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:
- Establish a web presence.
Even though King of Kings had an active Facebook page, the congregation needed a well-designed web presence. Through Twelve-Two Creative, they received a new website that is affordable and attractive. The new website will be a valuable tool for the congregation to move forward with their gospel activity. (See new website)
- Establish a relationship with public elementary school.
King of King sits on about two acres of property off a busy road and directly across the street from Grant Elementary School. Earlier in the year, the school contacted King of Kings to see if the church would be willing to be a safe zone for children if there ever was an emergency that required all students to leave the school grounds immediately. The timing was perfect to further that relationship.
The decision was made to host a Safety Night in conjunction with the Willoughby School District that would be held at Grant Elementary School. The safety night would include presentations from the district superintendent to inform the neighborhood and parents about emergency procedures if there is ever an active shooter on the building grounds. King of Kings Lutheran is listed on all school publications as the host of Safety Night and will receive the opportunity to have a table and provide a short presentation at the beginning of the evening. The school district and the PTA are expecting hundreds of parents and members of the community to attend. It will be our encouragement to continue to foster this relationship and provide an identity for King of Kings as a church that cares about its community. This will enable the church to interact with their neighbors and provide a personal witness.
- Personal evangelism training
Another reason for the safety night is that this event will enable members of the congregation to have positive visits with people when they visit with them at their door. Praise and Proclaim has discovered that hosting a community event gives a congregation credibility. Members of the congregation can use the event to more easily connect with the public and be prepared to give a reason for the hope they have in Christ.
It is becoming more essential for congregations in today’s world to provide a balanced outreach and evangelism strategy that incorporates inviting people to come to an event in conjunction with going out into the community.
And this turned out to be true in Willoughby, OH. Members stepped outside of their comfort zones to knock on doors, invite people to the safety night, and provide a face for their congregation. They were able to share that King of Kings is a small church with a big heart and that it’s a place where a person can feel like they belong.
With an average worship of 25-30 people every Sunday, it was impressive to see twelve members of King of Kings show up on Saturday morning to go door-to-door along with four members from Our Savior Lutheran in Strongville. In the morning and the afternoon, the teams knocked on over six hundred and fifty doors and talked to over 150 people at their door.
Our members exercised the fruit of patience throughout the day. Over fifty percent of the people were not at home or choosing to not answer their door. Sometimes, people answered the door and quickly expressed their lack of interest. Most of the people we met were friendly and polite. They welcomed the invitation to the safety night and many conversations led to a short proclamation of the gospel. We rejoiced whenever a person expressed interest to visit the church’s new website and indicated that they would consider coming to church someday. Yet, they were uncomfortable at the time to leave their contact information.
One team met a woman who was talking to her sister on the phone while standing in her garage. When she found out that we were with King of Kings Lutheran Church she immediately became interested and asked a series of questions. She had a Lutheran church background while living in Akron but had chosen not to “church shop” when she moved to Willoughby. It was perfect timing to bring a face from King of Kings and extend a personal invitation along with proclaiming what our church teaches about God’s love, the full forgiveness of sins, and what Christ has already done for us on the cross.
A few teams went door-to-door with brand new houses only a few blocks away from the church. Many of the homes have RING doorbells that enables homeowners to monitor who is at their door through their phones. Several members took advantage of this opportunity by providing a message of the gospel. Instead of speaking to a live person, they knew they were being recorded by the RING doorbell. If the bell was not answered, they left a video message that was either being watched by another person in another location or taped for future viewing.
We rejoiced that we were able to provide a RING witness to a dozen homes that Saturday!
It was a blessing for Praise and Proclaim to partner with King of Kings Lutheran and the faithful members. We ask the Lord to bless the upcoming safety night and that this outreach initiative may propel efforts to continue unleashing the power of God’s Word throughout the neighborhoods that surround the congregation.
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