Brand new church planters gather together with experienced home missionaries for a Church Planter Intensive at Eternal Rock in Castle Rock, Colo. Experienced church planter Jared Oldenburg, home missionary at Eternal Rock, developed the program and leads the training. This extended weekend seminar encourages and equips pastors who are called to plant brand new home mission churches. After the intensive, new church planters are paired with a coach from an established mission church to guide them for their first two years of launching a new church.

WELS Church Extension Fund (CEF), a valuable partner of WELS Home Missions, supports the spread of the gospel by providing loans and grants to WELS home mission congregations. They provide home mission churches a 4-to-1 matching grant for initial land purchase based on their 10% down payment as well as a 2-to-1 matching grant on a home mission congregation’s 10% down payment for their facility construction project. Learn more at

District mission boards (DMBs) and home mission churches are supported by three home mission counselors. They work with the DMBs to find, evaluate, and develop new home mission locations. They also provide onsite assistance to home mission congregations and counseling and training to the new missionaries who are called to serve them. This support is crucial in guiding mission churches on the way to becoming self-supporting congregations. WELS Home Missions also works with three specialized mission counselors that assist congregations with Hispanic, Asian, and Campus Ministry outreach.

Meet the Mission Counselors


Rev. Mark Birkholz has served as a WELS Mission Counselor since 2007. Since then, he’s spent time with mission efforts connected to all fourteen district mission boards. Currently he supports the efforts of the Dakota/Montana, Minnesota, Western Wisconsin, Michigan, North Atlantic, and the eastern half of WELS Canada district mission boards. For most of the past fifteen years he lived in Denver, Colo. In 2022 he and his wife relocated to Sioux Falls, S.D.

Rev. Birkholz graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1983 and was assigned to begin a mission in Northeast Denver. Over the course of 23 years, that mission grew to the extent that it was able to open an elementary and preschool, be a key player in forming a federation of congregations that eventually opened Rocky Mountain Lutheran High School, and partner with Home Missions in opening three nearby daughter congregations. In 2006/2007, Rev. Birkholz served at Grace Lutheran Church in Grenada before accepting the call to be Mission Counselor.

Rev. Birkholz and his wife Lin have been married since May 1981. They have four children (three of whom are married) and seven grandchildren. Those respective families live in San Diego, Denver, Sioux Falls, and Indianapolis.

Rev. Matt Vogt has served in Home Missions his entire ministry. Called to plant a new church (Water of Life) in Las Vegas in 1997, he served there for over 20 years. His ministry in Las Vegas also included daughtering a second congregation in northwest Las Vegas (Shepherd of the Hills), training pastors for and assisting in starting both a Korean ministry and an African immigrant/refugee ministry, starting a preschool/Kindergarten ministry, and exploring a new world mission field in Liberia. He served for a number of years as chairman of the Arizona-California district mission board and as a member of the WELS Board for Home Missions and its Executive Committee.

He currently serves as a Mission Counselor for WELS Home Missions. He works with five districts—South Central, Nebraska, Colorado, Pacific Northwest, and the western half of WELS Canada—and around 70 mission fields/congregations.

His wife, Kelli, and their two boys, Noah and Caleb, still call Las Vegas home. Kelli serves as the office manager at Water of Life Lutheran School. Noah attends Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, studying to be a pastor. Caleb attends the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, studying construction management.

As one of WELS Mission Counselors, Rev. Wayne Uhlhorn was called by Home Missions to serve four districts: Arizona-California, Northern Wisconsin, Southeastern Wisconsin, and South Atlantic. He works with the four district mission boards to research, help launch, and counsel new mission churches.

He has served the following congregations in his 32 years of ministry: St. Paul’s, Valley City, N.D.; Atonement in Baltimore, Md.; Fount of Life in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Beautiful Saviour in Carlsbad, Calif. He also previously served as chairman of the Colorado district mission board and chairman of the Board for Home Missions.

He and his wife, Daneen, have four adult children and three grandchildren. Their two daughters are married, and two sons are single and living on their own.

Rev. Tim Flunker was born in Iowa but grew up in Puerto Rico, where his father served as a missionary. It was there where he learned Spanish. After high school in Nebraska and college in Watertown, Wis., Rev. Flunker began his seminary training at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. He took a year sabbatical during his training to teach for a year at a local WELS high school, where he met his future wife, Terri. They married after he spent his vicar year in Tomah, Wis.

Upon graduation, Rev. Flunker served in Flower Mound, Tex., for six years; Mexico City, Mexico, for three years and Green Bay, Wis., for six years. In Green Bay he began work as a consultant in ethnic minority ministries, serving the districts in the state of Wisconsin and focusing on Spanish ministry. In 2009, WELS Home Missions called Flunker to be the Hispanic Outreach Consultant. Since then, he has helped congregation throughout the United States that are already doing Hispanic outreach, as well as new congregations who are looking for advice and counsel as to how to begin Hispanic outreach. By God’s grace, 18 locations have weekly worship services in Spanish and another five locations offer Bible classes in Spanish.

Rev. Flunker and his wife Terri have been blessed with three children: Charles, Amelia and Michael; and three precious grandchildren, Zooey, Isaak, and Ava.

Rev. Dan Lindner serves as the WELS Campus Ministry Mission Counselor. He partners with a variety of individuals, groups, and institutions to serve college-age students. He works to strengthen and support existing campus ministries, encourages high school students (both domestic and international) to connect with a campus ministry, works with congregations to start and maintain active campus ministry programs, and equips domestic and international students to share their faith with family and friends wherever they call home. He also partners with district mission boards as they explore planting new churches where colleges would be part of the mission field.

Rev. Lindner spent his vicar year at Cristo Glorificado in Puebla, Mexico. Prior to his current call, he served as a tutor at Nebraska Evangelical Lutheran High School, a parish pastor at St. John’s in Minneapolis, Minn., and the campus pastor for True North Campus Ministry in the Twin Cities.

He and his wife live in Minneapolis, Minn. She is a teacher at a Hmong Charter School in St. Paul, Minn. In their free time, they enjoy traveling together, spending time in National and State Parks, kayaking, and enjoying various activities and events in Minneapolis.

Rev. Neil Birkholz was called by the WELS Joint Mission Council in 2020 to serve as Asian Ministry Coordinator under the WELS Joint Mission Council. He supports WELS outreach efforts that take place in Asian cross-cultural situations and coordinates the WELS Diaspora Ministry Facilitator (DMF) program that helps build connections between home and world mission efforts. This relativity new program assigns a stateside pastor to every World Mission team overseas. This stateside pastor, or DMF, helps facilitate connections and outreach between people-groups in North America and their home country. Rev. Birkholz also works with the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI) as they train non-traditional students who are uniquely equipped to serve in Asian outreach situations. He encourages them through their studies while also helping identify their local mission fields where they can serve while taking classes.

Before graduating from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Rev. Birkholz served with Kingdom Workers in Brazil (6 months) and with Friends of China (2 years). Upon graduating in 2014, he was assigned to the WELS World Mission field in East Asia where he served until the summer of 2020. He then accepted the call to serve as Asian Ministry Coordinator (75%) and quarter-time parish pastor (25%) at Reformation Lutheran Church in San Diego, Calif. In summer 2022 his current position as Asian Ministry Coordinator became full-time.

Rev. Birkholz, his wife Becky, and children Caleb, Malachi, Noah, and Kaia are blessed to be supported by their home congregation, Reformation, as they transitioned from living in Asia back to the United States. Becky teaches part-time at Reformation in the 7-8 grade classroom and their four children are all attending the school. Because of their location in San Diego and the outreach efforts of Reformation, the Birkholz family continues to have opportunities to connect with many Asian people in the local setting.


Download and share PDFs of all Mission Counselor biographies at

District mission boards (DMB) are the heart and core of Home Missions. They are the “boots on the ground” as they support existing home mission churches and work with area congregations to identify locations to plant new churches throughout their district. This group of 2-4 pastor and 2-4 laymen volunteers helps build a solid foundation for each new mission start and shepherds these new churches and their pastors on their path from starting a new mission to being a self-supporting church. The DMB serves as a critical link between three distinct groups:

  1. Individual home mission churches in their district – DMB members are assigned specific home mission churches to “shepherd” in their district. This includes providing advice and encouragement to the missionary, his family, and church members; assisting them as they look to receive ongoing financial support from Home Missions; and connecting these young churches and missionaries to resources that help them carry out their mission.
  2. The WELS Missions Office – DMBs work with core groups in their district to put together the necessary research and paperwork needed for a formal new start or enhancement request to the Board for Home Missions. They are responsible for prioritizing and submitting these requests for consideration. They also work with existing home mission churches as they submit requests for ongoing financial support from the Board for Home Missions.
  3. Congregations and leadership of their district – DMBs are the voice of Home Missions in their district. Members report to various conferences, conventions, and rallies to share news about Home Missions and encourage a mission mindset within their district. They are also alert to mission opportunities and proactively seek partners to help make the most of those opportunities.

When all is said and done, DMBs develop ongoing relationships to encourage the mission and missionary as they carry out the great commission and facilitate the God-pleasing efforts that are made to reach lost people with the good news of Jesus.