Praise and Proclaim Ministries received the opportunity to partner with Gethsemane Lutheran church in Tigard, Oregon [Portland] to launch an outreach initiative on March 31 and April 1.
The community of Tigard, OR is located in the southwest corner of the Portland metropolitan area. Founded in 1962, Gethsemane Lutheran Church lies on 2.8 acres of property across from the Washington Square Mall. In the past few years, faithful members of Gethsemane have cleared away large shrubs in front of the church to expose the church grounds. Three large crosses are distinguishable in front of the church which provides a wonderful backdrop for the church and the message behind its name.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries received the privilege of partnering with Gethsemane for the purpose of launching an aggressive outreach initiative. They learned a methodology to go out into the community to proclaim the gospel.
On a wet, misty Saturday morning, a total of fourteen people put their training into action to plant the seeds of the gospel in the neighborhoods surrounding the congregation. We were grateful that a few pastors and members from nearby congregations came to participate. At the end of the day, the Lord opened doors and provided opportunities to proclaim the gospel to 97 people.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its wet climate and a lack of interest in anything that resembles church or Christianity. The approach and methodology Praise and Proclaim employs to proclaim the gospel received a wonderful test in Tigard.
Even though many people we met did not express interest in coming to church, many of them listened politely to a short gospel message. The theme of the postcard, “Certain answers during uncertain times: How can I find peace and truth?” seemed to register with people.
And we met some interesting people.
On lady distinctly remembered receiving our postcard in the mail. She angrily told the people at her door that she did not like “intolerant” churches. She had thoroughly investigated the church website at Gethsemane and the link to the WELS. On this day, a feature article on the wels.net main webpage dealt with a Christian’s loving response to homosexuality. We were grateful that she read this wonderful article. However, we were not surprised that she was appalled that a church adheres to the teaching that homosexuality is a sin. She even provided our member with a copy of her own postcard. This was her church’s “gospel” message that included support for gay marriage, black lives matter, and the killing of unborn children. Another woman in the same neighborhood proudly stated that she is already a “registered” Lutheran, so she did not need to hear our gospel message.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries received affirmation that if a church can go door-to-door to proclaim the gospel in Portland, Oregon, they can go door-to-door anywhere.
Faithful farmers are called to generously sow the seeds of God’s Word no matter where they are planted. Christians are commissioned to generously scatter seeds, not to judge the soil. Even though a case could be made that there are many rocky soils in Portland, the members of Gethsemane received the privilege and the joy of planting the seeds anyway. We trust that the Lord will use those seeds according to his will and glory.
The Lord has a way of blessing activity. There is a chance that Gethsemane may not see any visitors on Easter Sunday as a result of going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel this past Saturday. However, members who participated were blessed by exercising their faith and verbally sharing their faith with others. The Lord uses activity to prepare members to receive visitors who tend to come unexpectedly through the side door.
The Three Crosses
Another aspect of going out into the neighborhood is the opportunity to provide a face to the congregation. Members also find out if people nearby are familiar with your congregation. It was pleasing to see that the vast majority of people who live within a mile radius of the congregation were already very familiar with Gethsemane Lutheran Church.
What did they remember? Gethsemane is the church that has three crosses in front.
These crosses are providing members from Gethsemane with a wonderful message to share. It was God’s John 3:16 love that sent Jesus to the cross. The peace they have during uncertain times comes from the certain truth that they are already forgiven right now because of what Jesus Christ has already done for them on the cross. It is this truth that Gethsemane boldly teaches and confidently professes.
It is a privilege and a joy for Praise and Proclaim Ministries to partner with congregations and observe them courageously do something that they have always wanted to do — verbally proclaim the gospel to another person. We ask the Lord to bless Gethsemane Lutheran Church and the outreach activities they have planned in the coming year for the purpose of putting their training into action.