From February 4-6, students at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary participated in Mission & Ministry, an annual three-day event organized by the students.
Under the theme “Share the Feast,” this event highlighted the worldwide work of WELS.
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, 24 breakout sessions were offered on specific topics.
In addition, WELS organizations set up displays to share information about their work in God’s kingdom. This introduces future pastors to all the synodical resources available to support ministries. “As I worked with the organizers for the displays, I was able to appreciate the different services that WELS has to offer to its members,” says senior Daniel Schmidt, one of the event organizers. Hearing from the presenters and knowing all the work that goes into this event “helped me to solidify my interest in missions,” he says.
Day 1: World Missions
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, Mission & Ministry focused on world missions. Pastor Larry M. Schlomer, world missions administrator, discussed the ways God is blessing the gospel work being done in many countries and languages. Then keynote speaker Pastor Michael Hartmann spoke on innovations in communication and how those make a difference in the Great Commission.
Tuesday’s sessions included discussions on mission trips for congregation members, how to use social media and the internet to reach out, what a missionary looks like, and various world mission opportunities throughout the United States and across the globe.
Day 2: Congregational Services
On Wednesday, 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. All exist to assist congregations and schools carry out their ministries faithfully and efficiently. A keynote from Pastor Jim Behringer, director of WELS Commission on Special Ministries, discussed compassion ministry.
Tuesday’s breakout sessions covered topics from discipleship ministry that engages to school accreditation. Other sessions covered how small groups are a blessing to congregations, Lutheran schools and early childhood ministries, reaching out to military members, embracing multi-ethnic opportunities, following up on prospects, and how pastors and musicians work together for worship planning.
Day 3: Home Missions
On Thursday, 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. Then keynote speaker Pastor Paul Schupmann spoke about encouraging a mission mindset.
Wednesday’s breakout sessions covered topics from church planting in rural communities to cross-cultural urban ministry. Other sessions discussed the grind of ministry, outreach in choice schools, multi-site ministries, starting a new mission from a layperson’s perspective, campus ministry, and outreach in the heartland.
Zachary VonDeylen, one of the organizers, appreciates the opportunity to see all of these areas of ministry in only three days. “We have a lot of great leaders working in a lot of interesting ways in our synod. It’s great to be able to see all these people come together!” The wide-range of topics is a blessing too. “I usually peg one presentation that I think will be my favorite of the day, and then one of the other presentations really helps me see things in a different way about a certain area of ministry that I had never thought of before” he says.
Seminary students are not the only ones who benefit from the event. On Tuesday, the junior class of pastor track students at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., attended presentations. On Wednesday and Thursday, students from Bethany Lutheran Seminary, Mankato, Minn., attended. In all, almost 200 students, professors, and guests participated.
For photos of the event, visit the seminary’s Facebook page.