St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Citrus Heights, CA (Sacramento) recently adopted a new mission statement, “Glorify God. Grow in Grace. Go with the Gospel.” In conjunction with this new mission and vision, the congregation embarked on an outreach initiative over the weekend with Praise and Proclaim Ministries. Members received training to proclaim the gospel and immediately put their training into action by going door-to-door to meet their neighbors and provide a short gospel message.
Located on the outskirts of Sacramento, St. Mark’s has served the community for over fifty years with a beautiful facility and K-8 school. They recently introduced a three-part vision and mission statement that includes the gospel-motivated admonition “Go with the Gospel!”
The outreach initiative with Praise and Proclaim Ministries was one of the first steps of a series of coordinated efforts for members to reach out to the surrounding community and actively share the gospel.
On Friday evening (March 24th), fifty-five people met inside the gym at St. Mark’s Lutheran including a few members from a nearby congregation in Lodi, CA. They learned the Praise and Proclaim methodology [Engage-Proclaim-Invite] that stresses the importance of treating people with love and respect in order to build a bridge of sharing a short gospel message. They also learned how to provide a call to action by inviting families to come to church. For this outreach initiative, members from St. Mark’s invited the community to participate in an Easter egg hunt and attend Easter worship services.
The following morning a total of thirty-five adults and children visited homes within a one mile radius of the congregation. It was impressive to see the number of cars go out into the neighborhoods. In fact, we came across one couple who was sitting out in their front yard. The lady called out, “Hey! I bet you are from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. You people are out in force today!”
The children from St. Mark’s were encouraged to participate in the outreach initiative with their parents. It was impressive to see the number of teenagers and elementary-aged children who participated in the two and a half-hour training session. They were thoroughly engaged and eagerly took notes. They were ready, willing, and excited to join their parents the following day and go door-to-door.
With every outreach initiative, Praise and Proclaim Ministries highly encourages the entire family to participate. This can be a terrific faith-building exercise for the family, plus the children thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to serve their church in a meaningful way. They not only hold clipboards, knock on doors, and pass out materials to people, but they are trained to visit with people and provide a short gospel message in their own way. I am convinced that these children will never forget going out with their father and mother to share their faith with others.
We were grateful for the number of unchurched we met at the door. A decent number of people have been living in the same home for the past thirty or forty years – yet were still without a church home to call their own. We pray that the gospel seeds that were planted will come to fruit through the power of the Word.
But that’s not all.
Every person that we met was already familiar with St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and School. They either have driven by the beautiful facility or frequently visited the bank that is located across the street. Several people mentioned that they can clearly hear the bells from St. Mark’s that go off three times each weekday and when church service starts on Sunday. We now ask the Lord that these tolling bells will provide a reminder of the gospel message that came from a member’s lips.
We trust that the Lord will hear our prayers.
An element of our outreach initiative is to celebrate the seeds that were planted. Every two-person team was encouraged to count the number of times the Lord provided an opportunity to share the gospel. Over the course of the day, the Lord provided open doors to proclaim the gospel to 169 souls. One of those gospel seeds came from Jim who had the opportunity to go door-to-door with a student from St. Mark’s Lutheran School. They came across a man working in the garage. When they told him that they were from St. Mark’s, the man was totally shocked. Just that morning, he asked the Lord for help and to send him a person who can tell them about God. He and his wife were really struggling with one of their teenage sons. The postcard that arrived in the mail from St. Mark’s had an image that reflected a wayward son and how Christ can provide answers during uncertain times. The father was ready to hear a message of true hope and certain peace that only Christ can bring.
Now that the weekend has come to a close, we pray that it’s only the beginning for the ongoing outreach efforts at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. We ask the Lord to bless the core group of trained members who are ready, willing, and excited to “Go with the Gospel” and deliver a message of salvation to any person they meet.
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