When the Making Disciples for Life (MDFL) Initial Gathering was held in January at max capacity, more gatherings were in the works for 2020. But all those plans came to an abrupt halt with the rise of COVID-19.
On Oct. 12–13, the first of these follow-up conferences was finally held, in conjunction with the LCMS Minnesota South District’s fall pastors conference. During the two-day event, 130 pastors, district staff and vendors came together at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato, Minn., while others watched the livestream from home.
District Second Vice-President Rev. Tom Evans was in charge of organizing the event. He had heard about MDFL while attending a meeting in St. Louis and thought it would be helpful for the pastors of his district. As the pandemic dragged on, Evans and the other planners weighed their options, ultimately choosing to hold the conference with a hybrid model that would allow participants to choose how they wanted to attend.
“In talking with [LCMS Office of National Mission Executive Director Rev. Robert Zagore], they were able and willing to still come,” Evans said. “So, with the awesome support and help from Synod we were able to go live on all of our sessions and also the worship service and business meeting for our district.”
Staff at the event center helped Evans and the other organizers put protocols in place to keep everyone safe as they learned, discussed and spent time together in fellowship.
During the conference, Zagore spoke on “Evangelizing the Lost,” LCMS Chief Mission Officer Rev. Kevin Robson spoke on “Retaining the Faithful,” Director of LCMS Witness & Outreach Ministry Rev. Dr. Mark Wood spoke on “Strengthening Congregations,” and Director of LCMS Church Planting Rev. Dr. Steven Schave spoke on “Planting Churches.”
“The Lord has a word of Law and Gospel to speak into every life, and we want to make sure that we speak it properly. … And it takes some understanding to do this,” Zagore said during his session on Oct. 12. He gave an overview of Every One His Witness® and re:Vitality, two Synod programs available at little or no cost that are designed to equip LCMS congregations and their members for more effective evangelism.
“Every one of these have been tried over and over again, have been proven faithful within parish contexts, and they are something that you can trust because they are built on God’s Word and they are built on His insights,” Zagore continued. “MDFL is about us working together.”
After the conference, Evans immediately started receiving comments from pastors about how helpful it had been. “Usually you only hear the bad or what people did not like,” he said. “This time, I heard from a lot of the guys, from all sizes of parishes, that it was awesome … and they could finally take something practical back to use in their parish.”
Posted Nov. 20, 2020