Rev. Kurt Wetzel
2020 – Better Together: Men and Women Embracing Interdependence in Ministry, Rev. Kurt Wetzel and Jenn Nobui
One of the most challenging issues facing the modern church is the teaching of man and woman, especially as it pertains to the unique callings God gives them. Rapid societal shifts and sweeping changes in doctrine and practice across Christendom often leave believing men and women confused and frustrated on the issue. How ought twenty-first century Christians shine Christ’s light as the men and women God made them to be? In this era, how can heads use the beautifully diverse gifts of the body to lead Christ’s church on earth? How can helpers connect closely with heads to effectively put spiritual gifts to work in ministry in God’s kingdom? These conversations can be delicate ones. Making proper application of unchanging biblical truth requires consideration of cultural context as well as healthy doses of love for God’s Word and God’s people who seek to honor their Lord in their unique gender roles.
This presentation will explore the divine directives in Scripture with a discussion of the challenges before us today. With an interactive approach that incorporates illustrations from pop culture, the presenters will intersect these sometimes-challenging teachings of the Bible with the various lived experiences of the attendees. They aim to inspire and further equip men and women in the church to embrace the male-female partnership Christ intends for his body on earth, while upholding the unique callings he gives to his sons and daughters as heirs together of heaven. By honestly probing applications and practices, the presenters seek to strike a biblical balance on the issue and to foster a God-honoring atmosphere of male and female interdependence in ministry. Admittedly, these are challenging goals. However, these challenges before us are also tremendous opportunities in our time to be a beacon of light on Christ and his church as we serve together in ministry.
Rev. Kurt Wetzel
Kurt grew up attending St. John’s Lutheran Church in Newburg, Wis., and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in West Bend, Wis. He was graduated from Kewaskum High School in 2008, Martin Luther College in 2012, and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 2016. He gained practical experience during his year-long pastoral internship at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Greenville, Wis. His seminary senior thesis examined how WELS women understand the Bible’s teaching of the roles of men and women in an age of feminism.
Now a pastor in Idaho, Kurt serves as the mission pastor for Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, a multi-site congregation in the Boise area. He primarily oversees outreach and evangelism and a mission start-up in North Nampa. At Cross of Christ, he serves on a staff of four pastors along with a female staff minister and a preschool director. Kurt and his wife, Stephanie, have been married for almost seven years. They have three children (Hannah, Theodore, and Evangeline) and a fourth due at the end of May. Kurt and Stephanie enjoy music, coffee roasting, and hiking in scenic Idaho. Kurt is also the worship coordinator for the WELS Pacific Northwest District and is a periodic writer for Time of Grace.
Jenn grew up in Two Rivers, Wis., where she was baptized and confirmed at St. John’s Lutheran Church. After high school, Jenn attended the University of Wisconsin and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Accountancy. While in Madison, she met life-long Christian friends and developed a passion for service at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel—the University of Wisconsin’s WELS student ministry.
Today Jenn lives in Neenah, Wis., with her husband Sean and their two kids, Kieran and Aiden. She works at Kimberly-Clark Corporation as the General Manager of the Viva and Scott paper towels businesses. She and her family are members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Greenville. Jenn has sought ways to use her experiences to support Immanuel’s ministry, including leading early childhood ministry programs, supporting the outreach team, advising vision and strategy development and deployment, and most recently leading communications for Immanuel’s ministry expansion plan.
Rev. Adam Mueller
2020 – Crucifying Consumer Mentality: The Vital Need to Commit Ourselves to Christ’s Mission, Adam Mueller
“The consumer is always right.” That phrase was coined in 1909 by Harry Gorden Selfridge, who owned a larger department store in London. He was encouraging his employees to place a high priority on customer satisfaction. It was echoed throughout the business world. When Marshall Field launched his own store in Chicago, he did so under the motto, “Give the lady what she wants.” Or consider one of the longest-running slogans in the history of advertising: “Have it your way.” For over forty years, the fast-food franchise Burger King emphasized that at their restaurants, the consumer will get exactly what he wants.
This consumer mentality has penetrated Christian congregations throughout America. Consumer mentality manifests itself when leaders think that the key to gaining new members is to conduct ministry in a way that will appeal to the masses. Consumer mentality can also occur when members make demands that are rooted in their personal wants and desires, without any thought about the best interests of their fellow members or the lost in their community.
When thinking about how to approach ministry, the question that should matter is, “What would best serve Jesus Christ and his mission in our specific context?” After all, it is his Church, purchased with his blood. Yet, because we have a sinful nature that is inherently selfish, it is almost impossible to wrestle with that question without at least subconsciously wrestling with another: “What do I prefer?”
Consumer mentality is toxic. If left unchecked, it leads to institutionalism and parochialism. When those set in, a slow death of the congregation is inevitable. That consumer mentality resides in the Old Adam. You cannot reason with him or negotiate with him. You can only crucify the Old Adam.
In this session, we will discuss how to assess if a consumer mentality has set into your congregation. We will see that there is only one solution: repentance. We will discuss how to produce fruits of repentance, charting a path forward in our congregation that places Christ’s mission at the center of everything we do. And we will see how to recommit ourselves to mission.
Motivating people with the fear of their congregation’s demise does not work. Goading people on with God’s Law—“God has commanded you to share your faith!”—does not produce the type of service the Lord of the Church is seeking. In the parable of the moneylender, Jesus taught that the one who loves much is the one who knows they have been forgiven much (Luke 7). As we grow in our understanding of Christ’s love for us… in how much he has done for us… we learn to set aside any consumer mentality we had towards a church. The only thing that matters to us: carrying out Christ’s mission in the brief time we have on earth.
Rev. Adam Mueller
Rev. Adam Mueller has been a parish pastor for 21 years, serving congregations in Kokomo, Indiana and Tucson, Arizona. He has also served our church body in various district capacities, including the district evangelism board, district mission board, and circuit pastor. He has also served WELS on the national level as a regular pastoral mentor, training several vicars, translation committee for CSB and EHV, Institute for Worship and Outreach, and a board member of Commission on Congregational Counseling. He is currently the national director of the Hymnal Introduction Program.
Mueller lives in Marana, Ariz., with his wife, Amy, and his children Anneliese, Archer, and AJ.
Rev. Jon Schroeder
2020 – Finding Our Voice, Rev. Jonathan E. Schroeder
Creatives often mention “finding your voice”—the characteristics that make you uniquely yourself—and then owning that voice in your work. In our mission as the mouth of God, the Church speaks to the world. What will be the unique voice of our synod and our congregations in the next decade? How will we own our voice in the work of the Church?
As more people in our society claim no religious affiliation and as our country continues along the continuum toward post-Christianity, the Church finds herself in uncharted territory. How will Christian leaders guide our synod, our congregations, and our members in their mission to be the mouth of God?
As we assess our synodical and congregational culture and core values to understand what the WELS has to offer in her witness, we must ask some questions:
- Are we too deep into our context to see the potential we have for outreach?
- Are we too steeped in our history to see the need for change?
- What core values need to be developed as we find our voice?
- What aspects of our culture do we want to most determine the tenor of our voice?
Having spent 20 years in mission outreach and synodical leadership, the speaker will explore the challenges and opportunities in finding our voice and owning that voice as we carry out the mission of being the mouth of God.
Rev. Jonathan E. Schroeder
Pastor Schroeder was assigned to serve as a church planter in Sharpsburg, Ga. From the first worship attendance of nine people, God has built a large congregation (575+) which Jonathan has served for 20 years. He has been privileged to serve the synod in the various ways listed below and has trained 15 vicars. Jon and his wife, Jenny, have three children, aged 16, 19, 21. He enjoys reading, travel, bowhunting, and golf.
- Synodical Council Executive Committee, Ministry Chairman
- Synodical Council, Pastor-at-large
- First Vice President, South Atlantic District
- Executive Committee of the Hymnal Project
- Chairman of the Scripture Committee of the Hymnal Project
- Editor, Commentary on the Lectionary
- Moderator of the Institute of Worship and Outreach
- Pastor, Faith Lutheran, Sharpsburg, Georgia
- Essayist for 2018 WLS Symposium, “Shepherd Leaders Bear the Cros.”
- Essayist for 2010 WLS Symposium, “Worship and Outreach: A Lutheran Paradigm”
- Essayist for 2009 Synod Convention, “Our Calling”
- Essayist for the Emmaus Free Conference 2014
- Essayist for the LCMS-WELS Free Conference 2012
- Keynote Speaker for WLS Mission and Ministry 2016, “Developing a Harvest Strategy”
- Keynote Speaker for Evangelism Day 2012, Martin Luther College
- Keynote Speaker for WLS Mission and Ministry 2012, “Reaching out in the time in between”
- Keynote Speaker for the 2005 National Conference on Worship and the Arts, “Rite Worship for North American Outreach”
- General Editor and author, Planning Christian Worship II, Northwestern Publishing House
- Contributing Editor, Forward in Christ (2006-2012)
- Guest Lecturer, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, 2004-2010
- WELS Translation Feasibility Committee
- WELS Ad Hoc Commission on Long Range Planning (2007-2009)
- Author of “Welcoming Worship,” the WELS 2008 Commission on Evangelism national seminar
- Preacher WELS Synod Convention 2017
- Preacher National Conference on Worship and the Arts 2017
- Preacher WLS Symposium, 2016
- Preacher MLC Evangelism Day, 2012
- Consultant, WELS School of Outreach
- Consultant, WELS School of Worship
- Numerous papers and presentations to various districts, conferences and synodical entities
Rev. David Rosenau
2020 – One by One: Revitalizing a Congregation, Rev. David Rosenau
Keeping things simple requires hard work, a clear sense of purpose, and a commitment to keeping the mission of the church as the mission of the church.
St. Mark’s in Leesburg, Fla., was an example of a typical WELS congregation. For three decades, worship attendance hovered in the mid double-digits. The demographic was very greyed. Adult confirmations were extremely rare. The church tried different programs and efforts. They produced little fruit in the way of new members.
In the past decade, the congregation in Leesburg has been completely transformed. The Lord has blessed the church with 250% growth. St. Mark’s weekly worship averages above 200. Last year, 40 adults were confirmed.
How does this happen? Does it require a lot of innovative new programs? Does it necessitate a massive outreach budget? No! The Lord has richly blessed a simple ministry mindset in Leesburg, Florida. Worship that touches the head and the heart on Sunday morning. Sermons that apply the comfort and guidance of God’s Word to real lives. Compelling Bible studies during the week that not only stir a desire in the members to return but motivate them to want to bring someone else with them. Leesburg’s revitalization is founded upon nothing other than the proclamation of the gospel.
However, there is another key component to this gospel proclamation—an ambitious goal of visitation by the pastor with a faithfulness and friendliness that inspires confidence in your members. They are willing and eager to offer a pastor visit to a friend or neighbor in need, someone who does not have a church or pastor of their own. St. Mark’s revitalization was built upon that one-on-one type of visitation ministry.
God’s Word has the power to change lives, here and for eternity. That means the hard part is taken care of. Now how do we connect many more people to his life changing Word? Blessings abound when the mindset and ministry—in a large church or small, established congregation or mission start—is one by one. This requires commitment by the pastor. And it requires the partnership of his members, as they free up his time to do this visitation work and as they themselves engage in friendship evangelism, one person at a time.
This session will not be a catchy pep talk. This is a refreshing return to effective, if not efficient, use of the limited time we have to work while it is day. One by one God will grow his Church. One by one God is growing his Church! May God grow ours one by one.
Rev. David Rosenau
During the five years he worked as an apprentice mortician and funeral director, David Rosenau thought he knew what he was going to do for the rest of his life. Until he started a career at a sheriff’s department. After working a little more than a year as a deputy in the jail he was transferred and promoted to detective to work in a narcotics and vice unit. After almost seven years in the unit he was promoted to Det. Sergeant and transferred to the detective bureau working homicide and violent crime.
From hearing and reading God’s Word he knew the Lord guides all things. But he did not know how God was working in all things all along to prepare him to be the pastor that God is using him to be today. David has been shepherding the saints at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Leesburg, Fla., and reaching out to the surrounding communities since August of 2009. God has blessed David and his wife, Susan with five children and two grandchildren and he is convinced that now, by God’s grace, he knows what he will be doing for the rest of his life.
Rev. Joel Heckendorf
2020 – Serving Together without Serving Together: A Closer Look at the Relationship between Lay Leaders & Called Workers, Rev. Joel Heckendorf and John Tappe
Lay Leader. Called Worker. Ever find it interesting the way we describe the people who serve side-by-side in God’s kingdom? Why is the called person a “worker” and why is the layperson the leader? Is that the way it should be? Is it wrong if the called person is the “leader” and the layperson is the “worker?”
To ask it another way, what is the role of the pastor? Is he simply the resident theologian who provides spiritual guidance and feeds the faith of the flock while men with more “real world experience” chart the course and steer the ship of the church? In what role do the members see him functioning? How does the pastor view himself? What if those views conflict? Where does giftedness fit into this discussion?
It’s been said that Satan if can’t affect our doctrine, he can still try and affect our relationships. So, that is often where he’ll often attack. If you have enough experience in the Church Militant, you can point to examples of soured relationships between called and lay people that hindered the gospel ministry. Unfortunately, it’s more common than we wish. What’s the cause? Are there preventative measures that can be taken? Is it merely personality conflict or is it perhaps a misunderstanding of respective roles?
The presenters for this session – Mr. John Tappe and Rev. Joel Heckendorf – have been members at the same congregation. Ironically, they never officially served together in an official capacity. John was never an elected leader when Joel served as his pastor. And yet, for seven years they “served together without serving together.” For the last eleven years, they continue to serve the kingdom together without officially serving together.
As they share the experiences and insights of their relationship, we pray God will provide the called and lay leaders of this conference some practical tools in strengthening ministry partnerships even if you’re not serving on boards or committees together. Topics include:
- Shepherding the Shepherd & His Family
- Positive Reinforcement Both Directions
- Complementary Gifts
- Functions of Ministry vs. Titles (Ephesians 4)
Rev. Joel Heckendorf
Growing up in southeastern Wisconsin, Joel saw first-hand how the lay/called worker relationship can be a mutual blessing as he watched his father serve in various capacities at their local congregation. While attending the Seminary, one of Joel’s consistent prayers was to have a member like his father when he would enter the ministry. That prayer was answered in the person of John Tappe, when Joel was assigned to serve as his pastor at St. Peter, Schofield, Wis., in 2001. Joel and John served together in Schofield for seven years, with one highlight being the addition of a second-campus that included a childcare and community center.
From 2008-2018, Joel served as the coordinating pastor at Immanuel, Greenville, Wis. Again blessed to serve alongside tremendous leaders (some of whom are presenting at this conference), Joel had the privilege of watching an exciting ministry boom, as the congregation went from 550 in weekly worship to over a 1,000 (1,200 members to 2,600 members) during his decade of service. While in Greenville, Joel also was blessed to serve as a vice-president of the Northern Wisconsin District, seeing leadership from a different perspective. He also began serving as the WELS Multi-Language Publications chairman, a position he currently holds.
In December 2018, Joel became the first pastor at Light of the Valleys Lutheran Church in Reno, Nev., hoping to bring the blessings of working with gifted leaders to the mission field. Joel prays that his positive interaction with layleaders in the past will serve as a great model as he works side-by-side with God’s people to establish a new congregation.
On a personal level, Joel and his wife, Mary, are blessed with three children, Alyssa (Martin Luther College), Caleb & Connor (Luther Preparatory School).
John Tappe currently lives northwest of Medford, Wis., since retiring in 2009. Prior to his retirement, John was employed in residential real estate sales and home building in the Wausau, Wis. metropolitan area since 1970. His last 20 years years he was a partner with his oldest son, building and developing single family homes and subdivisions. During most of this time he owned and managed a small real estate sales team.
Over the past 50 years John has been blessed to served his Savior in both congregational and synod leadership positions. As a member of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Schofield, Wis., from 1970-2007, he served on the Church Council, chairing the Long Range Planning Committee, the Building Committee for the new grade school, and the Building Committee for the Key to Life Childcare and Community Center. Since joining Immanuel Lutheran Church in Medford in 2007, John has served on the Church Council, chairing the School and Child Care Center Board, the Long Range Planning Committee, and currently is serving on the Building Committee for a new child care center.
Areas in which John has been blessed to served the WELS are: Western Wisconsin District Mission Board (12 years), 6 of which were also served on the Board for Home Missions. He has served on the Synodical Conference (4 years), and also the Church Extension Fund Board of Directors (11 years).
On a personal level John and his wife, Jan, are blessed with 6 children and 29 grandchild. They enjoy traveling the United States, spending the winter in sunny Naples, Fla., where they attend Crown of Life Lutheran Church in Ft. Myers, camping with family and spending time with the grandchildren. John also enjoys hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.