Proclaiming the gospel in Nampa ID
Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho recently celebrated its twenty-fifty anniversary. The Lord is blessing the gospel ministry and give thanks to him for almost six hundred baptized members.
The WELS Board of Home Missions is providing support to help Cross of Christ begin a second site. With explosive growth in the Treasure Valley, there is now an estimated 700,000 people living in the area. It is expected that the population will exceed one million people in the next twenty years. It is perfect timing to start another WELS congregation in the north side of Nampa. Rev. Kurt Wetzel from Cross of Christ-Boise is spearheading the outreach efforts.
Earlier in the year, a ministry center was leased in an office complex in the targeted area. Several different outreach activities were carried out to introduce Cross of Christ Lutheran Church to the surrounding community and gather a list of people who may be interested to be a part of the new campus site. Bible instruction classes along with Grief Share and Divorce Care meetings were held at the new ministry center.
The first worship service will be held Sunday, November 24th at JaK’s Neighborhood Grill located only a few blocks from the ministry center. Each Sunday morning, the restaurant is allowing a team to set up a worship space and conduct worship services beginning at 9:30 a.m. The space will comfortably hold 50-60 people to help the new campus site get started.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries had the privilege of partnering with Cross of Christ to help enhance their gospel ministry by providing personal evangelism training the weekend of November 15-16.
In working with Cross of Christ, a new postcard was developed that incorporated the theme, “A Place to Belong.” This theme will be utilized and made available for all future outreach initiatives in 2020.
On Friday evening, the training emphasized general evangelism. The following day, participants attempted to incorporate the evangelism methodology by going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel. In the afternoon, participants received an opportunity to make personal visits with new friends of Cross of Christ. These individuals and families had attended outreach activities held during the summer or attended workshops at the ministry center.
The Lord blessed the gospel activity. Many people we met at the door remembered receiving the postcard in the mail. One young mother who received a follow-up visit was thrilled to hear that worship services were going to start only a few blocks from her apartment complex. She volunteered to help get the word out by hand-delivering our half-page invites.
It was powerful to see members from Cross of Christ to experience an opportunity to verbally proclaim the gospel. Many of the participants were already experienced canvassers. However, they now felt comfortable and equipped to give reasons for the hope they have in Christ with people they met at the door. They also discovered that there is power in a face-to-face contact with people from the community. We ask the Lord to bless the new second site in North Nampa. May they continue to aggressively spread the Word in the community and provide Good News about what Christ has already done for us.
Proclaiming the gospel in La Porte IN
Threatening weather forecasts casted doubt on whether faithful members from Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church were going to be able to plant gospel seeds on Saturday. We prayed for a window of opportunity and the Lord granted our request.
Praise and Proclaim had the privilege to travel to La Porte, IN on October 25-26 to launch an outreach initiative. This was our fifty-fourth initiative in twenty-one states since the gospel ministry began in 2016. It was a blessing to come to provide evangelism training that included opportunities for members to put their training into practice through practical experience of witnessing to strangers and friends of the congregation.
Beautiful Savior is a young congregation that started forming in the mid-1990’s. A group starting meeting regularly in Michigan City. In 1999, the WELS Board of Home Missions granted funds to have a full-time minister. Since most of the new members of the group were coming from La Porte, the congregation decided to rent a meeting place in the city to hold worship services. They eventually purchased seven acres of land on the east side of La Porte and a beautiful worship facility was built in 2006.
The city of La Porte is named after the French word for “the door” and has an estimated population of 21,000 people. Our prayer and hope for this outreach initiative is that it could enhance the ongoing work of its gospel ministry and open the doors to proclaim the Good News of what Jesus Christ has already done.
On Friday evening, a dozen guests from several congregations in the Benton Harbor (MI) area drove forty-five minutes to attend the two-and-a-half-hour training session. The weather forecast for the following day called for a 100% chance of heavy rain and high winds. My prayer was that the Lord would provide a window of opportunity on Saturday morning for each two-person team to knock on at least a dozen doors and/or talk to two strangers.
The Lord answered my prayer.
Several faithful members from Beautiful Savior arrived early on Saturday morning and were ready to go. They were not only stepping out in faith to go out and knock on people’s doors, they were stepping out in hope. For a good hour, five teams went out to a nearby neighborhood. Together, we knocked on a hundred doors and talked to twenty-five people. Many people expressed interest about the Neighborhood Safety Night the congregation was hosting. Some families had children who attended the successful soccer camp held at church each summer. More importantly, we received opportunities to provide a short message about what Christ has already done for us.
Shortly after 11:00 a.m., the wind and the rain started to arrive into the area. The afternoon plan to make personal follow-up visits with friends of the congregation had to be postponed for the following weekend. The wind and rain lasted throughout the night causing minor flooding and a brief power outage for most of the city.
Even though the weather postponed the activities of proclaiming the gospel on Saturday, it was just the beginning to have more members actively participate with the pastor to get the Word out in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN is about a forty-five-minute drive from La Porte. Being a college football fan, it made sense to make a quick visit on Thursday afternoon to the historic grounds of the Notre Dame football stadium and take pictures.
A beautiful atrium on campus connects the football stadium to the campus. Overlooking the football stadium, a huge mural on the side of the library includes a picture of Jesus holding up both hands as if blessing the world. Since Jesus is facing the football stadium, the mural has been famously dubbed as “Touchdown Jesus”.
I believe the mural also provides an adequate picture for evangelism activity.
Scripture tells us that there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent. Faith and receiving baptism is a “Touchdown Jesus” moment.
Jesus commissions all believers to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News to all nations. Whenever there is gospel activity of delivering the message of the gospel, we trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts and minds of those who receive it. Opportunities for believers to verbally proclaim the gospel are “Touchdown Jesus” moments.
During Sunday morning worship, a four-month old boy named Stetson was baptized at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church. Surrounded by over a dozen family members – many who were unchurched and probably did’t know Jesus yet – observed a child receive the waters of baptism and heard a wonderful gospel message. It was a “Touchdown Jesus” moment at Beautiful Savior.
May the Lord use the outreach initiative to enhance the gospel ministry at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church led by Rev. Kevin Boushek. It was a privilege for us to partner with them.
Proclaiming the gospel in Richland Center WI
The dual congregations at Trinity Lutheran in Lime Ridge, WI and St. John Lutheran in Hillpoint have shared a pastor. With an aging membership, they were aware that it was going to be challenging to continue their gospel ministry. With less young families living in the area and the future job prospects slim, both congregations were winding down a path towards closure. Instead of accepting this trend as inevitable, the congregations prayerfully considered their options.
They directed their attention to launch a new gospel ministry in Richland Center, WI. This city served as a hub for the area and did not have a WELS presence.
After their pastor retired, the congregations decided to extend a call to a pastor with the intent of having him lead their congregations to plant a new church in Richland Center. By God’s grace, Rev. Dan Lewig accepted the call in Christmas of 2015. With his leadership and the faithfulness from the members who attend Trinity and St. John, the Lord is blessing their efforts.
Proclaiming the gospel in Willoughby OH
I have a discovered a new term for evangelism this weekend. It’s called “ring witnessing”.
Praise and Proclaim had the privilege of partnering with King of Kings Lutheran Church (founded in 1965) the weekend of October 4-6 to launch an outreach initiative in Willoughby, OH – a twenty five-minute drive east of downtown Cleveland.
With a current membership of eighty baptized souls, the congregation completed an evaluation of their community. Many new homes were being constructed less than a mile from the church along with homes that were built fifty years ago. Coupled with the fact that an elementary school was directly across the street from the congregation, it was decided to aggressively move forward in their outreach and evangelism efforts.
Praise and Proclaim arrived to help launch them forward and into their community. The initiative began with the following recommendations:
Proclaiming the gospel in Thiensville WI
There are forty-three members of the incoming junior class at the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. When a person meets and works with them, they can confidently come away with the confidence and impression that the future of the gospel ministry in the WELS continues to be in good hands.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries had the privilege of partnering with Christ Alone Lutheran Church in Thiensville, WI to launch an outreach initiative September 27-28. This was the second of two initiatives conducted in partnership with the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Two weeks prior, half of the junior class drove up to Fond du Lac, WI to participate with members from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
And the Lord blessed our efforts.
On the front lines of controversy
What is it like to be on the frontlines of controversy?
A sneaker wave of attention unexpectedly falls on a person’s shore. Somebody has uncovered a past comment that appears hateful, racist, or unacceptable. A news report uncovers a company actions that causes a public outcry. They quickly scramble to provide a satisfactory response to keep their profit share. In the political arena, entertainment world, or other high-profile venues, people hire experts to know how to deftly avoid or even take advantage of informational storms.
Controversies demand resolution. They rarely ride off into the sunset on their own. Supporters or opportunists will use whatever means at their disposal to further their cause by riding the wave created by controversy.
Evangelism can spark controversy.
Proclaiming the gospel in Fond du Lac WI
Tucked away in the SE corner of Fond Du Lac, WI, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has established itself as a congregation that serves the community and faithfully shares the Good News. With roots dating back to the 1940’s, Good Shepherd (515 baptized members) is one of four WELS congregations in Fond du Lac (estimated 2017 population of 42,809). This includes St. Peter’s (1,212), Faith (1,648), and Redeemer (594) Lutheran Churches.
With recent additions and renovations to the church ministry center and an active Jesus Little Lambs Child Care Center, the congregation has positioned itself to confidently go out to their surrounding neighborhood to proclaim the Good News.
It was a privilege for Praise and Proclaim Ministries to come to Fond du Lac WI September 13-15 to launch an outreach initiative at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and provide personal evangelism training.
This initiative was unique because it included two dozen students from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS) in Mequon.
Evangelism requires words
My daughter tells her children to use their own words when they speak. When they get frustrated, angry, or disappointed, she tells them to use their own words so that she can understand what they are trying to say.
When I train Christians to verbally proclaim the gospel, I insist that they use their own words. I don’t provide a script to memorize. I don’t load them with answers to every question, nor prepare them to lead a multi-point presentation. In today’s world, people don’t want to hear my words given to somebody else, they want to hear the words that comes from a believing heart.
Searching people who are desiring purpose in their lives want to hear a believer’s reason for the hope they have in Christ. When the message centers upon the cross and what Christ has already done for us, God uses these words in a powerful way.
Evangelism requires words.
Here are three misconceptions about evangelism that can cause believers to refrain from using words.