WELS Congregational Services hosted the first ever WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership in Chicago, Jan. 21–23. Approximately 800 people, representing about 350 WELS congregations, met to hear five plenary speakers and attend a selection of breakout sessions.
“The focus of the conference was that we want to do all we can with the gospel to serve Christ’s mission,” says Jonathan Hein, coordinator of WELS Congregational Services. “ ‘Doing all we can with the gospel’ requires leaders to focus on two things. First, we look at tactics. Is the way we are carrying out gospel ministry smart?”
He continues, “But underneath tactics is congregational culture. The group—the collective—needs to have the right thoughts, habits, and attitudes. That was what the plenaries were all about.”
The conference planning committee is exploring options for a second WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership, likely sometime in 2022.
Learn more at lutheranleadership.com.
Attendees were treated to a preview of the new hymnal, set to be released by Advent 2021. Maintaining the name Christian Worship, the new hymnal comprises a suite of resources, including a stand-alone psalter, musical arrangements for various instrumentation, and a service folder builder. Conference worship services and devotions used liturgical and hymn arrangements from the new hymnal.
Attendees attended five breakout sessions, picked from more than 20 available sessions on a wide variety of topics. Hein says many attendees were interested in workshops that focused on personal evangelism and on reaching and retaining younger generations. Pictured are presenters Luke Thompson, who spoke on outreach to millennials, and Kathie Wendland, who led a breakout titled “Teach Women to Teach What is Good.”
Of the 800 attendees of the conference, nearly 40 percent were lay leaders. Almost 200 women attended. “I found the conference to be a great boost to my faith in the good Lord and what he has done for me,” says Scott Krause, a member at St. Luke’s, Watertown, Wis. “My main takeaway was that I need to focus on a daily basis to love and reach out to my friends, family, and neighbors with the good news of the gospel.”
The first day started with presentations on how lay leaders and called workers encourage one another, finding our voice as a gospel-centered church, and urging men and women to use their gifts to serve God. The evening concluded with worship and communion.
Volume 107, Number 03
Issue: March 2020