WELS Congregational Services will host the WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership at the Sheraton Grand in Chicago on Jan. 21–23.
Two of the presenters at that conference, Adam Mueller, pastor at Redeemer, Tucson, Ariz., and Luke Thompson, pastor at St. Paul, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, took time to share what leadership means to them.
In his presentation “Crucifying Consumer Mentality,” Mueller will discuss the danger of allowing the personal preferences of either the community or congregational members to dictate the direction of ministry. Ministry activity, Mueller says, must be directed by Christ’s mission. “Unless Lutheran leaders continually focus on Christ, the means of grace, and his mission to proclaim the gospel, we’ll fail as leaders not only because we’re neglecting God’s will but because we’ve replaced it with our own will or the world’s will.”
Mueller stresses that the job of leadership is to communicate Christ’s mission clearly and repeatedly and to use the gospel and personal example to motivate members to zealously pursue that mission. “The term ‘leadership’ suggests two things. First, that the leader knows where he’s going, and, second, that there are those who are following him,” Mueller says.
Mueller has served on various district and synod boards as well as helped train vicars and new pastors. Mueller explains that his time in these various roles showed him that the Lord can encourage anyone to lead. “God’s kingdom is large enough for leaders of all kinds of diverse talents and experiences to lead people from earth to heaven.”
Thompson’s presentation “Growing Young: Steps Toward Touching the Hearts and Minds of Millennials and Generation Z” focuses on the role leaders play in retaining and gaining members from younger generations.
Besides serving as pastor at St. Paul, Thompson is the campus pastor to students at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. Through Bible studies, counseling, and mentorships, Thompson has served hundreds of young people.
What does Thompson see as the key to reaching these younger generations? “The best tool God has given Lutheran leaders is a clear understanding of law and gospel,” Thompson says. “All that’s left is generating the courage to use it and the patience to let law and gospel be what the discussion is about. And this all happens best in the context of a committed friendship.”
Thompson’s presentation illustrates the goal Congregational Services had in holding this conference—addressing common concerns among our congregations. Jonathan Hein, coordinator of Congregational Services, says, “Almost every church we consult with says how it is getting harder and harder to retain or gain younger members. This presentation will share some strategies that the Lord seems to be blessing.”
Thompson says he is eager both to teach and learn at WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership. “God gives us the exact mentors and tools we need for our vocations, and leadership conferences like this will be one of the places you find those.”
Volume 106, Number 11
Issue: November 2019