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Big challenge, bigger blessings

The 2021 synod convention was presented with an ambitious proposal. The Board for Home Missions asked the convention to consider approving a plan to start one hundred new home missions over the next ten years. In addition to those new missions, the plan also called for providing enhancements to mission efforts in several existing congregations each year. Achieving that goal would increase the total number of congregations in our synod by about 8 percent.

The convention considered the plan carefully. Delegates were aware of the two primary challenges in carrying it out: funding and manpower. It’s expensive to plant a new mission and provide the support it needs until it becomes self-supporting in 8 to 11 years. The average cost for starting a new mission and providing that support is about $1.1 million. Would the synod have the financial resources to make it possible to plant one hundred new missions? The second obstacle was manpower. At a time when our pastoral vacancies are rising, would we have enough pastors not only to plant these new missions but also to serve existing congregations?

Even though the delegates recognized those challenges, they made the prayerful decision to embark on this project. It was a decision that required faith and trust in God’s promises to provide both money and manpower. It was with faith in those promises that the 100 missions in 10 years effort was approved. With convention approval, 100 missions in 10 years was no longer just a proposal from the Board for Home Missions. It was now a plan that the entire synod had embraced.

God’s people in our synod have already responded with amazing generosity. With the special gifts that have been received (and continue to be received) and the operating dollars made possible by continuing generous Congregation Mission Offerings, the challenge of funding the first years of the program is already being overcome. When it comes to the manpower challenge, a larger seminary class this year, enhanced recruitment efforts, and the greater use of semi-retired pastors will all help to provide the manpower needed. And, of course, we will fervently pray that the Lord of the harvest, in keeping with his love and wisdom, will send even more workers into his harvest field.

This past March, after almost two years of careful planning, the Board for Home Missions was ready to begin. From a list of proposed new mission starts submitted by 14 district mission boards, the Board for Home Missions approved funding for nine new mission starts: Bentonville, Ark.; Boston, Mass.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Kalispell, Mont.; Kronenwetter, Wis.; Marquette, Mich.; North Collin County, Texas; and Panama City, Fla. In addition, it approved enhancements at six existing congregations. The Board for Home Missions will also be reviewing additional requests at its fall meeting in September.

This effort is not about reaching an arbitrary numerical goal. It is not simply about accomplishing a task we have set out to do. Rather, its entire purpose is to reach more souls in more places with the saving message of Jesus Christ. As we devote ourselves to doing this, we remember that the results of this effort do not rest in our hands. We have the privilege of planting and watering the seed of the gospel, but it is God alone who makes it grow.

Author: Mark Schroeder
Volume 110, Number 6
Issue: June 2023

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This entry is part 2 of 52 in the series presidents message

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