Pastor’s Blog


Dear Members and Friends of Beautiful Saviour Lutheran:

I thought now would be a good time for one of these email communiques.  We’ve had a productive six weeks of the new year.  We have some great midweek Bible studies – studying a defense of creationism on Wednesdays and the book of James on Sundays.  We’ve met some new first-time worshippers on Sundays who are now repeat visitors.  We’ve had some new people step up in roles of service in the church.  We “rolled out” the long-range plan for ministry and facility expansion on January 7th.  We had a great week at the end of January when Mark and Jenny were here and guided many of us with estate planning.  We have begun the season of Lent with our midweek “People of the Passion” series.  And we continue to add more children to our 4K (or TK – Transitional Kindergarten) program.  We do not deserve such kindness from our most gracious Lord.
Allow me to expand on some things in the paragraph above.  When I was deliberating the Call to serve here two years ago, I was told by a couple of people, in so many words, “We need to build a new congregation on the foundation of the people already here at Beautiful Saviour”.  The people that said that recognized great ministry had been done by hundreds of people here for almost 50 years.  But it was time to reach a new generation with the Gospel.  Time for new people to begin to take on leadership positions.  Time for Beautiful Saviour to not only have a great history, but a bright future. 
So I took the call knowing that, but not really knowing what needed to be done or how to do it.  I knew I needed to preach and teach the Gospel – the only thing that converts, gives life, and brings people to their Savior.  I knew that always takes hard work and requires making visits on members and inquiring “prospects”.  I also knew that as a church we would need to objectively evaluate what our ministry was doing, might be doing, and could consider no longer doing.  And after almost two years, there are a few things that have become quite apparent.
One – we are a VERY welcoming congregation.  Everyone who visits tells me that.  And I watch it happen and know its true.  So if that’s a strength, then let’s capitalize on our strengths.  WinGS already has by holding an Advent by Candlelight last December in which many people brought their relatives and friends.  And they all heard the Good News of Jesus birth, as well as made new friends at Beautiful Saviour! 
David Hirons has plans for evangelism that include a summer picnic (July 28)  and a Christmas party, that will allow us to invite our friends (young and old) to meet our friendly congregation in a laid-back setting.  Look for more details as those dates approach.
Friendship evangelism is also working with our early childhood ministries.  And that’s a second strength – Cross Connections and 4K / TK.  People are telling their friends and they are bringing their children.  Our goal was to have 12 enrolled in 4K / TK and we now have 17!  They aren’t all coming at once.  Some come half a day.  Some only attend a few days a week.  But coming, they are.  And we’ve got to do something about it.
Because if this ministry can flourish as this rate, it can only mean good things for our school’s future and church’s future.  There is pretty simple evangelism strategy with all these new families that we can all follow.  What I do is stand outside the classrooms before and after school and get into conversations with the parents.  I find out if they have a church home.  I invite them to attend our Bible Information Class if they don’t.  And then I invite them to church.  All of us can do that.  We can invite a friend to attend Bible Information Class with us – and then worship with us.  We’ll be starting a new class after Easter.  Let’s see whom we can invite and bring.  What if 20 people each brought one friend!  What 20 more brought one to the next class?  Our church and school would be exploding even more.
Back to the overflowing preschool ministries.  We are going to have to knock out a wall and expand the 4K / TK for next year.  But then where do we put the Kindergarten / 1st grade room?  That’s going to fill up fast too.  Starting next year!  We could move that classroom over to the Grades 2-4 classroom.  Then we could move upper grades to a portion of the fellowship hall.  It will make things a bit inconvenient though.  So should we just punt?  Lower our expectations?  Take the Gospel light God’s given us and hide it under a bushel basket?  Implement a non-strategy of talking a lot about what to do – maybe even arguing about it – but not doing much? 
Our Board of Education is not willing to do that.  So, the plans we rolled out on January 7th called for something along the lines of the paragraph above.  Nothing is set in stone.  Everyone is willing to think and rethink through some different ideas.  And everyone has to be flexible, adaptable, and willing to adjust to how God is blessing us.  We are seeing that future “new congregation” and its now!
Did you know we had 160 total in worship last Sunday (2/11/18)?  Last year we’d get that many only on Sundays when the school kids sang.  There was no special music last Sunday.  And some “regular” attenders weren’t in worship.  And we still had 77 in the 8 am service and 83 in the 10:30 am service.  I am thrilled that we’ve seen such steady increases in the number of people who want to be at Beautiful Saviour on a Sunday morning for worship.  We’ve seen worship average go from 125 in 2015; to 131 in 2016; to 145 in 2017 and now we had a “normal” Sunday of 160.  That’s not megachurch growth, I know.  But the arrow is pointing up, thanks to God’s grace and blessing. 
And much of the reason is so many young families!  There’s that future new congregation again.  Of course, young families have children.  And sometimes children are loud in church.  I hope we are willing to see those cries as praise from the lips of children and not a personal annoyance.  We have to be as warm and welcoming and understanding to the young families today, as others once were of ours. 
Oh, and its not just young families, either.  All ages of people in every stage of life are inviting and brining and welcoming their friends to church with them.  Friendship evangelism is something we all can do.  And it works!
The new members are also getting involved in the life of the church.  One is assisting tracking tuition for the school.  Two more are serving on the Board of Education.  Another 6-8 have volunteered to help mow the grass and trim the weeds.  Several have helped with our outreach events.  We’ve got a few more ushers and a few more greeters.  Don’t look now, but pretty soon we are going to put some long-time church council men out of a job!  I hope we see that as a good thing.  One generation sees the great example of Christian service, and wants to serve just as faithfully as they once did. 
And yet its all kind of scary, isn’t it?  We all like being comfortable and lots of new people and lots of new ministry opportunity rattles us just a little.   But don’t be afraid.  The devil would want us to be so afraid of change that we freeze.  That we stand still.  Then we won’t reach as many or any more people with the saving Name of Jesus.  Rather than give in to fear, ask God to overcome your doubt, calm you when thinking about what change may bring, and realize that more people hearing about and believing in Jesus is a good problem to have!
I think some people were afraid or at least cautious when they heard two estate planners were coming to town, a few weeks ago.  But by now the word is out what a blessing Mark Hayes and Jenny Nohelty were when they met with 30 different couples or individuals and helped them plan their estates, so that family and ministry would be blessed in the future.  Their trip here and visits far exceeded whatever I thought it was going to be and do.  Essentially, they came and met people where they were at.  They got young families (and young single people) to think about things like wills, and other financial planning.  They took people who were just beginning to put together estate planning now that their children are grown and gave them guidance.  And they took a look at people who already had their wills set and locked down, and gave them a few things to think about that they had never previously considered.  Everyone I talked to said it was beneficial.  Everyone.  No one said it was a waste.  Nearly everyone made some adjustments to their plans based on things they learned.  Everyone was satisfied with their advice about the best way to take care of their family.  But best of all – everyone they met with were able to cement their support for the present and future of the ministry of Beautiful Saviour.  That was pretty cool. 
For anyone who wonders what the fuss is all about – ask someone who met with them.  Ask Pastor and Janice Valleskey.  Ask Herb and Jackie Popke who told me, “I’m glad you pushed us to see them, Pastor”.  Ask Rob and Danielle Newton.  Ask around.  Mark and Jenny will be back in Mid April if you want to meet up with them. 
I heard one person mumble, “Yea, I know what they want.  Take your money away from your family and give it to the church”.  Actually that’s not at all what they suggested.  But they also didn’t apologize about reminding people to give to Gospel ministry and neither do I.  God commends faithful stewardship as a fruit of our faith.  The Bible tells us to excel in the grace of giving, just as we are to excel in every ability God gives, and every command he gives.  I hold myself to a high standard when it comes to giving a generous portion of my income to support Gospel ministry.  It’s my privilege to encourage everyone towards the same thing.  And not just from our estate that we should consider giving, but from our monthly paycheck, even if that paycheck isn’t what it once was.  We’ve got great ministry going on here and even greater things to come.  God wants the best of our singing.  The best of our ushering.  The best of our welcoming.  The best of our mowing the lawn.  The best of everything we offer him.  Some of our ushers tell me that they don’t feel right unless they wear and suit and tie when they serve as ushers on a Sunday.  I don’t think that’s necessary but I get their point.  Wouldn’t it also then only make sense that we shouldn’t feel right unless we also offer our best gifts to God in the offering plate (or on-line)?  
Our treasurer reports that our offerings have not gone increased even though attendance has.  I encourage everyone to consider giving generously in support of our present and future Gospel ministry.  We have to capitalize on our blossoming early childhood ministries.  We have to expand and be prepared for more children in the classroom and more people in church.  We added a teacher.  We need to add a classroom.  Your investment in the future Gospel outreach going on now at Beautiful Saviour is needed and of great value.
One of the reasons I offer these emails of communication is to let you know just that.  That your investment is being received and put to use for Gospel ministry.  You need to know what your church is doing, so that you never think we are burying our talents in the ground.  The church council sets the schedule for regular meetings of the church and recently they decided to substitute two voter’s meetings (usually held at 11:30 am) with open forums during the Bible class hour in-between services, so more communication can be shared with more people.  We are still keeping our voter’s meeting to set the budget in June, and vote for officers in December.  But in April/May and September/October, we are going to have these open forums.  Attend the one scheduled for April 22nd, so you can hear all the good things the Lord is blessing us with, and all the opportunities he’s put before us.
I’m getting long winded.  I guess I can’t help myself when I get to talking about present and future ministry at Beautiful Saviour.  This is the time and the place for Gospel ministry.  I don’t want to squander what God has given us.  I don’t want any of us to do that.
There’s more that I could talk about as I think about the good things God has blessed us at Beautiful Saviour.  But I’ll end now with two examples of the power of the Gospel at work among us right now.  One family that is now a member of Beautiful Saviour was the neighbor of one of our long-time members.  They invited this neighbor and their kids to our Cross Connections for Early Learners program.  Then that family started attending church.  Then they attended our Bible information class.  Then they got their children baptized.  Then they joined our church.  Then they enrolled their children in our school.
Another family brought their children to Cross Connections and that gave us the chance to invite them to Advent by Candlelight, and then Christmas Eve.  They also are now taking the Bible Information Class, and have been regularly attending worship on Sundays. 
Not only is this what is supposed to be happening – this isn’t going to stop happening.  This is only going to continue and keep growing.  125 in worship turned into 131.  131 into 145.  145 into 160.  And that will, with God’s blessing, turn into 185.  And 200.  We need to be prepared.  And we are – with God’s blessing, guidance, and the power of the Gospel.  Keep up the good work, with your prayers, through your service, with your participation, through your offerings, and your warm welcoming.  And then keep watching God bless us with a new congregation built on the foundation of our current congregation.  But don’t just watch.  Be a part of it!
Pastor Wayne Uhlhorn