The following article appeared in the January-February issue of Ministry Today magazine.
By Tom Shanklin
As the pastor of the same church for 50 years—nearly his entire ministerial career—Virgil Amundson has seen God do “great and mighty things.” In fact, his church began to grow numerically and spiritually just about the time he was ready to throw in the towel, but a prophetic promise from God kept him in place. Pastor Amundson stepped down in October from his post as senior pastor but can testify of the value of persevering at a time when many pastors are taken in by a “bright lights, big city” or “bigger is better” mentality.
His Shell Lake Full Gospel Church (FGC) of Shell Lake, Wisconsin, is an example of a small church with big impact. Located in a quiet lakefront town of 1,300 in northwest Wisconsin, Shell Lake FGC averages 275-300 in attendance, so it’s amazing to see what its people have accomplished spiritually and financially in 50 years. First of all, the congregation owns a 20,000-plus-square-foot facility that is debt-free; and second, it supported missionaries in 37 countries to the tune of $552,000 in the last fiscal year. Not many small, rural congregations have that kind of track record. So what makes Shell Lake FGC different, and what can this church teach other small congregations?