When you walk through the doors of Midcurrent Church, there’s something different in the air. It’s a sense of feeling welcome. A sense of acceptance. A sense of belonging. Midcurrent’s vision, after all, is to be a place where real people and a real God meet. But does that notion actually exist in the world of church? Because of one real family’s faith, I think it does at Midcurrent. The Carlsons saw Midcurrent as a reality long before it existed and thanks to their willingness to follow God’s lead, lives are being changed. Midcurrent, meet the Carlsons.
Sten and Erica aren’t your typical pastor and pastor’s wife. From the moment Sten showed up at a coffee shop in ripped jeans and a t-shirt and told me he wanted to do a fashion show for dads and daughters, I knew they were different. He and Erica were down to earth and had out-of-the-box ideas. They spoke, with stubborn authenticity, about wanting to start a church where anyone would feel comfortable – especially those who didn’t currently attend one or had walked away from the church long ago.
Nothing about the Carlsons’ journey to church planting was traditional. In what he self-proclaims to be a “zig zag” career path, Sten has stated that “you don’t have to understand the plan to trust that God has a purpose.” With an undergrad in Student Ministries from North Park University in 2008, Sten accepted the role of High School Youth Pastor, for a quickly growing church of over 3500 in Colorado. While there, Sten learned a lot and was coached by some of the best. His Pastor Carl is an individual who still stands out to this day as being someone who encouraged him to take risks; to live without the regret of small thinking. Feeling the nudge for something more just two years after buying a home and driving his beautiful bride out to the foothills of Colorado, Sten and Erica headed home to the Midwest.
In the Fall of 2010, Sten started his first day at North Park Theological Seminary of Chicago and in the Spring of 2013, he was offered the position of Worship Pastor at Cedarbrook Church in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Erica was officially pregnant and the Carlsons were officially kicked out of the cozy student housing they’d shared at North Park. Within an hour’s reach of Erica’s family, Cedarbrook seemed like the perfect move. Feeling the nudge toward that place, they bought a house and got to work, excited to make a real impact. Could it be that all signs pointed to Menomonie?
Sten and Erica recall the moment when they both sensed the “nudge” yet again. They were getting closer, but this wasn’t it either. Having discovered a passion for writing and speaking while at Cedarbrook and in Seminary, Sten began to wonder what else God had up His sleeve. In May of 2015, He and Erica were invited to take part in a Covenant Church Planter’s Assessment weekend. The assessors’ answer to the Carlsons was “yes.” This was it! They were meant to plant a church! But Sten & Erica said “no.” Not wanting to add another line to their zig zag path, they took a year to pray about what came next. In the Fall of 2016, they were invited to yet another assessment weekend. This time, something in their hearts began to stir.
As Sten and Erica began taking steps towards a potential church plant in Hudson, Wisconsin, God began taking steps towards them. Doors flung open and things happened quickly. On several occasions, planting in Hudson was confirmed and in many ways, their hearts were already there. From the moment when Sten heard that he would still live in Packer country, he had joy, unspeakable (Okay, that’s a lie but we will eventually convert him). But the truth is that from the beginning, the Carlsons have wanted more than anything in the world for people to encounter a real God in a church that’s authentic, relevant and genuinely influential. They wanted Midcurrent to be a place where anyone and everyone feels welcome.
Fast forward three years…Midcurrent, as the Carlsons imagined it, has been actualized. We are an active, giving, growing, thriving church and we are just getting started! When I get to see my own family walk through the doors of Midcurrent on Sunday mornings, there aren’t words to describe the gratefulness I have in my heart for a place that has made not only me but also my husband and my kids excited to come to church. A place where we feel welcome and like we maybe even belong. I’m grateful that another family answered the call on their lives and moved here in faith, without having received all of the details. I’m overwhelmed by all of the people who serve, whole-heartedly, at Midcurrent in order to make it what it is, today. God is truly moving in the hearts of everyone around me and it’s so obvious!
Sten, Erica, Lucy, Olle and Sigge….words can’t express how grateful we are for you and for everything that you do, for Midcurrent!