Over the next three years, the $2.8 million raised through Healthy Together will equip Lutheran Family Service to accomplish what God has prepared us to do – grow our mental health counseling capacity to serve all church workers in Iowa and across the Greater Midwest!
I’ve been where many church workers are today. At one point in my ministry, I reached an emotional low. I was good at hiding it. Many church workers are. We are supposed to be the strong ones, who “have it all together” so we can be Jesus to others. But sometimes we are not. Sometimes we cannot.
I needed someone to be Jesus to me. I sought help at Lutheran Family Service. Through a compassionate heart and professional skills, I received the grace and strength of Jesus. Here I am, still serving Christ’s Church! Stresses today weigh even heavier on church workers. The need for Christian counselors to share Jesus with those who share Jesus is great. I support this campaign because I know it works. And I invite you to join me!
-Rev. Jim Lamb, LFS Life Advocate and LCMS Pastor
Amidst the fog of the world, our church workers need to see the face of Jesus, receiving His grace and love. And they need faithful, trusted professionals to whom they can refer members during their times of need. Our brothers and sisters in crisis cry out for Christ’s healing love through clinically-trained, Word-based counselors, equipped and sent on our behalf. God, through the generosity and vision of LCMS congregations, has put Lutheran Family Service in this sweet spot to be an agent of wellness across the church!
-Rev. Max Phillips, Executive Director
FUNDING NEEDS & CAMPAIGN SPECIFICS
How much will the campaign cost to run?
Approximately 4% of the $2.8 million, or $125,000, will be needed to identify and raise up new partners to support this expansion over the next three years. That is 4 cents for every dollar raised. Lutheran Family Service has a long history of good stewardship, maximizing the use of every dollar God sends to us.
How are you going to raise all this money?
God has the money. Our job is to share the need, welcome partners, and make faithful financial stewardship choices with the resources provided. God is already preparing the hearts of many people to join us – folks who recognize the importance of a healthy church and will be excited and willing to serve the church through their support of this campaign. We trust God to lead and connect us to them!
We will carry out this special campaign with consultation from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, which will help us create and execute the plan, bringing an opportunity to connect more people with our ministry and mission.
How will the expanded ministry be sustained once the campaign is over?
Financial partnerships with both existing and new individuals and congregations have been continually growing every year, even before the campaign. This annual fund support makes all areas of Lutheran Family Service ministry possible on a day-to-day basis. Current Annual Fund support must not only be maintained during the campaign but also increase, in order to support a larger organization. As we spread into new service areas, so too does our potential base of support, which facilitates this growth in financial partnerships. Also, as new offices mature, they will become more self-sustaining via fee income.
In any venture, when you hit a growth point, you need a capital infusion to get to the next sustainable levels of revenue over the coming years. As an extra, above and beyond effort, this campaign is raising that capital for just such a one-time infusion of resources.
Why should Lutheran Family Service have to do this? Why not Synod? Someone else? Why Iowa?
From the center of the Heartland, God has raised up this ministry over the past 120 years – and now He is calling us out beyond the borders, taking everything we’ve learned to others who need our help. Here in Iowa, we’ve figured out how to do what many said was impossible – to provide a counseling service that remains faithful to Scripture and the historic teachings of the church, uninhibited by the strings that come with taking government dollars.
It’s not an either or: Synod vs. LFS. We are talking with Synod and working along those channels to meet the needs of our workers to keep them and our church healthy.
The corporate church is just too big to be responsive at the local level. We are also a synod, which is designed to start at the congregational level and work its way up. With God guiding and going before us, Lutheran Family Service can do this in a timely way.
Have you talked to all the other districts projected as participants in this 11-state, Greater Midwest plan, and are they all on board?
God has opened many doors leading to conversations with district presidents and others from our neighboring districts. Conversations with South Dakota over the past two years resulted in their convention (in December 2021) approving and funding the opening of LFS services this year (2022). North Dakota did the same in their convention (in January 2022); now we are in conversation with them about the need and how best to meet it. Talks continue with Nebraska, Minnesota, and Missouri. We will follow God’s leading in additional states and their LCMS districts. Conversations about worker wellness are happening across the broader church as well.
IMPLEMENTING THE PLAN
Aren’t you forgetting about adoption and life advocacy? Why isn’t that addressed in this campaign?
Lutheran Family Service never forgets about adoption! In fact, the recent launch of our new Many Hearts Unplanned Pregnancy Support brand is designed to reach young women who wouldn’t typically call on the historic Lutheran Family Service for help. This Healthy Together campaign provides a special focus on serving church workers and intentionally expanding our mental counseling capacity.
Is this related to Synod’s $1 million Life Match?
No. Synod’s focus for that promotion is on life ministry only. This campaign stands on its own.
Where will you find this many therapists when you haven’t always been able to find enough suitable therapists in the past six years?
God is providing! The field of professional counseling is seeing an ever-widening gap between those who are Christ-followers and the secular world. Recently we have been blessed with new therapists coming to our team from secular settings who are eager to incorporate their Christian faith because this was not possible in their secular setting. We are also now offering a much more competitive compensation package – made possible by this campaign!
Is this counseling service just for LCMS church workers? LCMS members? What about other Christians or the unchurched?
All of the above! Lutheran Family Service has a 120-year history of serving both our workers and lay people, as well as those who need help who are not part of our LCMS family. The emphasis of this expansion is church worker wellness because workers play such a critical role in the health of the church. Non-LCMS members and the unchurched will be welcome to use LFS counseling services but will not be our primary target audience or clientele.
Are all these new therapists going to be members of the LCMS?
Many are – that is and will continue to be our priority. All our therapists are mature Christians who agree with our positions on cultural issues. We have a statement of faith that all employees sign prior to their first day of work.
We do have a growing team of therapists who are church worker specialists, including an LCMS pastor’s wife and an LCMS pastor. The issues people bring to counseling almost always are personal, not doctrinal. We work with area pastors or one of the LCMS pastors on LFS staff to address doctrinal issues, should they arise.
Doesn’t insurance coverage pay for mental health counseling? Why are charitable gifts needed?
While many people who come to us for counseling have insurance, insurance companies reimburse for services within a wide range. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) sessions that most of our church workers use comes with a reimbursement rate half of that for mental health sessions.
Because of our mission, Lutheran Family Service operates differently than for-profit or private practice counseling centers. We don’t turn anyone away just because they can’t pay! We serve people who don’t have insurance, using a sliding scale. We don’t limit the number of Medicaid or EAP clients. We don’t prioritize or limit clients to those who have insurance with the highest reimbursement rate.
The mental wellness of our church workers and other neighbors is too important to allow these barriers to remain! So there will always be opportunity for partners to financially support and help us care for those in need of counseling.
How long will current leadership, especially the Executive Director, be in place? Who will be around to carry this through 5/10/20 years from now?
Like any organization, we continue to look and plan for succession of key leaders, knowing God raises up the right leaders at the right time. We continue to bring on excellent people and – with the continued help of our faithful donors – that will continue.
Will you change the name, so there’s not confusion with other ‘LFS’ organizations in other states?
There is need for clarity, which presents an exciting opportunity for us. How does our name communicate who we are and what we do? We don’t want to get rid of our Lutheran identity, but we do want to clearly connect with people in need. We’re currently thinking about a name for the counseling arm of the LFS ministry that will help people know what we do, while keeping it connected to our LCMS partners.
How will you assess the impact of this work?
Every month we measure both the quantity and quality of the work and ministry activity, reporting these to the LFS Board of Directors quarterly. We’ll have targeted, measurable growth goals that will be reported to partners along the way, as well as at the conclusion of the campaign. We will share stories as we can, documenting the impact of expanded services in the lives of church workers and others.
We measure success with individual clients at the completion of their counseling, asking people what was helpful. Current measurements through surveys consistently indicate that 95% of all counseling clients were helped.
Where do your statistics on worker wellness come from?