Over Winterim, eleven students traveled to Texas and experienced firsthand some of what goes on when our synod starts a mission congregation. Our task for the week was to learn about Elgin and Manor, two suburbs on the east side of Austin that are growing rapidly, and to see whether this area would be a suitable place to start a WELS home mission.
To learn about the community as a whole, we interviewed community leaders. They shared the history and culture of their city, as well as where the community is headed. We also got to be a part of the community. The members of Holy Word in Austin had distributed grocery bags for a food drive collection in a large subdivision before we arrived, and we went door-to-door to collect the food. As we met people at their front doors, the food drive often served as a springboard to deeper conversations. We got to know people and learned about the needs of individuals and the community–and what a new church could do to fulfill those needs.
Best of all, we also had about a hundred opportunities to share with people the one thing needful–the good news of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness from sins he has won for all! We also acquired dozens of email addresses and phone numbers for Holy Word and, God-willing, a new mission pastor to continue building relationships with those people.
At the end of the week we presented our findings, explained why this area would be an excellent place for a new WELS home mission, and outlined some of the steps we would take in reaching out with the gospel to the people of these communities. We don’t know what God has in store for Elgin and Manor or for us in our future ministries, but we’re thankful for this trip because it has given us experience, taught us new ways to intentionalize our evangelism efforts, and encouraged all of us to seek the lost and share the good news of Christ. Because no matter where we serve, whether in an established congregation or a new mission, whether here in Mequon or halfway across the world, we are called to go and make disciples.