NWC Encouraging Word – Jeff Olson – 11.15.21

As a source of encouragement throughout this unprecedented time in our world, nation and region, NWC staff, as well as pastors and leaders from our churches and affiliated ministries, share a reflective thought and prayer each week. View the next installment from Jeff Olson, NWC Church Planting Associate.


During the summer months, many of our church plants have begun to meet outdoors in addition to continuing an online worship service or connection time. The outdoor spaces allow for effective social distancing, and yet still allow for people to see each other, which is a significant need in this moment.

Many of our churches are adopting a “both and” posture rather than an “either or” posture when it comes to digital and in-person services in order to meet spiritual needs—and even to grow.

Here are a few fun, short updates or stories from church plants in our Conference.

Crossview South

At Crossview Covenant Church’s new Rosa Parks location in Mankato, Crossview South held its first in-person preview service in the COVID era on July 19 and had 49 people—including five new families—show up that have never been to the church before. Three of those families were not going to any church.

Many of these new attenders were people that Pastors Brian and Sandi Asker had made personal connections with after moving down to plant this new church over a year ago, including the realtor they purchased their home from! Stories like these remind us of the deep value in cultivating relationships and living and speaking in a way that make others curious about faith. Faith has always had a personal aspect to who we are but never needs to be a private thing.

The Crossing

Across the St. Croix River at The Crossing Covenant Church, Pastor Michele Arndt has begun outdoor services as well and has found in this moment the simple and stripped down service is actually a draw. People are seeking each other’s presence much more than seeking perfection or production from churches in this era.

Catalyst Covenant

In St. Paul, Catalyst Covenant Church began its worship services the first week in August and had five first time guests join. Pastor Jeff Olson, who also serves as Church Planting Associate for the NWC, expressed how before church began the team was able to connect with an outdoor fitness group, a number of people walking the park and even had one of those walkers stop and stay for the service. These are all people whom the church would have never had contact with at its previous indoor location.

North City

At North City Church in Minneapolis, Pastors JD and ChristianAnn Larson plan to launch in-person and digital micro-church expressions later in August that alternate from week to week. This means every other week there is a large group gathering, and on the weeks in-between smaller groups will gather that are focused on the mission of loving young families, and cultivating rest and community at the same time.

This time is no doubt full of challenges, but what are some of the opportunities you are seeing in your church at this moment? In the new ways your church has been doing ministry, what ways has God surprised you over the past several months?

Please know that NWC staff and Executive Board members are standing with you during this unprecedented time in our world, nation and region. As a source of encouragement, NWC staff members will be sharing a reflective thought and prayer each week. View the next installment from Church Planting Associate Jeff Olson below.


Church plants, by their very nature, have to be good at making changes and adapting quickly. In the first few years, many of these young churches face moving to different locations, birthing new ministries, changing leadership styles and leaders, and constantly learning in order to mature their ministry to help it be sustainable and grow.

Given that flexibility is a “must do” in Church Planting, we have seen many of our church plants be quick to adapt and adopt new ministry routines and ideas during the season of COVID-19 to further lean into the Great Command (Matthew 22) and Great Commission (Matthew 28). Here is just a small sample of the diverse ways several of our newest churches are going beyond digital worship and finding creative ways to do ministry.

Nearly all of our church plants are finding unique ways to safely volunteer their time, talents or treasure to give resources to local food shelves, people in their community and beyond. The many ways these churches are volunteering could be an article all on its own!

Renew Church in Eau Claire, WI, created an interactive page on its website for folks to both request different forms of assistance, and for others to help meet those needs in and around their community.

Restoration Covenant Church in Apple Valley, MN, is having congregation members share “encouragement videos.” These brief 2-4 minute videos sometimes connect to the Sunday theme but are often just the “overflow” of something good someone has seen or experienced during this pandemic. The church has enjoyed seeing and hearing from a variety of voices and faces. While it is extra work to crate these videos, people love being involved and seeing one another throughout the week.

Across the St. Croix River, The Crossing Covenant Church in North Hudson, WI, is doing a “Crossing Teens Talk Show” on Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. The teens submit the conversation topics anonymously ahead of time, and leaders and students dig into these topics together. These conversations have covered a lot of ground—including processing grief and loss (losing temporary vs. eternal things) and conversations around character and contentment.

Catalyst Covenant Church in St Paul, MN, has hosted several webinars with live Q&A on mental health in the time of COVID-19 and on financial wisdom during this difficult season. As a result, the church has seen numerous people join home groups, which now all meet in digital formats. The Thursday night Facebook and YouTube Live drop-in Bible study has also been a source of connection and outreach.

Many of our pastors are also realizing the need to simply connect with their congregations, bring some levity and foster simple interaction to build community as many of us are isolated.

At Eden Community Covenant Church in Coon Rapids, MN, Zoom hangouts have been a way for people to connect and be real with one another.

At Real Life Covenant Church in Waseca, MN, beyond moving all of their ministry online, Pastor Michael Behm reminds us that our pastors and planters also need to model to our people the value of joy and a good smile every now and then, even in this moment:


How has your church adapted to meet needs, reach out and be a light in this time? We would love to hear from you! May our methods change but our passion to bless and be a blessing, and reach out with the hope of Jesus, remain steadfast even in these turbulent times.

Please know that NWC staff and Executive Board members are standing with you during this unprecedented time in our world, nation and region. As a source of encouragement, NWC staff members will be sharing a reflective thought and prayer each week. View the next installment from Church Planting Associate Jeff Olson below.