About the Institute

The Institute for Worship and Outreach is a group of WELS pastors who have become convinced, on the basis of study and ministry experiences, that worship forms and outreach methods can and must intersect confessionally and evangelically in efforts to proclaim the gospel of Jesus. With this perspective, they have come together to assist and encourage pastors as they strive for excellence in public worship and mission outreach.

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Resource
February 9, 2012

Making a quality service folder serves both God’s people and any unchurched visitors you have. Excellence in design is a reflection of the love we have for Christ and our commitment to bringing him the best of our abilities. A service folder helps God’s people by allowing worship variety in an accessible format.

Jonathan Schroeder is the pastor of Faith Lutheran in Sharpsburg, GA. He serves as the Moderator of the Institute of Worship and Outreach, pastor-at-large on the Synodical Council, and is actively involved in WELS School of Outreach and WELS School of Worship.

Resource
February 10, 2012

Easter is the chief festival day of the year. Make every effort to make it look and feel and sound like the chief day of the year! To quote Emeril: Kick it up a notch. Could the pastor wear a special stole? Might this be an opportunity to process in on this day? What about special banners or tapestry? Choirs and musicians are used to pulling out all the stops. Consider what might be done to pull out the stops in the visual arts or an enriched liturgical practice. (Speaking of pulling out all the stops, remember that playing EVERYTHING loud soon makes everything sound the same.

Aaron Christie serves pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Waukesha, WI. He also serves the synod as a member of the WELS Commission on Worship and a frequent presenter and consultant for the WELS School of Worship Enrichment.

Blog
February 8, 2012

Let me tell you about my friend Ted. When our church in Arcadia, WI was first getting started, we hosted a free community picnic. We rented the biggest shelter in town. A company donated food. Several dozen members of our mother church came to welcome the flood of guests we expected. Our summer canvassers spent a week preparing and promoting. Four people from the community came. Two couples. Seemed like a waste.

Nathan Strutz serves as pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Verona, WI. He serves the WELS as chairman of the Western Wisconsin District Mission Board.

Blog
January 31, 2012

Our narthex is not giant. Like most 1950’s-era churches of neo-gothic design, our building offers hardly any space for the kind of pre- and post-service conversation that people of today want and need. Many congregations have done an excellent job of addressing this situation with a building project. Newly constructed space for greeting can be a great way to help visitors and members feel more welcome. But is there anything you can do in the short term? If yours is a big old church with a tiny narthex, read on…

Pastor Zabell is pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI. Zabell serves as St. Paul’s Minister of Music and Family. In addition to his congregational duties, Zabell is the chairman of the WELS Commission on Worship.

Blog
January 31, 2012

I had the opportunity to be in Portland, OR for three days last week to present to the Missionaries Conference of the Pacific Northwest. As soon as I stepped off the plane I realized that things were different. Those who serve in ministry in the Pacific Northwest serve in a very different context from the one in which I serve in Middle Tennessee. The dress was different. The accents were different. First impressions told me that attitudes toward religion were also different.

God’s Mission

Charles Westra serves as pastor of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Columbia, TN. In addition to his congregational duties, Pastor Westra serves as the chairman for the WELS Board for Home Missions.

Blog
January 26, 2012

It was 80 degrees when I got into the plane in Charleston, SC. It was 39 degrees when I got off in Wisconsin. Yet in spite of the cold and the rain, I sincerely enjoyed my visit to the Northern Wisconsin District. I had the privilege of presenting my IWO paper, Treasure in Jars of Clay, to the pastors of that district. The paper examines a concept – the ministerial cause of salvation – that I hadn’t heard discussed much in my ministry. We study and talk about the instrumental cause – the Means of Grace – often.

Jonathan Hein serves at Beautiful Savior Lutheran in Summerville, SC. He serves WELS as the chairman of the Commission on Congregational Counseling and serves his district as the chairman of the South Atlantic District Mission Board.

Blog
January 21, 2012

Congregations conduct surveys in preparation for Schools of Worship Enrichment (SoWE). Three items from these surveys regularly receive the lowest scores - no matter the type of congregation, no matter how rich their musical resources.

  • My congregation’s singing is strong and enthusiastic.
  • We use enough musical variety for the psalms, hymns, and liturgical songs.
  • Our congregation seems to carry out its part of the liturgy (order of service) with enthusiasm.

Bryan Gerlach serves as the Director of the WELS Commission on Worship. His parish ministry experience includes congregations in Texas and California. Gerlach has a Master of Church Music degree and continues to serve as a regular pianist and organist at two WELS churches in the Milwaukee area.

Blog
January 12, 2012

A couple weeks ago, bones from a mastodon were discovered on a street corner while digging in Daytona Beach, FL. It was a rare mastodon from a prehistoric era, one of only thirteen discovered in the entire state. When I think mastodons, I think of some families on my church prospect list. Got any mastodon-era prospects on yours? There they lie buried deep down after so many years … .

Donn Dobberstein serves as pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Port Orange, FL. He also serves as the chairman of the WELS Commission on Evangelism, and as a presenter with the WELS School of Outreach.

Blog
December 20, 2011

A local Atlanta newscast regularly boasts that it will provide “all the headlines and tomorrow’s forecast in the first five minutes.” I don’t know if you need your news freeze-dried and shrink-wrapped like that, but I do still hear that busy missionaries don’t really have the time to spend seven hours or more a week working with sequencers, sound modules and MIDI files in an effort to have some decent music for the weekend worship service.

Michael Schultz serves as the Project Director of the new WELS Hymnal Project.

Blog
December 20, 2011


Many churches have Christmas Eve candlelight services, and there are plenty of church suppliers willing to sell you candle kits for your congregation. Generally these come with white wax candles and paper drip protectors. I think this these candles are just plain ugly. Then, you have to mess with installing the drip protectors—and then pray that everyone keeps the protector on so wax doesn’t get everywhere.

Jonathan Schroeder is the pastor of Faith Lutheran in Sharpsburg, GA. He serves as the Moderator of the Institute of Worship and Outreach, pastor-at-large on the Synodical Council, and is actively involved in WELS School of Outreach and WELS School of Worship.