LCMC Blog [by Steve Lien] Read the the latest news, announcements and articles from LCMC. en-us 2017 Leadership Conference Wraps Up Thu, 11 May 17 00:00:00 +0000 Dear Members and Friends of LCMC:

LCMC has never intended to be a denomination or organization.  Rather, from day one, we’ve been a movement of God’s spirit.  A movement focused on working together to fulfill Christ’s great commission to go and make disciples of all nations.   That’s never been easy, but it’s been on the front burner of our energy and passion since we began as an association seventeen years ago.

So the Ministry Board of LCMC gladly embraced the theme of discipleship when planning the last three annual Leadership Conferences.

Three years ago we gathered under the theme iFollow:  Life Together in the Way of Jesus, and heard incredible insights and challenges from Reggie McNeal, author of Get Off Your Donkey and other best-selling books on discipleship.  Reggie was joined by several of our own LCMC pastor-practitioners who added their real-world perspective.

Last year, recognizing the incredibly challenging and changing environment in which we’re making disciples, we focused on Shift: Re-tooling Church for the 21st Century.

This year 185 people gathered in Omaha as we rounded out a three-year cycle on discipleship with the theme Discipling by Design and a concentration on four areas of ministry in which every church is already engaged:  worship, community, mission and leadership.  The intent was to assist those present in making these things more intentionally disciple-making.  Presenters were all LCMC pastors and lay team-mates who shared real-life challenges and real-life ideas about being more effective disciple-makers. 

This year’s conference evaluations reflected deep appreciation for the emphasis on prayer, which was offered throughout the conference, solid and stimulating content, provocative ideas, and great connections and mutual support.  They also loved the break-out processing time that followed each presentation, andmany left with specific action steps to operationalize better disciple-making!

The Ministry Board thanks all who worked so tirelessly on this conference:  our planning and prayer teams, speakers, worship leaders, logistics masters and hosts at Lutheran Church of the Master in Omaha: thank you for your faithful partnership in the Gospel and in making disciples of Jesus Christ!

Though we love being together for this conference, the Ministry Board and Board of Trustees have decided to offer our Leadership Conference on an every-other-year basis.  Stay tuned for details for our next conference tentatively scheduled for February, 2019.

On behalf of the LCMC Ministry Board,

Yours in Christ,


Steve Lien

Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry

LCMC to Offer Interim Ministry Training Tue, 27 Dec 16 00:00:00 +0000 LCMC, along with many other church bodies, is constantly encountering congregations and pastors in transition.  I’ve been dealing with many of these congregations during my tenure as Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry and seeing first-hand the challenges they face, the perils and pitfalls that often befall them, and the great promise that awaits them if and when they successfully move through a period of transition!  With so many Baby Boomer pastors retiring in the next few years, the need for trained interim pastors has never been greater.  I enrolled in the extensive training offered by Interim Ministry Network (IMN), which I recently completed.

Because of the need I’ve observed and the training I’ve received, I am offering a crash course in interim ministry for interested LCMC pastors, which will take place July 25-27, 2017 at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.  

To register for the course, contact Cathy Nichol, LCMC Administrative Coordinator, at (734) 788-7476 or  The cost of the course is $100 per person (payable via credit card or by check made payable to LCMC) and enrollment is limited to twenty-five people.  Advance registration and full payment are required before class begins .  

Travel, meals and housing are the responsibility of each participant.  Housing is available at Grand View for $27 per night, and reservations can be made directly with Grand View by contacting Nicholas Kavanaugh at or (515) 263-2894.

Pastor Steve Abend, an LCMC pastor who has been trained by the National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors (NALIP) will be joining me in teaching the class.  The class will also include the pre-reading of several books identified in our syllabus after registration.  

My hope is that those who enroll will be motivated and conscientious learners willing to serve as intentional interim ministers in LCMC congregations.

If you are interested in attending, please register by contacting Cathy Nichol.  In addition, please share this information among your friends who you think might be interested.  

I welcome your questions and ask for your prayers.

Yours for the sake of the Kingdom,


Rev. Stephen Lien
Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry
Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC)


Advice Regarding Interim Pastors Wed, 20 Jan 16 00:00:00 +0000 Part of my role as Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry includes dealing with pastors and congregations in the call process. 

As I prepared my Call Committee Workshop I came across a very helpful article by Lavern Brown on the advisability of interim pastors. I have found that many congregations neglect the essential work of dealing with the transitional issues that arise after the resignation and departure of their pastor. I offer Brown’s article as grist for the mill and perhaps for some needed conversations around the Council table.

There are certainly many situations where an interim pastor is not necessary or advisable.  However, considering this possibility and entertaining this conversation often engages congregational leadership in weighing mission-critical questions about their own identity, present circumstances and resources, and where God is calling them in the future.

There is a big difference between a retired pastor or one available for call, and a well trained interim pastor, which are in short supply.  I hope to address this shortage among our association in the coming years by offering a training class for interim pastors. 

In the meantime, I'm happy to discuss these matters with those interested, and I also cover these issues briefly in my call committee workshop, which I'm offering at various locations throughout the year. 

God's blessings as you prayerfully discern God's direction in the life and ministry of your congregations.

Plan Now: October is Pastor & Staff Appreciation Month! Tue, 23 Jun 15 00:00:00 +0000 Dear Friends:

Did you know that Thanksgiving sometimes comes in October?

Well, not the official Thanksgiving, but elements of thanksgiving have found their way into October in many congregations, because the second Sunday in October has been designated as Clergy Appreciation Day, and some congregations observe this spirit of Thanksgiving all month long!

The Apostle Paul may have been the first to express the sense of Clergy Appreciation Day in the church.  In 1 Timothy, he wrote, "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Tim. 5:17). And, in 1 Thessalonians, he said, "Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work" (1 Thess. 5:12-13).

Focus on the Family named and began emphasizing October as Clergy Appreciation Month in 1994. It was established with the mission of uplifting and encouraging pastors, missionaries and religious workers.  

My work as Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry has reinforced my perception that pastors and congregations absolutely need Clergy Appreciation Day or Month.  Not all, but many, of the pastors and church staff members that I encounter are overworked, underpaid, and exhausted. They shoulder many responsibilities, and feel the weight of great burdens.  Nationally, pastors experience a very high rate of burnout and marital and financial stress.  Leadership Magazine (Spring, 2014), published these sobering statistics:

  • 80% of pastors are discouraged in their role as pastors
  • 40% of pastors seriously considered leaving the pastorate in the past three months
  • 50% of pastors say they are unable to meet the demands of their job and are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living
  • For every 20 pastors who go into ministry, only one retires from the ministry
  • 25% of pastors have been forced out or fired from their ministry at least once
  • 45% of pastors say they've experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they need to take a leave of absence
  • 70% of pastors say they do not have a single close friend, and the same percentage say they have lower self-esteem than when they entered the ministry.

—Statistics from Fail: Finding Hope and Failure in the Midst of Ministry Failure (IVP, 2014). offers this information:

Clergy Appreciation Month is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for the hard work, sacrificial dedication and multiple blessings provided by these special people . . . .  

The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments — the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.

Hosanna! Lutheran Church in St. Charles, Illinois, has observed Clergy Appreciation Month for years, and the smile on Pastor John Nelson’s face is testimony to the love that has been shown and showered over the many years he’s been pastor there!  When I visited Hosanna! earlier this year and he asked how they might support our larger Association, I said, "why don’t you figure out a way to share Hosanna!’s great way of showing appreciation?"  So, when I saw him a few months later, he had compiled a sample brochure that congregations could consider adapting and using to publicize their own pastor and staff appreciation emphasis.

When discussing this possibility with the LCMC Ministry Board, members recognized that many pastors are underappreciated while many already feel deeply appreciated; others wanted to be sure the congregations consider the entire church staff when showing appreciation.  Well, rather than doing nothing, we’re forwarding a few suggestions.

There are literally dozens of resources available online (just search “Pastor Appreciation”).  Check out ThrivingPastor.Com,, or  You can even find FaceBook and Pinterest pages devoted to pastor/staff appreciation. There’s even a blog post on what not to get your pastor for pastor appreciation month! 

Finally, thanks to Pastor John Nelson, Hosanna! Lutheran Church, and Kristy Thomas, LCMC’s Communications and Public Relations Specialist, here’s a link to a downloadable brochure for your consideration. 

If you want to be creative, use your own imagination or find out when your pastor was ordained (you might find an ordination certification on the wall of her/his office), and celebrate on their anniversary of ordination.

However, whenever, if ever you choose to show your appreciation to your pastor and staff, whether individually or collectively, be sure to pray for them and all of those who serve Christ, making your prayer with joy, thankful for their partnership with you in the Gospel from the first day until now (loose paraphrase of Philippians 1:5).

Your Partner in the Gospel,


Pastor Steve Lien

Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry

Annual Gathering to Include Recognition of Ordinations Mon, 22 Jun 15 00:00:00 +0000 Our Annual Gathering is a great time to renew friendships, catch up on one another’s lives and ministeries, and, as was the case last year, thank others for their faithful service to Christ. 

Last year we began what we hope will be an annual event when we recognized significant ordination anniversaries. 

Leadership Magazine recently reported that of every twenty pastors who begin ministry, only one retires from ministry, so we want to celebrate those who’ve made it to twenty-five years, and every five years thereafter.  So, if you’ve been ordained twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty years (you get the idea), be sure to be in Dallas for our Annual Gathering when we’ll once again be acknowledging ordination anniversaries and giving away anniversary pins.

Don't Miss Out on LCMC's 2015 Leadership Conference! Mon, 26 Jan 15 00:00:00 +0000 It’s been two years since LCMC held a national Leadership Conference, and May 3rd will be here before you know it.  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to be together and learn how better to serve Christ and His church!

iFollow: Life Together in the Way of Jesus will be held at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, near Columbus, Ohio, May 3-6, 2015. 

The Ministry Board of LCMC has been hard at work preparing this event, eager to gather leaders from across our association for dynamic worship, study, conversation, fellowship and even a little rest and relaxation in beautiful Columbus, Ohio!  It’s all about life-on-life discipleship, helping us learn to make a trip to the grocery store a mission trip. 

Keynote speakers include Reggie McNeal, Steve Turnbull, and Jeremey King.  They’ll be joined by worship leader Jen Alexander who will help shape this once a year learning opportunity. 

Hotel space is filling up, and your mother always said “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today!”  So, click here to register

See you in Ohio!

Wanted: Call Committee Coaches Thu, 27 Feb 14 00:00:00 +0000
If you’re interested in learning more, or have ideas that I should incorporate into a training session, please email me at ]]>
LCMC Announces Leadership Training Events for Spring 2014 Wed, 29 Jan 14 00:00:00 +0000
Pastor Steward will be joined by nationally known consultants and well-loved pastors Dr. Hal Seed (Dynamic Church Planting International), Pastor Paul Cross (Seguin, Texas), and worship leader, composer and presenter, Steve Young.

A complete schedule, details about speakers, area hotels, restaurants, beaches and on-line registration are available by clicking here.

Do your part to network with fellow pastors: invite a colleague to join you! See you there!

Calling all Certification Interviewers:

If you’re one of the heroes in the parish who volunteer to conduct certification interviews, or if you’re interested in joining those valuable ranks, plan now to join us on Saturday morning, May 17, 2014, following The “GO” Conference to discuss this important aspect of our Certification process.  We’ll network with one another, offer feedback on the process, and offer some further training and insights.  Stay tuned for further details.]]>
Meet LCMC's New Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry Mon, 25 Nov 13 00:00:00 +0000 Dear Friends in Christ,
I am thrilled to introduce myself as the new Coordinator for Pastoral Ministry in LCMC!
I was born in southern Minnesota and was raised in Staten Island, New York.  I finished high school, college and seminary in Minnesota.
Along the way I attended Lutheran Bible Institute (LBI) in Seattle, Washington; toured with a Youth For Christ International singing team in southeast Asia and the U.S.; and finally landed in Watertown, South Dakota, for my first call as a pastor.  Since then, I’ve served congregations—large and small—in South Dakota, Texas, Iowa and California.
I am passionate about serving Christ, loving my family, and being a faithful husband, father, and grandfather.  I met my wife, Joanne, when I was“ the pastor’s kid” in New York. The Arthur Hall family, who were serving as medical missionaries in South Africa, came to visit the congregation my father served. The Lien and Hall families became friends, and many years later—after getting acquainted as adults at LBI and again at Augsburg College—Joanne and I were married in 1975.

Joanne is a Registered Nurse who has served most of her career in long-term and hospice care. She recently resigned as Director of Patient Care Services at Hospice Partners of Southern California, based in Santa Monica.

Joanne and I have three grown and married children and are the proud grandparents of seven (soon to be eight!) grandchildren.

I’m told that I’m energetic, often comical, and certainly out-of-the-box! I love telling people about a God who relentlessly loves, forgives and embraces His children.

Some of the very best and most fulfilling years of my life have been spent in ordained ministry—and some of the most painful and challenging years as well. Through it all God has proved faithful, sustained me, taught and tempered me and continued to use me in others’ lives.

I’m absolutely thrilled and humbly grateful about the opportunity to share what I’ve learned and what I’m learning through serving God by serving congregations and pastors throughout LCMC.  I look forward to meeting many of you in the years to come!

Yours in Christ,