Praise and Proclaim was blessed with the opportunity to launch an outreach initiative at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in West Bend, WI the weekend of September 16-18.
West Bend is a growing community located thirty minutes north of downtown Milwaukee with an estimated population of 32,000 people. The Main Street area of the city has old buildings and a history, plus a vibrant feel with shops, restaurants, and activity.
Shepherd of the Hills is one of two WELS congregations in West Bend and partners with Good Shepherd to support a K-8 school. The efforts to start the congregation began in the 1990’s with a new sanctuary built in 2006. The Lord has blessed the gospel ministry with over 750 baptized members, prompting plans to expand the sanctuary due to the overflow crowds at three worship services during the week.
The intent behind the outreach initiative was to enhance their gospel ministry and provide a meaningful evangelism training exercise for half of the incoming junior class at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.
This was an opportunity to help the congregation take advantage of the new dynamic in evangelism. Since more people are declining to accept invitations to come to church to hear God’s Word during a worship service, it is becoming imperative for congregations to bring the Word to the community – both personally and digitally.
To assist Shepherd of the Hills in this effort, a web landing page was constructed that included a short message from the pastor and an opportunity for visitors to opt-in and download a document, “Thirty Ways to Find and Spread Hope.”
The email opt-ins would be sent to the church office for continued engagement. A digital advertising campaign was launched to direct people to the landing page.
A half-page invitation was printed to provide members with a tool to spread the Word. They can invite people to use a QR code to help spread hope in the community and view a short message of true hope found only in Christ.
An important element of every outreach initiative is to have people immediately put their training into action by going out into the community and talk to people door-to-door. This helps participants to conquer fears of evangelism and learn that people are people. They will typically respond well when using an approach that is comfortable and engaging.
Twenty-five members of the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary junior class arrived on Saturday morning to receive a meaningful experience and partner with a few of the members of the congregation. They canvassed neighborhoods nearby the congregation.
At the end of the morning, the group knocked on over six hundred doors and talked to several hundred people. They even proclaimed a short gospel message to 125 souls.
One lady at the door was quite grateful to visit with one of the teams. She immediately shared her desire to have her young children be baptized and asked if that was possible. Another lady confessed that she was really struggling with hope. Her adult daughter was struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. Another family indicated that they were currently looking for a church home and grateful for the invitation to check out the congregation.
We may never know the results of the gospel seeds that were planted, nor what could happen with people who indicated a strong interest to learn more. Yet, we celebrate the gospel activity of spreading the Good News with confidence that the Lord will use our words — according to his plans and purpose for each soul that heard them.
May the Lord continue to bless the gospel ministry at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in West Bend and the continued training of the gentlemen who are in their first year at the seminary.
We may never know the results of the gospel seeds that were planted, yet we celebrate the activity of spreading the Good News.
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