The Center for United States Missions was formed in 2000 by
the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod National Missions in partnership with
Concordia University-Irvine, California, and the North American Mission
Executives, the professional organization of LCMS District Mission Executives
(NAME). The Center was formed to serve
Districts and congregations in church planting efforts, “the mission training
arm of the LCMS.” Rev. Ken Behnken was the first director of the Center,
located on the campus of Concordia, Irvine.
Over the past several years, as part of a reorganization of the Office of National Missions, the Synod has determined to leave new mission starts in the US to Districts and congregations. While the Synod is no longer positioned to provide hands-on training for US missionaries and church planters, the Center is uniquely poised to fill this void and meet these needs by providing excellent resources and training for United States missions, including church planter assessments, missionary formation, training, regional church planting movement consultation, and church planter coaching. As a partner District, the Minnesota South District has been blessed to utilize these services to assess, train, and coach church planters, to train congregations who are interested in planting new churches, and to assist congregations who wish to host ethnic church starts.
Convinced that church planting is the most effective strategy under heaven for reaching lost souls, the Center uses its principle-driven process to support the vision and strategy of each individual District and their individual congregations. Since 2000, the Center has equipped over 500 church planters, and assisted with the birth of over 150 new churches in the past five years. In the Minnesota South District, the Center has been involved in each of the 25 new starts since 2005.
Most recently, in November 2012, the District partnered with the Center to provide “Church Planting Essentials,” a training event for church planters and their teams. Hosted by TheAlley, Cottage Grove, the training was attended by 20 people representing seven church planters and new church starts.
Director of Training, Rev. Michael Ruhl, notes, “Our goal and fervent prayer is that each of the faith communities we seed intentionally invites others to know Jesus Christ, feeding those it encounters through Word and Sacrament ministry. Mission planting is a compelling, proactive response to our nation’s growing spiritual and ethical crisis. Working together as God’s people, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we zealously pray the Lord of the Harvest to help us catalyze and facilitate the launch of many new LCMS mission outposts across the US each and every year until our Lord’s return. We invite you to pray and partners with us for this surge in new faith communities.”
Along with approximately 20 of the 35 LCMS Districts, and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, The Minnesota South District is an active partner with the Center for US Missions.