions a person might have. From God’s Word we discovered we are to be humble witnesses for Christ and to trust God’s promise
that the Holy Spirit is working, even when we feel like we might not have the exact right words,” he added. Since Bolz encountered Cindy that day, the MISSION U attendee has thought a lot about faith-sharing and reaching the world around her. “I learned from Chris that God can take our inadequate efforts and use them for His glory,” Bolz said. “I also remember what Pastor Seth Flick from Immanuel said. He told us to ‘make our faith an adventure and make a difference in our community’.” Since her encounter with Cindy following the death of her grandmother, Bolz exercised care and concern: “I’ll be praying for you and your family.” And since then she has—drawing from her MISSION U experience and Coletti’s instructions to the class: “Be ready and prepared. We’re surrounded by a world that is hurting.” To find out more about being ready and prepared to make a witness to those around you, check the resources available through the MISSION U School of Witnessing at www.whatsmissionu.com. To speak with someone about scheduling a workshop or seeing where MISSION U presenter Chris Coletti encourages one is available, please contact Sarah Guldalian a group to “be ready and prepared” to reach (email@example.com) of MISSION U or call the world. 1-800-876-9880. n
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
Visit www.thrivent.com and
Thrivent members who are eligible to direct Choice dollars to Lutheran Hour Ministries can help spread the Good News!
go to the Thrivent Choice page. To search for the International Lutheran Laymen’s League/Lutheran Hour Ministries, type International into the keyword search, then type Saint Louis into the city blank and select Missouri in the state menu. (Be sure to spell out Saint.) Or call 1-800-THRIVENT (847-4836).
www.lhm.org/choice The Lutheran Layman May - June 2013 15
Helping Churches Connect with Communities
by Chad Fix
Making your church’s presence known in the community is often the start of expanding your ministry. It also involves appealing to families and individuals who can benefit from resources offered by your congregation. Reaching out to communities around your church also helps you fulfill the command of Jesus: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Regional Outreach Conferences (ROC) can help your congregation’s members to build lasting relationships with their community. ROCs offer attendees motivating presentations from faith-sharing experts, hands-on outreach projects, awesome worship music, and loads of practical tools that will take their witness to a world in need of the Savior. Rev. Bill Woolsey, senior pastor and founder of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s CrossPoint Community Church in Katy, Texas, was keynote Seltz: “Go... preach.” speaker for ROC—Long Beach in March and discussed why it is important to build your church for your community. “The world has changed significantly,” he said. “There are over 300 organized religions today—and we live in a country where people believe that not just one God but multiple gods exist. “We send Christians as missionaries to foreign countries, but we often fail to send people into our own communities to reach our next-door neighbors,” he continued, noting that an important step in connecting with members of the community is to show how our message has relevance in their lives. “If your church wants to meet with their communities, you have to ‘mash things up’ by learning how to ‘remix’ pastoral with apostolic and ancient theology with modern language.” A popular part of the ROCs is an interactive session showing videos with outreach situations that people encounter—and then having them gather in small groups to react to the situations. “The key is to listen first, and listen like you mean it,” said Rev. Gregory Seltz, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour radio program, while leading “Remix...” a session in Long Beach. “Instead of coming up with a quick answer, it is more important to work their world view first so you can respond in a way that is meaningful to them.” “I love the takeaways from this conference,” said Linda Retterath of Santa Clara, Calif., after attending ROC—Sacramento. “The witnessing videos shown by Pastor Seltz are some things I look forward to taking back to my church to use in Bible studies and Sunday school.” ROCs also feature onsite advice from outreach consultants and technology experts to enhance attendees’ personal, congregational, and online witnessing abilities. ROCs also offer a variety of workshops on topics such as reaching “millennials,” building a globally mission-minded community, sharing your story of salvation, and sharing the Gospel in a digital age. Workshop topics vary by conference location. For more information on LHM’s 2013 series of Regional Outreach Conferences, just visit www.lhm.org/roc. Dates and locations for more “...takeaway s.” conferences are on this page. n
16 The Lutheran Layman May-June 2013
REGIONAL OUTREACH CONFERENCE
Remaining 2013 ROC Schedule July 5-7 Canad Inns Destination Centre Fort Garry Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada August 2-4 Holiday Inn Koger Conference Center Richmond, Va. August 9-10 Holiday Inn Westlake Cleveland, Ohio September 6-7 Millennium Maxwell House Hotel Nashville, Tenn. October 18-19 Omaha Marriott Omaha, Neb. November 15-16 Sugar Land Marriott Town Square Hotel Houston, Texas
Special ROC activities for the young.
Reel to Real—Of Fish and Men— in Time for Spring by Paul Schreiber
t makes perfect sense to release a new Bible study from LHM coinciding with the opening of the Fifth Annual Men’s NetWork North American Fishing Tournament. Filmed on Richland Chambers Reservoir near Dallas, Texas, this four-session Bible study gets real as three fishermen and two hosts discuss everything from temptations and trophy catches to the ones that got away. The study is hosted by Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Executive Director Bruce Wurdeman and fishing buddy Rev. Jim Rhiver. With them are three champion anglers who participated in last year’s fishing tournament: Joel Brutcher, a sales manager from New Palestine, Ind.; school teacher Chris Hansell from Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Jake Oberheu, a physician assistant from Delta, Colo. These gents share thoughts on life, success, sorrows, the future, and the eternal hope they have in Jesus Christ. All Men’s NetWork Bible studies are produced by LHM’s video team headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. This Bible study beautifully captures the thrill of freshwater fishing and the easy-going camaraderie shared among fellow anglers, as they become friends. With personal stories about fishing and life, “Reel to Real’s” three guest fishermen show how faith in Christ is central to their families, relationships and careers. Along the way, Wurdeman and Rhiver speak frankly with these anglers, whose responses to their questions will get you thinking and
keep you smiling. What results is a Bible study candidly showing faith at work in the lives of ordinary men, who are Christ-followers first and fishermen second. To net a complimentary DVD of this latest LHM Bible study, simply sign up for the Fifth Annual Men’s NetWork North American Fishing Tournament. We’ll not only send this Bible study, but you’ll also get a superb fishing cap and a handy first-aid kit—and be registered for this year’s tourney. All that for only $10—two fins, if you know what I mean. Now that’s a keeper! The free Bible study offer lasts until may 31. As always, it’s all available at www.lhmmen.com n
Sign up to receive a MNW cap, handy first-aid kit, a chance to win weekly prizes, and a $500 grand prize VISA gift card! Sign up by May 31, and you’ll also get a FREE DVD of our newest Bible Study, Reel to Real—Of Fish and Men by entering LMFISH13 in the promo code box when you register.
Register today! www.lhmmen.com/fishing Only $10 to sign up!
Bruce Wurdeman (second from right) hosted “Reel to Real” and fielded questions to participants.
A program brought to you by
The Lutheran Layman May - June 2013 17
A Closer Look:
Opening New Center in
Mexico is a Bold Step
by Greg Koenig
lthough about 8 percent of the world’s population lived in cities about a century ago, today cities are home to the majority of the world’s people. More and more—and especially the poor—are moving to cities to improve their economic conditions. In China, for example, the nation’s recent efforts to shift to a capital-driven economy have resulted in a move of between 90 and 300 million people to its cities—the largest migration in human history (see Eric Swanson, “Nine Game-Changers for Global Missions,” The Leadership Network, 2010). According to one observer, every 60 days eight million people move to the cities of the world: “that’s one new ‘Bangkok’ every two months! The church has to be everywhere there are people; but the people are moving to the city faster than the church is” (Dr. Timothy Keller, “What is God’s Global Urban Mission?” Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, 2010). Lutheran Hour Ministries has responded to this critical trend by expanding and intensifying urban outreach, opening (or re-opening) outreach centers in some of the world’s largest cities. The newest ministry center is Lutheran Hour Ministries—Mexico, dedicated December 1, 2012 in Mexico City. “A new challenge is in place for us,” says Rev. Nilo Figur, regional director for Latin America. “Mexico City is the capital of Mexico and one of the biggest cities in the world, with a combined
San Pedro Lutheran Church in Mexico City works in partnership with the new Lutheran Hour Ministries—Mexico center to share the Gospel through a holistic outreach that also provides free meals.
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“A new challenege is in place...”
Children and youth at San Pedro Lutheran Church in Mexico City eagerly look forward to concerts, dramas, and outreach events the Mexico City center has planned for them.
metropolitan-area population of more than 21 million people—and it’s a ‘live,’ moving, and still growing city.” But Mexico City is a place where Lutheran Hour Ministries can work from a position of strength. Says Figur, “Our partner church, the Lutheran Synod in Mexico, has its administrative offices and 10 congregations in Mexico City. Augsburg Seminary and the Lutheran Center are also located there. And since Mexico City is located in a central part of the country, we will be able to connect and work more easily with all the Mexican Lutheran Synod congregations, serving as a bridge that links them together and helping them communicate the message of the Gospel more effectively.” International Ministries Director Dr. Douglas Rutt, addressing a Sunday-morning crowd the weekend of the Mexico center’s dedication, said, “To some it can seem like foolishness: a staff of three people, a few volunteers, and a limited budget! However, appearances can be deceiving. We know that the Word of God is powerful. It can do great things! Let’s not be deceived by appearances, but rather let us remember that with God, anything is possible.” To find out how you can partner with Lutheran Hour Ministries’ center in Mexico, visit www.lhm.org/partner. n
Deaconess Esther León of San Pedro Lutheran Church prepares a plate for a participant in the congregation’s free meal outreach.
Bringing Christ to the Cities by Douglas Rutt
In the minds of many Christians, the church was born on Pentecost in a city—Jerusalem, where God broke the chains of our sin when His son was sacrificed there on a cross. In numeric terms, though, this “city” with a population of around 25,000 at the time of the early church, was a minor backwater compared to Antioch in Syria (estimated population: 250,000)! To the foremost missionary of the early church, the Apostle Paul, Antioch was the ideal place to establish a beachhead for the further spread of the Gospel. Antioch was one of the most influential cities of the Roman world. The city of Alexandria was the empire’s center of learning; the city of Rome was the center of government; and Antioch was a the center of trade and cultural activity. It was located on the Orontes River just a few miles inland from the river’s mouth at the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean. It was a place where goods were bought and sold from all around the empire. It was also where cultures, languages, and religious beliefs came together when merchants from the west and the east interacted.* Paul—both by his design and by the leading of the Holy Spirit—made Antioch a mission center from which the Gospel could expand beyond the narrow circles of Jewish believers into the rest of the Roman world. Fast-forward to today, when for the first time, more than half of the world’s people live in cities. The percentage of urban dwellers in the world’s population has grown steadily during the past 200 years—from about 3% in 1800 to 14% in 1900 to 30% in 1950 to today’s figure of about 50.5%. Even the busy Antioch of Paul’s day would look like a sleepy village next to our world’s great urban areas, whose populations of 20 million or more make them larger than many countries. But the things that made Antioch important to Paul and the early growth of the Gospel are present also in today’s megacities. Like Antioch, many great cities are centers of cultural and commercial activity. In São Paulo, New York-Newark, Shanghai, Mumbai, Seoul, Bangkok and others, many people are open minded, willing to consider new ideas, and even ready
to think about different religious options. In short, these urban centers are places where the Gospel can get a serious hearing! Cultural interaction and openness to new or unfamiliar ideas are just two of the characteristics that make cities places where the Good News of Jesus can spread. As in the time of the early church, today’s cities are typically “emotional centers” from which ideas and news flow to other parts of the country; if the Gospel takes root Many people in Bangkok struggle with isolation in a city, the likelihood increases that the message and loneliness. LHM outreach centers help con- will make its way out to the rural areas. nect people with local congregations—where Reaching out in cities is not without its chalthey can discover a sense of belonging. lenges. For many of us, the idea of “the city” elicits Photo: (WT-shared) Globe-trotter at wts wikivoyage. thoughts of crime, violence, poverty, homelessness, and other social woes. Roughly a billion people live in urban slums, and these are indeed places that are plagued with overcrowding, pollution, violence, and a lack of basic services for sewage removal and clean water. Moreover, in spite of overcrowding, many people who live in cities have little in the way of a support or social network and often struggle with isolation and loneliness, vulnerability, and hopelessness. These factors may drive many to crime. Yet some challenges urban dwellers face can be turned into opportunities: when isolated and lonely people seek friendship, refuge, and social interaction, some discover those benefits in a community of believers—and still more could. The International Division of Lutheran Hour Ministries has continued a commitment made years ago to focus on the urban areas of the world as places of great Opportunities to reach people with the Gospel need but also places of great opportunity. Our call are as limitless as their cityscapes. Photo of São to bring the Gospel to those who don’t know JePaulo, the home of Lutheran Hour Ministries— sus is equally valid among people living in cities, Brazil. Photo: Ana Paula Hirama, Wikimedia Commons. even though reaching them will require creative approaches—including traditional tools such as radio, television, and print media, as well as newer technologies such as Internet, texting, and social media. But it will also include holistic ministry—through which we not only tell people of the love of Jesus but also demonstrate that love with acts of Christian charity and kindness. Paul was undaunted by the challenges he found in Antioch and other first-century cities; he shared the story of salvation through Jesus Christ in these places just as energetically as he did anywhere else. We aim to see the city as he did—as a place where fruitful ministry can and should take place! n LHM—Thailand builds Christ-centered relationships with the people in its busy Bangkok neighborhood by hosting fun, educational activities on the doorstep of the ministry center.
(Rev. Dr. Douglas Rutt directs the International Ministries Division of LHM.)
* For more about the city of Antioch as a paradigm for contemporary urban mission, see www.lutheranmissiology.org/Antioch.pdf.
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A Simple Opportunity in a Complex Economy
f only life required us to answer one question at a time—things would be easy. But it just doesn’t work that way. Every day there are so many questions that have to be addressed. What will I do today? How will I pay for it? How will I provide for the people I care about? How can I support the causes I care about? It’s enough to overwhelm most any person, but there are ways to simplify your life. If you ask the question of “How can I provide for myself and my family?”, then a Charitable Gift Annuity may be a good option to consider. A charitable gift annuity is an irrevocable financial agreement that provides regular payments to you for the rest of your life. You may also name a second person to receive payments after you are called home to Heaven. Part of these payments will be tax-free for the life of the annuity. You simply provide an up-front sum to fund the gift annuity for the future. This initial payment also qualifies for a charitable tax
deduction for the present year. When all annuitants have passed, the remainder of your gift annuity is given as a gift to a charity—such as Lutheran Hour Ministries. This future gift is where the charitable aspect comes into play. Your forward-looking will make a lasting impact on the Lord’s work, even after you have gone to be with Him. There are additional details you’ll need to consider when looking into a gift annuity, but addressing these details is exactly what Lutheran Hour Ministries is here to help you do. Our Ministry Advancement staff can prepare for you a no-obligation illustration of your potential benefits and everything you can expect if you choose to move forward with a charitable gift annuity. As you pray over this opportunity, please feel free to contact Lutheran Hour Ministries at 1-877-333-1963. We’ll be happy to help you take care of your family now and leave a legacy for the future. n
Seltz Spoke in Fort Wayne Rev. Gregory Seltz, speaker on The Lutheran Hour, spoke at two events in Fort Wayne, Ind., the weekend of March 15-16. First was a banquet (sponsored by the Indiana and Ohio Districts of the Lu-
theran Laymen’s League) for the graduating class of Concordia Theological Seminary. Seltz encouraged future pastors in the Lord’s “race,” telling them that they could use “ready, sent, go” as they are being sent by God to preach the Gospel, reports Paul Doenges of the district. At the student banquet, LLL district officials offered encouragement to graduating students. Indiana District LLL President Roger Vandrey spoke on the history of the LLL, and Dr. Lawrence Rast, seminary president, offered closing comments and prayer. The second event involving Seltz was the Northeast Indiana LLL prayer breakfast at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. Officials at the prayer breakfast included master of ceremonies Ken Schilf (executive director of LutherPhoto of Pastor Seltz courtesy of Paul Doenges
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an Ministries Media), Martin Carbaugh, Indiana state representative, Ellen Luepke of Care Ministry, Lutheran high school principal Mychal Thom, and Dave Miller, Concordia High School girls’ basketball coach. Seltz encouraged the laity to be active in witnessing for their local church. He said that other churches are not the competition, that we must be busy like spring robins, and that we don’t own the vineyard but are only tenants working for the Lord. Both events were coordinated by Rich and Linda Kraus. n
...they could use “ready, sent, go” as they are being sent by God to preach the Gospel
New Booklet Breaks the Grip of Pornography
Pornography often results in wrecked lives, ruined marriages, broken homes, and fractured relationships. People caught in the throes of porn often end up on a long and devastating downward spiral. In “Strength and Honor: The Spiritual Warfare against Pornography” from Project Connect, author Steven Hokana, a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastor and active-duty U.S. Army chaplain, spells it out: pornography “is a treacherous addiction.” Hokana considers the validity of claims that pornography is harmless, that it can enhance marriages, or that it should qualify as art. He counters these ideas when he writes, “pornography is a corrosive force that inflicts misery upon the soul and is a destroyer of our most intimate relationships. This battle is about warfare, a spiritual battle. Pornography strikes at the heart of our fallen humanity, our base sinful natures.” Overcoming this scourge is no easy matter, nor is it one that—because of the supercharged potency of sexual images—we are likely to overcome by our own volition. However, regardless of the difficulty, breaking pornography’s grip is the only end game worth pursuing. To do this, Hokana gives the reader valuable insights into becoming victorious through contrition (expressing genuine sorrow); confession (surrendering the sin to God); absolution (understanding His forgiveness and cleansing power); and amendment (radically changing whatever behavior is necessary to suffocate and kill the addiction). Easier said than done? That’s putting it mildly. But there is hope. “God understands the human condition and our need for grace. It is only through His undeserved love as demonstrated by Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are truly set free. Moreover, we are given a new identity. Whole, clean emboldened and strengthened, we move forward by God’s grace—His free and life-changing grace,” writes Hokana. There is a life beyond the morass of pornography. The words offered in this booklet are Christ-centered and to the point, and deliver a Christian approach to battling this pernicious vice. As the author writes, “It is in His Name we conquer strongholds, including those built around the deception and slavery of pornography.” To order “Strength and Honor” and to learn more about Project Connect booklets (many are in Spanish), please go to www.lhm.org/projectconnect for a complete list of booklets available. n
Staff ‘Giving’ Makes a Difference
Paul Schreiber and Lori Parker
any clichés exist for good reason; one is, people have to “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.” At Lutheran Hour Ministries it’s a common belief that we cannot ask people on the outside to support this ministry if staff workers are not willing to support it as well. For this reason, over 80 percent of the people working at Lutheran Hour Ministries are active annual supporters of God’s mission through LHM. Two staff supporters, Lori Parker and Paul Schreiber, were asked to share thoughts on why they choose to give back: LHM: What do you think is the best thing happening at Lutheran Hour Ministries? PAUL: On the U.S. side, there are so many programs that are excellent for their intended audience and purpose. What’s happening internationally is also very cool; some real “feet-on-the-ground” ministry, often in Third World circumstances. I really like that volunteers from the U.S. can get into projects taking place around the globe through the International Ministries Partnership Program. LORI: I love showing my granddaughter JCPlayzone. Being a grandmother in the technology age, I’m excited about all our offerings on the Internet, because the children of this world are being raised with this technology—it’s the way they think. I love that LHM is trying to keep up with the technol-
ogy God has given us to share His Word. Why did you begin, and why do you continue, giving to Lutheran Hour Ministries? LORI: Because I work for LHM I knew that my gifts WOULD make a difference—a difference in bringing the lost to the Lord. PAUL: Lutheran Hour Ministries relies on donor dollars to continue its Gospel outreach. I feel it’s important to support the organization I work for and believe in. How long have you been giving to Lutheran Hour Ministries? LORI: The first gift I made was over 25 years ago in 1988. I have been giving since then, but it’s really important to me that it’s because I want to, not because I have to. What difference would you like to see Lutheran Hour Ministries make in the future? PAUL: I’d like to see us making inroads in the academic world of the 40 Lutheran colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada, as well as the hundreds of other schools with Lutheran campus ministries. How is working at Lutheran Hour Ministries a part of your spiritual life? PAUL: Great question! The people I work with empower my faith, probably more than I even know. It’s easy to be reticent when it comes to sharing Christ, but my colleagues have shown me—by their examples—the unsurpassed value of being a witness to the One who changed our lives, by giving His. LORI: It’s a great part of my spiritual life in that I know that every keystroke I make, every meeting I attend, everything we do matters. I know that what I do is making a difference in God’s Kingdom—I love it! n
Where are They Now…? A strong young adult movement took place in the Int’l LLL in the 1980s. Recently, John Jerome (second row, center) passed to glory. As past president of the Mid-Atlantic District LLL, he had been a sparkplug in igniting the movement involving the Young Adult Task Force shown here. What about the other people in the picture? We hope and pray they went on to pursue more young adult ministry in many ways. Photo courtesy of Mark Dunlop
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he Ravenswood Center in Chicago beamed with Christ-centered joy on April 19, despite locally flooded roads and flying snow. It was the second five14 Revolution event. The weather did not keep more than 250 people from attending. Among them were area high school students, youth groups, and men from a drug rehab program affiliated with the Salvation Army. Molly Kenow, a sophomore from Concordia University in Nebraska, attended and found the event inspirational. “It gave me confidence to make my faith alive and not be afraid of how the Spirit might move me,” she said. In addition to music provided by the bands An Epic No Less, Of Time and Tide, and Veritas—a worship band from Concordia University—there was the musical ministry of Christian rap artist, MYNISTA, featuring QFyre. Also included were two multi-media video “live” drama features, which blended storylines begun onscreen that were then concluded by performers on stage. Each ended with a presentation of the Gospel. The evening closed with Jordan Reinwald and Sarah Guldalian, the manager of five14, speaking to the crowd and praying with them. “There were about 80 people who stood up to make a profession of faith and several others requested individual prayers,” Guldalian said. Perhaps the best indicator of the evening’s energy and impact was given by one of the members of the band An Epic No Less: “I have had the opportunity to play many youth events in my music career. And there was a level of professionalism (here) that any Christian artist would have been proud to be a part of. Production and attention to detail were excellent. But most of all we saw many young people respond to the Gospel message that was shared.” The same performer added, “The beauty of this Gospel is that it came not only through preaching, but through the arts. Music, drama, spoken word: all these played a role in affecting the lives of the students that attended. I fully believe the greatest tool God can use is the sincerity of His followers. Regardless of the method, I believe God anoints sincerity. Friday’s event was just another example of the faith and sincerity of a people with vision and influence, impacting lives. This, to me, is a recipe for success that must be repeated. And also one that can only get better with time as the vision is perfected in God’s workers.” Five14 offers cutting-edge evangelism training tools and resources and conducts outreach events designed to connect with teens of all backgrounds. It takes its name from Jesus’ words to His followers as given in Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world.” You can check it out at www.whatsfive14.com. n Photos courtesy of Jor dan
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Illinois Volunteer Team Returned to Asia
by Greg Koenig
Members of Lutheran Hour Ministries’ International Volunteer team in Cambodia load baskets with material for the new building’s foundation.
“Today we built our last house. Our muscles are rejoicing, but our hearts are heavy. Our time in Vietnam is winding down.” —Sue Husar, Project Leader, 2011 International Ministries Volunteer Trip to Vietnam More than two years ago when Sue (of St. Paul Lutheran in Mt. Prospect, Ill.) posted her blog with that remark, the missionary journey of her Lutheran Hour Ministries Volunteer Team to Vietnam was nearing its end. Yet the closing words of the same post, “We are tired but running on full … God is amazing!” hinted that only a chapter in the story was ending. Almost exactly two years later, on February 25, 2013, a new chapter began when Sue led a 10-member St. Paul team back to Asia—this time to support the work of Lutheran Hour Ministries’ outreach center in Cambodia. “We are very eager to follow God and learn what His plans are for us in Cambodia!” Sue wrote when her team arrived. God’s plans were for the team to do more building—both physical and spiritual. For five days the team worked on a classroom facility in the southern province of Kampot. On their first two construction days, they hauled fill material for the building’s foundation. Then they added water to settle the fill; Sue wrote: “Our team instinctively formed a ‘bucket line’—which apparently is not a common way to work here! Our Cambodian friends laughed when they saw us swinging buckets
from one person to the next. But our teamwork approach worked well and was a great example of the rhythm of team spirit!” The volunteer team also had opportunities to establish meaningful relationships with their hosts and the community. Sue recounted a poignant moment during the team’s orientation, when Director Phin Naro described his own journey of faith: “Naro shared that when he was just six, he lost his father during the regime of dictator Pol Pot. Naro felt empty without a father….When he was in his early 20s, a Christian relief worker told him about God the Father, who is the Father of orphans. Naro wanted a father desperately, so he started going to church to learn more about this Father and about Christianity. He continued to grow in his faith. Now he has devoted his life to bringing that same Good News to other Cambodians.” While language was a challenge on the trip, the St. Paul team and the people they met managed to communicate with each other through interpreters and the use of hand motions. At the closing worship service in the village’s church, everyone ignored language differences entirely as they sang familiar Christian songs in both Khmer and English while the local pastor introduced the team to a different way of ‘praying together.’” Sue wrote: “‘Together’ did not mean ‘in unison’ as is our custom, but rath-
er ‘all at once’—for everyone started praying their own prayers, bringing their individual needs to their Lord. So many voices, two different languages—and our amazing God clearly heard each one of us!” Who is waiting in Africa, or Asia, or Latin America or Eastern Europe for you to introduce them to your amazing God? Why not take the next step to find out? Visit www.lhm.org/teams today. n
When the LHM— Cambodia staff performed a puppet show, Illinois volunteers from St. Paul, Mt. Prospect, seized the opportunity to tell the story of Jesus and pass out witness-bead bracelets to the children.
Progress: as team members continue to shovel and haul material, the building takes shape in the background.
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Building Bridges, Crossing Boundaries page 2
Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage
660 Mason Ridge Center Drive St. Louis, Missouri 63141-8557
St. Louis, MO. Permit No. 619
“Becoming master craftsmen of Gospel bridge-building is what our own Lutheran theology would challenge us to be...” — Pastor Gregory Seltz Lutheran Hour Ministries, 660 Mason Ridge Center Drive • St. Louis, Missouri 63141-8557 • (314) 317-4100 or 1-800-944-3450 Kurt Buchholz, Chairman • Bruce Wurdeman, Executive Director The Int’l Lutheran Laymen’s League, with its outreach through Lutheran Hour Ministries, is an auxiliary of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and Lutheran Church—Canada.
Bringing Christ to the Cities page 19
Witnessing...in a Pluralistic, Postmodern Culture pages 11 - 13