A brand new church was officially planted this weekend in Rockwall, Texas. Members from Divine Peace in Garland launched a second site after several years of planning, prayer, and preparation. Praise and Proclaim Ministries received the privilege to come and train members how to proclaim the gospel and organize a comprehensive campaign to help introduce the new church in Rockwall. We rejoice in the number of gospel seeds planted and the miracle God provided on Saturday.
When congregations focus on carrying out its mission to make disciples by proclaiming the gospel in their community, the Lord blesses the activity. There is freedom when congregations concentrate on activities that they can control and trust that God will take care of his business through the power of his Word. Faithful Christians plant the seeds of the gospels and leave the results to God. When congregations take this approach, the Lord provides outreach momentum within its members and fruit in unexpected ways.
We believe that the faithful members at Divine Peace will continue to joyfully go out and proclaim the gospel in the months ahead. And we trust that the Lord will bless their efforts.
The grand opening weekend in Rockwall was a culmination of many months of careful planning on behalf of its members… and doing things the right way.
Time and attention was given to investing in a quality website, a new brand, and a careful message to connect and engage with members of the Rockwall community. An emphasis was made to produce a design that would resonate and capture the attention of young mothers. This was reflected in the postcard that was produced and mailed a week before the campaign began. Alli Pappathopoulos (twelvetwocreative.com) helped craft a brand, message, and strategy to introduce the new church.
Utilizing the name and the biblical teaching behind the phrase, “Divine Peace,” materials were produced and the members were trained how to utilize their church name to proclaim the gospel. This included sharing what divine peace meant to them.
For example, the participants could say, “We receive peace from the assurance and confidence that our sins are fully forgiven right now because of what Jesus Christ has already done for us. We teach and celebrate that Divine Peace at our church.”
The weekend schedule included two and a half hours of training on Friday evening, then lead a well-organized opportunity for participants to put their training into action by going door-to-door in Rockwall to proclaim the gospel on Saturday. A special “grand opening” worship service was scheduled for Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. and members from the community were invited to attend a free BBQ dinner at 5:00 p.m.
This set the stage for God providing a miracle.
In the days leading up to the weekend, the weather forecast was bleak. Heavy rain. Middle to upper 40’s. It wasn’t look good!
But that didn’t stop the enthusiasm and the prayers from the members and the pastoral team at Divine Peace Lutheran Church.
On Friday evening, we were amazed to see 44 members from Divine Peace come to church for the training. This number represented 28% of the communicant membership!
The forecast for Saturday continued to worsen. It was now a 100% chance of rain and wind from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Rockwall. Upon driving to Rockwall early Saturday morning, the weather forecast proved to be right. It wasn’t just raining – it was pouring out. Combined with temperatures in the low 40’s – the wind and rain was especially biting while we brought supplies to the meeting room.
A wise friend once told me that when the Lord provides lemons for our plans, then prayerfully consider that the Lord might be teaching us how to make lemonade.
We started to make plans – and take advantage of a golden opportunity. A big Christmas festival in Rockwall that was planned for Saturday was cancelled and moved to Sunday. This meant more people would be home. And the festival would only be a block away from the location of the new meeting location for church. [rockwallchapel.com] The trained members from Rockwall could now go out into the festival to engage people, invite them to a free BBQ, and provide a short gospel message.
As the rain continued to pour on Saturday morning, I was amazed at the number of members who started to arrive with thick rain jackets, umbrellas, and a smile upon their faces. What a great attitude! Nineteen members from Divine Peace were ready to put their training into action and be God’s messengers.
Then a miracle occurred.
Shortly before leaving, we heard an announcement from Miranda who came into the room and said, “You are not going to believe this, but it’s stopped raining.” The iPhones came out and sure enough, the Lord was providing a window of opportunity. The rain clouds were parting around Rockwall. And for the next hour and a half – there was a not a drop of rain while our team went out door-to-door to proclaim the gospel! When people arrived for lunch, the rain started to fall again. We naturally felt that the afternoon may be a wash. Then it happened again. We were about to go out the door for another session of proclaiming the gospel, and we couldn’t believe what was happening. The clouds parted again and provided another hour and a half to proclaim the gospel in Rockwall!
Isn’t God amazing!
At the end of the day, the Lord allowed our band of mighty warriors to proclaim the gospel to 121 people. The Lord provided an encouraging number of families who expressed sincere interest to learn more about the new church starting up in Rockwall.
Here are a few of the stories:
A man appeared at the door and listened carefully to a gospel message. He asked, “What denomination are you?” We replied, “Lutheran.” He asked, “Do you teach that homosexuality is okay?” “No,” we answered. “Do you teach and approve of same-sex marriages?” “No,” we answered. He then told the Divine Peace evangelists at the door, “Well, we have been looking for a new church home. Our son accidentally shot himself a few years ago and we have been really struggling to find answers. We have been looking for a small church that teaches the Bible.” Then one of our evangelists replied, “No, that’s not correct. We have been looking for you!”
Two young ladies from Divine Peace visited with a couple at their door. They had been attending a very large non-denominational church in the area and were interested to learn more about Divine Peace. They missed singing the old hymns instead of the Christian contemporary music that is played at their large church. The wife came out and asked, “Do you sing hymns at your church?” They were assured that Divine Peace sang hymns. And the couple expressed interest to come for a visit.
Fifteen minutes later, the woman at the door saw the two ladies walking by on the other side of the street. She called out, “Onward Christian soldiers!” The two ladies from Divine Peace immediately starting singing the first stanza of the hymn and were quickly joined in from the neighborhood lady. Can you imagine a chorus of “Onward Christians Soldiers” being sung in the middle of a neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon! What a witness!
On Saturday morning, a member from Divine Peace posted on her Next Door app that she was going out into the community of Rockwall to invite people to come to her new church. A neighbor saw her post and gave her a call. He was really interested to learn more about her church. She set up an appointment that afternoon and the new pastor had a wonderful fifteen-minute visit with her neighbor. The power of social media can be a significant boost to an outreach campaigns – especially when members post on their sites.
The Lord blessed the weekend and the grand opening service on Sunday evening. A number of new people from the community attended the event at the Rockwall Wedding Chapel – a popular and well-known place. Divine Peace will be conducting ongoing services at the chapel every Sunday evening.
We ask the Lord to bless the efforts let by Rev. Gunnar Ledermann and Rev. John Hering as they launch a new multi-site location in conjunction with the ongoing gospel ministry in Garland.
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