St. John’s Lutheran Church is a confessional Lutheran church serving Wood Lake and southwest Minnesota. St. John’s is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

     We here at St. John’s aim to preach Christ crucified to troubled sinners. The center of our church life is our Sunday morning Divine Services during which we encounter a powerful but merciful God. We provide videos of our services. An explanation of our divine service can be found here as well as teaching videos of the basics of the Christian faith. Daily video devotions for families as well as daily devotions for adults (video and audio) can be found on our website.

     We also think highly of education and music. Sunday morning classes are offered for all ages. More in-depth study, called catechesis, is offered during the week for 5th through 8th graders. A preschool is available for 3 and 4 years-olds. We also pay the tuition for our member children to attend either Samuel Lutheran School of Marshall or St. John Lutheran School of Redwood Falls.

     Our adult choir, Sunday School choir, and chime choirs help beautify our services and give glory to our God. We also offer free music lessons and a free music and bible academy in the summer for all the children of our community. Click here for more information about our Summer Music Program and Bible Academy. 

     We also aim to reach out to our neighbors with opportunities to beautify our town, help those in need, and ultimately give them hope in the risen Christ who takes away the sins of the world.

     We have many groups at St. John’s. Our Ladies’ Society and WACS (Women Alive in Christ’s Service) fundraise and volunteer for the benefit of our church and community. Our elders assist our pastor in the day-to-day operations of the congregation. Table Talk is an event held at the parsonage (the pastor’s house) during which a free flow of ideas concerning theology, art, history, politics, etc. is fostered with an eye to what God has to say about it all. Grandviews from the Vineyard is a group which puts on speaking events. They bring in speakers to touch on a variety of topics and their relation in God and culture.

St. John's History


St. John’s has served the Wood Lake area since 1885. Read a full history of our congregation here.


Our Pastor

Pastor Johann Caauwe has served St. John’s since October 2017. He previously served congregations in Modesto, CA and El Paso, TX. After growing up in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, he received his undergraduate pre-seminary studies at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN before attending Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, MN. He was ordained into the Holy Ministry in 2005. He and his wife Sara have been blessed with nine children, whom they homeschool using a classical education model.


Kim Rigge plays organ, is in charge of Sunday School music, and does countless tasks around church for no pay and little praise. She is an invaluable asset to our congregation. Another Wisconsin native and graduate of Dr. Martin Luther College, Kim came to Wood Lake to teach in our grade school. She married Scott, a life-long member of St. John’s, and started a family which now includes Emily, Sarah, Lydia, and Josiah.

We are also blessed to have Richard Grieger play organ for us on occasion. Rick is a foreman in the maintenance department at Minnesota State University, Mankato. An accomplished organist, Rick plays at a different church just about every Sunday!

St. John’s Elders
            Head Elder: Paul Frank
            Secretary Elder: Scott Rigge
            Finance Elder: Korey Herrick
            Property Elder: Bruce Helgeson
            Education Elder: Andrew Zuleger
            Evangelism/Fellowship Elder: Jacob Rigge
            Worship Elder: John Jeseritz


Lutheranism is not a denomination, movement, or its own religion. It is a confession of the Christian faith. Lutherans simply confess the Christian faith as it has been carried down from generation to generation. And so, the Lutheran Church did not originate with Martin Luther. It also does not claim to go back to the early church, as if the Church did not exist and grow through two millennia of history. In this way, Lutherans confess to hold to the one, true catholic faith. That is, the one faith that believes in one Lord Jesus Christ and “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins” (Eph 4:5, Nicene Creed).

This confession of faith is found in the ancient ecumenical creeds of the church—The Apostles’, the Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds. This confession is clarified in the Ausgburg Confession and other confessions all collected in the Book of Concord. 

Because we believe this confession to be a correct exposition of the Bible's teaching, our congregation has subscribed to these confessions and agreed that what is taught in our church will be according to it. Likewise, our pastor has promised to conform his teaching to this confession, which he has also made his own.

By doing this, Lutherans are not placing this confession above the Scripture. Rather, this confession is our answer to the question, “What does the Scripture say?”

We invite you to join us in studying the Scripture, receiving what Jesus has given us through them, and confessing before God and men what we know to be true.

We Believe, Teach, and Confess


Here is a summary of our beliefs:

     Ever since Adam and Eve fell for the devil’s temptation, the world has been corrupted by sin.  Hurricanes blow and tornadoes twist.  People hate and death prevails.  It is a corruption that penetrates to the soul.  It is passed down from one generation to the next just like blue eyes and curly hair. 
     This desperate situation called for desperate measures.  God would intervene in pure love and mercy.  His Son became man in order to live the perfect life in our place.  His righteousness replaces our unrighteousness.  He then died the perfect death to pay the price for our sins.  At this cross we see the ugliest and yet the most beautiful thing ever.  We see the full wrath of the Father.  He is a just God that demands payment for wrong.  Yet, we also see unlimited love.  The punishment was carried out on his Son and not us.
The Means of Grace
     This happened many years ago and for most of us, many miles away.  So this grace must be delivered to us here and now.  As St. Paul said, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”  The grace of God earned through the life and death of Christ is given to us through the means of grace: the Holy Word of God, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion.  Through these means Christ comes to us in a very real way.  Just as he became man to earn our salvation, so he comes to us in a real way to hand us salvation. 

The Divine Service 
      The Divine Service on Sunday is nothing more than the means of grace.  We gather to receive God’s mercy.  We come as the prodigal children to our Father’s house.  It is a family reunion of sorts.  We gather under our family name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Our baptisms give us the full legal right of sons and daughters.  We are now able to come before our Father to ask for something very big, mercy.  He gives it to us.  We are granted an acquittal (Absolution), we hear and sing the story of Christ’s life (Word) and we dine with him and his church (Communion).
     We understand that Sunday mornings are more about God giving to us than they are about us worshipping him.  Our true worship lasts all week.  We are living sacrifices created as God’s workmanship to love our neighbors.  We do this in our vocations in life.  We all have divinely ordained callings in life.  We have family vocations (mother, son, uncle, sister).  We have career vocations (nurse, farmer, accountant, student).  We have churchly vocations (pastor, layman, Sunday School teacher).   We have civil vocations (citizen, mayor, volunteer).  We understand that in these vocations we are the masks of God.  God is using us to take care of the world.  He continues his very real and physical mode of operation.  So our lives and jobs really aren’t about our pleasure, nor are they about pleasing God.  After all, God doesn’t need our good deeds in heaven, but our neighbors here on earth do.  Our lives are lived for our neighbor as God uses us to love them. 
The Word of God and our Confession
      All of this has been taught to us through the Word of God.  We believe that the Bible is the true inspired Word of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It cannot err nor lie and is sufficient for our life here and our eternal salvation.  Since sin has corrupted us, we tend to add and subtract from God’s holy word, something he forbids for good reason.  Because of this, our Lutheran forefathers boldly confessed the truth of God’s Word as a response to corruptions in the past.  We here at St. John’s confess the same: the three Ecumenical Creeds: (the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian), the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, the Small and Large Catechisms of Dr. Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope and the Epitome and the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord.  These are found in the Book of Concord.


St. John’s Cemetery is located on 190th Avenue north of Wood Lake. Take highway 274 north for about one and half miles and then go west on 19th Avenue. The cemetery will be on the left.