Strategic Partnerships at St. Mark
Our denomination faces some hard realities with a 33% drop in median worship attendance, a clergy shortage of 1,000 (likely 2,000 by 2030), closure of churches (even in areas where growth potential exists), and limited resources from Synod or ELCA
One element of our 2020-2024 Vision Plan is to serve beyond our walls. We believe that serving God’s Kingdom means looking beyond the limitations of our location. We would do so by intentionally looking to follow the Holy Spirit’s call to communities to grow in faith, share Jesus Christ, and serve others – however that opportunity might look.
A new model, called Strategic Partnership, is beginning to emerge to help re-energize congregations in the ELCA. By sharing expertise, resources, and wisdom, healthy congregations like St. Mark can play a vital role in helping struggling congregations overcome challenges and growing into their potential. St. Mark has been presented with, explored, and evaluated a handful of potential partnerships since 2019. These opportunities come in various forms depending on the Partner Church’s needs.
The primary objective is that the Strategic Church (St. Mark) helps a Partner Church overcome obstacles to become the church God is calling them to be in their community. Experienced St. Mark lay leaders and staff will provide knowledge, resources, and experience. This partnership is not only for the benefit of the Partner Church, but we will learn something new about ourselves and clarify God’s purpose for St. Mark as well.
Partnership with St. Paul
St. Mark is committed to supporting St. Paul Lutheran Church (Martensdale) as we live out our vision to help strengthen God’s Kingdom beyond our own church walls. Since 2021 we have provided financial support and human resources to St. Paul in our commitment to strategically partner with local churches who have the viability to grow and thrive with our mentorship. Multiple St. Mark staff and lay leaders, including the St. Mark Foundation, have donated their time and expertise to help the St. Paul community establish and begin to live out its own vision and mission.
Under the leadership of our former seminarian Pastor Tim Jacobsen, St. Paul continues to grow its programs and financial base. It usually takes a revitalized church about 3-5 years to grow its financial base to the point where it can fully fund its own ministry needs. Please help us support St. Paul and its continued revitalization.
Partnership with Kingdom Life
St. Mark’s relationship with this Lutheran Laotion community began when our former Senior Pastor Mike Foss mentored Pastor Phouthaly Onelangsy during seminary. In 2021 we learned that not only had Kingdom Life lost access to its Des Moines church building, but the congregation was actually gathering to worship in close quarters in various members’ houses throughout the pandemic. St. Mark now provides them space in our Discipleship Center on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings for worship and programs. We are blessed to have the opportunity to provide this congregation with the physical space they need in order to support the growth of their ministry.
Would you like to learn more about Strategic Partnerships through St. Mark? Contact Pastor Bob Bekkerus.