WELS Connection Close-up

In 1994, WELS Connection was already an established tool within WELS congregations to help members stay connected to the synod. It was time to extend that reach to a younger audience, and the idea for Kids Connection was born. It was going to be for elementary school-aged children, hosted by teenagers, and always going to have a message about Jesus’ love.

It was around that time that Jeremy Mattek’s mom heard about the need for hosts for this new project and suggested her son, who was chosen as one of the hosts for the first season of Kids Connection. At the time Mattek was a student at Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., and deciding whether he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor or pursue broadcast journalism.

Mattek says of his work on Kids Connection, “It was a great experience. It was so good, it got me thinking maybe I wanted to do something like this full time.” So, he applied to two colleges— Martin Luther College, the WELS ministry training college in New Ulm, Minn., and Syracuse University, New York.

“Being involved in something that was media related, and the experience of having people know who you are and know what your ministry is even though I’ve never met them before, and being able to impact lives that I may or may not ever meet until we get to heaven, I still have a sense that I really want to be able to impact as many souls as I possibly can with the gospel,” says Mattek.

Today, Mattek serves as a pastor at Garden Homes in Milwaukee, Wis. He chose Martin Luther College and continued to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., where he graduated in 2004. Mattek says being part of Kids Connection contributed to his decision to enter the ministry.

“It was really the first time I ever felt like something I do can make a difference positively for the ministry,” he says. “I’m really grateful that I was able to be a part of it.”

Twenty years later, the current hosts, Connor Johnson and Lauren Klika, grew up watching Kids Connection. As the hosts, they realize the importance of their role in sharing gospel-centered stories with a young audience. Johnson says, “I try to be a good role model for the kids, because when I was little I looked up to the hosts.”