Viksnes Called to Lead Rooted

The Church of the Lutheran Brethren is a Disciple-Making Church (DMC). A key focus of this mission advancement initiative is the vision to unleash new leaders—to call, empower, and support young men and women to lead in making disciples and forming disciple-making communities. A healthy living organism is always expectant of and sacrificial for the generation to follow. The Church, our congregations, and ourselves are not called to mere survival, but proliferation. And this is also the heart and promise of God: to “pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants” (Isa. 44:3).
It is with this expectancy, and in pursuit of this DMC vision to unleash new leaders, that I am pleased to introduce Roger Viksnes as the first Director of Rooted.

Paul Larson, President, Church of the Lutheran Brethren

We are really excited about the Rooted gap-year ministry, a partnership between Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center and the CLB that will be established at Tuscarora’s Pines Campus, Mount Bethel, PA. Ever since this property was donated to Tuscarora more than 20 years ago, we have preserved it and prayed that a distinct, but complementary, ministry would one day utilize this unique spot. We believe the facilities will provide the perfect place for young adults to grow in servanthood, leadership, and a deeper understanding of God’s Word. I am looking forward to working alongside Pastor Roger Viksnes in finalizing the plans for Rooted and welcoming young adults in 2024.
Brian Abrahamsen, Exec. Director, Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center

It has been 20 years since I graduated seminary, so it has been 23-1/2 years since the day I was driving home from work as a fourth grade teacher, listening to the singer/prophet Keith Green, as God used him to plant a seed in my mind and heart that I should move into full-time ministry. That was a pretty clear calling, made crystal clear a couple hours later when my then-fiancée shared with me how God had put it on her heart that we should consider full-time ministry. I was hooked. I was in. The only question left to answer was, what was I going to do to get there? You see, as with anything in life, there is a need for and a place for training. Be it an accountant, a hairdresser, or an astronaut, there is a need for some specialized training.
This is true, not only for the “profession” of full-time ministry, but also the life of every disciple of Jesus Christ as they come to understand their life through the lens of their title as disciple. For me, there was just one more hurdle that God needed to bring me over.

When I first felt called to full-time ministry and decided to go to seminary to get trained, I carried a misconception of what my time at seminary would be like (or better stated, what God would be doing in me during those three years). I naively felt going in that I would learn facts about the Bible and therefore be a shoo-in to win any Bible Jeopardy game that a church would have. What happened instead was that I was overwhelmed by the gospel. Like an overmatched fighter getting hit from every direction, I was wonderfully hit with the good news of God in every class that I took.

I didn’t so much learn facts about God, rather, I learned who God is and what he has done for me. I thought I knew all that already, but I discovered that there is a height and depth and width to God and his love for me that far exceeds what my mind can comprehend. I also learned how and where to keep on learning. What I mean by that is, the goal was not to make sure to stuff our heads with all the knowledge that they could hold, but rather to help us to continue to think and learn on our own. And that was a good thing, because I ended up doing a whole lot of learning when God called my wife Jenny and me to minister in Brooklyn, NY.

The Rooted program is a one-year discipleship program (September-May), for people ages 18-25. The kickoff for this program will be September 2024 (with a possible pilot program taking place January-May 2024). My desire for the Rooted program is not that every person who attends ends up going to seminary and/or into full-time professional ministry, but rather that every person ends up understanding that they are disciples first before any other title that they pick up in life, and that they spend the rest of their lives focused on the kingdom of God. The Lutheran Brethren is a disciple-making movement, and it is the heart of this new program to raise up disciples who will spend the rest of their lives making more disciples.

It struck me last year at the CLB convention in Fergus Falls, MN that if you start with just two people and they lead just one person each to the Lord, you have now four disciples of Jesus. If each of those four then spend the next year leading someone new to the Lord and discipling them, you have eight people at the end of year two. Doing this same thing for 33 years would lead the whole world to Christ. And all the original couple needs to do is lead just 33 people to Jesus in that time. Now I am not here to say that this new program is going to do that, but it is going to be our focus to be a part of that and to watch our limitless God do more than we can ask or imagine. But it starts, like it started with me, by first being blown away by the gospel and then trained up in how to live it out.

While living in Brooklyn, I had a number of opportunities to speak and serve at homeless shelters around the city. I was always surprised when I would hear a person say, “I used to go to church. I was really into it.” And then they would start sharing Bible verses that they had memorized, ministries that they had been part of, or churches and pastors that they had known. And I would eventually ask, “What happened?” The answer inevitably was, “I don’t know. I just kind of left it.” It is all too possible and common to grow in facts about the faith without growing in the faith, and particularly growing in our identity as children of God saved by grace alone.

I am excited about what the Rooted program will become, but also about who will be coming and what God will be doing in their lives. If you find yourself interested in spending a year diving deep into your identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ, or if you are reading this and are thinking of your child, grandchild, or friend, then I invite you to email us (, so that we can get you information as the program is finalized over the next few months. On top of that, if you have been a part of a Bible school or gap-year program yourself at some point in your life and you have some advice, be it something to make sure to include or something to watch out for, I would love to talk with you. You can either email me about it, or email me your phone number and a good time to call. My email address is:

Finally, having taken the time to read this, will you pray right now for this program, for the people that God is already preparing to join and for protection from the evil one who is already seeking to try to mess things up? And will you go a step further and write down “Rooted” on a post-it note somewhere? Then, each time you see it, will you remember to pray not only for this new program, but for young people all around you to be “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:7).

Rev. Roger Viksnes serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and Tuscarora as Director of the Rooted gap-year Ministry.

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