Story Magazine

Fourth Quarter, 2004

Luther's D.Min. Program in Congregational Mission and Leadership

Need some guidelines for how to walk your church staff, council or congregation through a mission planning process?

Wondering how to reach out to immigrants in your community?

Searching for ways to find God in all the daily decisions, good and bad, that affect you, your family or members of your congregation?

These are just some of the issues tackled by students from the Doctor of Ministry program in congregational mission and leadership. You can learn from their work at www.luthersem.edu/dmin/dmin_Cong_Miss_Ldrshp/student_projects.asp

Melanie Wallschlaeger's project led her congregation through a visioning process for a new mission statement. She is associate pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, S.D. "We can't be everything for everyone. We can only be what God has created us to be," she states in her presentation. "Each congregation has gifts that, like each individual, contributes to the whole Church. As we consider the calling God has given our congregation, we are to consider our particular giftedness and context."

While at Immanuel Lutheran in Eden Prairie, Minn., Interim Pastor Chris Hagen created an in-depth plan to reach out to Somali immigrants in the neighborhood. "We are in frequent contact with them at stores, in parks, at work and at school. To improve the quality of life in Eden Prairie for all residents, it is necessary to improve the quality of life of particular people, such as Somalis," Hagen comments. "Of the different immigrant groups in Eden Prairie, Somalis are the most recent. As a consequence of this and other factors, they are the least assimilated and have the fewest available social supports. It is the general consensus of local social service agencies that the Somalis are the most underserved. Language, culture, religion, history all contain barriers to efficient service delivery."

Mark Woeltge, Lutheran Church of Concord, Rochester, N.Y., looked at the life circumstances that daily test our faith. "Faced with such decisions we are called to engage our core values, beliefs, and assumptions; our worldview. The very way that we evaluate, interpret, and explain life and allow it to inform our actions is challenged. How do we make sense of our lived experiences?" he asks in his presentation.

Twelve more thoughtful, useful presentations delve into such categories as biblical and theological foundations, congregations in contexts, leadership identity and formation, and ministry practices. Check them out at www.luthersem.edu/dmin/, and click on "Congregational Mission and Leadership."