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Think Like a Missionary

I have the distinct privilege of teaching the Church Planting & Revitalization course for Harvest Workers, our
online ministry training program. Recently, my first two students successfully completed the course. It was an
absolute joy to teach them, mostly because I had a front row seat to watch them grow!
 
Every Harvest Workers course has a list of expected demonstrated competencies that we hope to observe in
all students by the end of each class. For my class, there are several specific areas that I have listed. As I
supported these first students through the course, I discovered that there is a single, over-arching hope that
summarizes all that I desire for my students: that each begins to think like a missionary.
 
Missionaries the world over strive to bring the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who have no idea
that it is at all necessary or relevant for their lives. Some may have never heard of Jesus before while others
may be familiar but have either rejected the faith or have yet to respond. Either way, missionaries need to
figure out how they can meaningfully connect and communicate with those outside of faith in Jesus Christ.

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And Who is My Neighbor?

“Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the law?’ he asked him. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘You’ve answered correctly,’ he told him. ‘Do this and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” – Luke 10:25-29
 
If you’ve spent much time at all in the church, chances are high you are quite familiar with this text. This conversation between a lawyer and Jesus serves as the introduction to what is perhaps Jesus’ most infamous parable: The Good

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Accepting the Savior’s Invitation

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
 
I recently returned to my day-to-day duties after 2 months off on sabbatical. This was my first sabbatical in my 20 years of ordained ministry and a much-needed rest. I am forever grateful to the District for providing this season of rest and renewal. I knew I needed a sabbatical… but I needed it more than I knew!

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Where Do Pastors Come From?

Note: This guest post is by David Mayer. David is the interim pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Seguin, Texas, and teaches New Testament for Harvest Workers.
 
Every year there are more pastors retiring. So, where do new pastors come from? Where are the gardens in which future pastoral candidates are grown? Apart from one candidate who I helped nurture and mentor, I admit that I have acted as if pastors “just keep coming,” as if there were an automatic stream of people eagerly filling the ranks left empty by retiring pastors. Is this how congregations think? Is this how pastors join the ranks, always from somewhere else, but never from any place in particular?

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Reflecting on Advent & Christmas

Note: This guest post is by Kari Malinak. Kari serves as the Associate Pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Grapevine. Kari was elected to the District Council in 2020.

Happy New Year! Well, as I write this, happy new liturgical year! With Advent, the Christian Church begins a new cycle of seasons and liturgy. Advent is a special season filled with hopeful anticipation, expectation, and joy knowing the celebration of Christ’s birth is only a handful of weeks away. Advent is also a penitential season in which we reflect on the need of God entering this sinful world and our own sinful nature. In our modern world, though, we can lose the meaning in a hectic holiday season. So, writing this now, I hope we can appreciate Advent and Christmas in a calmer time.


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WWJDIHWM?

Note: This guest post is by Jeremy Walloch, instructor of preaching for HarvestWorkers.net and lead pastor of OlivetLutheran.org.
 
I was raised in the era of the “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets. Anyone else? Still have yours? It’s a great question, but it can be problematic. Why? Because Jesus was an unmarried, childless rabbi in the first century.
 
He was not a single mom. He was not a retiree. He was not a product designer, photographer, or dog groomer. He did not have a smartphone or Instagram account. So, to answer the question “What Would Jesus Do?” I do not advocate you trade in your Adidas for sandals and trade in your current career to be an itinerant preacher. So, maybe a better question is, “What Would Jesus Do If He We Me?”
 

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Sabbatical Time

This article is going to be a little different than most. This month I share from my hurting—yet hopeful—heart as I look forward to what I think may be one of the most significant seasons of my life and ministry. In case you have not yet heard, I am extremely honored to be able to take a sabbatical for the first time in this my 20th year of ordained ministry and 7th year of ministry here in LCMC Texas. I will be taking two months of sabbatical and two weeks of vacation time and will be totally unplugged from my job responsibilities from November 1 through January 15.
 

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Lessons Learned from the Driver’s Seat

Like a lot of Americans, I have a side hustle: I drive for Uber and Lyft in the Austin area. Working on my days off, late nights, or early mornings I have shuttled random passengers wherever they needed to go for nearly four years. Altogether, I have given almost 3,000 rides and have had all kinds of people in and out of my car!
 
I began rideshare driving after reading Joining Jesus on His Mission: How to Be an Everyday Missionary by Greg Finke. I was inspired by Finke’s compelling presentation of the call to be engaged in Gospel ministry as we go about our daily work. The problem for me is that 99% of what I do is with church people! I wondered, “How can I interact with the general population on a more regular basis?”

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Ministry Partners Join District Staff

The District Council of LCMC Texas is excited to share that two new ministry partners will be joining our staff! Tim Wagner of Kerrville will step into the role of Communication Specialist while Alyssa Moore of McDade will begin serving as our Administrative Specialist. Each is a newly created, quarter-time, remote position starting on September 1.
 
A half-time position called “Program Support Specialist” had originally been posted and eight quality individuals from across Texas applied. Four of these were interviewed and during the interview process it became clear to the interview team that God had blessed us with two uniquely qualified candidates. Both were agreeable to split the half-time position equally with each serving in their areas of expertise.
 

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Teamwork

Last month the world watched as the greatest athletes of our time assembled in Tokyo to compete and display their incredible athleticism and unique abilities. It is more than entertaining; it’s awe-inspiring. As remarkable as the individuals themselves may be, I always find myself drawn most to the team sports. The goal of the athletes competing in team sports is a little different than those in the individual sports. In a team sport, all parts of the team need to function in harmony as individuals partner with one another so well that they can almost begin to function as one. This is most awe-inspiring part of the Olympics for me.
 
In faith life, I similarly spectate how disciples of Jesus live out their faith on a daily basis. I am amazed by the incredible dedication and faithfulness that individuals demonstrate in living out their personal callings and I treasure these examples of the Holy Spirit active in the lives of God’s people! And yet what I find myself most drawn to are the examples of Christians in community that unite together around common goals and work in harmony to function as one.
 

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Why Can’t Life Be Easy?

Why does life seem to be so hard? It is one of the age-old questions that can challenge our faith in God as the all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful deity that we profess him to be. Why do humans experience hardship, suffering, sickness, and persecution? How can God allow these terrible circumstances to befall anyone, let alone his faithful children?
 
In the Church, we are quick to place blame squarely on sin, and rightly so. For we live in a broken world where sin and evil cause chaos, confusion, and so much pain. But why does the God who loves us and holds the power to end our hardship and misery allow it to persist?
 

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Immeasurably More

In April of this year, we lost a brother in Christ: Pastor Peter Horn of the Hill Country Bible Church network unexpectedly died. Peter was a friend of our District who joined us to deliver a keynote speech in 2017 when we gathered in Taylor around the theme “Multiply.” He said something in his speech that I will never forget. His words were not eloquent but pierced my heart by asking and answering a simple question. He prefaced his question by referencing some basic statistics: Approximately 2.1 million people live in and around Austin and approximately one third profess Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior, leaving about 1.4 million people who profess other faiths or have no faith at all.
 
Then Peter asked, “How long will it take to reach every single one of these 1.4 million people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” I remember thinking to myself: “a really long time!” But then he answered his own question: “About 30 minutes if the 700,000 Jesus followers each took 15 minutes with two unbelievers to share the Gospel!”

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