First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
If you look at a map of the state of Kansas, and on that map you put a pin everywhere there is an LCMS church, a few things would stand out to you.
One is that there are a lot of LCMS churches in the state of Kansas, over 160 of them in fact. Another thing you would notice is that some towns have several congregations. And finally, you would notice that some significant towns and areas do not have LCMS churches.
It is that last one that we will be focusing on in this newsletter. Many years ago, there was a gentlemen’s agreement between the LCMS and the ALC that they would not plant churches in the same community. Ergo, if a town already had an LCMS church, the ALC would not plant a congregation there, and vice versa. At the time, this was generally a fair practice as the two were fairly similar in doctrine and practice and were even in fellowship for a brief time.
Since then, the ALC has become the ELCA and no longer bears a similar doctrine and practice as the LCMS. The gentlemen’s agreement no longer holds. What does this mean? It means those living in the old ALC communities are not being properly served by faithful congregations and pastors.
In some cases, there is not much that can be done. The communities are small and cannot support a congregation, and many are close enough to an LCMS congregation that the people can be cared for properly. In other cases, there is room a potential congregation.
One such case, is Concordia, Kansas. Concordia is a larger community in north-central Kansas. Concordia is an old ALC town that has never had an LCMS congregation. The closest LCMS churches are Downs to the west, Salina to the south, and Palmer and Linn to the east, and Nebraska to the north. Without looking at a map, you can already tell that is a HUGE area; the closest LCMS churches are all over an hour away.
What does this mean? It means the fields are ripe for harvest! Recently, a handful of LCMS families have moved to that area, and have expressed a desire to remain LCMS and be served by LCMS pastors, with the hope of planting a congregation.
Planting a congregation is no small task. On the first Sunday in June, an afternoon Bible study began with a rotation of 4 LCMS pastors; a Facebook page has been established and a newsletter is in the works. Some benchmarks have been set for when to begin holding worship services, first monthly, and then weekly.
Perhaps you are asking why couldn’t these families just drive elsewhere on Sunday morning? Why go through the work of planting a congregation? Valid questions indeed, and while the faithful and devout might do so, what about others in the community? Churches are not just planted for the convenience of a few, but so that many might hear the Gospel. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the hope is that many might hear the Gospel and believe.
At least for now, our role is limited in this process. If you know of someone in Concordia who might benefit from the planting of an LCMS congregation, please do not hesitate to tell me so that they can be contacted. And please pray for this exciting opportunity. Pray that the Holy Spirit would stir the hearts of many to come and hear the Gospel; pray for patience among those attending the Bible studies, that though numbers may be small for a time, the Lord is watching over them; and pray that the Lord would continue to open up new opportunities for sharing the Good News of Christ crucified and risen for all people.