By Justin Rossow and Rick Darragh

On Monday, March 24, 2014, St. Luke Lutheran Church extended a divine call to Rev. Matthew Hein of New Richmond, WI to serve as Minister of Discipleship and Associate Pastor at the St. Luke–Ann Arbor site. Every member of the call committee shared why Pastor Matt had their unanimous support for the discipleship position and how they were affected by the time we spent seeking God’s will and direction in this process.

The congregation affirmed their work and a real sense of energy and excitement permeated the meeting; from the presentation to the questions after, you could tell there was unity of mission and oneness of heart! It was a great expression of our one mission to know and follow Jesus better and equip others to do the same!

What does this mean?

For now, Pastor Matt has two divine calls in hand–one from his current congregation in New Richmond (confusingly, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church) and one from St. Luke. Both congregations have prayerfully asked Matt to serve in their midst and help lead them forward in mission and ministry. Both have invited Pastor Matt, his wife Jennifer, and their four children to share life together as we seek to follow Jesus. Both continue to seek God’s direction.

So Pastor Matt and Jen will spend time in prayer and conversation. They will visit Ann Arbor and get a better sense of what we are asking them to do here. They will talk and pray and wonder where God would lead them next. And ultimately, in the grace of knowing Jesus is present in all aspects of our lives, they will have to make a decision to stay in Wisconsin or move to Michigan. Either decision is a step forward in faith.

As you can imagine, this time of searching and imagining can be difficult and wonderful at the same time. (Pastor Rossow shared some of the decision process when he came to St. Luke last year at this blog: Seeking God’s Will.) Please pray for Matt and Jen. Please pray for St. Luke’s and St. Luke. And pray that God would grant both clarity and peace in His perfect timing.

Throughout this process the call committee has emphasized our desire to find the right person and the right fit at God’s right time. We trust God led us as a congregation to extend a call to Matt, and genuinely hope his answer is yes, but we trust that whatever his decision, it will be a chance for us to step forward in faith as well.

We want God to lead Matt and Jen and the Hein family wherever they are best able to experience and extend the Kingdom of God; we want the Hein family to be in the best possible position to know and follow Jesus as a family. (Of course, we think that’s HERE, but ultimately, we want what God wants!)

Here is some of the information we shared at the congregational meeting. Please remember the Hein family and the St. Luke’s, New Richmond faith family in your prayers.

Rev. Matthew Hein

Pastor Matt Hein is currently the senior pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, www.stlukesnr.org, New Richmond, WI.  He is 38 years old and has been married to Jennifer for over 12 years.  Jennifer is teacher-certified K-12 Spanish/Bilingual. They have four children, 7.5, 6, 2.5 and 1 year old.  Both Pastor Hein and Jennifer are Michigan natives.

Pastor Hein received his BA from Central Michigan, his Masters in Geology from Binghamton University in 2000, and his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary St. Louis in 2006, the same year in which was ordained.  He served as an associate pastor for 3 years at Trinity Lutheran in Wausau, WI and has been the senior pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran since 2010.  The congregation has an average attendance of 300-350 on a weekend.

His district president noted, “Pastor Hein has a heart for outreach and missions.  He is great with people, warm and caring.  He does a very good job in the areas of discipleship and family ministry.”

Pastor Hein states:

“Discipleship means following Jesus and helping others to follow Him, too. It is a journey of learning to love Jesus and love others in word and action”.

“Faith formation in families looks like real families following Jesus together in the rhythms of everyday, real life. It is a beautiful and messy family journey of learning to hear Jesus and do what He invites us to do.”

Call Committee Comments:

The Minister of Discipleship job description outlines three primary areas of responsibility along with qualifications that describe the kind of ministry we envision. The call committee consulted the job description when evaluating background information, formulating questions, and interviewing candidates. Below are a few comments from the call committee under headings provided by the job description.

  • St. Luke—Ann Arbor Site Leadership

Pastor Matt is warm and engaging and easy to talk to.  His demeanor is low key, yet passionate. His confidence, leadership, and vision for discipleship will make him a good partner for Pastor Justin and a quality leader at the St. Luke site.

  • Building a Culture of Discipleship

The job description calls for someone committed to personal discipleship growth and experience with tools that engage people in the discipleship process. We found both of these to be true of Pastor Matt. He gets the concept of a “culture of discipleship” and showed in his example teaching both quality content and a commitment to building discipling relationships.

  • Family Discipleship Support

Pastor Matt lives out a family discipleship approach to faith formation. He is well qualified to lead other staff people. When he talked about to his 7th grade confirmation class, Pastor Matt called them his brothers and sisters in Christ, a small thing but an indication of his way of relating to youth. Both of the youth on our committee agreed that Pastor Matt would be well received by followers of Jesus of all ages.

  • St. Luke Lutheran Church Multi-Site Leadership

Pastor Matt is an excellent choice to support and resource the discipleship process across the St. Luke Lutheran Church multi-site. He has the necessary tools and experience and a vision for resourcing the Church beyond the local worshipping community. His servant attitude, honesty, and even demeanor will make him an excellent team player. The committee feels Pastor Matt would be a great asset not only to the site but to the whole St. Luke community.

A comment was made by one of the committee members to Pastor Matt at the end of his onsite interview: “You are decisive, you’re clear, you listen, you’re to the point, and you’re believable.” That comment sums up very well how the committee feels about the candidate.  We unanimously and without reserve recommend Pastor Matthew Hein for the Minister of Discipleship position.