From February 2-4, 2021, students at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary participated in Mission & Ministry, an annual three-day event organized by the students.
Under the theme “Share Christ’s Comfort,” this event highlighted the worldwide work of WELS—and how WELS is blessed that God gives us the message of comfort to share with those in churches, in communities, and throughout the world.
Each day featured a worship service, keynote address, and an update from WELS administration. In addition, to give these future pastors a cross-section of experiences they may face in ministry, 23 breakout sessions were offered in specific topics.
In the past, WELS organizations have also set up displays to share information about their work in God’s kingdom. To follow social distancing guidelines this year, WELS areas of ministries were instead invited to send information about synodical resources available to these future pastors. “It helps me see all the resources and material that is at my disposal to assist me in whatever situation the Lord plans to put me into,” says committee member Caleb Schaewe.
Day 1: World Missions
On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Mission & Ministry focused on World Missions. Pastor Paul Janke, chairman of the Board for World Missions, discussed the ways God is blessing the gospel work being done in many countries and languages. Tuesday’s keynote speakers were Pastor and Mrs. Neil Birkholz who also led a session on North American Asian Ministry. Other sessions included church planting in Latin America, gospel outreach to immigrants in your community, Hmong outreach in Vietnam, COVID adjustments in WELS World Missions, relational aspects of fellowship in missions, sharing world mission work in congregations, and ministry in Africa.
Committee member Philip Schroeder, who was involved in planning the world mission day, shared, “I was able to be in contact with many of our World Missionaries while planning. I have grown to appreciate the amazing work they are doing around the world. It encourages me to keep them in my prayers. I am so thankful to have people in our synod who are not afraid to go around the world. They bring the pure gospel to people that desperately need it”
Day 2: Home Missions
On Wednesday, Mission & Ministry focused on Home Missions. Pastor Keith Free, administrator for home missions, opened with an update on the broad scope of home mission work taking place. Keynote speaker Pastor Jonathan Bourman also led a workshop on how to connect to the community.
Wednesday’s other breakout sessions covered topics such as cross-cultural urban ministry, multi-site missions, campus ministry, crossing the cultural divide, core groups, and sharing Jesus.
“It’s been neat to work with some of the synod’s leaders on helping future pastors become more aware of our own mission efforts both near and far,” says Dan Wessel. “Connecting with people about their mission philosophies is something I’ve become more and more interested in.
Day 3: Congregational Services
On Thursday, Mission & Ministry focused on WELS Congregational Services. The day began with an opening worship service, which was followed by Rev. Jon Hein sharing the work of Congregational Services through its six areas—Discipleship, Congregational Counseling, Evangelism, Lutheran Schools, Special Ministries, Worship. This was followed by a keynote from SEW District President, Pastor David Kolander.
Thursday’s breakout sessions covered topics from compassion ministry to marriage enrichment. Other sessions covered family ministry, virtual reality and education, apologetics, loving other pastors, and pastoral evangelism.
Martin Loescher said, “Planning this event has further opened my eyes to the considerable amount of resources that WELS can offer individual congregations and their pastors.”
In addition to learning more about people’s experiences in mission and congregational work, event planners also learn other lessons. “Planning an event like Mission & Ministry helps me practice long range planning. The committee started planning for this event in September of 2020 and has been going strong since. With long range planning there are always little unexpected things that come up. Those unexpected issues, though they weren’t always easy to manage, helped me learn even more clearly that plans change, sometimes drastically, no matter how hard you planned for something else,” says Erich Neumann.