Burnsville congregation surging with six-step discipleship plan`
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church has more than 10,000 members and keeps growing.
The goal of Burnsville’s Prince of Peace Lu-theran Church is straightforward: “Growing disciples rather than members.” Says the congregation’s senior pastor, the Rev. Michael Foss, “We want individuals so grounded in their faith that they can’t leave it at the church door.”
Says Foss, “The failure of mainline churches isn’t their theology but rather their practices.” He developed the “Power Surge” model used by the growing congregation. It includes six marks of discipleship. Each adherent commits to being a passionate follower of Jesus Christ who:
* prays daily;
* worships weekly;
* reads the Bible daily;
* serves at and beyond Prince of Peace;
* relates with others to encourage spiritual growth;
* gives a tithe (10%) and beyond.
When he first felt called to develop the model, Pastor Foss already had a role model. It was his own grandfather. When he came in from working in the farm fields, he sat down by a lamp to read the Bible and pray.
Foss knew that applying the Power Surge model to Prince of Peace would require commitment from the congregation’s leadership. So, he went to his board members. He suspected that asking people to commit to tithing might be the sticking point.
He got a surprise. The major concern turned out to be making a promise to worship weekly. Some thought they might have to give up summer weekends at lake homes. The pastor assured them they could have devotions at the lake home or attend a nearby church.
Pastor Foss remembers having heard a conference speaker say that the religion for the 21st century is Buddhism. His rationale was that Christianity is all about doctrine and conflicts, whereas Buddhism is about practicing one’s beliefs. A lay leader from Prince of Peace said to Foss, “That doesn’t describe Prince of Peace.”
There were challenges for those preaching at Prince of Peace. Pastor Foss says, “Our preaching has had to change; we try to provide a way of equipping people for their daily lives.”
Power Surge was introduced in 1999 at Prince of Peace, which now has 10,500 baptized members and 5,500 worshippers each week. The average membership age is around 30, though the congregation is experiencing a growth in seniors. Pastor Foss says that more new members of the congregation now come from transformation than from transfer.
The Power Surge model challenges pastors and congregational leaders to rediscover the spirit and mission of the church. Renewal of the leaders leads to renewal of the congregation. At Prince of Peace it has resulted in a surge in support of missions — $500,000 in last year’s budget.
Close to home, Prince of Peace ministers to the community with food, a clothes closet and donated furniture (delivered by volunteers using the church’s truck).
How do members feel about the Power Surge model?
“There’s lots of energy, lots of positive steps to be taken under this model,” explains Rob Bro of Eagan. The president of the congregation’s board, he says, “It’s a very pro-active, energized program.”
For member Kelly Rowley, “It’s brought huge changes in our lives. The biggest thing is a change from learning about God secondhand to learning first hand. The marks of discipleship have made book learning personal for us.”
Rowley and her husband, Quint, both attended Golden Valley Lutheran College and Texas Lutheran University. With their children Cullen, Coby and Calaghan, ages 15, 13 and 6, they’ve worked as a family on service projects in the Dominican Republic and with the “Feed My Starving Children” project.
Can the Power Surge model be exported to other congregations? Pastor Foss says Presbyter-ian, Covenant and Lutheran congregations are using it, and there is interest in United Methodist congregations. Pastor Foss first wrote about the model in a book titled Six Marks of Discipleship for a Changing Church — Power Surge, published by Fortress Press in 2000. An update of the model was published in 2004 by Augsburg Books, under the title Living the Six Marks of Discipleship — Real Faith for Real Life.
In addition to writing books, Pastor Foss is a frequent speaker in the areas of leadership development and redesigning the church for a new age of mission and ministry.
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Those interested in knowing more about the Power Surge model may refer to either of the books mentioned; call Pastor Foss at 952-898-9309; or send an e-mail to: mfoss@princeof peaceonline.