Prospects from the Dinosaur-Age

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 … .

Twelve years ago, I met the Goodwin family while doing outreach flyers for VBS in our neighborhood. Their 10-year old daughter attended and was baptized. You’re thinking, “Eventually, they became members, right?” No. At least not yet. There were follow up neighbor visits in the home where their big dog would shed white hair on my navy-blue pants. They would come to church every once in a while. Beth and I forged a genuine friendship with them. When their daughter (now in her early 20s), encountered personal troubles, they called Beth and I for help. We met numerous times together and prayed. God worked his wonderful reconciliation. You’re thinking, “Now they became
members?” No. Not yet. But they are coming to church about six times a year.

Four years ago, my family moved to a new neighborhood, but our relationship with them continues today built on years of history: trick-or-treating, neighborly hugs and friendship. Just “liking” them personally has earned a relationship of trust that is slowly building a bridge, one timber at a time. This Christmas, another one of my “mastodon-era” prospects came to life – literally. A mother and her five children were baptized on the Nativity of our Lord. The parents asked on a recent Sunday, “How do we become members?” An inward wave of thankfulness washed over me for the eight years-worth of bridge-building: preschool morning greetings outside on the sidewalk, high-fiving little children, and countless moments of casual conversation. It’s about building relationships of trust and just genuinely liking non-member people.

Keep the “mastodons” on your prospect list. You never know when the Lord will resurrect them to spiritual life.

Rev. Donn Dobberstein

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.

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Missionaries Who Need Music in Minutes

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. Necessity being the mother of invention, I also understand that, in the absence of a living, breathing keyboardist, there are many who adapt to their situations, combine their knowledge and skills with available software and hardware, and come up with something that works for worship music. Much like the way I always follow my favorite route to the airport, we tend to stick with something like that (even if something easier, faster, or better were out there somewhere), because it is what we know and because it works. Would it catch anyone’s attention if, with nothing more than a monitor and a mouse, all the critical musical selections for any service in the Christian Worship series could be ready to go in five minutes (and on a scale of 1-10 their sound quality was 7 or better)?

Those who wish to set up tracks, channels, volume, velocity and instrument patches in MIDI files will still be able to do so when our publishing house releases replacement software for HymnSoft. Additionally, however, there will also be a release of approximately 3300 copyrighted MP3 files, representing everything NPH has published in the way of liturgy, hymnody and psalmody since 1993, through and including Christian Worship: Supplement. 795 hymn files, 114 psalm files and 191 liturgy files combine to total 1100 mp3 files. Multiply that times three, since there are three versions to accommodate every kind of preference and worship space room size/acoustical environment: digital organ with flute melody, virtual pipe organ and digital grand piano.

Here’s an example of piano only.
Here’s one that is organ and flute.

Should it be that you do not consider I-tunes a user-friendly application, find a willing seventh grader and your worship playlist can be assembled in five minutes. If need be, that same seventh grader can “push buttons” to run the music during the service. (Unchecking the songs in an I-tunes playlist will prevent the program from autoadvancing to play the next song.) Burn a playlist to disk for a nursing home or off-site or outdoor service. Rather than turn this article into a tutorial, screenshots and music samples can be reviewed by clicking the links.Click here for screen shot

It would always be my preference to make use of the Lord’s blessing of a live instrumentalist rather than a digital file as music serves as the living voice of the gospel, but if you’re still waiting patiently for that blessing or you have more than a few Sundays when the one blessing you have can’t be with you on a weekend, help is on the way.

Rev. Michael Schultz

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

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Christmas Eve Candlelight (without drip protectors)

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.

An alternative

A few years ago, we got rid of our white candle sets and started using beeswax taper candles made by an Orthodox church supply company in Iowa.
The benefits:

  • Dripless. Did I mention that they are dripless? No need for drip protectors. As long as the candles are held vertically, and there isn’t a big breeze blowing through your church, the candles will fully consume. No dripping wax—and no need for paper drip protectors.
  • Aesthetics: they are just pretty candles
  • Natural materials: 100% beeswax means when you open the box and burn them, they smell like honey
  • Cost: they are competatively priced at $8 per pound. (10 pounds is about 500 candles)

We get our candles from Mt. Sinai Orthodox Church Supply at their website

Some things to note:

  1. Their customer service is not really quick. Expect the email or phone message you leave to take a little while to be answered, but we have been very happy with their products for years.
  2. You order by the pound, not candle count, because they are hand dipped candles
  3. The candles have a shelf life. Since they are all beeswax, don’t order five years’ worth of candles at a time.

We use the same candles for all our candlelight services (Vigil, Lent, Advent).

Mt. Sinai Orthodox Church Products. (
100% Beeswax candles, order by pound.
3635 Cottage Grove Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403.
(800) 867-3036

Rev. Jonathan E. Schroeder

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.

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