Willmar Assembly of God | Pastor Keith & Cindy Kerstetter
For a church that has a heart for missions, the opportunities to have a presence in their community is endless. “Missions isn’t a sideline, it’s not something we do. It’s the lifeline of the church and it’s woven into almost everything we do,” according to Pastor Keith Kerstetter.
Pastor Keith and his wife, Cindy, have served as lead pastors at Willmar Assembly of God for more than 21 years. Keith came to Christ in his thirties while attending Bloomington Assembly of God. He was working in a school district at the time, but he felt a “little tug” as if he should be doing something else. He was hired as the Business Administrator at the church. Later, he got his first taste of raising disciples while teaching Sunday school. The class grew, and after 11 years he felt himself asking, “What’s next?” He learned that Willmar AG had been without a senior pastor for some time, and felt that God was calling him there. “God said to me, ‘I am not sending you to pastor a church, I am sending you to pastor a community.’ So, our goal has been to be a great partner in the community.”
The staff at Willmar AG participates in activities such as community service projects, after-school homework clubs, and the last day of middle school celebration at Willmar AG’s Epic Youth facility. The school outreach gives the faculty and students a chance to let loose with activities including gaga ball, nine square, a movie, and more. The church building has also been used by local police and fire departments, all free of charge.
The church has three main outreach events for kids each year: Easter Jam, Jingle Jam, and Summer Jam. About 600 kids attend Summer Jam (VBS) annually. One of the activities features a missionary guest with a project or craft representing the country in which they serve. The same missionary speaks at children’s church the next Sunday morning. Keith stated, “Missions doesn’t feel like it’s something separate; it’s just what we do.”
Keeping a missional mindset for the community requires planning, creativity, and a congregation eager to share God’s love, but it is worth it. Pastor Keith shared, “Your church needs to ask [their community], ‘What are you doing? Let me join what you’re doing. How can I make what you’re doing better? Or how can I relieve you from a responsibility? Let me cover that.’ If our churches started doing that, they’d be amazed at the response.”