As part of a growing recognition of the importance of healthy congregations, the Conference of Presidents has called Rev. Jonathan Hein to serve as director of the Commission on Congregational Counseling, one of the seven commissions in the Congregation and Ministry Support Group (CMSG).

The Conference of Presidents formed the six-member commission in 2010 to provide short-term assessment and advice to congregations seeking to find ways to improve their ministry. While it has been able to begin its work—including putting together a synodwide outreach campaign for Easter 2012—the commission hasn’t had a director up to this point. Hein currently serves as the commission’s chairman.

“I’m honored that the Holy Spirit and the Conference of Presidents gave me the opportunity to consider this because I think it’s an extremely important ministry for WELS moving forward to get all our churches all the help they need to address 21st-century ministry,” says Hein, pastor at Beautiful Savior, Summerville, S.C.

The director will be responsible for developing resources for training leaders in WELS congregations as well as for identifying and training 60 synodwide counselors who will work directly with congregations. “These men would be trained to go into congregations to help them do self-assessment, to help them understand the community better, and to look at biblical ways to make their ministry as good as it can be to the glory of God,” says Hein.

The call is unique in that the director will keep his call to his parish; the synod will provide a seminary graduate to the congregation to make sure all the congregation’s needs are being met. “We propose solutions that are practical to WELS, so we want all the members of the commission—and even the director—to have their foot in parish ministry,” says Hein.

The call also will be a two-year interim call to allow opportunity for re-evaluation.

While two CMSG director positions—for Youth and Family Ministry and Adult Discipleship—remain vacant, Rev. Bryan Gerlach, CMSG coordinator, says that filling this position fits into the group’s priorities. “Strong and healthy congregations are best able with gospel motivation and energy to help all of WELS carry out its primary missions,” he says. “And while [CMSG] would like to do everything, we just don’t have the dollars. This position is kind of a natural because it’s so bedrock for everything else. . . . [The CCC director and counselors] will be making discoveries that will inform all the work of the CMSG and beyond.”