Steadfast on Campus — Time to Look for LCMS U!

LCMS-UIt’s time to help your graduating seniors find a church home away from home as they leave for college.  Please take the time to introduce them to a confessional Lutheran pastor and congregation where they may continue to attend and receive God’s gifts in Word and Sacrament. You may begin by clicking here to find LCMS U campus ministry chapters.


Why It’s Important

I just returned home from one of the summer orientation sessions on campus.  We have a little booth and display board among all the other campus ministry groups where incoming freshmen and transfer students can meet us.  I was speaking with the Roman Catholic representative and he said, “I’m sure you’re like us…  We hope to get to the students who are from our own Roman Catholic churches now, because if we don’t, someone else will.”  Absolutely! It has been my experience as a campus pastor that many of our LCMS students are being invited to and attending “non-denominational” small group Bible studies the minute they set foot on campus.  I rarely even get a chance to clarify the doctrinal differences and just like that the students stop attending “grandpa’s church.” Or, as it often happens, students instantly fall into the habit of not going to church at all—you know with classes, jobs, and social life being more expedient. Forgiveness and eternal life are cast aside as things that can “wait ‘til later.”

In his book, The Defense Never Rests, Craig Partonnotes how zealous the para-church groups are on campus.  He applauds their zeal, but reveals their error as he describes his own experience.  He also provides an excellent defense of the Lutheran faith and the liturgy. Would that every LCMS student would read his book before going to college!


What to Look for

At the UNWRAPPED Conference for college students in January 2013, the Rev. Marcus Zill and company gave new logo for LCMS campus ministry. Although the logo may not be perfect for those of us who try to squeeze every last ounce of theology in such things, it does clearly read “LCMS” and that’s a nice little distinction to make. Our intention is to milk the logo for all it’s worth.  We are putting it on shirts, shorts, signs, display boards, publications, websites, etc.  We believe the logo will be useful for LCMS students to identify the campus ministry that belongs to them. On the local level, we want to make sure that the LCMS U logo will identify a group of confessional Lutheran students who worship when they worship (reverent and liturgical), work when they work (merciful and hardworking), and play when they play (know how to have good, clean fun).

BTW: Rev. William Cwirla’s “A Guide to Church Shopping” has been a favorite among our students.  It describes what to look for in a church: namely, that it is Christ-centered, confessional, sacramental, and liturgical. Would that every student would read his paper! (Google it and you’ll find it somewhere.)


What to Do

My point is simple: When your high school students are graduating and making plans to attend college, those plans should include finding an LCMS U campus ministry.

Pastors, take time to contact the campus pastors with the name(s) of your student(s) attending college near them.

Parents and guardians, take your students to the LCMS campus ministry during your campus visit. Get their feet in the door so it will at least be a familiar place to them when nothing else is.

Students, introduce yourselves to the pastor and the other students at the campus ministry. Set your alarms for Sundays.  Attend the Bible studies each week if they are offered. Get involved with the social activities.  And, don’t be afraid to ask your campus pastor the tough questions that you have when you are presented with all sorts of different worldviews. He will direct you to the Worldview Everlasting whatever Issues Etc. might come up in Table Talk or when you find yourself Fighting for the Faith.  He is there to help you remain Steadfast on Campus!

About Pastor John Wegener

Rev. John H. Wegener was born on September 22, 1974 in Ames IA a minute after the birth of his twin brother. He was baptized on October 6, 1974 at St. John Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Hubbard, IA where his father (The Rev. Thomas C. Wegener) served as pastor. He was confirmed in 1984 at Faith Lutheran Church of Waterloo, IA. He graduated from West High School in Waterloo and then attended the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA where he earned a B.A. in Graphic Design in 1997. In 2000, he began his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN. He served as vicar at Emmaus Lutheran Church, in Fort Wayne from the summer of 2002 to the summer of 2003. He received his Master of Divinity from CTS in 2004. He was called to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Readlyn, IA and Immanuel Lutheran Church of Klinger, IA where he was ordained and installed on June 13, 2004. He served there until July, 2007 when he accepted the call to serve the campus ministry at College Hill Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa near the University of Northern Iowa. He was installed there on July 1st, 2007. John met Ms. Heidi M. Johnson while in college at the church where he now serves as pastor. They were married on August 8, 1998 at Grace Lutheran Church in Waterloo, IA. John and Heidi have four children: AJ, Aleah, Javan, and Michael.


Steadfast on Campus — Time to Look for LCMS U! — 14 Comments

  1. Rev. Wegener,

    Thank you for this article. This LCMS U logo should be prominently displayed in every Lutheran grade school and Lutheran high school. Your article should be given to every parent at every Lutheran high school’s parents’ night. There should be a link to this article on every Lutheran school’s website. This should be required reading for every Lutheran high school senior and parent, followed by robust and consistent discussions from LCMS teachers promoting Lutheranism and why remaining steadfast in the truth and purity of God’s word matters.

    As Lutheran teachers we vowed at our installation to “solemnly promise to faithfully serve God’s people in the teaching ministry in accordance with the Word of God, the Ecumenical Creeds, and the Confessions, or Symbols of the Church.” Teaching, explaining and promoting LCMS U is just one way to uphold this promise.

    I can’t speak for other Lutheran high schools or Lutheran teachers, but I will certainly do everything I can to make sure my students know about LCMS U and all the great resources it offers our Lutheran students attending college.

  2. ’bout time this is implemented. We’ve already lost many generations to secular or unorthodox teachings.

  3. Does this initiative actually filter out the COWO / non-denom LCMS campus ministries, or does it just assume that all LCMS campus ministries are “reverent and liturgical”?

    Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see that kind of intent noted on the LCMS page for LCMS-U.

  4. @Brad #3
    Does this initiative actually filter out the COWO / non-denom LCMS campus ministries, or does it just assume that all LCMS campus ministries are “reverent and liturgical”?

    When you have to go house hunting, scout the churches in the area first.
    When you go college hunting, find the nearest confessional Lutheran church, if you can.

  5. @helen #4
    No, you find the nearest LCMS Church via the LCMS website. Then you go and attend, if it does not fit with what you know and had at home, you find the next one, or ask that pastor, or your home pastor to find one that fits.

    All LCMS Churches are confessional, or they are not LCMS.

  6. Apologies, I flubbed a bit. This is a good LCMS tool to help the college age student navigate to campus based ministries, but in the end, whatever LCMS Church they attend, lovingly urge them to attend. This is a tough time for kids and they need a good pastor, a good group, a good Church.

    But if the student has a way to find that off-campus Church, great.

  7. Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. :
    @helen #4
    No, you find the nearest LCMS Church via the LCMS website. Then you go and attend, if it does not fit with what you know and had at home, you find the next one, or ask that pastor, or your home pastor to find one that fits.
    All LCMS Churches are confessional, or they are not LCMS.

    Better suggestion: Find the nearest LCMS church via the Lutheran Liturgy website ( Contact the pastor there and give him the contact information for the student. He will be more than happy to contact the student and to arrange transportation to and from church if necessary. Many of the LCMS-U campus ministries are listed on this website. (Pastor Wegener’s congregation, College Hill – Cedar Falls, IA, should be listed soon. Technical issues, etc.)

    Now, if “what you know and had at home” was merely nondenominational masturbation with the name “Lutheran” pasted above the door, all bets are off.

    Tom W.

  8. @helen #4

    Thanks, Helen– that’s what we’ve been doing. Sending a child off to college these days is a harrowing thing. Lot’s of attempted contact with various pastors…

  9. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #5

    Pr. Prentice,

    With respect, I’ve been around the LCMS long enough, and in enough parts of the country, to know that some of the churches on the LCMS church finder website are not Lutheran in any appreciable sense. If some maintain a paper subscription to the confessions in order to maintain synodical membership, while living out aggressive and unabashed heterodoxy, I do not judge them safe harbor for my children. These churches are often full of dangerous Enthusiam condemned in our Confessions, regardless of the name on their shingle.

    To Tom’s point (comment #8) it would seem that the discernment process between Lutheran and non-Lutheran ministries in the LCMS is still vitally necessary beyond the Synod’s broadcast media, including LCMS-U, since contrary to the original post’s suggestion, LCMS-U does not actually discern between “reverent and liturgical” ministries and the Enthusiasts bearing our name.

  10. OK, let me comment on lists, any list beside the one that my Synod prepares, called LCMS.ORG, or this extra tool called LCMS U.

    I wrote a letter to my DP and Issues/Etc. complaining about “other” lists. These “other” lists steer people away from good Churches, good Shepherds that are not on the list.

    If you come to Westchester Illinois, there is only one Church that preaches Christ crucified, or administers Word and Sacrament properly. Now am I on other lists? Don’t know, and I feel that someone else should not make that decision.

    You want Jesus in Westchester, you get my Church from

    Now if you come and feel otherwise, then I pray you move on to another Church in the area.

    I just think this talk drives division and wedges.

  11. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #11
    Pr. Prentice,

    I make no judgments about you or your congregation. I don’t maintain any lists. I know many pastors, and many people of various congregations. I know some are more faithful to our Confessions than others, and I know some are more healthy spiritual environments than others. I confess that I know no one in Westchester Illinois.

    The list of congregations, pastors, and church workers, suffices as a list of Synod entities. Since our Synod is obviously divided in doctrine and practice, as evidenced by our ongoing Koinonia project and the practical experience of pastors and parishioners in our various districts, alternate lists are only a reflection of the division we already exhibit. I doubt the lists themselves create any new divisions and wedges, but I’m sure they highlight some of the divisions amongst us. And since lists are a human endeavor, they are prone to error and insufficiency. It would be better as a Synod if we addressed the source of the actual divisions, than the lists which describe the divisions.

    I don’t trust lists. I use them circumspectly. I certainly don’t trust a list to guide the placement of my children in a congregation. I will not surrender my duty to examine and struggle toward finding my children a safe spiritual harbor, where the Word of God is properly preached/divided, and the Sacraments administered according to Christ’s command. I will continue to interview and talk with pastors, visit and investigate congregations, and seek the best place for them to be when they are outside my immediate care. And if there is no faithful LCMS congregation or campus ministry near them, I will pray that they Lord provides a viable alternative.

    I think my question was answered, so I’ll leave it alone. LCMS-U is a subset list of LCMS college focused ministries. It does not attempt to distinguish between the orthodoxy and heterodoxy in our Synod ministries. Next verse, same as the first.

    Peace to you.

  12. Brad,
    Try Higher Things… or its “subset”, Christ on Campus.

    Here’s the current link:

    Our traditional, confessional liturgical congregation (St Paul) should be listed if you “Explore UT”
    [We get traditional, confessional liturgically minded Concordia students, although it’s a little further now. We used to be in each other’s back yards.] 8-^)

  13. @helen #13
    Thanks, Helen! That’s a wonderful link. None listed as close enough to where our daughter is going to school, but I did see a very solid pastor from our circuit on the list who I know well.

    Thanks again!

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