Pastor Poppe was born in Dodgeville, Wisconsin on July 19, 1957. Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Highland, he attended grade school and high school at Highland, graduating in 1975. He graduated in 1979 from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture. After college, he attended Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana graduating in 1983, having served his vicarage year at Bethlehem Lutheran Church In Saginaw, Michigan.
During college, he met his wife Cinda Scribner who was from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. She graduated in December 1980 with a degree in Elementary Education. Pastor and Cinda were married at his home church, Christ Lutheran, at Highland on June 27, 1981. They have 5 children, Elizabeth, Sarah, Rachel, Jonathan, and Nathanael, four of them married. They also have three grandsons.
Pastor Poppe's hobbies include gardening, genealogy, and woodworking. He also volunteers in various church and community activities, especially the Highland Historical Society restoring a 1902 schoolhouse. He has hosted four church tours to Germany visiting Luther sites.