Pastor Joel Heckendorf


"Put the Heart in the Heartland

One... two... three. The EMTs send 700 volts into the 57-year-old man’s heart. His body jumps, but his heart doesn’t.  Again.  One... two... three. The body jumps. The heart doesn’t. Ever feel like that’s your congregation? The body jumps. The heart doesn’t. Your 150-year-old Wisconsin church was started by immigrants who were so passionate about their faith that they sailed an ocean. Your 85-year-old Minnesota church spared no expense in building a beautiful place of worship during the Great Depression. Your 60-year-old Michigan congregation was so on fire for Jesus that they sent missionaries all the way down to Florida. There was heart. Today, you can hardly find a pulse. Soon, you’re expecting to hear the sirens as the EMTs need to apply the paddles to your congregation’s heart. Let’s explore how individually and collectively we can build a mission mindset. 


Pastor Joel Heckendorf is the coordinating pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church (Greenville, WI). Since joining a new ministry team at Immanuel in 2008, the congregation has nearly doubled in worship and has confirmed more than 300 adults in the past five years. As a twenty-year-old, Joel watched his congregation, the second oldest Lutheran church in Wisconsin, daughter a mission congregation. The lessons were not lost. He was assigned to a struggling Wisconsin congregation in 2001. Four years later, the congregation launched a multi-site ministry, including a childcare and community center.