Critical Mass for Ministry Impact | Jonathan Hein

John Hein

Critical Mass: Consolidation for Greater Ministry Impact

Some things are hard to do without critical mass. Two people—a cellist and trombonist—cannot play music written for an orchestra. Three kids playing football in the backyard is not as fun as ten kids. Critical mass is important! In 2022, WELS had almost 460 congregations with an average weekly worship attendance under 50 (with many under 25). Half of these are within a ten-minute drive of another WELS congregation. Might they benefit from a larger critical mass? How would that happen? Imagine three churches within ten minutes of each other. Each has a sanctuary that seats over 150 and a weekly worship attendance in the low 30s. Now imagine those congregations consolidating at one location. Worship attendance is now in the 90s. The sanctuary is two-thirds full. Does this allow various improvements—youth group, choir, congregational singing? Does it help outreach when a guest walks into a church that is mostly full versus mostly empty? This presentation tells the story of three sites that have already consolidated and 20 more that are in the process. Why? For greater critical mass and, God willing, more ministry. The presenter also shares a process for at least exploring the possibility of congregational consolidation.

Bio | Jonathan Hein

Upon graduation from the seminary in 1997, Rev. Hein was assigned to a home mission in the Charleston, S.C., area. In 20 years there, he helped start two congregations. He has served as chairman of the South Atlantic District Mission Board as well as a member of the executive committee of WELS Board for Home Missions. In 2014 he was called to be the director of WELS Commission on Congregational Counseling. In that capacity, he works with congregations and schools to assess and plan gospel ministry efforts. In 2017, his duties expanded to include serving as coordinator of the six commissions that make up WELS Congregational Services: Congregational Counseling, Discipleship, Evangelism, Lutheran Schools, Special Ministries, and Worship.