A favorite joke circulated last summer around Fort Dodge, Iowa, that Good Shepherd Lutheran Church was in the used RV business. Laughing, the Rev. Lyle Hansen said the quip referred to the motor homes parked near the church while the congregation participated in LCEF’s Laborers For Christ program to expand and remodel.
The RVs, where the Laborers lived while they worked for the church, piqued the community’s interest. Likewise, congregants enthusiastically responded to the opportunity to work alongside dedicated Christian servants to strengthen ministry. The pastor said he was surprised by the different men who showed up on a Saturday after working all week. Other members took time off from regular jobs to help with the expansion, which included a new nursery, increased narthex space and improved offices. Strong volunteer support helped move the finish date 30 days ahead of schedule. The congregation celebrated a dedication service on Oct. 27, 2013.
An earlier surprise helped get the project rolling. An anonymous donor offered Good Shepherd a gift of $100,000 toward the expansion with the stipulation that the congregation participate in Laborers For Christ. Asking Laborers to work for the congregation drew “a very clear, strong majority,” the pastor said. In addition to their construction work that began in July 2013, Laborers were “faithful and active” in worship and Bible study, Hansen said. He also appreciated how Laborer Paul Schmid, of Brookfield, Wis., who served the congregation as project manager, shared construction updates after each worship service.
The congregation looks for the church’s physical enhancements to enhance ministry. New members used to spend most of their time in the sanctuary and pastor’s office. These two areas were remodeled to be more functional and welcoming. The sanctuary’s overflow area was expanded to provide more fellowship space between services, including an area for eventual coffee bar and comfortable seating.
During the project, Schmid said, “The more we interact with the congregation, the more I think they understand why we do what we do – why we go away from our homes, even sell our homes.” Schmid served 28 years in the military (Army and full-time National Guard) and worked in logistics for Home Depot before joining Laborers. “We start each morning with prayer, have devotions during the day and work as a team that the good Lord put together,” Schmid continued. “No matter how old you are, you can still work for the Lord.”