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Four brothers, one mission

“Every time I hang out with one of my brothers, I gain nuggets of wisdom that stick with me,” says Paul Bourman, who graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., in May.

Bourman is the youngest of seven. His three brothers also serve as WELS pastors.

Nathanael is the firstborn. He serves at Mount Lebanon, Milwaukee, Wis. Twins Timothy and Jonathan serve at Sure Foundation, Queens, N.Y., and Peace, Aiken, S.C., respectively.

“As a family, we have chased the mission,” says Nathanael, “and it’s a ride that has been exciting.”

“Our family has always been a part of ministry,” says Jonathan. “Dad and Mom deeply love the gospel and love Jesus. They poured Jesus and his teachings into us, and that’s been beautiful.”

Their dad, James, is also a pastor. The brothers don’t remember a time when their lives did not involve service to their Savior. Growing up, they immersed themselves into the cultures of those their church was serving. Jonathan recalls visiting Hmong shamans as a family in St. Paul, Minn.

As a child, Paul went along on many home visits to Vietnamese members in Houston, Texas. He notes, “Sunday afternoons in Texas I hung out at church for four or five hours, and I loved it. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a pastor.”

CAPTION: 1 | (From left) Timothy, James, and Paul Bourman at a pastor’s conference during Paul’s vicar year serving at Grace, Falls Church, Va. 2 | Tim (sitting, far right) and Paul Bourman (next to Tim) playing the guitar for Easter worship at Sure Foundation, Queens, N.Y. 3 | Paul Bourman (right) gained experience in starting a home mission congregation when visiting his brother, Jonathan, in Aiken, S.C. Also pictured is Jonathan’s daughter, Elliana.

Paul also recalls that after his brothers became pastors, his parents wanted him to have the opportunity to gain experience in their places of service as well. The first sermon he ever preached outside of the seminary was at Nathanael’s church in Fort Worth, Texas.

“I was really, really nervous,” admits Paul, “but Nate told me to find my voice, and that stuck with me.”

Paul also traveled to New York and listened to Timothy preach in Spanish. “I was just sitting there, and all of a sudden I decided I needed to do that,” says Paul. “I was a freshman at Martin Luther College, and I was studying German and Latin. I came back and switched to Spanish. My parents made sure I could pursue that, and I studied Spanish in South America for six months.”

Five years ago as Jonathan was beginning his work as a home missionary in Aiken, S.C., Paul came and helped him launch the new mission. Paul designed and distributed flyers, went along on meetings with prospects, and designed PowerPoint presentations for worship services. In particular, Paul remembers Jonathan reviewing his PowerPoint slides and noting the mistakes that he’d made: “Jonathan told me, ‘You have to raise your standards; this is the gospel we’re talking about.’ That stuck with me.”

On July 11, Paul was commissioned as WELS’ newest home missionary. On the seminary’s assignment day, he was called to serve a mission in southwest Portland, Ore.

“Before call day, I told him, ‘The Lord has a good plan for you. You can trust it,’ ” recalls Timothy.

As Paul embarks on the Lord’s plan for him, he takes with him the sign that he and his wife, Charis, use as the focus for their lives. The sign asks the question, “Who can we serve today?” It’s a question that he and his brothers live out in their ministries in communities across the United States. Although they may be separated by distance, they are never separated in mission.

See more about Paul’s commissioning service at While there, watch Jonathan and Timothy’s Moments with Missionaries video updates as well. Want to see a portion of Forward in Christ‘s videoconference interview with the Bourmans? Watch this short clip

Volume 107, Number 6
Issue: August 2020

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