‘Exploding’ Growth Sets Ministry in Motion

June 1, 2016 | Posted by LCEF

Even before the May 1 groundbreaking, Lord of Life Lutheran Church had a waiting list for the congregation’s new Early Childhood Center in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

That western Omaha community is “exploding” with growth, but many young families are finding no quality, faith-based childcare.

“Even people who may have drifted away from their faith, when they become parents they realize they need that faith foundation for their children’s lives,” said the Rev. David Linkugel, Lord of Life’s pastor. “They start looking for daycare and see the church as a safe place—a place to teach moral values that come from having a relationship with Christ.”

Today, this “not huge” congregation is building a new addition for a new ministry—“stepping out in faith,” the pastor says, with the help of LCEF.

VisionPath Helped Clarify Ministry Passion

Lord of Life could see families building homes and elementary schools under construction. But they were unsure how best to connect with these new people and share the Gospel.

LCEF’s VisionPath “helped us narrow down and focus on the mission of our church,” Linkugel said of the VisionPath experience the congregation used to clarify ministry passion, align their purpose and move into action.

Through an LCEF demographics study,the pastor says the congregation learned that many newcomers are “young families and daycare is a big community need.”

Already a church with strong children’s ministries, the congregation decided to move forward with its vision – to provide the best early childhood education and care that shares the love of Jesus.

Now Lord of Life is in the midst of a capital campaign with the help of LCEF’s Capital Funding Services.

“Having another Lutheran pastor who has kept our focus not on raising money but on growing in faith and how we can live that faith and serve our community has made a difference,” Linkugel said of Capital Funding Services’ Rev. Dr. John Sproul, who is guiding the congregation through the three-year, biblically based campaign.

Funding for the $1.8 million addition is being provided by Lord of Life members and an LCEF loan.

While some may ask how a church with some 400 baptized members can accomplish an ambitious expansion, Julie Koenemann, Lord of Life director of music and media, says both VisionPath and the capital campaign have helped her congregation “see the need God has put in our hearts to give generously, to give inspirationally.”

Extending Ministry Excellence

Despite a rainy Sunday, spirits were bright at the Early Childhood Education Center groundbreaking May 1. Many youngsters were on hand, with several sporting yellow construction helmets.

The two-story addition will accommodate the early childhood program and also provide needed space for the growing church, including meeting and Bible study rooms and offices.

Also taking part were the Rev. Caleb Kruse, Lord of Life’s associate pastor; Paul Pettit, LCMS Nebraska District treasurer; and Nate Meier, LCEF Nebraska District Vice President.

The new center is expected to open in January to serve 67 youngsters, from infants through preschoolers.

John Sproul predicts an enthusiastic response to quickly put the ministry at capacity.

“This is a congregation that already excels in children’s ministries,” he said. “People are looking forward to that excellence being extended to even more children.”