By Kristen Miller
When Josh Hutchcraft began as pastor at Lamson Evangelical Free Church in January 2013, attendance for Sunday service was between 20 to 25 attendees.
A year-and-a-half later, attendance has doubled and church ministries have revitalized.
Hutchcraft came to the church twice to speak after the interim pastor, John Cedar, took another position with a different church.
This led to a conversation and him eventually applying for a part-time pastoral position (25-30 hours).
“I saw his love for God that really stuck out to me really, his love for people,” said Kent Rydberg, church chairman. Hutchcraft is also a really good speaker, Rydberg added.
His goal as pastor for the church has been to “empower the members to do the ministries they want to do” and “in the process, see the church grow.”
With a large age gap among its members, the church leadership was looking for a younger pastor who could connect with the young families in the congregation, Rydberg explained.
What Hutchcraft is doing for the church, Rydberg said, is “trying to motivate the congregation in what God wants us to do; and that’s go out and serve others.”
He has done this by making Lamson a more active church.
Under Hutchcraft’s leadership, the church has brought back Sunday school, vacation Bible school, children’s ministries, and youth group.
The youth group recently participated in a mission trip in which they worked with four different ethnic groups in the Twin Cities (Hmong, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, and Somali) on various service projects, along with performing street evangelism.
Six youth from Lamson participated, along with youth from Riverside in Big Lake, and through Engage Twin Cities.
“It was about learning to serve God with our hands, words, and learning to take the time to pray,” Hutchcraft said of their recent youth trip.
Other church groups include MC^2, a community outreach class with the motto “prayer, care, share;” and a couple’s small group using the “Love and Respect” teachings of Dr. Emerson Eggerson.
Coming up in September, Lamson will have its fall kick-off, Sunday, Sept. 7 with a country fair carnival.
Though Hutchcraft is currently part time, Rydberg said the church wishes he will become full time if the church continues to grow.
More about the pastor
Having grown up in Forest Lake and Hibbing, Hutchcraft attended Crown College and graduated in 2002.
Prior to Lamson, he was the pastor at Riverside in Big Lake. His wife, April, works there part time as the youth programs coordinator, and with small group discipleship.
The Hutchcrafts moved to Dassel from Montrose in June of 2013, along with their five children ages 4-14.
He and his family have been welcomed “very receptively,” he said. “These people really know how to give of what they have to demonstrate their love for their pastor.”