A Noteworthy Concern from the Church Council


Yesterday at worship the following “Council Concern” was shared. At the Congregational Meeting on June 4, 2017 we approved a 2017 – 2018 Mission Spending Plan (budget) of $1,269,100.00. This budget anticipated an increase of about $75,000 in our income. We began our new fiscal year on July 1, 2017 and after the first two months we have had to dip into our reserve fund to pay some of our expenses. 

At the September Council meeting it was agreed that we communicate our “concern” about our financial situation. Presently we need approximately $6,000.00 more each month to cover our expenses and support our approved budget. What can you do?

  1. PRAY! God who is able to bring life and resurrection to the dry bones in Ezekiel can certainly raise up the necessary money for Central to carry on its mission.                            
  2. GROW your giving to support Central’s mission and ministry. If 300 givers increase their financial support by $20.00 per month we would receive the necessary support to fully fund our present mission spending plan. Some can do significantly more and others might not be able to increase their giving by so much. But if all of us grow our support as the Lord directs there will be enough to do what God is calling us to accomplish in mission.

Central is a GIVING CHURCH! 10% or a tithe of our offerings that we receive immediately go beyond ourselves to 17 different local and global missions. Each of these missions are dependent upon the giving and generosity of us and other disciples of Jesus. This year our budget projects that we will give $118,000.00 to support such ministries like Great River Family Promise, Community Aid Elk River, Great River Area Young Life, Life Tree Café, Pilot Outreach Prison Ministry, Reel Hope, Abba Pregnancy, Mazatlán Mexico Mission, etc..

In addition, members of this body financially support a variety of missions and ministries through their designated gifts. In the 2016-2017 fiscal year $228,884 went to various ministries through special offerings and gifts. Praise the Lord for such generosity. We never want to choke or hinder such giving. We do, however, want to communicate the importance and necessity of our financial support of the general fund of Central. Your regular giving to Central is what supports all of the property, personnel and program costs.

On a personal note, my wife and I try to observe the instruction of Malachi. Malachi speaks of ‘tithes and offerings’. We ‘tithe’ to the local congregation we are part of (in this case Central) and then are blessed to give ‘offerings’ to ministries and missions as the Holy Spirit directs. On behalf of the Church Council please join us in praying and growing our giving!

Pastor Johansson

Un Learning Church


 Un Learning Church is our focus from September 17 through October 29 as we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. How will we begin this journey?

 WE START BY UN LEARNING!  Un Learning means repentance. What are our habits, traditions, values and customs that hinder people from becoming passionate followers of Jesus Christ? Are you ready to Un Learn anything in your life that stands in the way of Jesus Christ? Are we, the body of Central, ready to Un Learn anything in our life that stands in the way of Jesus Christ?

WE START EMPTY! God wants us to be empty. God can’t fill us with his presence and purposes unless we are empty. Our greatest need in life, is not to be busy; it is to be filled with the presence of God.

 WE START TOGETHER! I cannot be connected to Christ if I am not connected to the body of Christ. Who are you doing life together with? This fall might be the time for you to join a Journey Group or Central House Church.

Tomorrow, Sunday, September 17 we being our UN LEARNING CHURCH journey in Ezekiel 37:1-14. What are the clues in this story that tell us how our lives can be reformed?

I am looking forward to worshipping with you.


Cake, Installation of Isaac and Path Finders


The HONOR OF YOUR PRESENCE is requested this Sunday, September 17 for the INSTALLATION of Isaac Tewes as Central’s Director Student Ministry! The installation will take place at all three worship experiences and a lobby reception with cake will take place throughout the morning. Baskets will be available for you to share cards and expressions of kindness and welcome to Isaac and Kylie. If you are not able to be at worship this Sunday to welcome Isaac and Kylie I encourage you to email them directly at Isaac.tewes@clcelkriver.org and assure them of your prayer and support!

PATHFINDERS for children through 5th grade kicks off this Sunday at 10:00. Path Findersis designed so families can worship together from 9:30 to 9:55 and then children receive a blessing and are dismissed for Path Finders. Parents are asked to pick up their children at their respective classrooms at 10:45. If you have not yet registered your children please email our Director of Children and Family Ministry at Joy.goodwin@clcelkriver.org. Joy shares, “we do still need leaders for one 4/5th grade small group, the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month, and we need 2 story tellers”. Email Joy and let her know if you can help.

 God has blessed Central with a great Children’s, Family and Student Ministry. We are so grateful for the leadership of Joy and Isaac and their respective leadership teams. Please pray that many children, students and parents will grow as followers of Jesus this fall. If you sense God’s call to invest in the lives of our children and students, please contact Isaac and Joy directly at the aforementioned email addresses or speak to them this Sunday.


Celebrate Central!

The FALL FEST is this Sunday, September 10! We gather for worship at 8:15, 9:30 and 11:00 in the Sanctuary.

From 9:30am to 12:30pm there will be fun activities for all ages. The ECHO JELLO JAM for 7th through 12th graders will start at Noon! Sign up your sons and daughters for VIBE and PATHFINDERS! Sign up to join a CENTRAL HOUSE CHURCH! And there is much more!

Central is not a building but a community of people doing life together and knowing God. Through thick and thin, we are members of the body of Christ who stay connected to one another as we experience God’s love and purpose in Jesus Christ.

There is a place for you in Central! In CHRIST’S NAME, WELCOME to the Fall Fest!

Paul Johansson

White Supremacy or the Way of the Lamb


In our Philippians journey for this Sunday we are exhorted and encouraged to ‘stand firm in the Lord’! To stand firm in the LORD means to stand with all those who are marginalized in this broken and sin filled world. To stand firm in the Lord means that we repudiate and renounce all forms of racism, hatred and bigotry in this nation. We may not have been physically present in Charlottesville but we were wounded, too. We are all deeply impacted by the curse and obscenity of hate, bigotry and racism.

As he entered the city of Jerusalem, Jesus wept because it was embroiled in a national tragedy of its own making. “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41). It is haunting just how applicable Jesus’s words are to our nation today. We need to weep alongside those most directly affected by the hatred and violence in Charlottesville. With all of our strides in racial reconciliation, events such as Charlottesville shout that there is still a long road ahead of us. We seem to be ignorant—whether willfully or otherwise—of the things that would bring us peace. Hatred, bigotry, racism and such venom doesn’t have anything that makes for peace.

Ravi Zacharias recently quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech that “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality” and “wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.” With the violence that caused people to lie prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of Charlottesville, it may seem to be harder than ever to hold on to Dr. King’s hope for a future of unarmed truth and unconditional love. And yet the violence and hatred of the present should drive us to hold on to his hope-filled statements all the more.

God created us for harmonious relationship with himself and one another. But the world has fallen away from that intention and so we suffer the shames of racism, hatred and bigotry. Evil is not a theory. Evil is what drives an automobile into pedestrians. Evil is what fly’s airplanes into buildings. Evil is what causes people to bomb houses of worship.

But we can choose a different way! The way of Jesus. Love our enemies. Honor one another. Serve our neighbor. I am deeply aware of how easy it is for me to write this as I sit safely in Elk River. It is much harder to say in Charlottesville, Virginia. But it wasn’t easy for Jesus to say it. Or to live it. Love is risky. Love is powerful. Love is better!

May we ‘stand firm in the Lord!’ Let us choose a different way! Let us love one another and renounce all forms of ‘white supremacy’, ‘racism’,’ hatred’, or ‘bigotry’. Let us walk in the way of Jesus, the lamb of God, who came not to be served but to serve!


Glocal Disciples



In the 90’s Dr. John Mayer, Director City Vision, coined the phrase ‘GLOCAL’.  As followers or disciples of Jesus our witness and love is always GLOCAL! We ‘Serve Others’ and ‘Share the Good News of Jesus’ locally and globally. It is never one or the other but always both and. One of the great blessings of being part of the body of Central is that we actively support and are involved in local and global missions and ministries.

GLOBAL WITNESS – this week is no exception! On Wednesday eight of us will be traveling to Tanzania to visit our sister congregations of Kibena and Matiganjola in Southern Tanzania and spend some time with Dr. Steve and Bethany Friberg working amongst the Maasai people in Northern Tanzania. On Saturday, another group of eight will be traveling to Costa Rica to spend a week working with Lutheran Church in Costa Rica. Whether it is in Tanzania or Costa Rica the same Lord is being served and shared. And we who go are so blessed by the love, kindness and witness of our brothers and sisters around the globe.

LOCAL WITNESS – there are three opportunities I encourage you to consider as a way to serve and share Christ’s love. RELAY FOR LIFE is Saturday, August 5. What a privilege and honor it is to walk in honor of cancer survivors and remembrance of those whose earthly lives came to an end because of this tragic disease. FEED MY STARVING CHILDREN is Monday, August 7 from 9:30 – 11:30 in Coon Rapids. Our host week for GREAT RIVER FAMILY PROMISE is August 6-13. You can sign up for these three opportunities at worship this coming Sunday!

Our mission is Making Disciples of Jesus! How will you be making disciples globally and locally? Ask God to show you and then keep your eyes and ears open. For sure all of us can PRAY for and FINANCIALLY SUPPORT the Lord’s Work. As we move forward in our mission at Central I encourage you to give generously, if not sacrificially, as we approved a mission spending plan (the budget) that anticipates an increase of approximately $75,000 this next year. Will you join me in praying for God’s provision for His work and mission through Central?


How is God working in your life?



The Apostle Paul writes, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” This Sunday our ‘daily bread’ is from Philippians 2:12-18. I encourage you to read and reflect on these verses and consider how God is working in your life or you might ask yourself, what are things that hinder God’s work in my life?

Sheila Walsh tells us, “His Beauty and Grace shine through my brokenness.” Our witness and gift to those who do not yet know Christ is our life surrendered to Jesus so that His beauty and grace shine through our brokenness. Have you ever thought that your brokenness is the bridge to Christ and to others?

Thank you to Mike Maas for sharing last Sunday how God is working in his life through Pilot Outreach Prison ministry. This Sunday we will be blessed to hear Kari Eckenberg Kanneshare part of her story. Come and be blessed at 8:15, 9:30 or 11:00 at Central in Elk River. Join us as we purposefully stop and consider how God wants to grow us through our hurts, habits and hangups.

Paul Johansson

P.S. We will commission three groups at worship; the Lake Geneva Campers, the Tanzania Mission team and the Costa Rica Mission team.

WOW – Great Week at CBC!


WOW! What a great week at Community Bible Camp!

  • 379 children were registered
  • 168 volunteers ranging from 12 to 89 years old loved the children
  • 9 churches were represented from the community
  • $3708.34 was donated by the children to The Reel Hope Project (a CBC record!)

Bailey Gerdes shared, “We were blessed with incredible weather, volunteers, worship music, crafts, games, snack, and storytelling. The kiddos learned how they are victorious through courage, faith, unity, strength, and most importantly Jesus! I’ve heard many stories of how God worked within volunteers, groups, and kiddos all week and if you’d like to hear them, I’d love to tell you!”


THANK YOU to Joy Goodwin, Bailey Gerdes and all the members of Centrals Children’s and Family Ministry team for all your work and witness this past week! THANK YOU to so many of the members of Central for your prayers, financial support and volunteer efforts to make CBC such a great week! Tomorrow at worship we will be blessed to have a short video giving us a glimpse of the great week!

Hope to be with many of you tomorrow as we gather for worship around one of the most magnificent passages of Scripture about Jesus found in Philippians 2:5-11. Mike Maas will also be sharing his story of how God is working in his life!

Paul Johansson

In Remembrance of Mary Becker


Thanks be to God for the life and memory of Mary Louise Becker. Mary was born September 10, 1936 and went to be with the Lord on July 6, 2017.

She was preceded by in death by her husband, Dennis Becker; daughter, Carrie Becker; brothers, Earl Dornfeld Jr. and Clarence Dornfeld. Mary is survived by children, Ken (Sarah) Nygren, Scott (Chris) Nygren, Debbie Becker, Tom (Dawn) Nygren, Jody (Brock) Becker Bloemke, 10 Grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; brother, Richard (Joan) Dornfeld; other family and friends.

A memorial service for Mary will be at 11:00AM, Thursday, July 20, 2017 at Central Lutheran Church, 1103 School Street NW, Elk River, with one hour visitation prior to service. Lunch will follow the service. The Psalmist declares “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”

Pastor Johansson

It’s All About Growing


“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

At the heart of our life is JESUS CHRIST! This Sunday our food is from Philippians 1:19-26. The Apostle Paul writes “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  In his letters Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” over 200 times. As followers or disciples of Jesus we do not merely believe truths and facts about Jesus; we are people in whom Jesus Christ lives and dwells. The miracle of being a disciple is that through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ resides in us and we in him.

We are “in Christ” not because we’ve agreed to adhere to certain doctrines and behaviors, nor because we have a lot in common. We are one because of Jesus Christ’s presence in each one of us. What does this mean? On Sunday, we will reflect on what Paul declares, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Begin to ask what this means for you. What does it mean for you to stake your life on the truth “to die is gain”? What does it mean for you to stake your life on the truth “to live is Christ”?

This Sunday Pam Wagner is going to share part of her story as to how “God works in our choices.” Thanks to Roger and Jay for sharing the last two Sundays and thanks to Pam for sharing this coming Sunday. If you sense God calling you to share how God is working in your life speak to Ryan, Sonja or me.