Praise and Proclaim rejoiced in the opportunity to partner with The Springs Lutheran Church in Sparks, Nevada to launch an outreach initiative August 19-21.
A bold vision was cast ten years ago when a pastor in Reno challenged his members to plant four more congregations in the area in the next twenty years. The Springs Lutheran Church began in 2008 when Rev. Steven Hillmer accepted the call and arrived with his family. They settled on planting the new church in Sparks – a rapidly growing community northeast of downtown Reno. The Lord has blessed the efforts. Last summer, the congregation dedicated a beautiful new sanctuary that includes classrooms and office space.
We rejoice with the 193 baptized souls who are members The Springs Lutheran.
The second site in the Reno is well on its way. Light of the Valley Lutheran Church began earlier this year and moved into a new storefront location (North Valley) only a few weeks ago.
Praise and Proclaim launched an outreach initiative that was held in conjunction with the semi-annual Western Region Board of Home missions committee meetings that are held at mission sites. In conjunction with the meetings, members of the mission board enjoy participating with church members to go out door-to-door to proclaim the gospel.
“It was a delightful morning!”
The evangelism training took place on Sunday evening and included members from Shepherd of the Mountain Lutheran Church in Reno. The following Monday morning, they went out into the nearby communities to put their training into action.
When provided with training and a well-organized opportunity to receive a meaningful opportunity to witness, it’s exciting to see seasoned Christians proclaim the gospel with boldness and confidence. Upon returning to church for lunch, one of the participants summed up her experience by exclaiming, “It was a beautiful morning!” It was not only a bright sunny day, but it turned out to be an exceptionally beautiful opportunity to verbally proclaim the reason for the hope we have with Christ to others.
We met several people at their doors who recently moved into their homes. They expressed interest and appreciation in learning more about the congregation and an eagerness to attend the Labor Day picnic which The Springs are hosting on Sunday, September 2nd.
Participants also learned that there is a great familiarity with the congregation. Located on a busy intersection, many people commented that they observed the new construction and were impressed with the new building. One member from the congregation liked to respond, “If you think it’s beautiful on the outside, you should come to our picnic see how beautiful it is on the inside!”
The Lord allowed us to meet several people who had religious backgrounds but were no longer affiliated with a church. They readily admitted that they were looking for something else. One elderly lady told a person that she was baptized in a Lutheran church in Iowa. Due to an unpleasant experience, she has never felt compelled to step inside another church. That was sixty-five years ago. Members lovingly provided a short gospel and the lady seemed receptive and appreciative of the visit. We ask the Lord to use that gospel seed to accomplish what he desires and achieve, the purpose for which he sent it. (Isaiah 55) It is our prayer that if the lady does not end up at The Springs, that we will see at least her in heaven.
A powerful way to connect with strangers at their door is to discover a mutual interest. Praise and Proclaim encourages participants to always be observant and attentive to anything that can start a conversation.
Towards the end of the day, a participant came across a house where a man was vacuuming and polishing a beautiful 1968 SS Chevelle. It was in stunning condition. Noticing the “For Sale” sign, the participant began asking questions about the car. The car owner was more than willing to talk about his car. After several minutes, it was much easier for our participant to transition to share a short gospel witness and an invitation to the Labor Day picnic.
On Tuesday afternoon, members from the district mission board joined The Springs to continue to plant the seeds of the gospel. And the Lord blessed our efforts.
The people we met in the community (Spanish Springs) were exceptionally nice. When they found out that participants were with The Springs Lutheran, they responded politely and listened to our message even though they may not have been particularly interested or already belonged to another church in the area. It’s fascinating how powerful a face-to-face contact can be. Several times, the Lord provided us with wonderful appointments to share a message and invite people to come to The Springs. It seems as if they were waiting for us to come.
Another interesting aspect about going door-to-door is to discover how many people own dogs. In this community, there seemed to be a disproportionate number of homes that owned several dogs. Many times, participants needed to wait while the home owner calmed their two or three small dogs that were barking furiously.
At the end of the day, the participants gathered for a celebratory dinner at church and asked the Lord to bless the 123 opportunities we received to proclaim the Good News of what Christ has already done for us.
There are times when participants felt like they were planting seeds on hard, rocky soil. But the Lord does not ask us to pre-judge the soils. Instead, he asks us to generously spread the seeds over all the soils whether they look prepared or not. A joy of our Christian faith is to be used by God to plant the seeds of the gospel in human hearts and trust that God’s Word works.
May the Lord bless the ongoing gospel ministry at The Springs Lutheran Church in Sparks and the second site – Light of the Valley Lutheran Church – that just started.