Augsburg Fortress
One Mission Blog - reflections on the ministry of publishing

Spark Evangelism!

October 1st, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

I received this delightful email recently from Robin Souhrada, the Director of Faith Formation at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls, IA.

I was so excited about this idea and I suspect that others will be, too, that I asked her permission to share it here:

“For several years as a part of our Milestones Ministry we’ve given Bibles to your children and youth. Preschoolers get the story Bible (currently Spark Story Bible), third graders get their Bible (currently Spark NRSV Bible) and those youth beginning Confirmation receive a Bible (currently Lutheran Study Bible), too. Many congregations do the same kind of ministry.

 A couple of years ago we decided to give each student a second Bible. One was theirs to keep and use to grow in knowledge and faith. The other was to give away to someone outside of their family as a way to disciple to others in and around the community.

 Initially giving a second Bible was not in our congregation’s mission plan (budget). The extra expense was noticed in our monthly finance report with eyebrows raised and questions asked. When told that the extra expense was spent on Bible to give away to children and youth, all felt like that was a good and appropriate way to use the money given through our members’ tithes and offerings. Gifting a second Bible has become an exciting, generous and joyful part of our milestone ministry.

 Last Sunday, September 20, was our Bible Milestone Sunday. We planned for 8 three-year-olds, 11 third graders and 7 eighth graders. That meant we purchased 16 Spark Story Bibles, 22 Spark NRSV Bibles, and 14 Lutheran Study Bibles. (Actually, a couple more of each just in case there were visitors or new members.)…. 

….I was asked to share our story….because we know it is the mission of Augsburg Fortress( to) share the gospel and help equip people and congregations for faith and spiritual growth. This is an exciting way of using Augsburg Fortress resources and Bibles to that end.

….we invite you to share our story so that others may be encouraged to purchase additional Bibles for the purpose of spreading God’s word and teaching generosity. We appreciate the support and resources of Augsburg Fortress Publishers. You are an important partner in our ministry.”

Oh, my!  And, we appreciate your witness to the Gospel in such a creative way, Robin!  I can only imagine the joy the children and youth in your congregation experience as they give away one of these Bibles to a neighbor or classmate.  And, here is a photo Robin sent of some of the Bethlehem kids and youth with their brand new Spark Story Bibles, Spark NRSV Bibles and Lutheran Study Bibles!

Bethlehem LC_Cedar Falls IA

Thank you for sharing this inspirational story with us, Robin!  What’s your congregation’s story about creative ways to use resources we publish?  I’d love to feature your stories here, too!





Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Fun photos from First Lutheran Church-Cedar Rapids

September 24th, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post on the ways that Spark Sunday School is effectively used by the Christian Ed team at First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids, IA.

FLC Spark Kids 3

I’ve had some fun correspondence since then with people who are members of this congregation about not only their Sunday School, but also their generous purchases of Spark Story Bibles for home use! One gentleman sent me an email telling me that he has purchased six copies; one for each of his grandchildren!

Of course, I couldn’t wait to tell this generous Grandpa about all of our new books, Bibles, DVD’s and streaming videos for use in homes (or on the go) in families with young children:  Sparkhouse Family!

Then, Marissa Letscher, Director of Children and Family Ministries, sent me these great photos of Spark Sunday School in action at First Lutheran! They are so full of energy that I couldn’t wait to share them with you!

FLC Spark Kids 1 FLC Spark Kids 4FLC Spark Kids 2










Thanks, Marissa!




Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

Survey for Faith-based Organizations Research

September 24th, 2015 by Beth A. Lewis

Dr. Terri Elton, Associate Professor of Leadership at Luther Seminary, and Dr. Hayim Herring, CEO of are working together on a study, “The Congregation and Faith-based Organization 3.0″ research project.  They are researching Jewish and Christian congregations and non-profits in order to learn how their organizational structures influence their ability to fulfill their mission and increase their impact. The faith-based organizations they are studying are one-half Christian and one-half Jewish.  We are delighted that Augsburg Fortress has been selected as one of the organizations they want to study.

As a part of this research, they have asked me to use one or more of my social media networks to provide them with feedback from various stakeholders.  Here are the questions, they would like answered about Augsburg Fortress, including our three publishing units: Augsburg Fortress Worship, Music & Congregational Life; Fortress Press; and, sparkhouse.

1. In what ways does Augsburg Fortress make a difference in your life? In what ways does Augsburg Fortress make a difference in the life of your community?

2. How has your involvement with Augsburg Fortress changed in the past few years? What do you attribute this to?

3. What gifts or skills are needed to lead Augsburg Fortress today that weren’t in the past?

4. What’s a challenge Augsburg Fortress is facing in the near future? In what ways are they preparing for it? What ideas do you have for addressing this challenge? Does Augsburg Fortress offer you ways to contribute ideas, critiques, and feedback on issues?

Your feedback will certainly be of interest to these two researchers!  But, it will also be of interest to the leaders here at Augsburg Fortress, Fortress Press & sparkhouse!

Please answer any or all of these questions either in the blog comments section below or send them to me via email at and I’ll be happy to forward them for the research project.

Thanks for considering this request and participating in whatever ways you are able to do so!






Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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