How One LCMS District Multiplies the Mission

By Mike Ruhl  |  July 1, 2016

In former years, a very high percentage of the 35 LCMS districts were staffed with a full or part time District Mission Executive.  These godly leaders were charged with bringing advocacy to starting new mission congregations and provide coaching and evangelical coaxing to established congregations so as to see them engage in the birthing (sponsorship) of new congregations. Having served in that capacity in the awesome Michigan District for 16 years continues to be one of the most exciting and fulfilling chapters of my entire pastoral ministry.

In the year 2000, LCMS World Missions (national missions in St. Louis) created the Center for United States Missions to serve as a ‘training arm’ of the LCMS and to resource the synodical districts in the ‘best practices’ of new church reproduction (church planting).

Let’s look at how one LCMS district maximized the benefits of entering into strategic partnership with the Center for US Missions – and has emerged as one of the leading districts of the synod in new church reproduction.

With approval and encouragement from the District President, the District Mission Executive birthed a vision to have at least 35 district pastors and church workers trained in the ‘essentials’ of successful church planting.  After the District Mission Executive recruited 35 ‘missionary candidates’, the Center for United States Missions provided training in the ‘best practices’ for starting new churches to those 35 district missionaries through its Church Planting Essentials two-day Learning Community process.  Several of those 35 missionaries are engaged in ‘re-planting’ a new or established congregation that finds itself facing serious decline in numbers and resources.

Each year, the Center for U.S. Missions conducts three 1 or 2 day on-site ‘in-service trainings’ in a successful new church plant at a central location in the district.  Timely trainings and topics are shared with the 35 church planters and missionaries – some by staff members of the Center for U.S. Missions – and some by ‘field practitioners’, church planters and apostolic leaders.  Some of the topics of the ‘in-service trainings’ include:

1. Church Planting Essentials (best practices for successful church planting)
2. Mentoring Mission Leaders in the New Church Plant
3. Reliable Kingdom Growth Predictors in the New Church Plant
4. Raising FUND-RAISING in the New Church Plant (Rev. Chris Paavola)
5. Structuring Growth-Stimulating Systems in the New Church Plant
6. Creating Community Partnerships in Support of the New Church Plant (Rev. Joe Sullivan)
7. Church Planting through Neighboring and Missional Communities (Rev. Greg Finke)
8. Mapping the Mission

As the Holy Spirit moves through the Word, the church planters and missionaries melt into a ‘missionary network’ – sharing ideas, model applications, missionary-stories of conversion, and their deepening understanding of missiology.

This process has stimulated a regular rhythm of strategic encouragement and resourcing for new church reproduction in the district.  And of no lesser significance, it was the district itself which designed and formatted its own unique approach to supporting the planting of new churches in the district!

What is the intentional mission-multiplication strategy in your district?  How has the Lord Himself blessed that mission-multiplication strategy with a growing number of new mission churches – ‘Gospel Lighthouses’ in your district?

Moment Extras

Questions for Discussion

1. What is the difference between ‘missions’ and ‘evangelism’ in your congregation and/or district?

2. If districts must be planting 3% of their total district churches each year in order to survive – and 4% of their total district churches each year in order to begin to thrive – what does this suggest as a forecast for your district?

3. What do you see as the optimum staffing strategy for a district that is serious about multiplying new churches in that district?

4. How do you feel about the current trend to set sights on starting a new ministry from an established congregation – without necessary sights on starting new congregations?

 Resources You Can Use

The values of creating Learning Communities instead of Lecture Halls in Learning Forward – The Professional Learning Association

Article by Charles Hill, Without These 5 Staff Positions, Your Church Plant Will Probably Fail.

Explore the services and resources available at the Center for United States Missions

A visionary church needs something more than biblical generalizations like “loving God, loving people” or “making disciples and serving the world.” Find out more in this book by Will Mancini, God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future.


Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website:

Center for U.S. Missions – Contact Information 

Email us at: | Rev. Dr. Peter Meier, Executive Director;  | Rev. Michael Ruhl, Director of Training;  | Kathy Meier, Coordinator;  | Mil Behnken, Office Manager;