Share Life With Our Shepherd

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          Grace and peace to you all in Christ Jesus, our Lord. My name is Joel Marquardt and I have been selected to serve alongside you as your 2017-2018 DCE Intern. I am very excited to meet you all at Our Shepherd, and am looking forward to all of the works God has “prepared in advance for us to do” throughout the upcoming year to grow His kingdom! 

            I graduated from Concordia University, Nebraska in 2016.  For the past year, I have been volunteering for City Year Miami, an educational non-profit under the AmeriCorps national service program. Along with other volunteers and teachers, we focus on improving middle school students’ attendance and behaviors at school, as well as math and reading skills through tutoring, afterschool clubs, mentoring, and classroom involvement. My beautiful wife Nicole, is also a 2016 Concordia graduate and currently teaches 22 wonderful (and energetic!) 2nd graders at Holy Cross Lutheran Christian Day School in North Miami. We can’t wait to meet you all, but until then, here a few more random tidbits about me:

1)     Favorite Bible verse -  Jeremiah 31:33-34.

2)     Favorite memory:   getting married to my lovely wife, Nicole, last July at Mahoney State Park in Ashland, Nebraska!

3)     Favorite book:  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo    OR  How to Ask Great Questions by Karen Lee-Thorp   OR  whatever I happen to be reading this week….

4)       Favorite movie quote:  “We’re on a mission from God” – the Blues Brothers.     

5)       Favorite pastime:   being outdoors - Frisbee golf or camping.

6)       Favorite joke:    Why did the old man break into song?  

                                      Because he couldn’t find the key!

7)       Favorite place to eat:   anywhere with tacos!



Our Leadership Summit on March 17 & 18 was a great time for prayer, conversation and planning for the future of Our Shepherd! At the summit, nearly seventy of our leaders learned how truly blessed we are to be entrusted with such a rich mission field. We have an abundance of families, in a growing community, that is less religious than most of the rest of the state. We learned of challenges and opportunities as we considered the future of our church and school.

What does this mean? We live in an area to which God is leading many young families. We are the largest LCMS congregation west of Indianapolis, with a weekly worship attendance more than double the combined worship attendance of the nearest three other LCMS churches. We have been blessed with a great location and flourishing school. Now, God is asking us the question, what do you want to do about it?

At the summit, we talked about the many different ways Our Shepherd is growing. Gains in attendance led us to launch a third worship service on Sunday mornings about sixteen months ago, and we continue to trend upward in worship attendance. While many new faces are showing up, we are also seeing a higher percentage of established members attending church regularly. Giving is also increasing, as people support with their tithes and offerings the good work God has blessed us to do.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges. Just two years ago, we had over 150 in weekly Sunday school attendance. Now we have less than fifty. One topic discussed was modifying the weekly worship schedule to again allow a dedicated discipleship hour. The only way we could do that would be to shift our contemporary worship service into the gym and have two concurrent worship services.

So, how would we maintain excellence in worship while elevating discipleship time in the Word? Conversations have begun. There would be financial, volunteer and other costs associated with such a shift in our Sunday morning schedule. But as we consider these things, it is important to remember that we are called by God to reach the lost, lower barriers to new comers and make sure we don’t neglect the spiritual growth of those already here.

These conversations are important because they will help to form how we SHARE LIFE together at Our Shepherd. The mood at the summit was very positive, the conversations hearty and outcomes will be steps forward that we can take as a family towards an even brighter future than we can currently imagine. God may open the way towards even greater impact in our community through facility expansion and possibly even multi-site ministry.

We don’t yet know where God will lead, but we know that He will bring us to where He wants us to go. He will use His people here to provide the means. We will each be blessed in different ways as God blesses us in worship, discipleship and our shared life together. For this we thank and praise Him. We also look to Him for guidance and grace.

Psalm 133

1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
    life forevermore.

*If you missed the summit and would like to view the materials presented, copies are available in the church office.

Posted by Daniel Lepley with