The city of St. Peter MN is located ten miles north of Mankato and has a population of 11,000. It is the home of Gustavus Adolphus College and could be considered a small college town with a strong ELCA presence. Some could say that the area is over-churched to go out into the community to spread the gospel, but that wasn’t the case at Saint Peter Lutheran Church and School.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries partnered with Saint Peter Lutheran and launched an outreach initiative October 5-6. We were blessed to have seventy adults and twenty-two children from around the Minnesota Valley come for the evangelism training on Friday evening. The next morning, thirty-one people went throughout the St. Peter community to put their training into practice and plant the seeds of the gospel.
Saint Peter Lutheran Church marked their 150th anniversary in 2017. They also recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of an event that severely affected the church and school. On March 29, 1998, the Comfrey-St. Peter tornado outbreak occurred. Fourteen tornadoes touched down in the state of Minnesota that day including an F4 tornado that hit the town of Comfrey. An F3 tornado leveled St. Peter and destroyed the old sanctuary at Saint Peter Lutheran. It remains the worst tornado outbreak in the state’s history.
A blessing came from the devastation. A beautiful new sanctuary was built that could now be connected to the school. The K-8 school and the Little Lambs preschool are a blessing to the gospel ministry. A combined total of seventy-nine children from the community are enrolled.
With support from the Minnesota Valley Kingdom Workers, Praise and Proclaim partnered with St. Peter Lutheran to enhance their gospel ministry by providing evangelism training.
On a cool fall morning with overcast skies and temperatures in the mid-40’s, the participants bundled up and hit the streets of St. Peter. The people we met at the door were genuinely nice and receptive. They politely listened as we introduced ourselves and shared a short gospel message. We also invited families to attend the Trunk or Treat Celebration at Saint Peter Lutheran that was going to be held immediately following the city-sponsored Halloween Fun Run.
One of the greatest blessings of going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel is discovering that a number of people are interested to learn more about your church. In the Midwest, there can be a false assumption that everybody is already churched. But that is not necessarily true. There may be a strong sense of loyalty or association with a church, but not a strong relationship with the risen Christ. When you go out into the community with the intent of planting seeds of the gospel, you soon discover that Jesus is right. The fields are ripe, the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. At the end of the day, a faithful group stepped out in faith to share their faith with 255 people in the city of St. Peter.
Here are samples from a few people we met at their door:
One man appreciated the visit and told the team that he would seriously consider coming to church in the next few weeks. He guided the members over to his apple tree and picked a few delicious apples so that they could enjoy an afternoon snack.
A team knocked on a door and the man promptly replied, “Oh, we’re a pagan family!” Even pagan families need Jesus and the members were able to provide a short gospel message about salvation through faith in Christ alone.
Several students from nearby Martin Luther College participated in the outreach initiative along with pastors and members from nearby churches. Two college students received a golden opportunity to share the gospel with a young mom who clearly appreciated their message about what Christ has already done for us. The mother thanked them repeatedly and asked several questions about the preschool. They were thrilled with the opportunity to have such a positive visit and give reasons for the hope they have in Christ to a receptive unchurched person.
In the afternoon, Praise and Proclaim provided training for members to learn how to conduct follow-up visits. They met families with children who attended the popular youth soccer camp conducted by Saint Peter during the summer. One family lived in a rural area outside of the city. A two-person team drove up a long dirt road and parked between the farm house and a barn. A man happened to be out in the yard and walked over to their truck. The farmer appreciated the visit and told them how much his children enjoyed the soccer camp.
The Lord provided opportunities to meet with people who were clearly distressed. One person was suffering from a recent death in the family and appreciated our gospel message. A man was clearly distraught about our country and the recent Supreme Court confirmation process. Our team shared with him the hope that we have in Christ – and not in the men and women whom the Lord has placed in position of political power. Instead of what our government is doing, they focused their words about what God is doing and has done on our behalf.
May the Lord continue to bless the gospel ministry at Saint Peter Lutheran Church and School. We pray that members will continue to actively engage members of the community with the true gospel message. They can be confident that people are willing to hear from them.