The members of the Nebraska District support a number of ministries across the District, including campus ministry, ethnic ministry, and other special ministries. The District also encourages and partners with congregations who reach out with special ministries of their own.
We have a variety of resources available to help congregations, schools, and individuals reach out to their community. Visit our Outreach Resource Library for helpful downloads and links.
The Partnership Project
Thinking about, planning, or implementing a congregational partnership? The Partnership Project offers a variety of resources, including Bible studies, checklists, models, assessment tools, and sample documents, designed to help you work through the process.
Missions & Outreach in the Nebraska District
As children of God, we have been given the privilege of being His hands and feet in our neighborhoods and being His witnesses in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In response to the undeserved love God has shown us, we are eager to share His love through acts of mercy and words of kindness. As God blesses the relationships we build with those in our community, we are given opportunities to answer questions about our faith, witness of the hope we have in Him, and walk alongside those in whose hearts He is working. As the Spirit calls people to faith, we are privileged to nurture them in their walk of faith through our life together as God’s children.
The Nebraska District equips and encourages congregations and individuals who are looking for ways to be God’s witnesses in the places where God has put them. It also supports ministries in Nebraska that serve specific communities, such as ethnic ministries or campus ministries.
District Missions and Revitalization Staff
Works with congregations to help them see the mission fields in their communities and how they can share the love of Jesus with those around them, and works with the ministries of the Nebraska District.
Rev. Lonnie Jacobsen, Mission and Ministry — Works with congregations to help them see the mission fields in their communities and how they can share the love of Jesus with those around them. He also works with the ministries of the Nebraska District.
Kim Hofer, Mission and Ministry Assistant — Helps pastors and congregations with call documents and forms, and with candidate pastor placement or vicarage assignments into congregations. Kim also assists with the District archives and Mission and Ministry.
“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.”
Why does the Nebraska District have an Engaging Rural and Small Communities Team (intERSeCT)?
Of the 350+ communities (cities and villages) in Nebraska, only 32 have a population of greater than 5,000 (2010 census).
Using these numbers, 90% of communities in Nebraska have a population under 5,000. This does not include rural areas outside of larger cities.
Rural and small town ministry is a major and important part of the Nebraska District. In an effort to give support and encouragement to rural and small town ministries in the Nebraska District, intERSeCT was formed.
Myths of Rural and Small Town Ministry
There are three common myths about Rural and Small Town Ministry:
Myth #1: Rural and small town ministry is easy.
Rural and small town ministry is NOT easy! Smaller numbers doesn’t mean less planning or work. Typical duties and roles of the rural and small town pastor are:
⋅ Preacher (every Sunday)
⋅ Worship planner/leader
⋅ Bible study teacher
⋅ Confirmation teacher
⋅ Senior pastor
⋅ Youth pastor
⋅ Visitation pastor
⋅ Family life pastor
⋅ Outreach pastor
Myth # 2: There’s no ‘real ministry’ to be done in rural and small towns.
Questions to be asked about “real ministry”:
Is everyone in the community a Christian and active in their faith life and congregation?
Does your congregation worship 100% of its membership?
Is there anyone in your congregation or community that needs to be encouraged or comforted with the Gospel?
If the answers to the previous questions are “No, no, and yes” (and they will be) – there is real ministry to be done in that community, no matter what its size might be.
Myth #3: Rural and small town congregations are stepping stones, not destinations.
Sometimes, rural and small town congregations are looked at as a place for new pastors to “get their feet wet” before moving on to bigger and better things. Rural and small town ministry takes time. There’s much benefit to making it a destination and not a stepping stone.
“Paul planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6
“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35
Church Planting Models
There are several models for church planting:
Daughter Church Planting: Some leaders and members leave the planting church to plant a new church in a new location.
Satellite Ministry: One church doing ministry on multiple campuses.
Day School: Offer high-quality Christian education while equipping and encouraging teachers and parents to be intentional about building relationships and sharing Jesus.
Daycare/Preschool: Begin with high-quality, Christian childcare ministry and intentionally connect with the users of the facility to build relationships and teach about Jesus.
House Gatherings: A group of committed members and interested neighbors meet face-to-face in a home for Bible study, prayer, mercy care, and fellowship under the supervision of the pastor and not in place of corporate worship.
Missional Community: Groups of disciples engage their community through neighboring and servant evangelist while practicing a regular rhythm of worship, discipleship and intentional community engagement. A video series on why and how to form missional communities can be found here.
Church Planting Focus Areas
The district has identified three areas of focus for planting new ministries:
Larger population centers
As the population of Nebraska grows and shifts, especially in the larger cities, there is a need for new ministries to care for and minister to these people. In 2014, only 1% of Omaha’s population worshipped in an LCMS church on Sundays. Increasing this number to 2% can have a significant impact on the communities of Omaha and in the kingdom of heaven. New ministries in the larger population centers will share the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ with those who are disconnected or who have never heard.
Communities with significant immigrant population
God is bringing the ends of the earth to Nebraska as immigrants and refugees continue to settle in cities like Omaha, Lincoln, Columbus, Grand Island, Lexington, and many in between. The church has the story of Jesus Christ to tell, and new ministries will focus on sharing this story with immigrants and refugees in their languages while caring for them through mercy ministry.
Rural and small community areas
According to the 2010 Census, 90% of the communities in Nebraska have a population under 5,000 people. However, the census also indicates that statewide only 65% of the population claims a Christian religious preference, and only about 40% of the population is actively participating in a church. Even though the numbers are small, many of the people in these small towns are newcomers and are unconnected to the community and its church. Ministry in these rural and small communities is important, and new ministries in areas that are underserved can help share the Good News of Jesus.
Vision and Ministry Planning
Christians in Nebraska have a tremendous God-given opportunity right now to share the Good News of Jesus with those who don’t know Him. God has brought the mission field to Nebraska and given us the privilege of being light and salt to the people in our communities.
Each person in your congregation receives the tools he or she needs to enter the mission field through worship, God’s Word and Sacraments, Bible studies, Sunday school, youth activities, and other ministries your congregation offers.
However, a clear and unified vision is necessary as the church ventures out into the community. A clear and agreed upon picture of a preferred future comes by seeking God’s will and seeing where He is already at work in the community.
Nebraska District staff is available to walk alongside congregations as they learn more about their community and work together to develop a ministry plan that will help guide them to be witnesses, to show mercy, and to welcome their neighbors into their life together in Christ.
Contact Kim Hofer to learn more about how you and your congregation can engage in the mission opportunities right outside your door.