by Roland Lovstad
Rev. Al Tormoehlen doesn’t hide his enthusiasm for matching teams of trained volunteers with congregations wanting to bolster their outreach ministry.
“They’re marvelous, wonderful people. Everyone strives to be able to accept assignments,” says the executive director of “The 72–Partners on the Road.”
(Truth be told, there are 62 people who can be assigned to congregations in teams of two or three. While the number does not yet reach the 72 described in Luke 10:1, the purpose is similar: to go into every town and place to prepare the way for Jesus.)
“The 72” ministry (previously known as “Harvesters for Christ”) has served 165 congregations during its 11 years. “Thank the Lord for that!” Tormoehlen says. “It’s our goal that we will partner with 30 congregations during 2008.”
Besides matching requests to teams, Tormoehlen arranges their training. Initially, he likes to partner newly trained people with a veteran mentoring team if a congregation is willing to host more than one team.
“This is a way for congregations to help prepare people for this ministry,” Tormoehlen says.
When trainees are certified to serve on their own, they serve on teams of two or three and are equipped to work with 17 outreach-training modules. The modules include specific areas such as Dialog Evangelism, youth, caring, community events, and canvassing. Some also target specific groups such as Sunday schools, elders, or stewardship boards. The teams also have seven Bible-study options.
Often retired couples, the volunteers are both laity and church-work professionals. They do not charge for their services, although host congregations are expected to cover travel expenses as well as housing and meals during a team’s visit.
“Frequently, the teams stay with members of the congregation,” Tormoehlen observes. “That has been a blessing to the congregation as well as the team. People may not be involved in actual ministry, but they can support it by providing housing and meals.”
The process is basic: a congregation makes its request to Tormoehlen’s office. There is an application fee and a small assessed fee. Conregations complete an extensive questionnaire, which Tormoehlen uses to match team strengths to needs. He also considers geographic location to minimize travel costs. From application to team arrival may take three months.
Tormoehlen also asks the congregation to assemble a leadership team. “We want to help broaden the base,” he says. “If you get laypeople involved, it helps carry the workload for the pastor.”
For more information, visit lcmsworldmission.org/the72. Send e-mail inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (800) 433-3954.