Since Pastor Ted Doering graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in 2014, he and his wife, Chelsey, have been very busy people. Ted was called to Faith Lutheran Church in Georgetown, Texas, a suburb of Austin, as a church planter, not far from his hometown of Houston. He has planted Narrative Church in neighboring Round Rock. When she isn’t helping with the church’s children’s ministry, Chelsey works as the head administrative assistant at a local Round Rock elementary school. On top of all that, Ted and Chelsey recently co-wrote the book, Myth of the Millennial: Connecting Generations in the Church, hot off the press from Concordia Publishing House. We recently sat down with Ted to ask him about his time at the Seminary and his life and work since then.
How would you describe your Concordia Seminary experience?
Concordia Seminary allowed me to mature and grow. It built my marriage in some great ways. It blessed me with lifelong friendships. And it gave me some professors who are true examples of how to follow after Jesus.
Is there a particular memory of life here that you carry with you?
Living in St. Louis gave me some incredible memories outside of the Seminary, folks in our apartment building and Chelsey’s friends from work. The memory that stands out for me was a moment during my fourth year when I sat down with Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer to review a sermon. It was the deepest growth moment for my preaching.
What have been the joys of life and ministry in Austin?
Watching lifelong Christians and brand new believers become family at the church. Church planting has been an incredible joy for me and Chelsey. My partner in ministry, Jon, is bi-vocational, and his other job is as the packaging director at the local craft brewery. That has some added perks!
Starting a church has a peculiar set of challenges. There are the funny ones, like the bell schedule in the school being set on Sundays so you randomly have to dismiss church to home room during your sermon. But also the tough things like trying to start something out of nothing, experiencing the spiritual warfare that comes with that process, and moving from launching a church to developing the normal rhythms of a worshiping community.
What inspired you to write Myth of the Millennial with Chelsey?
We have seen plenty of data on our generation leaving the church, but the only voices we heard speaking about it were people from other generations. We thought it would be good to hear directly from people in the millennial generation.
What do you hope the book accomplishes?
We want it to start conversations around the topic of millennials and the church. Specifically, between millennials and older generations. Reaching millennials is less about programs and more about relationships, which is something anyone can do.
What reactions have you heard to the book?
Reaction has been good! We endeavored to write the book in such a way that it is in a conversational style and has discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which lends itself well for small group studies or walking through with a church or school staff.
Finally, what has life been like since Hurricane Harvey?
We were not directly hit by Harvey, but Kingwood, where I grew up, was hit hard. In my dad’s church (Christ the King Lutheran Church), 62 families saw their homes flooded.
How have you been involved in the recovery? What role do you see the church playing moving forward?
Up here in Austin we consider ourselves to be next-door neighbors. We have been gathering supplies, running to Home Depot to get items that can’t be found in Kingwood and getting them to Christ the King whenever they are needed. We are prepared to serve whenever the help is needed. This will be a long recovery. The church needs to be there not just when it looks cool or feels good right afterward, but for the long haul. Houston gets a lot of press coverage because of how large it is, but smaller communities like Rockport on the coast or La Grange inland will need help for years to come.
Rev. Travis Scholl is managing editor of Seminary Publications at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.