By: Emily Lehner
Marc Ulrich graduated from Indiana Wesleyan in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in Youth Ministries. During his four years at IWU, he married his wife, Heather, and the couple now has two sons, Shad and Carson. Although Ulrich grew up in Plymouth, Indiana, the family moved out-of-state for many years. Now, though, they have returned with one purpose in mind.
As a student at Indiana Wesleyan, Ulrich said that The World Changer Movement inspired him. “I realized no matter what role I stepped into, I could influence the world I found myself in,” he stated. He mentioned others who guided him along his journey, “Russ Gunsalus’ ability to give me time and kick my butt in foosball was uncanny at the time. Bud Bence invested into me outside of the classroom. There were several breakfast appointments and walks throughout the Christian Ministries building as he mentored me while I was engaged to Heather.” Ulrich grew up without his father, and said that these men in his life were crucial and much needed in the time of his life that they appeared.
Ulrich is now the Lead Pastor of RE.THINK Church in Merrillville, Indiana – a church that he and his wife planted. When asked about his call to become a pastor, he said, “It may seem strange, but this has been a process for me. I started out in vocational ministry and found myself working in a leadership position in the auto industry for seven years.” He believes these years allowed him to learn leadership skills and apply ministry principles. Ulrich worked as a bivocational pastor for six years and said, “When I re-entered full-time vocational ministry, it was one of the most difficult seasons of life. I wasn’t really sure full-time ministry was the correct path until 2015.”
During this transition to full-time ministry, Ulrich went through some difficult times. He stated, “2013 was one of the most difficult seasons of ministry and life in general. I left a great job at Denso Manufacturing (after seven years) on a Friday and on the next Monday, started a new job, as the full-time missions pastor at First Wesleyan in Battle Creek, Michigan.” He shared of how this transition brought doubt, struggle, and a painful church split. The church’s population dropped, and after a strong want to return to his previous job, God continually told him to remain at First Wesleyan.
When Ulrich and his family decided to move back to Indiana, they landed in Merrillville. The family planted a church, which officially launched January 21, 2017. RE.THINK Church focuses on hope. Ulrich said, “Our vision is to create a church that would lead people into a maturing relationship by creating a church that unchurched people would actually want to attend.” The church’s goal is to give hope and show others how to give hope. He stated, “Our mission is to love people the way Jesus loves us. Transformation comes when we love people the way Jesus did and we speak truth as we journey with others.”
Another one of the church’s goals is to reach the community. Ulrich named a few of the missions happening currently, “The tribes we are currently working with are Merrillville Intermediate School, the neighborhood our building is in, families that have kids in youth sports and IU North Campus.” The church offers teachers coffee and snacks during ISTEP testing weeks. They even offer breakfast sandwiches to the neighborhood.
Ulrich said, “We love diversity here. RE.THINK Church services reflect the diversity as well. We have decided to keep our mission the main thing to lead people into a maturing relationship with Jesus, and not diversity, and people are responding in great ways. In a community that has been burnt by churches in the past, as well as having a high churched area, our message of a maturing relationship with Jesus, based on our response to Jesus’ grace, has been fun to watch grow in people’s lives.”
After sharing his journey, Ulrich was asked for words of wisdom for current IWU Students. He said, “Enjoy the ride, graduate. Don’t rely too much on your diploma or title to lead. Start leading day one – doing your job with excellence, being a great team player, and staying hungry and humble will take you further than your diploma ever will.”
Please join us as we honor Pastor Marc Ulrich as this week’s Pastor of the Week. Thank you for all you do for the local church!
Written by Emily Lehner, a writer for the Alumni Center and a junior Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others.