Faithfulness can be found in one hundred-year-old structures built to be a gathering place for believers to worship and a visible testimony of the truth.
Upon arriving at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Johnson Creek, WI, the beautiful red brick of the sanctuary stood out amidst the neighboring farm fields. When I turned into the paved parking lot, I instantly became impressed with how this church has been serving as a beacon of Truth for over a hundred and fifty years.
With this historical precedence, I received a renewed sense of awe and privilege to come and launch an outreach initiative. Our goal is to come and train faithful members to feel confident and comfortable to proclaim the gospel throughout the community.
And the community of Johnson Creek is growing.
Within the backdrop of a rural setting, this small farm town is welcoming new housing developments on the outskirts of the city. It is slowly becoming a bedroom community for people who desire to commute to Madison or Milwaukee.
It is in response to this opportunity of a changing community that members from Immanuel desired to receive personal evangelism training from Praise and Proclaim
Rev. Joe Fricke is the new pastor who arrived a year ago at Immanuel. He has a wealth of experience in helping congregations in rural settings spread the gospel. It was apparent that the congregation is excited and eager to be God’s messengers during this amazing time in our history.
Learning What to Say
On Friday evening, the on-site training took place at Immanuel’s fellowship hall. Over forty people filled the meeting area and included several guests from local congregations in Watertown and Fort Atkinson. They learned what to say whenever the Lord provides an opportunity to give a reason for the hope they have in Christ. They also learned how to gain a listening audience and establishing credibility can create a comfortable transition to proclaiming a short gospel message.
Ultimately, the participants learned that personal evangelism is far more about God and his work through the Word than it is about the person who is proclaiming the Word.
An important component to the overall outreach initiative is to provide training for digital evangelism. This includes constructing a tool to help members learn how to utilize the tool both personally and digitally. A web page was constructed specifically for Immanuel that included short messages of hope found in Christ produced by Pastor Fricke.
The production of the web page fits into the overall strategy of bringing the message of the church to the people along with inviting people to come to church on Sunday morning to hear the message.
The members from Immanuel Lutheran decided to carry this strategy a step further by organizing an outdoor worship at the Johnson Creek Community Center at the end of the month.
Going to the Community
The following day, twenty-five members from Immanuel and a few guests took part in the next component of the evangelism training. They courageously visited people at their doors to invite them to view the messages about hope at the web page and the outdoor worship service.
With a growing population of around 3,000 people, there is a diverse mixture of residences. There were beautiful older homes tucked away in the shade of large old trees, plus new subdivisions with beautiful homes. There is also a sizeable mobile home park.
The people we met at the door were genuinely nice and expressed appreciation for the invitation. It is not unusual to have people not at home on a Saturday and some people will choose not to open the door.
The greatest challenge turned out to be the heat and the humidity. With temperatures hovering in the mid-nineties on a late August afternoon, the heat index reached a high of 101 degrees.
Despite the weather challenge, it was impressive to see the number of members who went out into the community in the morning and the afternoon. At the end of the day, about ¾ of the homes in Johnson Creek received a visitor at their door and several hundred people received a personal invitation from a member at Immanuel Lutheran – the beautiful red brick church off Highway B.
We ask the Lord to bless the continuing and persistent efforts of the faithful members at Immanuel Lutheran Church in the weeks and months ahead. May the Lord bless their gospel activity and bring as many people as possible to heaven through the power of his Word. May the Lord provide fruits for their efforts through encouraging responses and expressed desires from people to be a part of their faith family.
At the end of the day, about 75% of the homes in Johnson Creek received a personal invitation to visit the beautiful red brick church off Highway B.
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