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After 18 years of ministry, I've become convinced that the way to lead a dormant church into exuberant, committed discipleship is not by lowering the bar, but by raising it.

Our members are required to participate in at least one specific ministry, attend a weekly Bible-study class, and tithe regularly. We call it "intentional Christianity."

Trinity's mission statement sums up the bottom line: "To help people make a positive, life-changing connection with Jesus Christ." Though that has always been my personal vision for ministry, bringing structure and reality to that vision was not easy.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was my first call after seminary. I remember driving by this little white church in tiny, blue-collar Pell Lake, Wisconsin, before our first interview. My wife, Cindy, and I were impressed with the neat and well-kept building. What the synod had written us about the congregation seemed pretty impressive: over 300 members, 98 worshipers each Sunday, and the salary was more ...

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