Confident without cockiness, self-assured with a measure of humility, Rev. John David Zischke, also known as JD, meets the challenges of church planting in the West Fayetteville, AR, area with poise. Growing up as a Southern Baptist in San Antonio, TX, supported by a single-parent mother who worked four jobs in order to give her children a private (Lutheran) school education, Pastor Zischke was raised in a home where church-going and fellowship were valued and encouraged. As he entered Concordia College at Seward, Nebraska, he was concerned by the fact he was not in communion fellowship with his fellow Lutheran students, which led him to delve into the Confessions and Luther’s writings, seeking instruction from his professors at Seward, and eventually being confirmed in the Lutheran faith as a junior at college. While studying to become a DCE, he was re-directed to the pastoral ministry after encouragement from his mentors. He spent his senior year at Seward feverishly studying Greek and Hebrew to prepare for the seminary.
Upon Pastor Zischke’s graduation from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, the Mid-South District called him as Missionary-at-Large Church Planter for the Fayetteville Circuit, with the intention of beginning a congregation in West Fayetteville, a quickly growing area which is 80% unchurched. Quickly, JD realized that evangelism efforts that may have worked in his vicarage town of Clio, Michigan, were going to need some re-thinking in West Fayetteville, which is largely suburban. After six-eight months of prayer-walking, learning the ins and outs of the city and its history, meeting city leaders, and sitting down with pastors in the circuit, one-on-one, to get a better sense of life in northwest Arkansas, he became comfortable in a place which was to be his city. With the movement of the Holy Spirit through his efforts, a core group evolved, praying together, building relationships, enjoying a rhythm of studying God’s Word and Lutheran theology.
As the group solidified, thoughts turned to fundraising in order to provide a place to worship. With the help of the Mid-South District Office and Paul Reaves, Lutherans from around the neighboring Arkansas cities gathered in May for a Celebration Banquet, raising both interest in the ministry and financial support for Pastor Zischke’s church plant: Restoration Lutheran Church. So now that he has done his research, created community with other Lutheran pastors and congregations, and generated momentum and funds, the dream is set to become a reality. With continued prayer and support, Pastor Zischke is eager to see what the Lord has in store for him and his family (wife, Mikaela and three beautiful babies), for West Fayetteville, and for the Lutheran Church in the Mid-South District. May the Lord continue to bless his efforts!
By Genie Swan