M4M (Merging for Ministry)
The WELS congregations in the West Allis area are currently evaluating and discussing our ministry impact in our community. Our congregation is participating in this process being led by WELS Congregational Services to explore the potential gospel ministry benefits that might be gained by partnering or merging with other local WELS congregations.
Merger Straw Poll Results
Thank you so much to all who participated in the recent open forums and straw poll regarding participation in a potential church merger of the West Allis area WELS churches. The purpose of the poll survey was to gauge the initial response to the Better Together ministry proposal developed by the joint Merging for Mission team (M4M). The results indicate strong support at Jordan and Woodlawn. Results at Divine Peace and Good Shepherd’s were divided. Comments indicated much of the reluctance to support the merger at this time was related to a desire for more information and detail on how the plan would be implemented.
The M4M team met this past week with our synod consultant to discuss the results and options moving forward. We are currently pursuing opportunities to continue the conversations and evaluating the timeline required to develop more specifics related to the questions and concerns that were shared. Thank you for your input that has given us guidance in these next steps. Please pray that God would lead us in determining the best way we can continue to proclaim the gospel message in our community in the years ahead.
View/Print Straw Poll (Polling has concluded)
Merging for Ministry Second Open Forum Recording 2/21/2021
Merger Info Booklet 2021
Merging for Ministry First Open Forum Recording 1/24/2021
(Please note that the first 10 minutes of audio are choppy.)
Update: January 10, 2021
The Vision of A New Ministry
Over the past three years merger discussions have been taking place between the WELS congregations in the West Allis area. Representatives from each of our churches have met regularly over the past year to further develop the idea with the assistance of a synod consultant. These discussions have led to the adoption a vision statement that summarizes this proposal.
We dream of a thriving, mission-minded church in West Allis that
is taking bold steps in faith to do something new and different to
be faithful in our mission and more effective for God's kingdom.
This new WELS church would pursue this vision by prioritizing the following values as we carry out ministry together:
Gospel-centered Biblical Truth
Welcoming Christian Community
You probably have many questions about this opportunity! A handout describing more details of this merger proposal will be available later this month. We also strongly encourage you to plan on attending the upcoming open forum at your church to discuss the ways God might make our ministries better together.
Good Shepherd's —January 24, noon
Woodlawn —February 14, 11:45 am (rescheduled)
Jordan —January 31, 2 pm
Divine Peace — February 7, 11 am
Good Shepherd's -- February 21, noon
Update: January 3, 2021
Merging in Pursuit of Mission
God our Savior "wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3). These words sum up God's ultimate desire for a sinful world. the harsh reality is that sin and unbelief condemn people to an eternity in hell. But our Lord in his love wants people spared this judgment and with him in heaven. So he sent his Son Jesus to this world to accomplish our salvation on the cross.
God has engaged the church to serve a role in leading people to heaven. God's people are to proclaim the message of his word so that the Holy Spirit can change hearts. Faith comes from hearing the message that leads people to repent and believe. Until the Lord Jesus returns, we have the calling to go and make disciples through the gospel.
A New Mission Statement
The joint Merging for Mission team has developed the following mission statement to summarize this assignment from God and guide a new merged West Allis congregation in pursing our calling from God:
To personally and collectively lead all people
to know Jesus and grow in a relationship with God.
This mission statement focuses on the two-fold task of evangelism and discipleship. Our efforts would seek to bring new people to faith in Jesus and grow those believers deeper in their faith and walk with God. It is a mission in which we all have a role as individuals and by working together as the church.
A Renewed Commitment to the Mission
It can be easy to lose focus on our mission as the church. We get caught up in facility repairs and reacting to the latest funding shortfall. We can become so focused on serving our members that we lose sight of the mission field outside our doors. And personally, we can assume that sharing the gospel is the responsibility of church staff rather than God's call to all of us as witnesses in our world.
But we are the church — all of us! May God inspire in us a renewed commitment to boldly pursue our mission from God to his glory.
Update: December 27, 2020
The Potential of a Merger
Over the decades our congregation has occasionally discussed the possibility of a church or school merger. More recently formal discussions facilitated by a synod consultant have been taking place with representatives from Divine Peace, Jordan, Good Shepherd's, and Woodlawn congregations.
The outcome of this process has faced delays by COVID gathering restrictions and the complexity of four churches considering unification. However, a merger proposal is now ready for our congregations to consider in early 2021. This proposal invites our churches to participate in uniting together to form a new, thriving, and mission-focused WELS congregation in West Allis.
The Church Merger Trend
Around 2 percent of US Protestant churches merge annually — about 6,000 congregations. Another 15,000 are talking about merging in the future. Church mergers have become increasingly common over the past few decades including in the WELS.
In the past many mergers have often been driven by survival. Decline in membership, financial challenges, and aging facilities requiring extensive maintenance create a situation where congregations can often no longer exist on their own. These churches joined together to continue ministry in their community and keep a pastor on staff.
A New Kind of Merger
While many past mergers were driven by survival, lately a new type of merger has been arising. Relatively healthy congregations are seeing the potential of joining forces with other churches to be stronger and more effective for God's kingdom. These new mergers are not about survival but rather about pursuing the mission to reach more people for Christ. This new kind of merger is about being better together.
Starting in January we look forward to sharing and discussing more details about the opportunity and advantages for our congregation to participate a new mission-driven merger. Stay tuned!
Merging for Ministry Presentation Videos - Winter 2020
Merging for Ministry Team
Lay leaders from Divine Peace, Good Shepherd's, Jordan, and Woodlawn Evangelical Lutheran Churches have been discussing areas where we can work together at both the church and school level to improve the delivery of ministry to our surrounding community. In order to thoroughly explore the options, the Merging for Ministry Team was formed with members from each congregation:
Rev Mark Aufdemberge (Jordan)
Ryan Bogenschneider (Good Shepherd's)
Joel Davis (Woodlawn)
Mike Gittins (Jordan)
Brian Gottschalk (Divine Peace)
Michael Henning (Good Shepherd's)
Rev Thomas Kneser (Woodlawn)
Aaron Kreel (Woodlawn)
Kurt Kopplin (Divine Peace)
Mark Kuether (Good Shepherd's)
Rev Paul Learman (Divine Peace)
Charlotte Loper (Good Shepherd's)
Jackie Schachtschneider (Jordan)
Jamin Wendorf (Woodlawn)
Rev Ben Wessel (Woodlawn)
Dennis Wieselmann (Jordan)
Shawn Woller (Woodlawn)
Rev Tim Wempner (Good Shepherd's)
Rev Joshua Zarling (Good Shepherd's)
M4M Mission Statement:
The mission of the Merging for Ministry Team is to pursue ways to more efficiently utilize our joint resources in our church and school ministries, and to investigate where the facts lead us.
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