The WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership
is founded upon twin convictions.
- The gospel is the power of God for salvation. It alone has the power to create and sustain faith in Jesus Christ. There is no way to God except through Christ. Therefore, the mission of the Church is to proclaim the gospel, carrying it to every corner of the world.
- God expects the Christian to use his reason and intellect, gifts God himself gives as part of his image, to formulate how to best proclaim the gospel in his corner of the world.
Lutheran leadership is at the nexus of those convictions. The Lutheran leader trusts firmly in the efficacy and sufficiency of God’s Word. However, he also understands that he has the responsibility to assess and plan ministry so that the congregation might do all it possibly can with God’s Word to disciple the faithful, seek the lost, and pursue the straying.
Thus, Scripture says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account” (Hebrews 13:17 EHV).
The National Conference on Lutheran Leadership seeks to encourage congregational members and leaders in those twin convictions. In the plenary sessions, we will discuss larger strategic issues that are relevant for all congregations. The breakout sessions are more tactical in nature. Some share “best practices” for various types of ministries. Others address challenges that are applicable only to some congregations.
The National Conference on Lutheran Leadership will also provide the opportunity to network with leaders from other congregations: for encouragement, for the sharing of wisdom, and for Christian fellowship.
Who Should Attend the Conference?
WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership is open to all. What will be shared will benefit congregational leaders. However, it would also benefit and edify those who do not serve in any official leadership capacity, yet still care about the mission of the church. The conference is for called workers and laity, for men and women, for those who are life-long Lutherans and for those who have recently joined, Your congregation may send an “official delegation” to the conference. If not, you are welcome to attend on your own.
With any conference, it can be helpful for an organization to have multiple people in attendance, for a number of reasons.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
First, it is impossible for one person to attend everything at a conference of this size. There are over twenty breakout sessions at the National Conference on Lutheran Leadership. One person can attend four to five of those. But your congregation might benefit from more than those four or five breakouts. Having multiple attendees lets your congregation cover more ground.
DISCUSS AND DEBATE
Second, having multiple people attend is conducive to better application. When it is just one person in attendance, what is brought back to the congregation is just one perspective. But when there are multiple individuals from a congregation in attendance, then during the scheduled fellowship times, with presentations still fresh in everyone’s minds, those individuals can discuss and evangelically debate how what was shared in relates to that congregation’s situation.
Third, having multiple people attend can be beneficial in the implementation of learned strategies or tactics. There is something of a “critical mass” achieved. Having that buy in from multiple individuals can create momentum.
One possibility: bring a pastor, a councilman, a woman of influence, and a young future leader.
While registration for the conference must be done individually, those individuals list their home congregation on the registration form. Thus, there is a record of how many are coming from each congregation. Congregations that send three or more individuals to the National Conference on Lutheran Leadership will receive a travel rebate of $50 per attendee after the conference. (The maximum travel rebate is $250 per congregation.)
The Need for Lutheran Leadership
The preacher says, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Mankind’s greatest problem will never change. The solution to that problem is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That does not mean that the challenges before Christian churches are completely identical in every time and every place. Far from it.
American Christianity is at a crossroads. Postmodernism has destroyed the notion of truth. Secular humanism has convinced two generations that they can obtain purpose and satisfaction apart from religion. Atheism has doubled in the last generation. Some have declared that America is now a post-Christian nation.
Among those who are still religious, there have been seismic behavioral changes. The way Americans consume content has evolved. Consumption is now asynchronous. No one watches a TV show at a specific time on a specific day anymore. They binge-watch whatever they want whenever they want. Consumption is now illocal. You do not have to go to a store to get what you need anymore. You can purchase anything you want off the Amazon app on your phone while sitting on your couch. Thus, the notion of having to be in a certain place at a certain time to consume religious content is antithetical to current American culture. “Why go to church? I can listen to sermon on YouTube and put together a Christian music playlist on Spotify.”
So, American culture is becoming increasingly non-religious. Even among those who remain Christian, there is the perception that church attendance is unnecessary and church membership of little to no value. Is it any wonder that most Christian church bodies in America are unraveling?
Man’s biggest problem and the solution to that problem will always be the same. However, the cultural and strategic challenges before Christian churches are not identical in every time and place. That is why Lutheran leadership is necessary. Leaders have the responsibility to think through how to apply God’s unchanging Word to a culture that is radically different than even just one generation ago.
The National Conference on Lutheran Leadership exists to help your congregation do just that. May God grant us the faith to trust all his promises and the wisdom to apply them well to our time and place!