Annual Gathering Breakout Sessions

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MONDAY @ 3:30 P.M.

WALKING THE TALK – DAVE WOLLAN – In this breakout, Dave Wollan will address the dying and rising theology of discipleship. “Discipleship” is both a simple and complex doctrine. At its simplest, it simply means “follow Jesus.” Different theological traditions interpret this in different ways. The Lutheran tradition involves a radical understanding of what baptism means for daily living, and the awesome power of the Holy Spirit working through sinners. In this session we’ll explore our “talk” about faith: the radicalness of the Lutheran understanding that produces the true “walk” of following Jesus.

DEVELOPING A COHESIVE AND HOLISTIC DISCIPLESHIP FRAMEWORK – DAVID WHITE – How does all the great ministry we’re doing contribute to a lifetime of following Jesus and a sense that the whole church is traveling together? On what basis do we choose where to put our resources and plan for the upcoming years? In this breakout, David will help us look at the big picture, a church-wide effort to bring common language, strategy, structure, and outcomes for discipleship across all phases of life.  

RITES OF PASSAGE FOR THE SEASONED SOUL – JON ANDERSON – There is no age limit to discipleship. Join us for a lively discussion on how God continually calls us as the sent and sending ones, to show His fervent love, genuine joy, present peace, and abounding hope. We will stir up our communal imagination as we consider how to live in a missional community throughout the seasons of our lives.

BUILDING MINISTRY PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN URBAN, RURAL, AND SUBURBAN CHURCHES – CHRIS MONSON AND JEREMEY KING – Pastors Chris Monson and Jeremey King will be leading a breakout session about cross-cultural ministry and partnerships between urban, rural, and suburban churches. They will share their story of the partnership between their churches and will attempt to address how the church can come together and bridge divides and pool resources for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

DISCIPLE-MAKING MODELS – PERRY FRUHLING – Disciple-making has become a buzzword in Christianity during the last decade.  But what are the basics of disciple-making and how does our church get started?  In this workshop Pastor Perry Fruhling shares an overview of disciple-making in the early church, its loss during the Middle Ages, and the rediscovery of making disciples in recent years.  Discover the basic principles of discipling, several models of for disciple-making, ideas for curriculum, and resources for your own journey.

DISCIPLESHIP THROUGH CHRISTIAN CAMPING – CHRIS DAHL – How can Christian camping partner with the ministry of the local church in forming disciples of Jesus?  Hear from seasoned Christian camping leaders from around the Midwest on how they are intentionally creating a culture of discipleship through training and equipping staff, summer camper experience, and adult/ministry leader retreats. Whether you’re connected to a Christian camp already or not, this breakout aims to give you practical ways for your congregation to focus on forming whole disciples of Jesus through Christian camping experiences.

MONEY MANAGEMENT – TOM LUING – Tom is the Financial Advisor on the LCMC 403(b) Retirement Plan. We will spend time identifying our spending and saving habits as well as setting priorities and controlling debt.  We will provide tools for goal planning and creating a budget so that you are prepared for all stages of your life.

TUESDAY @ 2:30 P.M.

DISCIPLESHIP AND MISSION – TILAYE DABA – In this breakout, Pastor Tilaye will provide us with a voice outside of our cultural context on the topics of Discipleship and Mission. He will share with us from the perspective and practices of the Lutheran Church in Ethiopia.

DEVELOPING A SCHOOL OF DISCIPLESHIP – JEFF GUSTAFSON – How do we teach discipleship? Why don’t most of the people who come to worship, and listen to our teaching, exhibit life transformation? This breakout will tell the story of one church that has wrestled with these questions and share the discipleship development initiative that resulted. Discipleship is more than instruction and curriculum, it requires the God who transforms, people living in authentic relationships, experiences that challenge us, and a church body engaged in prayer and growth.

DISCIPLE-MAKING PATHWAY – DEREK BROTEN – According to a Barna poll, 51% of churchgoers don’t recognize the Great Commission and 25% don’t know what it means.  The Great Commission was the culmination of Jesus’ teaching and His focus and challenge to His church.  Be disciples who make disciples.  Jesus challenges His church beyond personal discipleship to intentionally engage others in a disciple-making culture shift.  Let’s explore the four challenges of Jesus that go beyond a commitment to Jesus and create a disciple-making pathway that walks in obedience to Jesus’ challenge to go and bear much fruit.

DISCIPLING YOUNG ADULTS – SAM DITTRICH AND GABBY ARLAND – Since the time of Moses, the Church has been about telling the story of God and engaging the next generation. As statistically more and more young adults disengage from church, how can we reach them? We’ll explore the opportunities and challenges that come with discipling and attracting young adults and some of our best guesses of how to successfully build the church with the next generation.

ENCOURAGING WOMEN FOR MINISTRY – ANDREA PAULSON – LCMC affirms the call of women to preach, teach, lead, administer the sacraments and care for congregations. As women step into their calling, they bring valuable perspectives, while also facing unique challenges. In this roundtable discussion, we’ll talk about the joys and challenges women face as they pastor. We’ll share about our call to ministry, while touching on topics such as assumptions, misconceptions, the role of the pastor spouse and more. We’ll also be reminded of the call to raise up the next generation of girls and young women, all while being encouraged by biblical examples of women proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This breakout is intended for women serving as pastors and those discerning a call to pastoral ministry. We welcome others to attend, listen, and learn as a means of becoming an advocate and champion for women in pastoral ministry.

JOINING JESUS AS A FAMILY – GREG FINKE – It has long been a dream of pastors and family ministry leaders to help parents intentionally and effectively take up the task of discipling their children to become followers of Jesus. (The dream goes all the way back to Luther!) It remains largely an unrealized dream because the thought of discipling their own children freaks parents out! In this breakout, you will discover how to help parents overcome their fear, embrace Jesus’ simple discipling process, and weave it into how they are already raising their children day by day.

SAVING THROUGH THE LCMC RETIREMENT PLAN – TOM LUING – Tom is the Financial Advisor on the LCMC 403(b) Retirement Plan. We will discuss the benefits of participating in the LCMC Retirement plan including tax-free housing allowance distribution during retirement as well as how to enrollment.  It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. The LCMC 403(b) can help you reach your retirement goal. To enroll in the plan contact Annette LaPlant with Capital Management Associates, Inc. at (952) 746-1118 or email 

TUESDAY @ 4:00 P.M.

BOARD TALK – RANDY FREUND AND JIM CORDS –  Board of Trustees Chair Randy Freund and Ministry Board Chair Jim Cords will share an update on the work of their boards and respond to questions from breakout participants.

DISCIPLESHIP AND THE LENS OF THE KINGDOM – TOM DONNELLY AND RUSS GRIGSBY - Does how we define and approach Discipleship matter? Might faulty definitions and approaches be affecting our implementation negatively? As we discuss Jesus’ approach with the first Christian disciples, join us for a discussion on how to see, teach and implement a discipleship program from a Kingdom perspective.

SACRAMENTAL DISCIPLESHIP – STEVE KING – Lutherans often refer to the Sacraments as God’s “means of grace,” recognizing how God communicates the Gospel of Jesus through ordinary means. What if we were to use this as a framework to understand our lives as disciples of Christ? How does God use us as earthen vessels -- his living means of grace -- to carry out his will and communicate his promise through us?  In this breakout, Steve will help us look at Discipleship in a way that honors the key distinction between Law and Gospel in God’s work of sanctification. We will explore how to incorporate themes from the Lutheran tradition that are not often addressed in many discipleship materials, including a foundation in the Theology of the Cross, an understanding of the Means of Grace, and a recognition of the Christian as one who is both “Saint and Sinner.”

DISCIPLESHIP RESOURCES: THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR – JENN ALEXANDER AND JEREMEY KING – The last couple of years have pulled all of us into smaller-lesser stories. Stories that have divided us rather than united us and caused us to think and live too small. Our role as pastors and church leaders is to help people remember and live into the bigger story of God. In this breakout session, Pastor Jenn Alexander and Pastor Jeremey King will share the content they co-developed and led their respective churches through in 2022, to experience the Bible from beginning to end. They will also share how doing so has renewed each church’s discipleship culture. They will also share the content (for free!) with church leaders who may decide to do the same in 2023.

LEADERSHIP TRANSITIONS – RYAN ALEXANDER – Every church will experience pastor and leadership transitions, often putting the health of your church at risk. This breakout is designed to help you reduce the risk with thoughtful succession planning. Hosanna Lead Pastor Ryan Alexander and former board member Jennifer Ford will share Hosanna’s ten-year journey to a successful transition including their phased approach, strategies to minimize the impact on giving and attendance, and lessons learned before and after the transition.

EVANGELISM AS DISCIPLESHIP – STEVE PERKINS – North American evangelical Christianity has largely focused on the conversion experience and people “making a decision” for Christ. So much so, oftentimes evangelism and discipleship have been pitted against one another in the local church. The Gospel, however, involves more than praying a prayer or the process of becoming a better person. It’s about relating to Jesus, the faith he alone gives, and what he’s done for us on the cross. Join this breakout for a conversation about how to baptize and make disciples in the always-changing 21st century.    

SETTING CAPTIVES FREE – STEPHANIE AND JOEL MIDTHUN – Jesus came to “set the captives free.” But many times, we are held captive by our heavy chains and don’t even know it. Tough seasons in life and the demands of ministry can damage the soul, especially when we experience betrayal, disappointment, assault, rejection, and slander. LCMC Pastor Joel and Stephanie Midthun have experienced their own journey to wholeness, healing, and hope. Once facing heavy spiritual battles, exhaustion, and burnout, now their passion is to help others become whole and free—from pastors and leaders to children on the streets who are victims of sex trafficking. Come hear stories about transformation, courage, and obedience that can encourage us to keep following Jesus, wherever he is calling us to help bring that freedom to the lost and the broken.