Proclaiming the gospel in Winneconne WI
St. Paul Lutheran Church (established 1885) in Winneconne WI has recently been experiencing a transformation.
In 2018, the village (pop. 2,435) went through a major construction project. The main street was torn up and rebuilt along with a new bridge over the Wolf River. Now that the project is complete, the beautiful church at St. Paul Lutheran continues to prominently sit on the refurbished street.
In conjunction with the new construction, St. Paul also completed a major remodeling project that was finished last spring. They now have a beautiful new narthex area for people to meet after worship service and two spacious bathrooms that are now handicapped accessible.
This is an exciting time for the gospel ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church. It was a privilege for Praise and Proclaim Ministries to arrive the weekend of July 26-28, 2019 to launch an outreach initiative and provide evangelism training.
Summer is a great time to connect with people in Winneconne. The main downtown is built along the Wolf River and in the middle of the Wolf Chain of Lakes. This includes the lakes of Winneconne, Poygan and Butte des Morts. Many bass fishing tournaments are conducted throughout the summer and people love to utilize the large fishing bridge along the river.
About twenty miles east of Winneconne, the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow was being held at the same time of the outreach initiative. Billed as the largest airshow in the world, it was reported that the weeklong event attracted a record 642,000 people. It was common to hear several private aircraft buzzing over the village throughout the week.
The initiative began with two and a half hours of training on Friday evening. Over fifty members and guests gathered in the church basement. This included long-time faithful members who wanted to learn more about personal evangelism and young families with children.
Despite the warm weather and busy summer plans, a core group of members gathered on Saturday morning to go door-to-door to put their training into action. They were eager and admittedly nervous. The Lord provided wonderful opportunities for them to employ a methodology and approach. They comfortably provided a short gospel message to people throughout the neighborhoods surrounding the congregation.
A part of Praise and Proclaim’s methodology and approach to training members how to verbally proclaim the gospel includes an invitation to a community event hosted by the congregation. St. Paul Lutheran decided to organize a National Night Out for the evening of August 6th. A postcard was mailed out a week before the initiative and participants utilized a half-page flyer to invite people to the event. Members were trained to use these tools to comfortably transition to proclaiming a brief gospel message.
Members of St. Paul Lutheran also handed out the half-page flyers to people during the annual Sovereign State Day parade held the previous weekend in Winneconne. One man who lived along the shores of Lake Winneconne immediately told a person at his door, “I already got one of those at the parade.”
On Saturday morning and afternoon, members from St. Paul Lutheran knocked on over five hundred doors to immediately put their training into action. Here are a few of their stories:
While walking toward their first house in the morning, a two-person team noticed a man who was sitting on a bench outside of a senior care center. They walked up and had a short visit with him. He told them that he was a former member of a Wisconsin synod church in Superior, WI and was looking for a new church home. A great start!
Three ladies from St. Paul Lutheran thoroughly enjoyed working together and greeting people at their door. They came across an older man and had a short visit with him. About ten minutes later, the same man walked briskly towards them. All that he wanted to do was apologize if he had been brusque with them. He told the ladies who appeared at his door that he read the half-page invite and sincerely appreciated the message. That morning he was thinking about how to attain peace while working out on his Stairmaster. He wanted to let the ladies know that he appreciated their message.
Another team met a young man who stated that he already belonged to a church. He pointed next door and advised them not to visit a lady who had been adversarial to the gospel message. The team seriously considered taking the man’s advice when they started to walk past the lady’s bungalow. At the last second, they decided against it and boldly walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. The lady happened to be at home and answered the door. She confessed to be a believer in Christ but did not attend a church. The team shared with her what the Bible teaches about grace and redemption to receptive ears. The visit turned out to be a wonderful spiritual conversation that lasted forty-five minutes. After their conversation, the team from St. Paul Lutheran walked away rejoicing at the opportunity the Lord provided to share Christ’s message of salvation.
And they almost didn’t stop to ring her doorbell!
We rejoice that members from St. Paul Lutheran Church proclaimed the gospel eighty-one times on Saturday! We trust that the Word is working in the hearts and minds of those who heard the message.
During the worship service at St. Paul Lutheran the following Sunday morning, the New Testament reading included the following verse; “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:2-3)
During the outreach initiative, members discovered that Jesus is right! The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. God commissions all believers to proclaim the gospel and the power of his Word is unleashed in the hearts and minds of people who hear it. Believers can full trust that God’s hand is in the number of people who respond.
And now we know that a number of those few workers in Winnebago County belong to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Winneconne!
May the Lord continue to bless their faithful gospel work!
Reflections from members at St. Paul Lutheran:
Why I believe Wisconsin is a great mission field
Praise and Proclaim has launched five outreach initiatives in Wisconsin that includes going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel. We are meeting people who are willing to be engaged to hear a short gospel message. Congregations in Wisconsin can be encouraged to trust Jesus words that the harvest is ready and the workers are few. I provide a few reasons why this is true.
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The impact of building credibility in outreach
Praise and Proclaim has had the privilege of conducting forty-seven outreach initiatives since its inception in 2016. With every congregation, we attempt to learn while we train members to verbally proclaim the gospel.
I believe we have uncovered a powerful way for congregations to engage their community and transition to sharing a brief gospel message. I explain more in this short video.
Proclaiming the gospel in Pflugerville TX
Pflugerville, TX is a growing city north of Austin with a population of 64,000. With toll-roads providing easy access to downtown, more families are moving into new homes that are spreading throughout the suburb region.
Holy Word Lutheran Church took advantage of this growth trend by starting a second site seven years ago. A gathering of believers met together and purchased a sizeable area of land with the intent to plant a new church and school. In the past year, a decision was made to turn the site into a separate congregation and CrossLife Church was born. Praise and Proclaim had the privilege to partner with Rev. Daron Lindemann and the members at the new church to provide evangelism training in conjunction with its grand opening in September.
Proclaiming the gospel in Dodge County WI
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.
Proclaiming the gospel in Mt Horeb WI
Mt Horeb is growing bedroom community outside the metropolitan area of Madison. While keeping to its small-town roots and a main street that reflects its past, new homes are emerging in former pastures where farmers grew corn and raised livestock. Located only twenty miles from state capitol building, this is a perfect place to plant a new church.
Good News Lutheran started six years ago and now has a baptized membership of almost one hundred and fifty souls. Praise and Proclaim Ministries was blessed to launch an outreach initiative with the pastor at Good News, Rev. Jonathan Bauer, and members of the congregation on May 30 to June 2nd.
Are you a phygital church?
A new term has infiltrated into the mainstream of marketing and consumerism. Businesses are attempting to be “phygital” by blending a physical presence with a strong digital platform. The idea is to create a bridge between the digital brand and the physical experience so that they may have both at the same time. (See “Phygital: Six ways for businesses to adapt or die.” Source: https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/458/190287.html
In this technological world that is changing with breathtaking speed, it’s hard for anybody to keep up let alone adapt whenever a new digital concept is introduced into our society. How can churches respond and remain relevant while attempting to communicate the gospel message in their community?
Churches can start by observing how businesses are adapting in today’s market.
Proclaiming the gospel in Chattanooga
The greatest source of peace for those who trust in God’s promises is that our Savior is a living hope. That could be a great name for a new church. And I think that Rev. Eric Melso would agree.
He should know because he talked to hundreds of people in Chattanooga, TN who were given a chance to pick the name of the new church. He and his wife, Jenn, knocked on doors and sponsored booths at community events. The people they met even voted on the new church logo. The new mission start became Living Hope Lutheran Church and held its first worship service last fall at a popular movie theatre in Hamilton Place.
With great anticipation, Praise and Proclaim Ministries arrived during Palm Sunday weekend to launch an outreach initiative and provide training for members to learn how to plant seeds of the gospel through proclaiming his Word.