Bread for Beggars

Mark Parsons (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Mark Parsons has been a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, since 2014, after serving previously at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Port Charlotte, Florida. His areas of emphasis at Faith are school, youth, teen and family ministry. He and his wife Molly have 3 children, and they cherish the time they make together each night to watch good movies and television that connect to the problems that we all face as human beings.

Sharing God's glory through sight, song, and story

With social media taking up more time and mental energy than ever, you might be struggling to sort out quality from the... well, not quality. Who doesn't do a quick Facebook scan only to come up for air 45 minutes later with a head full of useless updates, and maybe a touch of comparison envy. (You've met that joy thief.) What if we told you about a different resource — one where you were spiritually fed, instead of drained? We agree it'd be fun, and it'd feel better too.

Enter A digital marketplace for Christ-centered art, Bread for Beggars shares God's glory through sight, song, and story, by spotlighting both new and familiar artists. With a variety of media highlighted, we've gathered a storehouse of goods, and are thrilled to share.

We invite you to be daily nourished by the talents of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Be intrigued by the abstract paintings from Karen Goetzinger. Be moved with a stirring Koine ballad. Be inspired by a cultural commentary with Pastor James Hein.

Take a minute to nourish yourself. (Or take 45.)


After several conversations at the 2012 WELS South Atlantic District Convention led to the concept of Bread for Beggars, Pastor Mark Parsons worked to assemble a team of creative writers, musicians, visual artists, pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and lay people to provide support and content for This team has as their mission and vision

"to share freely devotional materials, art, music, and multimedia of the highest quality possible, both in content and production, from a confessional Lutheran perspective."

This gathering/producing/sharing serves as both in-reach to individual WELS members and congregations, as well as outreach to those who are non-WELS and even non-Christian.

From its launch in September 2012 to its most prolific years of 2014-2015, Bread for Beggars shared new resources daily and had over one million page views, all without a single paid staff member or contributor. Although most widely viewed in North America, content was also downloaded weekly in Pakistan, China, Thailand, Mexico and more.

Since January of 2016, when ministry responsibilities pulled Pastor Parsons and other key contributors away from active involvement, posting to Bread for Beggars greatly diminished. However, the mission and vision of Bread for Beggars has never strayed from Pastor Parsons' heart and mind.


After a nearly two-year hiatus, opportunity and answered prayers have made a Bread for Beggars relaunch possible. A generous donation has made it possible to hire Bread for Beggars' first ever paid employee. In September of 2018, Jenny Kottke began her work as Bread for Beggars' new site and concept administrator. Jenny is working closely with Pastor Parsons to ensure a January 2019 relaunch.

Over the next several months Jenny and Pastor Parsons will be

  • crafting an image and identity update
  • migrating from Wordpress to Squarespace hosting (the current site is glitchy and out of date)
  • recruiting, communicating, and collaborating with WELS, ELS, and CELC artists, musicians, and writers
  • grant writing and fundraising to help make Bread for Beggars sustainable long-term
  • establishing posting parameters and best practices


With each resource curated and shared, our Bread for Beggars team works to make the words, art, music, and multimedia understandable, accessible, and edifying to a wide audience.

Content posted to the site and social media varies weekly. Much is unique content produced specifically for However, much more is produced by WELS/ELS pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and lay people for use first in their individual congregations and ministries, and are now being shared with the church at large. Most posts will provide suggestions on how to make use of these works in a family or congregation setting for worship or study. Whenever possible, information will be provided for how to purchase music or artwork for personal or congregational use.

At times, Bread for Beggars also features "BEST OF THE REST" content which highlights the finest of contemporary Christian (Non-WELS) creative writing, arts, music, and multimedia. These works will edify and educate all who partake of them and inspire some to use artistic gifts to the glory of God and the good of their fellow man. Additionally, Bread for Beggars regularly pulls from the creative writing, art, and music that has been created throughout history as they share incredible "BLAST FROM THE PAST" resources.

Bread for Beggars is also working in cooperation and partnership with the WELS Northern Wisconsin District Commision on Discipleship on several other online resource endeavors specifically geared towards engaging, encouraging, and equipping parents as they prepare their children for life and eternity.

How can you help Bread for Beggars in its efforts to share God's glory through sight, song, and story?

  • Pray for the work being done over the next several months, especially as we relaunch
  • Share update posts on Facebook and Instagram
  • Suggest ideas for WELS artists, musicians, and writers to feature and highlight
  • Consider making a contribution toward a current $30,000 matching fund drive


Jenny Kottke —

Pastor Parsons — or phone 941.421.2227

Facebook —

U. S. Postal Mail — Bread for Beggars, 55 Prairie Road, Fond du Lac, WI 54935 USA

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Corissa Nelson (WELS Women's Ministry, Corissa Nelson Art) 2018-10-25 9:27:51am
I'm really excited to hear about your relaunch! I love Bread for Beggars. It's such a great resource. :)
Mark Parsons (Bread for Beggars) 2018-10-30 2:01:58pm
Corrissa! Thanks for the note. We are excited as well. We will actually be reaching out to you soon. We would like to invite you to become a featured contributor and do all we can to send folks in your direction both for Women's Ministry and your art. Have a great week!
Celia Fulton (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-26 9:51:24am
Pastor Parsons,

I enjoyed reading about the passion you and others have for relaunching ‘Bread for Beggars’, and I especially liked your initial question dealing with the technology end of things, “What if we told you about a different resource — one where you were spiritually fed, instead of drained?” Often times, we find ourselves too deep into the material things of this world that cause us to compare ourselves to others and what they have versus ourselves, but I think this would be an amazing opportunity for Christians to come together and worship something we all have in common- our almighty Savior!

I think something that could enhance the re-launch of this project is to produce livestreams of music, devotion, bible studies, etc. to give people the opportunity to give immediate input and be able to ask/answer/contribute to discussions or even group video/messenger chats so that people can come together and be able to discuss with one another and encourage each other in our faith.

After reading your article, specifically this statement: “However, much more is produced by WELS/ELS pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and lay people for use first in their individual congregations and ministries, and are now being shared with the church at large.” I was wondering if this use of technology and ableness to fundraise money to help the organization, could potentially help in organizing concerts, art galleries, meet-ups for devotions and bible studies, establish new friendships and fellowship opportunities?

Thank you for your special message!
Mark Parsons (Bread for Beggars) 2018-10-30 2:09:49pm
Celia! Thanks for the thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to work through our presentation and post your thoughts.

I love the idea of live streams of content and conversations. What would you envision this looking like? A Facebook Live or Instagram event that was reoccurring with a "host" of sorts? Or a more substantial stand-alone events using something like Livestream? What type of discussion style and content do you think would be most well received? Would it work to post content early in the week and then later in the week have a set time for folks to join in a live discussion with the artist, musician, or writer?

The things you mentioned in your last paragraph are all long-term visions for the site. I would love to be able to hold annual events in various locations that would help foster those sorts of relationships and opportunities.

Thanks again for your ideas! Keep them coming.
Savannah Kubis (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-12 11:55:53pm
Ms. Fulton,

I love your idea of using livestreams of music, devotion, and bible studies. It is personally something that I would tune in to. I think that it would be cool to promote on instagram, and facebook prior to the event with details of where to find it, the time, and the topic. It would be very cool to see something like this bring to together a group of Christians from all over the place and perhaps of a discussion forum after the events.
Alexis Stellick (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-26 11:50:51am
Pastor Parsons,

I loved reading about your relaunch for this site! I love that you are making the word “understandable, accessible, and edifying to a wide audience”. I think it is so great you are moving to squarespace. This will surely reach a much wider audience and help your project grow more and much quicker too.

I think something that could greatly enhance the experience on your site for your audience is having some sort of discussion page where people who are curious could ask questions about the project or possibly somehow contact the artists about what their pieces mean to them and they could grow in their faith together.

I found reading about your site’s the hiatus you took to be incredibly interesting and i was very curious about how exactly you got the idea to start bread for beggars? I love the idea of sharing God’s word “through sight, sound, and story” and I would love to know how it all began.

Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
Mark Parsons (Bread for Beggars) 2018-10-30 2:23:44pm
Alexis! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

What would you envision the discussion page looking like? A comments section like the one we are using here with threaded discussion or something different?

The concept for was born after several conversations between myself and a Mr. Nate Block at the 2012 South Atlantic District Convention. We both had been looking for a way of gathering and distributing high-quality Christian multimedia to the church at large. After our first conversations, we assembled a team of web designers, musicians, visual artists, pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and lay people to provide support and content for

One of the reasons I personally wanted to start the site was because I was regularly having members and friends ask me for suggestions for sermons to watch and Christian music to listen to on the internet. I discovered that many were watching sermons by Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler or reading and listening to the likes of Joyce Myer. Although, the content they were ingesting was at times Christ-filled it was also contaminated with various false doctrines. As one of my members said so eloquently, of some non-WELS sermons of which she had been listening, “Even just a little bit of poop in the water can kill you.”

I promised my Florida members and friends that I would soon provide them with weekly Christ-centered multi-media content. I soon realized that if the effort was to be made to share with the few, why not share with the many and for five-plus years many were blessed by Bread for Beggars.

That's the story in its shortest form.

Have a blessed day!
Kate Aswege (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-26 11:58:59am
Pastor Parsons,

I think it’s amazing that you created a website specifically centered around Christ-centered art. The fact that in just one year “Bread for Beggars shared new resources daily and had over one million page views, all without a single paid staff member or contributor” is amazing. God has greatly blessed your efforts and I hope he continues to help your page expand and grow!

After looking at your website, I was impressed with the layout and content of the pages. As a college student, I would be interested to see a series of some sort that is aimed at the younger generation. If a generation around my age got involved with your webpage through a thoughtful series that was aimed towards us, you would reach a whole new number and type of subscribers.

After reading the opportunities section of your post, I was excited to see that “a generous donation has made it possible to hire Bread for Beggars’ first ever paid employee”! It shows God’s blessings on your project! This leads me to ask a few questions, such as how many paid employees are you aiming for? What kind of identity update are you looking to achieve? Is there a criterion that the art needs to follow? I am excited to see the finished product!!

Thank you for your contribution to the conference and God’s blessings on your future projects and efforts!
Mark Parsons (Bread for Beggars) 2018-10-30 2:32:37pm
Kate! Excellent questions and comments.

What sort of series do you think would appeal most to college students?

As far as paid employees are concerned the first is the most important and we will see what happens from there. I would be wonderful at some point to have someone in charge of marketing, social media, and perhaps live local events or conferences. For now, having a site administrator that is not a full-time called worked as well is going to be a tremendous blessing.

We are working on modernizing the look of the brand as we transition over to using Squarespace. The brand identity will need to work well on the website, social media, and in print form.

Below is our working criteria for content. We are updating this and other site specifications actually this week.

1. Is the content biblical/confessional Lutheran in regard to its teaching?
a. Does not contain any false-teaching.
b. Is centered on the gospel of Christ.
c. Properly distinguishes Law and Gospel.

2. Is the content for all people?
a. Understood by both WELS and non-WELS.
b. Is suitable for a layperson and called worker.
c. Can be appreciated by both young and old.

3. Is the quality of the media excellent in regard to content?
a. Is well-written and composed.
b. Is presented in a tasteful and tactful manner.
c. Is formatted in a way that can be easily understood.

4. Is the quality of the media excellent in regard to aesthetics?
a. Uses a style that is not outdated. (Timeless vs. Fad)
b. Uses appropriate colors and typefaces.
c. Makes proper use of lighting, audio, and video techniques.

Thanks again for your thoughts!
Maya Budin and Samantha Humphreys (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-10-31 7:00:22pm
Pastor Parsons,

This is such a unique way to reach so many individuals! We had heard of Bread for Beggars before, but didn’t know what it was all about. We can personally identify with your comment about spending 45 mins on a social media platform, only to come up with “useless updates, and maybe even a touch of comparison envy”. This being said, we are excited to explore a new, more positive use of our time.

We were pleased to learn that Bread for Beggars is not exclusive to the WELS, but rather collaborates with “the rest” and incorporates the works of “contemporary Christian” circles. Your site provides us with a sense of escape in the most productive and soul-feeding way. We’re excited for you and your team in the website relaunch, and trust that God will bless this transition!

The usage of Bread for Beggars outside of North America is very exciting, as we assume this means you are successfully reaching across some cultural barriers. What is being done (or what can be done) to contribute to the international awareness of your site?

Thank you for sharing your passion with us and may God bless your efforts to further His Kingdom!
Mark Parsons (Bread for Beggars) 2018-11-09 12:22:54pm
Maya and Samatha!

Thanks for your comments. The only major thing we did was Facebook paid advertisements in Pakistan to create a more international appeal. We had seen lots of traffic from there and thought why not give it a try.

Pastor Parsons
Jakin Anderson (Bethany Lutheran College) 2018-11-05 7:08:47pm
Dear Pastor Parsons,

Thank you so much for your work with Bread for Beggars website. I think that it is awesome that someone has created some type of social media outlet that is worth our time. So often, people sit on their phones and read stories about how corrupt and bad this world is and to have something that is uplifting and gives stories of hope and encouragement is absolutely incredible. I do have a suggestion for an artist who does amazing artwork if you don't feature his art already. His name is Jason Jaspersen and he is an art teacher at Bethany Lutheran College who does brilliant work with all sorts of different works of art that are based on the Bible or the beauty of God's creation. His artwork has been featured at past WELS youth rally's as well as with some of the covers from albums made by Koine. I will keep the people who make this website possible as well as those who are affected by it in my prayers. Keep up the great work!
Mark Parsons (Bread for Beggars) 2018-11-09 12:23:56pm

Thanks for the Jason Jaspersen recommendation. He is already on board and will be one of our featured artists.

Thanks so much!
Brenden Conigliaro (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-11 11:03:00pm
Having personally never heard of Bread for Beggars I think it is great that this is being started back up. It is a great way for fellow followers of Christ to be aware of what each other are achieving. I think the new changes Jenny and Pastor Parsons are going to be working for will surely help Bread for Beggars get back towards where it was back in the year of 2014-2015. I am excited to see where Bread for Beggars is heading over the next year with these upcoming changes being put into motion.
Annan Gari (Bethany lutheran college ) 2018-11-12 11:29:25pm
It's a really great idea to re-launch such a website that would benefit a lot people. I really like the focus and main theme: "to share freely devotional materials, art, music, and multimedia of the highest quality possible, both in content and production, from a confessional Lutheran perspective." Thank you for sharing your idea!
Savannah Kubis (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-12 11:50:33pm
Pastor Parsons,

I enjoyed reading your presentation and through it learning about Bread for Beggars. I was hooked from the introduction that talked about "social media taking up more time and mental energy than ever before." I was excited to then learn about Bread for Beggars. This project can be a light for everyone who falls into the comparison game/drain of social media, and instead gain nourishment. Some things that might be helpful for this ministry is to create an instagram account, where the pictures can have links to the Bread for Beggars site or other platform, and promote the content on a social media platform that already has a strong following.

I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds Bread for Beggars and hope to see it flourish in the coming months!