Focus Groups & Breakout Sessions

Listed below are the focus groups and breakout sessions for the 2023 Annual Gathering & Convention.  If you are interested in taking part in a focus group or breakout session, please let us know by indicating which one(s) you are interested in by checking them off on your registration form. 

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Focus Groups
Monday @ 3:30 P.M.

A new feature this year is the offering of focus groups. We are facing certain challenges that in God’s hands can become opportunities as He launches us out into LCMC 3.0. We want to hear your feedback and receive your questions as we seek to hear and discern the Lord’s leading into this season of life and ministry together. Our focus groups for this year’s Annual Gathering & Convention are:

  • Global Missions
    Leaders: Sue Gunderson and Jeremey King
  • Conflict Management
    Leaders: Jason Eliot and Renae Behrends
  • Intentional Interim Ministry
    Leaders: Wendy Poch, Jim Cords, and Steve Turnbull
  • Clergy Shortage / Next-Gen Leaders / Creative Staffing
    Leaders: Christian Huntley, Cindy Glessner, and Jon Anderson
  • Districts and Fellowships  
    Leaders: Julie Smith, Mike Bradley, Randy Freund, and Becky Hand


Breakout Session 1
Tuesday @ 2:30 P.M.

HOW TO DO MISSION AND MINISTRY DIFFERENTLY – ERICA VARCOE – In our season of continuity and change in LCMC 3.0, the mission remains the same but how we do ministry and mission can change depending upon the cultural landscape in which we serve. In this breakout, Erica will share how this awareness has helped equip her congregation for the mission God has called them to in their particular community and share other insights that may be of help to you in yours.

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – RENAE BEHRENDS – Do you find yourself turning away opportunities because your “inner committee” (those voices in your head) talks you out of it? In this breakout Renae will encourage you in breaking free from fear-based mindsets and live in the fullness of what God created you to be. As part of our time together, we will reflect on Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.

SECURING YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE – TOM LUING – Tom is the financial advisor on the LCMC 403(b) Retirement Plan. In this breakout we will look at four stages of your financial life: surviving, driving, arriving, and thriving. Workbook provided. We will focus on retirement preparation and planning; setting goals and strategies to reach your retirement and financial goals. We will also touch on the benefits of the LCMC 403(b) Retirement Plan. The LCMC Retirement Plan can help you reach your retirement goals.

EQUIPPING THE LAITY FOR PREACHING AND PASTORAL CARE – JULIE SMITH – A shortage of available clergy for the churches in our association has created a need to help identify, equip, and mentor lay members for preaching and pastoral care in our churches. Julie will address these issues and more in this breakout.

WRESTLING ALLIGATORS IN TEXAS: MANAGING THE OFFICE OF PASTOR WITH A CHURCH COUNCIL OR BOARD OF DIRECTORS – BECKY HAND AND THOMAS BRASHEARS – If you’ve ever had a challenge with the church council and pastor relationship, this workshop is for you. With elected leadership that changes every year, the dearth of qualified volunteers, and the fast pace of church life, there is a need for clarity around the roles that everyone plays. In this breakout, Becky Hand and Thomas Brashears will share how clarifying these roles helped impact Becky’s congregation for the better. They will highlight the critical differentiation between means and ends, who is responsible, and the importance of training and relationship-building for council members.

CROSSING THE CULTURAL GAP IN HISPANIC MINISTRY – EDDY PEREZ – In this breakout, Eddy will identify and address issues that can help you build relationships in your communities with Hispanic people and equip you to cross the cultural gap in ministry with and for them.

ETHICS: CONFLICT’S CAUSE OR SOLUTION? – SARAH STENSON – In this breakout Sarah will address the relationship between ethics and conflict. We can certainly identify a lot of division in our communities - both secular and Christian. These divisions frequently revolve around ethics. What do Lutherans, better yet Christians, have to contribute to navigating and speaking into these conversations?

TRAINING FOR CERTIFICATION INTERVIEWERS – JIM CORDS AND CHRISTIAN HUNTLEY – This breakout is designed to further equip those who conduct pastoral certification interviews within LCMC. We will discuss our certification requirements, interview process and its purpose, and key elements of the interview itself. We will train participants on the appropriate use of our forms and procedures to help ensure consistency in the interview process throughout our growing association.

CREATIVE STAFFING FOR SMALL CHURCHES – RANDY FREUND – Randy has experience in visioning and developing creative staffing options for small churches. In this breakout, he will help us consider a variety of creative and strategic staffing options that can help congregations carry out the mission of the gospel in their communities.


Breakout Session 2
Tuesday @ 4:00 P.M.

MULTI-CULTURAL MINISTRY IN YOUR COMMUNITY – TOM LOVAN – The world of different cultures is no longer just overseas; it is in our communities. In this breakout, Tom will address issues involved in building a multi-cultural ministry in your community.

JOINING JESUS ON HIS MISSION: HOW TO BE AN EVERYDAY MISSIONARY – GREG FINKE – How can you change your congregation’s mission statement into a mission movement? There are three practices that are simple, biblical, and they work. In fact, Jesus advocates them in the gospels. Come find out what Greg has taught tens-of-thousands of Lutherans about how to join Jesus on His mission and how leaders can multiply these practices throughout the congregation. It’s simpler than you think and a lot more fun!

HOW TO REDUCE CONFLICT IN YOUR CONGREGATION – DEB PRIETO – Too often conflict in congregations and our attempts to address it focus on the symptoms on the surface rather than the systemic challenges underneath it. In this breakout, Deb will help us examine issues such as boundary-less systems with little to no accountability which can result in power struggles and chaos, thus reducing conflict in a congregation.

CARE FOR PASTOR AND SPOUSE – DAVE AND JENNIFER RISPOLI – In this breakout, Jennifer and Dave will speak to us about the importance of caring for and supporting the spouses of pastors and other staff leaders. They will help participants reflect on ways we can more intentionally develop support systems for spouses in our congregations.

LUTHERAN MEN – CHUCK HUNSAKER – LCMC Lutheran Men will hold a quick business meeting. We will explore opportunities for men to grow in service in their church and community, then explore how we move men to support newly planted and needy congregations in LCMC. An officer in Lutheran Men will elaborate on new opportunities for funding LM’s gift grants and loans.

CHURCH COLLABORATION: BEING THE CHURCH IN YOUR CITY – JOEL KELLY – In this breakout, Joel will share the vision of how his LCMC congregation is collaborating in ministry with multiple churches across denominational lines to impact their city with God’s love and God’s power. He will address some of the theological and practical questions involved in this kind of collaborative ministry that can call for all hands on deck in your city.

THE POWER OF SHARING YOUR GOD STORY – SHARON FRANTA – In this breakout, Sharon will cast a vision of the power of God’s people sharing their testimonies with others. She will help equip followers of Jesus to share their testimonies in story form of God’s activity, impact, and power in their lives. She will also address how to recognize when such opportunities may present themselves in our lives.

EQUIPPING YOUNG ADULTS FOR A LIFE OF MINISTRY – DAVID WOLLAN – In this breakout, David will share a vision for equipping young adults for a life of ministry and address some of the issues involved in developing a ministry for and with young adults in a congregational setting.

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

EFFECTIVE CALL PROCESS AND COMMITTEES – CHRISTIAN HUNTLEY – In this breakout for congregational leaders, members, and pastors, Christian will address some of the issues that can make for an effective, rather than ineffective call process. He will also share about the training that LCMC bring to congregations, districts and regions on the call process and serving as a call committee.

HEALTHY COMMUNICATION IN THE LIFE OF A CONGREGATION – CINDY GLESSNER – Based on years of experience in helping people develop healthy communication practices in the business world, Cindy will help you identify practices that can help generate healthy communication in your family, on your church staff and council, and in your congregation.

MISSIONAL CHURCH PLANTING  – ERICA VARCOE, MATT ANDERSON, JULIE SAMUELSON, AND JONATHAN HASELEY – In this breakout, Erica, Matt, Julie, and Johnathan will cast a vision for planting churches in LCMC to reach people who don't yet know Jesus as Savior and Lord, and equip them to live as followers of Jesus. They will share some of their own stories of planting a church, share essential insights in church planting, share resources that have been helpful for them, and respond to questions from breakout participants.