When it comes to Witness & Outreach, there is nothing new under the sun. (Actually, according to Eccl. 1:9, that’s true of everything!) But there are trends in the current work of sharing the Gospel that we should pay attention to.
A recent report from Barna Research, “Reviving Evangelism,” highlights the importance of sharing the faith in the context of relationships. While this is not new, it shows that some of the ways we share the Good News of Jesus are not well received by people in our culture. Nonchurched people even find some of our traditional evangelism approaches offensive or off-putting. Worse than that, Barna reports that negative experiences of “depersonalized methods of sharing faith … significantly depress openness to exploring questions of faith.”
What’s the takeaway from this report? We need to consider how nonchurched people prefer to discuss matters of faith and spirituality. There are a lot of lost people who are open to discussing spiritual matters. Although 49 percent of people who say that spiritual matters are unimportant to them are not open to any form of evangelism, 27 percent of them are willing to have a “casual, one-on-one conversation” about faith.
Unfortunately, evangelism that gets this personal is not something we have always emphasized in the past. This has left us unprepared for evangelism in our current context. But there is good news. The Synod’s evangelism program, Every One His Witness®, is designed to equip Lutherans to be witnesses of Jesus to the people in their everyday lives. The LASSIE (Listen-Ask-Seek-Share-Invite-Encourage) approach of Every One His Witness is focused on intentionally engaging nonchurched people in “casual, one-on-one conversations” about faith.
Everything that a congregation or group needs to conduct the basic Every One His Witness workshop is available as a low-cost kit from Concordia Publishing House. Since their release in September 2017, over 900 workshop kits have been distributed. Additional materials for witnessing to people in specific contexts (e.g., witnessing to Mormons, Muslims or adult children who have left the church) are available to workshop participants at no cost through the Synod’s Every One His Witness website.
Everyone His Witness isn’t really new — it’s a renewed effort to equip God’s people to speak about Jesus as they go about their everyday lives, in a way to which the lost will really listen. By God’s grace, that listening may lead to the Holy Spirit working faith in those who hear the Gospel. When and where He does, people are made new!
Contributed through the LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission monthly newsletter by Rev. Dr. Mark Wood, director of LCMS Witness & Outreach Ministry
Minneapolis, Here We Come!
The LCMS 2019 National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference will be held Nov. 14–16 in Minneapolis, Minn., at the Doubletree by Hilton Bloomington-Minneapolis South. Registration is now open!
The blessings and challenges facing rural and small-town congregations today will be addressed. Congregations will be encouraged to cultivate ways to become healthy churches, eager to bear witness for Christ, able to show mercy to those in need in communities and develop a robust life together with fellow members. We hope you’ll join us by registering now and reserving your spot!
Speakers and Session Topics
Keynote speakers will include Rev. Todd Kollbaum, director, LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission and Dr. Harold L. Senkbeil, Executive Director for Spiritual Care, DOXOLOGY. Rev. Robert Zagore, executive director, LCMS Office of National Mission, will lead the theme Bible study of the conference based on Hebrews 12:1b-2a.
Breakout topics include dealing with addictions, mental health, young adults in ministry, bi-vocational pastors, stewardship, community engagement, partnering with LERT, online education and many other topics affecting our rural and small-town congregations. There is something planned for everyone … from layperson to pastor, student to teacher!
We encourage you to bring your whole family to spend a few days together! Enjoy the Mall of America and take advantage of the special family rates that include access to all conference activities.
Don’t forget that a special track for Youth Ministry will be returning this year, led by youth peer leaders and specially meant for your youth to join you as well; this option will have a limited number of seats and require attendance in all six sessions.
Adult registration for the conference is $225/person and includes all plenary and breakout sessions, materials, Thursday dinner, Friday lunch and dinner and more. See our full registration form for discounted rates for youth, students, families, couples, LWML members, meals only and groups. Contact our office with questions.
Hotel reservations must be made separately from conference registration. The Doubletree is offering a rate of $100/ Single or Double plus applicable taxes for our group including breakfast buffet per day per occupancy level; complimentary self-parking; complimentary airport and Mall of America shuttle.
More information and online registration can be found at lcms.org/rstm/conference
RSTM Events Update
Don’t forget that Rural & Small Town Mission provides free monthly webinars on topics important to congregations in town and country settings. Up next is Witness & Outreach Resources on June 13, followed by Active Stewardship in the Rural son July 25. Find past webinars in our archive.
Watch for information on all our upcoming events! Register for one our Engaging Your Community or Engaging the Wandering events at lcms.org/rstm. These partner events offer practical resources and communication skills for reaching out to wandering members and our communities with Christ’s love. Online registration is available for both types of events. Contact your district or our office if you are interested in holding an event near you.
Register now for the 2019 National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference, Running With Endurance: Eyes Fixed On Jesus, Nov. 14–16 in Minneapolis. lcms.org/rstm/ conference
To see our calendar, visit lcms.org/rstm. Contact our office at 888-463-5127 or firstname.lastname@example.org.