St John’s Lutheran Church in Juneau, WI has embarked on an effort to proclaim the gospel throughout Dodge County, WI. By expanding gospel ministry sites in Horicon and Lowell, Rev. Paul Schupmann and the leadership are ambitiously organizing and planting gospel seeds. The ministry site in Horicon is a new campus that began a year ago. The Lord is blessing their efforts.
It was a privilege for Praise and Proclaim Ministry to arrive in Juneau the weekend of June 7-9, 2019 to launch our forty-sixth outreach initiative. This was our fifth time in Wisconsin and it helped cement our view that this state is a great mission field.
The training took place in Juneau. About seventy people showed up for the training that included several guests from nearby congregations. They learned how to use tools to engage people in their community, invite them to a specific event hosted by the congregation, and eagerly give reasons for the hope they have in Christ.
In conjunction with the training, Praise and Proclaim organizes an opportunity for members to immediately put their training into action. The leadership team chose Horicon as a place to go door-to-door and help bolster their efforts in that community.
The city of Horicon is unique. With a population of around 3,500, there is a definitive small-town feel. Yet, a John Deere plant that employs a thousand people dominates the city landscape. The company is planning on expanding in Horicon and purchased hundreds of acres of farmland just outside the city limits to build a new plant. The timing is perfect for St. John’s to launch another ministry site in Dodge County.
In conjunction with the outreach initiative, Praise and Proclaim encouraged St. John’s to organize a community event to invite people to attend. When canvassing a community, we have found it to be very helpful to invite people to attend a community event organized by the congregation. The event gives instant credibility to the church and expresses that the congregation is not just interested in themselves, but cares about the entire community. This enables a member at the door a smoother transition to sharing a short gospel message. The citizens from Horicon were invited to hear a presentation from the local country sheriff about the growing opioid crisis that is affecting the community.
Less than a third of the people we met in Horicon told us that they were already members of a local church. There is nearby Catholic church and a Lutheran Church (LCMS) in the city. The remaining number of people we met at the door did not express that they had a church home.
This was another great opportunity for congregations in Wisconsin to learn that most of the people living in their community are unchurched and need to hear about Jesus. They never heard a clear gospel message of what Jesus has already done for us. Though many people may have grown up in a church or even attended a parochial school, they have stopped going to church. One young lady we met at the door was a perfect example. She happened to drive home when two “Praise and Proclaimers” were at her door. After learning about the new church in Horicon, she was interested to learn more. She had attended a Lutheran school in the area but had stopped attending church. She welcomed and appreciated our visit. There is a growing number of young adults in the upper Midwest who are like this young lady. They are just waiting to receive a personal invitation from a member. Even though church is still part of the Wisconsin culture, the message of Jesus has become lost. This is true even in rural areas.
The Lord blessed our efforts in two ways. First, he provided fabulous sunny days and temperatures in the 70s. Second, the city leaders of Horicon had organized a city-wide rummage sale that same day. Cars were pouring into the city on Saturday morning and there seemed to be a rummage sale on every block. It became a wonderful opportunity to greet and talk to several people at once.
At the end of the day, members from St. John’s Lutheran knocked on the doors of 780 homes in Horicon, talked to almost 200 hundred people. As farmers were sowing their seeds in the fields that day, faithful WELS members from Dodge County were sowing seeds of the gospel.
Members from St. John’s were provided an opportunity to discover the power of providing the face of the congregation when going door-to-door. Granted, many people will not express interest to hear more about the gospel, but they are willing to meet a member from a local congregation in their community.
In conjunction with the outreach initiative, half of the participating members received an opportunity to employ a similar methodology and approach to making a follow-up visit with visitors and prospects. The visits were very positive. One young mother of four children had moved back into the area in the past year. She expressed gratitude for the visit and wanted the members know that she is interested in having her young children be baptized. The members who made the follow-up visits expressed gratitude for the experience. May the Lord continue to bless the ongoing gospel ministry at St. John’s Lutheran Church that is being led by Rev. David Brandt and Rev. Paul Schupmann. It is a blessing for them to have a summer vicar to help provide members an opportunity to further their training by visiting people in Dodge County and planting seeds of the gospel.