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New Executive Director Shares Thoughts about LHM's Strengths, Future

At the 92nd annual convention of the International Laymen's League held in July in Greensboro, North Carolina, it was announced that Bruce Wurdeman would become the new executive director of Lutheran Hour Ministries beginning Aug. 1. We took a few minutes and asked Wurdeman some questions about LHM, his vision for its ministries, its relationship with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and the organization's relevance to younger Lutherans.

MU: What do you think is LHM's greatest asset?
Wurdeman: Unquestionably, the greatest asset is the message we have to share and the God who promises to bless the proclamation of that saving Gospel message. When you put that together with a gifted, dedicated staff in the U.S. and in our 35 other offices around the world—supporters all over the U.S. and Canada whose time investment and monetary gifts make this all possible—you have a combination that is hard to beat. When God works through His Word and uses His people to deliver that message, miracles happen.

MU: What new and worthwhile things are LHM doing now that it hasn't done in the last few years?
Wurdeman: Certainly, LHM Men's NetWork and Woman to Woman come to mind. The first is a local and national ministry with an emphasis on men that has captured the imagination of more than 2,300 churches. The latter is a radio program for women. While Woman to Woman is actually a return to production, the new shows certainly are addressing new, timely, and timeless topics.

MU: Do you have any particular vision for LHM, both in the United States and internationally?
Wurdeman: I believe there are a whole host of good things Lutheran Hour Ministries could do in the future. In this day and age, I think we have to focus on the best things we can do. My vision is that we would very intentionally and carefully focus our resources and efforts on the programs and places where God would appear to be bringing about the greatest harvest. I think, in the future, that will mean using every communication means at our disposal to share His Story. It will probably mean that LHM will continue to take a leadership role in our church body and in our partner churches around the world in innovative kinds of print and electronic communication of the Gospel. And it may mean we make significant use of the growing field of distance education for training laity and communicating the Gospel.

MU: How might we work more efficiently with the LCMS in getting the Gospel message out?
Wurdeman: That's a great question. I think we have to make sure the avenues of communication stay open always. That would include communicating with LCMS boards and staffs in this country and with their counterparts in partner churches around the world. We need to listen to congregations here and abroad. We need to be asking questions about what we can do with our expertise in media and outreach to help indigenous congregations reach out in their communities with the Gospel. The congregation is still where the action is and we need to grow in our ability to help them in their proclamation and outreach ministry.

MU: What can LHM do to become more relevant—and visible—to younger Lutherans?
Wurdeman: The LCMS and Lutheran Hour Ministries both have an aging constituency. We've discovered that our users in the Men's NetWork are younger than our average LCMS member. The LHM Men's NetWork is intentionally different, intentionally edgy, intentionally fun, and intentionally Gospel-centered. I believe we need to continue to help people realize—and especially to help younger people realize—that Christianity doesn't have to be stuffy and uninteresting. We can have fun. We can laugh and we can revel in the Good News that God's love in Christ covers our sins. We can also help them see that service in His Church can be so rewarding and, yes, even fun at times. Younger Christians will put themselves into causes with which they identify and that they can see make a difference. Certainly fighting spiritual battles is a cause worth taking on. We will provide solid Gospel-centered materials. They will be fun and interesting. And they will direct people to that cause to which He calls us—to "Share His Story" in word and deed.

Special thanks to Paul Schreiber for conducting and submitting this interview with Bruce Wurdeman.

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'Sharing His Story' Doesn't End Just Because the Convention Does

You know you've done something right when most people at your convention agree the last day of the event is just the beginning of something else—something bigger and better still.

So it was with the 92nd International Convention of the International Lutheran Laymen's League (Int'l LLL). The event, held July 16-19 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, North Carolina under the theme "Share His Story," filled participants' hearts and fueled their passion to spread the salvation story of Jesus from their neighborhood to the remotest places on the planet. "As God works in the lives of His people today, His loving story continues," Mick Onnen, Int'l LLL President, told the Convention's 740-plus attendees.

"God has blessed Lutheran Hour Ministries with a clear sense of mission, a clear call to Share His Story, and the enduring power to carry out our task," said Larry Lumpe, LHM Executive Director.

Pastor Ken Klaus, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour, punctuated a series of stirring messages throughout the Convention by exhorting those attending The Lutheran Hour Celebration event to "help us proclaim the Savior's story to men and women you will never meet, whose names you will never know, who live in places you will never visit ... but who, because of your commitment and by the Holy Spirit's power, will have their names written in the Lord's book of life!"

Activities during the course of the International Convention reinforced the theme:

  • Men shared stories and fellowship at a special Men's NetWork outing at Adaumont, the farm owned by auto racing legend Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie;

  • At a lunch with Woman to Woman host Phyllis Wallace, guest Pattie Petty shared how she and her husband Kyle achieved their son Adam's dream of founding a camp for children with chronic diseases;

  • During the Convention's main sessions, LCMS President Dr. Gerald Kieschnick encouraged participants to keep sharing the story with the same doctrinal integrity and unity that congregations of the LCMS continue to uphold; and Rev. Robert Bugbee, President of Lutheran Church—Canada, shared a moving personal story of the impact The Lutheran Hour program had on his own faith life and on his decision to enter full time church work;

  • Auto racing and broadcasting legend Ned Jarrett shared with a
    sellout Fellowship Lunch crowd how God has moved in his life and career;

  • Participants at an International Ministries Breakfast heard stories about LHM outreach ministry around the world and experienced through a rhythm and dance performance how people in other cultures are often introduced to the message of God's love;

  • Workshops educated participants on an array of "Share His Story" topics ranging from "Share ... Where God Puts You" to "Share ... through the Important Role of Women in the Men's NetWork" and "Share ... Using New Technology Tools";

  • Convention attendees participated in a servant event that collected more than 750 Bibles for children and seniors who need them in the Greensboro area (see related article in this newsletter).

Bruce Wurdeman, selected in June to be Lutheran Hour Ministries' next Executive Director, shared a little of his vision for telling the story of Jesus in the coming days: "I know God has opened and will continue to open more doors for ministry than we can walk through—and He will expect us to choose wisely those that we can best handle and where we can have the most impact. I know that it is better to do a few things with excellence than a lot of things with mediocrity. We will focus on excellence."

If you have a high speed Internet connection, you can view mainstage presentations from LHM's divisions, messages from God's Word by Pastor Ken Klaus, and addresses from Executive Director Larry Lumpe and Int'l LLL President Mick Onnen online at no cost throughout much of August. To watch these Convention videos, visit www.lhm.org/convention/ondemand.htm.

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Int'l LLL Membership Approves Biennial International Conventions

Attendees of the international convention in Greensboro approved by an 82 percent to 18 percent margin to go to biennial international conventions following the 2010 convention in Omaha, Nebraska.

The proposal for biennial conventions was presented in response to a need to make conventions more accessible to younger and/or working folks and to offer an opportunity to bring the conventions closer to the grassroots so that more people can be reached with the excitement of Lutheran Hour Ministries. Although significant cost savings can be expected to Lutheran Hour Ministries, the value of greater exposure, accessibility, and engagement with participants are the key benefits.

In the odd numbered years (beginning in 2011), districts will have the option of working with the staff of Lutheran Hour Ministries to conduct regional conferences (or holding a district convention on their own if that better suits their needs). The regional conference would offer many of the same opportunities of the international convention in a condensed format. Content could include Bible studies and worship services, ministry updates, motivational speakers, training sessions, and a servant event to promote community involvement and bring in new supporters. Staff will work with regional leadership to structure the convention program format which best serves the needs and objectives of the region.

"This vote does not imply that the international convention no longer serves a purpose," says Mick Onnen, President of the Int'l LLL. "We believe it remains an important way to energize the laity and stay in contact with our most involved supporters. But we also recognize that we must find ways to reach new people and we believe regional conferences, with an expanded publicity effort in the areas where these events will be held, will help us connect with more people."

The Board of Governors for the Int'l LLL will begin working on necessary bylaws changes to be presented for approval at next year's international convention. Convention timing and the election of officers are just a couple of the items that will be reviewed.

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Thank You for Making this Year's Convention Servant Event a Success!

Convention attendees and area churches purchased Bibles from the Concordia Publishing House booth for this year's Servant Event. Together, we collected 480 children's Bibles and 291 large print Bibles to be distributed at the Winston-Salem Baptist Hospital and the Brenner's Children's Hospital. The total includes 396 Bibles purchased by The Lutheran Hour Ministries Foundation, which donated $3,000 to help match Bibles purchased by convention attendees.

Children and youth at the convention also made prayer cards and memory labels to go with each Bible. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to collect 771 Bibles for patients who need Christ's message of hope.

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Coming up on The Lutheran Hour

Aug 9
A Letter to Jordan

Speaker: Pastor Ken Klaus
Pastor Ken Klaus responds to questions posed by a young man mourning the impending loss of his father.

Aug 16
Nowhere Else To Go

Speaker: Pastor Ken Klaus
Following the Savior is not the easy way, but it is the only way.

Aug 23
Who Says?

Speaker: Pastor Ken Klaus
Christians do not always act the way they should. We trust in Christ's forgiveness instead of our performance.

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The Lutheran Hour Speaking Engagements

Aug 22
10th Anniversary Services

Faith Lutheran Church
Branson, Missouri
6 p.m.

Aug 23
10th Anniversary Services

Faith Lutheran Church
Branson, Missouri
8 and 10:30 a.m.
Bible Study: 9:15 a.m.

Aug 30
50th Anniversary Services

Our Savior Lutheran Church
St. Charles, Missouri
8:15 and 11 a.m.

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