Beloit, WI

Beloit, WI
photo by Rod Gottfredsen

Friday, November 15, 2019

Advent and Christmas

It’s hard to believe that it is November already.  Judging by the outdoor temperatures it is also difficult to believe that it’s not February.  As Advent and Christmas approach, I invite you to place the following events on your calendar.  The New Testament teaches us that collectively we are the body of Christ and it’s no secret that our time together is much more complete when we all gather together.

November 27, beginning at 9 am at Messiah Church - youth and adults are invited to participate in working on our Stateline Youth Christmas Parade float.  There will also be indoor tasks such as placing church name labels on candy canes.

November 27, 6:30 pm - St. John’s Thanksgiving Eve service.

November 29, 6:15 pm - Beloit’s Holiday parade in which our Stateline Youth will have a float.

December 4, 5:30 pm - Advent Supper
December 4, 6:30 pm - Advent Service - “Zechariah & Elizabeth”

December 8, 10:30 am - Decorating the Church for Christmas
December 8, 12:30 pm at St. Andrew in Rockton - Youth Group

December 11, 5:30 pm - Advent Supper
December 11, 6:30 pm - Advent Service - “Joseph”

December 15, 9:00 am - Special Service for Church and School
December 15, 10:30 am - School Program in the gym

December 18, 5:30 pm - Advent Supper
December 18, 6:30 pm - Advent Service - “Mary”

December 22, 10:30 am - Voters’ Meeting in the Nave

December 24, 6:30 pm - Christmas Eve Service

December 25, 9:00 am - Christmas Day Service

January 5, 10:30 am - Undecorating from Christmas

Blessings to you as we prepare to receive our Lord in the manger, through the Lord’s Supper, and in His victorious return on the Last Day.

Message - "What Does it Mean to Believe?" (John 4:46–54)

To listen to the message, please click here.


Friday, November 8, 2019

Stateline LCMS Youth Group

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I am delighted to announce that we have reorganized our Stateline Youth Group.  This group is made up of young people (grades 6 - 12) - and their friends - from the following congregations:  Christ Our Savior in Roscoe, Messiah in Beloit, St. Andrew in Rockton, Trinity in Beloit, and our congregation.  Beginning this Sunday (Nov 10), we will be having monthly youth group meetings that will include Bible Study, Fun Activities, and Service.  Additionally, Messiah Church has invited our group to have their float in Beloit's Grand Lighted Holiday Parade on November 29.  

In addition to Sunday's event, please add the following to your calendars.

Sunday, November 10, 12:30 pm - Youth Group at Messiah (1531 Townline Ave., Beloit, WI)


Wednesday, November 27, beginning at 9:00 am - Parade Float Building at Messiah.  Adults and Youth are both invited to participate.  Most schools are closed this day.

Friday, November 29, 5:00 to 8:00 pm - Beloit's Grand Lighted Holiday Parade

Sunday, December 8, 12:30 pm - Youth Group at St. Andrew (511 W Rockton Rd, Rockton, IL)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

New Book Club

During the winter months (which often feels like most of the year), we will not be having our regular weekly Bible class.  However, I do want to provide opportunities for us to continue to study God's Word and go deeper in our discipleship. 

To that end, I want to begin a monthly book club beginning in December.  The books that we will be using are published by Concordia Publishing House and readily available on the internet.  Additionally, we are able to order books for members who would prefer that the church order them.  In most cases, we will use two sessions to discuss each book.  This is not to say that we are only capable of reading one book every two months, but that the titles I have selected are so important that I would like for us to get the most out of what we are studying. 

Over the course of the next few months, we will be taking a look at the following:

Dec 2019/Jan 2020 - Thank, Praise, Serve, and Obey: Recover the Joys of Piety by William Weedon
Feb 2020 - 5 Things You Can Do to Have a Faithful Prayer Life by Robert Hiller
Mar/Apr 2020 - How to Read the Bible with Understanding by Lane Burgland
May/Jun 2020 - Hope When Your Heart Breaks: Navigating Grief and Loss, by Michael  Newman

The day and time for our monthly discussions have not been set as I would like for us to choose a time that fits a lot of people's schedules.  Please let me know what times work best for you from the following.  You can email me this information or circle the times on a print out of this article and return it to the offering plate.


  • Monday mornings 
  • Tuesday afternoons 
  • Wednesday mornings 
  • Wednesday afternoons 
  • Thursday afternoons  


You can purchase Thank, Praise, Serve, and Obey

on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Thank-Praise-Serve-Obey-Recover/dp/0758658281/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1572026645&sr=8-1

on Kindlehttps://www.amazon.com/Thank-Praise-Serve-Obey-Recover-ebook/dp/B076TYWTJZ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1572026645&sr=8-1

on Barnes & Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thank-praise-serve-and-obey-william-weedon/1127131088?ean=9780758658289

on Applehttps://books.apple.com/us/book/thank-praise-serve-and-obey-recover-the-joys-of-piety/id1301071660

on CPHhttps://www.cph.org/p-31340-thank-praise-serve-and-obey-recover-the-joys-of-piety.aspx

I do not want the cost of the books to be a barrier to anyone participating in our book discussions.  If you find it difficult to afford the purchase of the books, please let me know privately.  The church will simply purchase the number of copies needed for those in this situation and then add them to our church library following the person's reading of it.

Additionally, even if you cannot join us for the book discussions, I commend these titles for your own private reading. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

On Sunday, December 15th, our congregation and school will come together to celebrate a Day of Thanksgiving for Our School.  The day will begin with a special Divine Service, at 9:00 am, in which students will offer music selections and President Wille (of the South Wisconsin District) will preach.  Other leaders from our District and the leadership team of LUMIN Schools will also be in attendance.  It will be a time to gather as the full St. John's community to thank God and celebrate His marvelous blessings shown to us in the launching of our new school.  Following the service, everyone will be invited to join us for a school program to be held in the gymnasium.  Refreshments will be served during the program, and we invite you to please bring a plate of cookies to share at the event.  Please mark your calendar and plan to join us for a morning of joy and celebration for what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do in the lives of His children.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Trunk/Treat & Party @ SJ Church & School

On Tuesday afternoon (October 22nd) from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, St. John's Church and School will hold a Trunk or Treat event for children in our community.  The event will begin inside the large parking lot here at St. John's with Trick 0r Treating for those who attend, and then we will move into the school gym for games and activities. Our intention is to provide a safe place for children to "trick or treat," and have the opportunity for us to share information with families about our church and school. 

Please consider joining Dawn and me and our school staff in providing treats for children.  Each participant is asked to park their car in our parking lot at 5:00 pm with goodies for the children being distributed out of their trunk.  Participants are invited to decorate the rear of their vehicle for the event.  The "inside" activities and decorations will be provided by the staff and faculty of the school.  This is a wonderful opportunity for our congregation to introduce ourselves to local families and support the work of St. John's School.

Message - "In Baptism, We Are Made One with All of the Baptized" (Ephesians 4:1–6)

To listen to the message, please click here.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Scripture in Our Divine Service

There is a reason why we do not hear readings from 1 Samuel, Romans, and Matthew every single week and that reason is called a lectionary.  A lectionary is a scheduled order of readings for the Church year.  Our order of readings prevents the preacher from choosing passages for each Sunday according to his own preferences (which for me would be 1 Samuel, Romans, and Matthew).  The lectionary also provides us with readings that are appropriate for a particular day or season of the Church Year.  Until 1982 (with the publication of the servicebook Lutheran Worship), Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregations had followed a lectionary which was developed by St. Jerome, who lived from 342–420 AD.  Thus, this is the lectionary used by Martin Luther and the reformers, C.F.W. Walther and the founding members of the LCMS, as well as our forbears here at St. John’s.  In fact, if you worshipped here at St. John’s prior to the 1990s you will be quite familiar with this lectionary - now called by the Lutheran Service Book, the “Historic Lectionary.” LSB has very helpfully added Old Testament readings to the historic lectionary.  During the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s, their denomination developed a new three-year lectionary in which the historic one-year lectionary was replaced by a series of readings spanning three years instead of one.  Since this lectionary offered the opportunity to teach and preach on many more passages of Scripture than the Historic Lectionary, Lutherans decided to adapt the three-year lectionary for usage by our congregations.

I have preached through the three-year lectionary a little more than six times and have enjoyed it.  Since biblical illiteracy continues to rise in our age, I am always thinking about how we can be more effective in engaging people with God’s Word.  Consequently, I have become convinced that the Historic Lectionary is needed by our churches more today than ever.  Since the biblical readings in the Historic Lectionary repeat every year, worshippers are afforded the opportunity to get to know selected passages of Scripture a little better than they do when those passages are read only every three years.  Additionally, as the Historic Lectionary only spans one year, those who have participated in its development needed to be very selective in the passages that are included.  It would be inappropriate for me to say that the Historic Lectionary reenforces each year the “greatest hits” of the Bible, but this understanding is not far off.  Having our congregation become much more familiar with a select core of foundational passages of Scripture is very appealing to me.  For these reasons, we are again drawing our lessons from the Historic Lectionary. 

Additionally, we will be drawing our readings from the Evangelical Heritage Version of the Bible.  This translation, which has been released in installments since at least 2015 [that’s when I read Matthew in the EHV], has now been released in its entirety - as of August 2019.  This Bible has been translated by scholars from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) and published by Northwestern (the publishing house of the WELS).  This translation does an amazing job of maintaining the balance between translating what the original languages said in a word-by-word fashion while presenting an English text that is highly readable and very accessible to English-readers in the 21st Century.  This has been my main study text for a couple of years (except when studying the Old Testament, which has only been available for about six weeks).  I pray that these adjustments to our worship will assist you in truly encountering God through His Word in the Divine Service.  Of course, it is not our planning but the work of the Holy Spirit which enlivens the minds and hearts of God’s people.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Faith Formation at St. John's School


Image result for faith children

We have just completed week 4 at our new school!  Things are going very well and we are very grateful to the Lord for His many blessings.  In addition to maintaining high academic standards and behavioral expectations, we are also very intentional in providing faith formation to our scholars. 

On Thursday mornings, I offer a chapel service for our Kindergarten class at 8:15.  This allows me to teach Scripture and hymnody at their level and in a way that doesn't require them to be readers yet.  While we study the same passage as what the older scholars encounter in the second chapel service, it is presented in a way that better connects with young learners.  We are currently working on the hymn "Jesus Loves Me" during this chapel.

Following the chapel service for the Kindergarten scholars, I offer a chapel service at 9:00 am for our scholars in the upper grades.  As these scholars are readers and a bit more mature in their thinking, we are able to dig deeper into our study of the Bible.  This group is currently learning the hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

Our first chapel service began with the question "Who is Jesus?" and was based on the biographies of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  It was crucial to introduce all students to their Savior and the Gospel during the first week.  This was followed by our current study of Genesis.  From now until Advent, we will be examining some of the most important narratives of the Old Testament; and then we will switch to the New Testament as we prepare to receive our Lord Jesus at Christmas.  So far in our study of the Old Testament, we have covered Creation, Adam & Eve, the Fall into Sin, and this week we will turn our attention to Noah and the Flood. 

Our teachers offer a Bible lesson to their students each day.  These 30-minute lessons are drawn from the "One in Christ" curriculum of Concordia Publishing House.  Additionally, three times per week - during our morning assembly - students study the Bible's message for them regarding morals, attitudes, and behavior through LUMIN Schools' character-building program.  Our scholars are growing and developing in many ways, and your prayers are very important!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Message - "God Pursues Those Who are Lost" (Luke 15:1-10)

To listen to the message, please click here.


Our Confirmation Ministry with Messiah

On Monday evening, Messiah and St. John’s resumed our Catechism program for another year.  We meet on the second and fourth Mondays of every month from 6:00 to 7:30 pm.  We rotate between our two church locations on a monthly basis.  This year, we are in “year 2” of the program.  We offer three years of instruction to our students before they are confirmed.  One of these years covers the Old and New Testaments and the other two cover Luther’s Small Catechism.  In order for you to have a sense of what our students are studying, I want to share with you our program outline.


*All students will complete each of the three years, but the order will vary depending on what year they begin the program. 


Year One (2021/2022)
Old and New Testaments
Scriptures to memorize:  Romans 3:28, Romans 4:5, John 3:16, Job 19:25, Psalm 23

Year Two (2019/2020)
The Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer
Scriptures to memorize:  1 John 1:8-9, Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 24:47, John 10:10, Ezekiel 18:23

Year Three (2020/2021)
Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Lord’s Supper
Scriptures to memorize:  1 Corinthians 11:26, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Luke 19:10, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Galatians 5:22-23

Saturday, September 7, 2019

SJ School Has Many Supporters

This week has seen the enrollment of 5 new students here at St. John’s!  Our current number of students is 33 - with additional inquiries being made almost daily. 

While our new school is a partnership between St. John’s Church and LUMIN Schools, we have been blessed by so many other entities.

In addition to thanking our members and LUMIN for their countless hours of preparation and generosity, we also want to thank our many other supporters for their kindness and continued partnership.  I apologize in advance that this list is not as comprehensive as I would like.  An unbelievable number of individuals and groups helped us in a myriad of ways over the past two years and it is difficult to enumerate every blessing that was extended to us, as we are limited by space and the unfortunate gaps in my memory.

1. The South Wisconsin District-LCMS provided two very generous mission grants totaling $16,000.00 to assist us in promoting the new school in the community.  Additionally, we cherish the ongoing relationship that we have as a school of the South Wisconsin District.

2. Our sister congregations of Messiah and Trinity (as well as other congregations throughout our District) have prayed faithfully for this mission and assisted us in so many ways to let people know about the school

3. The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League of Messiah Church has adopted the SJ school as a mission partner whom they will support on an ongoing basis.  Just this week, they provided nearly $500 worth of back-to-school supplies to us.  This was a joint effort between their LWML society, the congregation of Messiah, and Thrivent Financial.

4. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church & School in Janesville has designated St. John’s School as the mission recipient for all of their chapel offerings during the month of October.  I will lead chapel at St. Paul’s School on October 9 and Pastor Decker will lead chapel here at our school on October 17.

5. A group of our sisters and brothers in the Rockford area of the Northern Illinois District-LCMS spent a full Saturday here at the school cleaning out the basement, classrooms, gym, kitchen, and all tables & chairs.  The event was sponsored by a Thrivent Action Team.

6. The Playmonster Toy and Game Company provided gift baskets for our Children’s Christmas Party and Winter Carnival.  Thrivent also sponsored these events with Action Teams.

7. Hillary Gavan of the Beloit Daily News presented numerous news stories on the development and launching of the school.

8. The Boys & Girls Club, YWCA, Hendricks Family Foundation, Beloit 200 Club, Kiwanis, NAACP, Latino Service Providers’ Coalition, Youth 2 Youth 4 Change, numerous churches throughout the city, and many other groups helped us to get the word out.

9. The Beloit Snappers (MiLB) hosted their “Meet the Team” event in April here at St. John’s.  This was a huge boost to our visibility.

10. The United Way of Rock County has selected our school as a worksite for their Day of Caring Event to be held on September 18th.  Thrivent is providing support through their Action Teams program in order for us to purchase needed supplies.

11. Numerous stores, restaurants, laundromats, daycare centers, youth centers, and other businesses & organizations allowed us to post flyers inviting the community to attend events and enroll in the school.

2. The City of Beloit has worked very hard to assist us in filing all necessary paperwork and guiding our safety upgrades.  Tim Scheid of Lemberg Electric (and a LUMIN board member) contributed his expertise and countless hours of construction and repairs.

13. The School District of Beloit and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction have both been very kind and accommodating to us as we sought necessary approvals and clearances throughout the year.

While this list is in no way complete in identifying all of the groups and individuals who assisted us in launching our new school, I hope that it conveys just how much we have been blessed by the service and kindness of others.  While our congregation and school network labored very hard to make this new school a reality, we could never have done it without the blessings of the Church and community.  When we examine their gifts, we see so clearly how God provides through the service and vocations of others.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Youth Sunday at St. John's - August 25th

Next Sunday (August 25) will be a "youth Sunday" for us.  In addition to a presentation by the youth who attended the LCMS National Youth Gathering trip, we will be introducing the faculty and staff of the new school to you.  We will offer special prayers and a blessing upon them. 

And that's not all . . . .

During worship, we will also be inviting all of our children and young people to come forward to God’s Holy altar in order to receive a blessing, as they prepare to begin another year of school.  Part of our work in nurturing our children’s faith development is to invite them to receive the gifts that God delights in giving them through the Church’s ministry.  While God will certainly be present for these young people through His Holy Spirit – apart from our prayers and blessing – this special blessing offered at the altar shows the presence of the gifts of God to them in a very personal way.  As we prepare for this very important annual observance in the life of our congregation, I invite you to be in prayer for our young people – and for all students who will again enter our nation’s schools.  It is also an important time to pray for teachers, administrators, and all support staff.  Redeemed by Jesus’ blood, and freed from our sins, we are free to be concerned for others and to carry before our loving Father the needs of the world.  Please take time on this special Sunday – and each Sunday - to tell our students individually that you will be praying for them.  You may be surprised by how important your support is to them.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

LCMS National Youth Gathering

A couple of weeks ago, three of our youth and I attended the LCMS National Youth Gathering in Minneapolis.  I have been leading youth trips since my vicarage in 2000, and I can tell you that I have never seen a more beneficial event for young people.  The worship was inspiring, the Bible studies and messages were engaging, the fellowship opportunities were amazing, and the number of ministries and topics that the participants could explore was incredible.  This was an event designed to help youth grow in their faith in Jesus Christ and come to better know his love for them.  Our group, which included members from Messiah and Christ Our Savior, was totally engaged in every part of the gathering.  It was delightful to see them respond to what they were hearing, seeing, and experiencing.  I was also very impressed with their responses to what they were experiencing, as each day afforded us the opportunity to discuss with them what they were thinking and feeling.  On Sunday, August 25, during worship, our youth will present to the congregation a brief presentation on their experiences.

The next LCMS National Youth Gathering will be held during the summer of 2021 in Houston, Texas.  I am going to work very hard to make sure that St. John’s is able to send a group there.  Thank you all for your support of our group who attended this year!

Message - "Always Striving but Never Arriving" (Luke 12:13–21)

To listen to the message, please click here.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Church Safety

While we cannot prevent every problem which may arise at St. John’s, we do have a responsibility to take every precaution available to ensure the safety of our members and guests when they are with us.  To that end, the ushers and I have held two meetings to consider how we may secure our facility during worship.  Among the important insights that we have learned from our conversations with Jim Reseburg and Jeff Vander Kooi is that we really need to lock our church doors while our worship services are in progress.  There are many steps that we can take in our efforts to enhance our safety practices and locking the doors during worship is Job 1.  Beginning this Sunday morning, we will be locking the exterior door facing the corner of Bluff and Merrill at 9:00 am.  Following the announcements, an usher will lock the door at the top of the ramp facing toward the flagpole.  An usher will be stationed in the narthex where he can see the door at the top of the ramp.  If you arrive after the worship announcements, please come to the door at the top of the ramp and the usher will be delighted to open the door for you and welcome you to worship.

Whenever we make a change, it is important for us to anticipate possible difficulties that need to be resolved and objections that may arise.  Perhaps you are thinking “securing the building is well and good, but what about visitors who arrive late?”  This scenario doesn’t really happen.  When one plans to visit a new church, they go to the congregation’s website in order to identify the worship times.  They typically plan to arrive 15 minutes before the start of service - not too early and certainly not late.

Additionally, since our midweek Advent and Lenten services often dismiss after dark, the Elders and I will put a plan in place to ensure that some of us are present outside of the building and in the parking lot on Bluff Street following these services.  In the interest of safety, we will be asking worshippers to park in the large lot on Bluff rather than the small lot on Merrill.

Perhaps you have additional ideas for how we can enhance the safety of our life together.  Please share your ideas with me or one of our Elders.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Launching of Our New School!

 After almost two years of meetings, negotiations, information sessions, and door-to-door conversations - we are now ready to launch our new school!  Even as I watch the construction work happening in our building, it is still difficult for me to believe that this is actually happening.  God has been so gracious to us!  When I began my service with you four years ago, I had no idea that the Lord would be giving us the opportunity to serve children through neighborhood outreach and then send us a school.  We should celebrate the amazing things that our God does among us and in our world.  When our prayers are far too realistic and our expectations low, it is because we fail to understand the immense power of God and His goodness.

On Monday, August 26, our new school will open its doors to our first group of scholars.  I am excited for the opportunity to lead chapel services and connect with the children and their families.  The school day will run from 8:00 am through 3:30 pm each day.  During this first year, we will operate three classrooms of combined grades - 4k/5k, 1st/2nd, and 3rd/4th.  As enrollment increases the following year, we will be ready to move to individual grade classrooms.  Faculty have been hired, the office administrator is in place, and other support staff will be brought onboard very soon. 

The most important role for us right now is to be in earnest prayer for the school, the principal, the faculty, the staff, and most importantly the students.  God, in His mercy, has chosen to bless children in our community through us.  It is a blessing to be a blessing!



Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Symbols in Worship

Part of the beauty of Christian worship is the rich symbolism that accompanies it.  As we receive the Lord’s Supper, we kneel before the crucifix pointing us to Christ’s sacrificial death upon the Cross through which we receive the grace that it provides.  Upon the altar are illumined two large candles which remind us that Christ Jesus is bodily present in this holy Sacrament.  The elders assisting with communion, the acolytes, and I all wear vestments of white (alb or surplice) symbolizing the righteousness of Christ that clothes all the baptized and demonstrating our reverence for the Holy God in Whose presence we come into when we gather for worship.  While some symbols have an impact without much need for explanation, others require it.  This is why our funeral bulletins contain articles explaining the funeral pall that we use to cover the casket of our loved-one and also the Paschal candle that we only light during the Easter season, baptisms, and funerals.  I want to share these articles with you.

Covering [Name’s] casket is the congregation’s funeral pall.  This garment of white serves to remind us that in her baptism, [Name] was clothed with Christ – in that she came to be covered by Christ Jesus, and had Jesus’ sinless and everlasting life spread over her like a garment.  In Galatians, chapter 3, St. Paul writes, “. . . for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  (Galatians 3:26-27).  [Name’s] sins were washed away by Christ’s shed blood – as Christ Jesus died in [Name’s] place and answered for her sins upon the Cross.  As we see [Name’s] casket clothed in the funeral pall this day, let us be assured that she now stands in the presence of God with all the saints who have trusted in Christ Jesus as their Savior – for St. John has written:  “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).

Placed at the foot of [Name’s] casket is the Paschal Candle.  The word “paschal” is based on the Hebrew word for “Passover.”  The Paschal Candle is lighted for the first time on Easter, and remains illumined throughout the first forty days of the Easter season.  Following the reading of the Gospel lesson on Ascension Thursday, an acolyte extinguishes the candle – and it is only lighted again during baptisms and funerals.  It is illumined on those days, as a pledge that because Christ lives – the person who is here baptized and the person (now deceased) who has been baptized is given the gift of eternal life that conquers even death.  The Jewish festival of Passover, as described in the Old Testament, was a sign pointing to Jesus’ death and Resurrection, in that through his sacrificial death our sins have been paid for and eternal death will pass us over.  As we look upon this illumined candle standing before [Name’s] casket, may we boldly confess with the Church in every age that in Christ Jesus (and for his sake) death has not had the final word for [Name] – but God has, and that word is eternal life in His unending presence.

The Church is careful to preserve the rich symbolism of Christian worship as they not only reinforce what is taught in God’s Word, but also participate in its communication.  Educational psychology researchers have discovered in recent decades that people have different learning styles and that it is important for teachers to teach to all learning styles - visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic - in order to engage every student in the instruction.  While not being aware of the terminology, the Church has always done her part to connect with a variety of learning styles.  God has made us as whole people - soul, mind, and body - and Christian worship is designed to engage all three with grace and renewal.

Friday, July 5, 2019

We are attending the LCMS National Youth Gathering . . . .

In order to give you some information about the National Youth Gathering that we will be attending this week, I visited again the NYG web site.  At the top of the page is a digital counter that reminded me that there are only 6 days, 1 hour, 42 minutes, and 44 seconds remaining until the Gathering begins.  Our attendance at this event is in cooperation with other area churches.  I will be attending with three of our youth, Messiah will be sending a youth member and an adult leader, and Christ Our Savior will be sending a youth member and two adult leaders (one of whom is the primary leader of our group).  Additionally, a member of Trinity will be at the event as a young adult volunteer.  We will leave Roscoe at 9:30 am on Wednesday and return home on the following Monday evening.  This event is described in the following way “During the five days of the Gathering, youth spend time together in God’s word, worship, service, and fellowship with others from across the synod. This event is organized by LCMS Youth Ministry in Saint Louis, MO.”  (https://www.lcmsgathering.com). 

I am requesting your prayers for us and for the Gathering in general.  While we will certainly appreciate prayers for safe travel and other daily mercies, I want to especially invite you to pray for the spiritual growth of the young people who attend.  Our time in Minneapolis is an intentional time of engaging youth with our God and one another.  Please pray that the Holy Spirit works mightily within the hearts and minds of all participants.  It is always appropriate for us to pray for our needs in this daily life, but it is even more important to be praying for the development and growth to spiritual maturity of those we care about.  My prayer is that all attendees will grow in their relationship with Christ and the awareness of his presence with them throughout their days.  Faith in Christ Jesus is the most precious and only everlasting gift that we have been given in this life and we pray that it will thrive and flourish in the hearts and minds of those young people within our influence.

I am very grateful to all of you for your generous support of our attendance at this event.  You are very faithful in showing your love and support for our children and youth.  I thank God for the faith that He has given you and the Spirit’s gifts that I see by the fruit of your discipleship.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Come in, We are Closed

You may or may not be aware that the practice of closed communion is one of the primary reasons why I applied for admission to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, as it is the only responsible way to administer the Lord’s Supper. 

The Bible teaches us that we are not to come to the Lord’s Table as a body in which sharp divisions exist:  “16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”  (1 Cor. 10:16-17).  It is not wrong to consider members of other Christian denominations as our brothers and sisters, but it is inexcusable to approach the Lord’s Table together with them declaring that we are one body even as sharp contradictions exist between what we each teach.  This is to present a falsehood and it is an affront to the Lord Who calls us to unity as we receive this Sacrament. 

Additionally, the Bible teaches us that those who receive the Lord’s Supper into their mouths but do not believe it is the Lord’s true body and true blood bring upon themselves the Lord’s judgment for their unbelief:  “27Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”  (1 Cor. 11:27-30).  Unfortunately, in recent years, these biblical truths have become unpopular and we are accused of being inhospitable.  What could be more inhospitable than to choose not to protect those who worship with us from the Lord’s judgment?  To that end, our answer is not “no” but “not yet.”  I am always available to prepare inquirers to share in our confession of faith and thus also in the Lord’s Supper with us.

I listened to an audiobook recently which presents the true biblical doctrine of closed communion in a clear and winsome fashion.  It is called Come in, We are Closed and is written by Tyrel Bramwell, one of our pastors.  It is a novel in which a young man is in a coffee shop on a winter’s evening and becomes acquainted with an elderly Lutheran pastor.  The two end up sharing a booth, consuming an insane amount of coffee, and discussing openly and thoughtfully why the Church practices closed communion.  The publisher describes it in the following terms:  “Many evangelicals are unfamiliar with it, don’t understand it, and are often offended when they encounter it, but when it comes to the Lord’s Supper the Scriptures clearly teach that Holy Communion is not for anybody and everybody.  In this short work of fiction Rev. Tyrel Bramwell recalls the questions he had when he first encountered closed Communion as a young evangelical and the conversations he has had as a pastor, in order to dispel false assumptions and provide the Biblical answers to real misunderstandings.”

This is a great book for everyone to read in order to explain clearly and compassionately why the Lord’s Supper is administered among us in the way that it is.  It is available in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audiobook.  You can locate it by following the links below.

Paperback
eBook
Audiobook  

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Visit from Our Missionary . . . .

It has been two years since Pastor Micah Wildauer and his family visited us on a weekday evening in 2017.  They are back stateside for a short visit and would like to see us again!

Please plan to join us on Monday, June 17, at 1 pm in the Fellowship Hall for a time of conversation.  We have planned a more informal conversation in the Fellowship Hall this time, rather than a formal presentation, in order to give you the opportunity to get to know him better and ask questions.

Even if you cannot be with us on Monday, please continue to pray for the Wildauers, as they continue their ministry in Togo.  God is using Pastor Wildauer and his family mightily to equip men in that region for Word and Sacrament ministry among God's people whom they will serve.  Although we announce their birthdays and anniversary in our newsletter calendar throughout the year, I want to share them here for you to place on your own calendar.  As you know from my pastoral practice here, praying for one another on special days is part and parcel of how we live together as Church.

Micah – April 27
Robin – Aug. 22
Samuel – Aug. 31
Elizabeth – Nov. 15
David – Oct. 13
Lydia – May 11

Wedding Anniversary: June 28

Friday, June 7, 2019

Studying Matthew's Gospel . . . .

The Bible passages that we read during Sunday morning worship here at St. John’s are taken from a
readings calendar in our servicebook. The schedule that we follow is the 3-year lectionary of the
Lutheran Service Book. Each of the three year’s reading schedules is organized around one of the first
three Gospels (or biographies of Jesus) - Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This is because the first three
Gospels are similar to one another in what they cover, while John’s Gospel is much more unique in
what he covers. For this reason, a fourth year of readings in which the gospel lessons are drawn almost exclusively from John would not work as it would lack a lot of the content that Matthew, Mark, and Luke cover. Additionally, without readings from John each year, the other three years would have a lot of gaps. Consequently, each year our Gospel lessons switch back and forth between Matthew, Mark, and Luke and include a number of readings from John for every year.

Beginning on Sunday, December 1st, our weekly Gospel lessons will switch from Luke to Matthew. In order to help our members and friends get the most out of our services in the coming year, our
Wednesday afternoon Bible class will study one chapter of Matthew’s biography of Jesus each week.
Our first session will begin this Wednesday - June 12 - at 5:30 pm. We hope that you will plan to
come and bring a friend.

Our summer schedule is as follows . . .

June 12 - Matthew 1
June 19 - Matthew 2
July 3 - Matthew 3
July 17 - Matthew 4
July 24 - Matthew 5
July 31 - Matthew 6
Aug 7 - Matthew 7
Aug 21 - Matthew 8
Aug 28 - Matthew 9
Sept 4 - Matthew 10
Sept 11 - Matthew 11
Sept 18 - Matthew 12

"Killing Children Instead of Saving Them," by James Emery White

A very thoughtful post about a heart-wrenching story . . . . Please click here.






Friday, May 31, 2019

Keeping Our Congregation Safe During Worship

Every congregation has a responsibility to keep her members and visitors safe when attending church events.  While this has always been the case, the need for addressing safety issues may be more critical to us in today’s world than in previous generations.  Jeff Vander Kooi had the opportunity this past winter to attend a training seminar on church safety in Texas with Pastor Burakowski (in his role as mission executive of the District).  Jeff shared many of the insights he learned in Texas with our Board of Elders.  We then discussed how we may make St. John’s more secure, particularly when we are gathered in worship.  Following this discussion, I began planning a meeting for our ushers - who play an essential role in caring for God’s people during worship.

Additionally, Jim Reseburg of Trinity Church has volunteered to attend our usher meeting here at St. John’s.  During a recent conversation among pastors and lay leaders of our circuit, Jim offered his services to our congregations.  Following the conversation event, I asked him if he could send me some helpful tips that I could share with our ushers at an upcoming usher’s meeting.  Instead of sending me some tips, he offered to attend the meeting with us and to walk us through some best practices in church safety.  Jim serves as the CEO of Emergency Planning Solutions (EPS).  “EPS is an emergency management consulting firm specializing in institutions of higher education, K-12, business, government, and healthcare. In business since 2008, EPS has provided service to over 300 colleges and universities, school systems, local municipalities, national professional organizations, and FEMA” (http://www.epsamerica.com).  We will be meeting with Jim here in the sanctuary of St. John’s on Tuesday, June 18 at 6:30 pm.  We not only invite our ushers to attend but anyone who is interested in learning more about church safety.

Like any other important topic, church safety is not accomplished by a single “one and done” discussion.  Following our meeting on June 18, we will schedule another meeting to hear the insights that Jeff Vander Kooi has gained and to consider policies which may assist us in preserving St. John’s as a safe place in which to worship, learn, and fellowship.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Social media is great for sharing the Gospel . . . .

On Sunday, as we drove home from church, my daughter Katrina, who handles our livestream on Facebook, told me that 56 people tuned into our livestream during worship.  To my surprise, 169 people had viewed our service by 4 pm.  My first response was “how is that even possible?” and my second response was “how do we leverage this so that more people can hear the precious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?”  An answer to the latter is for us to invite our members to share our social media posts on their pages.  When we post something on our Facebook page, only those who have “liked” our page will see our post.  However, when our members share these posts - everyone who follows them (their friends) will then see our posts.  Too frequently in the church, we work toward addition when we should be working for multiplication.  In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus calls for disciples to make disciples - which is multiplication.  When pastors alone make disciples it is mere addition.  I invite you to check out our various social media links and share any and all of our posts.  I want to give a shout-out to David Koebernick who produces the weekly podcast of my messages and has worked very hard to get us on Buzzsprout, Spotify, iTunes, and Google Podcasts.  Additionally, you can find us on SoundCloud and Podbean.

Please check out our links below.

Facebook  
YouTube
Buzzsprout
Spotify
iTunes
Google Podcasts
SoundCloud
Podbean 
Roser Blog 
Roser Facebook
Roser Twitter 
Roser Instagram
Roser LinkedIn 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Armed Forces Sunday

Tomorrow morning, our congregation is participating in the LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces' observance of "Armed Forces Sunday."  Since this ministry may be unfamiliar to many, I want to share with you a wonderful article by Deaconess Pamela Nielsen.

"In bunkers and fighter jets, on battleships and bases, in field hospitals and training camps, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces stand at the ready in service to our country.  With them are the 160 active and Reserve LCMS Armed Forces Chaplains stationed around the world. These pastors proclaim the Word of life, in environments often shrouded in death.  Their flocks frequently come and go, providing scant opportunity for longterm ministry. Their work takes place in some of the most difficult situations any pastor could ever face, where lives can be unraveled in an instant.  Upholding these faithful servants is the Ministry to the Armed Forces (MAF), the LCMS effort to care for and support military chaplains and, through them, our LCMS members and their families in uniform.  The MAF exists to recruit, prepare, endorse and support LCMS chaplains in their service to God and country.  Authorized by the Synod and registered with the Department of  Defense, Chaplain Craig Muehler is the endorsing agent for LCMS military chaplains. There is a “lifelong marriage” between his office and the LCMS chaplains that includes ongoing contact and an annual visit with each chaplain. Through these visits and regular reports by phone and email, MAF helps the chaplains to stay connected with their church.  Each year, MAF gathers the chaplains at one of two training seminars, providing a rich opportunity for Lutheran worship, fellowship and study with LCMS seminary professors. Training and conversation is focused on the unique challenges of military chaplaincy.  Operation Barnabas, an extension of MAF, provides a network of care through trained congregations that want to reach out to members of the military, their families and the veterans in their congregations and communities.  Operation Barnabas has worked with dozens of congregations, but we realize hundreds more congregations also are caring for military families.  We ask you to contact us, so we can recognize your work and encourage you as you serve military families.  America’s sons and daughters are in harm’s way in faraway lands, and our chaplains go with them. Their families wait in our communities, where the people of God support and care for them in our life together."

As fellow members of the LCMS, you and I share in this important ministry to the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.  As these individuals place themselves daily in harm's way in order to protect us and our freedoms, it is a privilege for our Church to minister to their spiritual needs.  Please pray for this ministry frequently, as you remember all of our service members in your prayers.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Our Church Family














This week, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our Women’s Guild.  Even before I had a chance to ask our ladies to help our youth group fund our trip to the National Youth Gathering this summer, they decided to donate the proceeds of Tuesday’s Scoopie Night to the Youth Group.  Given my long track record of asking them to help fund various projects in the congregation, I am sure that they were expecting my request anyway.  All kidding aside, I really want to thank them for their kindness and generosity.  We were also blessed by the many people who came into dine and pick up food at Culver’s on Tuesday.  A special word of thanks is offered to two buses of student-athletes from the Clinton High School.  The turn-out was so wonderful for this event that Culver’s will be donating in excess of $1,600.00 to our Women’s Guild.  Due to the generosity of many members and our previous fundraisers, only $935.92 of our bill remains for the gathering.  We will still need to purchase matching T-shirts for each day of the gathering from our Stateline Youth Group and some other necessary expenditures, but our remaining costs should not exceed $1,150.00 (the $935.92 gathering bill is included).  I say “remaining costs” because we have already paid for our bus fare and registration fees.  This is a great burden lifted from me as I have not had enough available time to lead us in the fundraising events that I would have liked.  I cherish everyone’s support and generosity!

Have I ever called, texted, or messaged you on your birthday or anniversary?  If the answer is no, then this means that we do not have your birthday and anniversary dates in our membership program.  Please let me know, as it means a lot to me to pray for our members and connect with them in some way on these special occasions.  The Lord has blessed us with a wonderful church family and I want very much to nurture it in every way possible.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Because God is faithful we can be faithful.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I thank God for your commitment to our Lord and to His Church.  On Easter Sunday, there were 124 persons in worship with us.  This is the highest attendance that we have seen since I joined you in July 2015.  What makes this number so significant is that we only have 119 members and nearly 20 of them are homebound.  We saw the same level of commitment throughout our midweek Lenten series and also during Holy Week.  For a congregation to have an average Sunday worship attendance of 72 and to post worship numbers in the high 30’s for midweek services - this is very significant.

God has been very gracious to us over the last few years in terms of modest membership growth and tremendous faithfulness.  Because of numerous deaths a couple of years ago, we are not any larger than we were previously, but our congregation trends significantly younger.  Growth is measured in many ways - not only numerically.  In fact, the spiritual growth of a congregation is always my greatest concern.  Our members are not only faithful in their worship attendance, but also in participating in the various Bible studies that we offer.  I love to hear from our homebound members that various members from the congregation have stopped in to visit them.  I also value our members’ service to the Beloit community.  St. John’s is well-represented in the various volunteer opportunities in Beloit.

When our Board of Finance drafted our 2019 budget, I was anticipating our running a deficit from January through June, but this is May and our finances (although limited) are still in the “positive.”  How did this happen? - many of our members have grown in their giving this year.  Additionally, our members are particularly faithful in making up for lost offerings when they haven’t been able to attend worship.  I am humbled by your generosity.

As I look forward to all of the good things that will come as we launch our new school, I do not take for granted the good things that God is doing among us right now.  I encourage you in your prayers this week to please give thanks to God for all of the blessings that He has granted to our congregation.

In Christ Jesus,
Pastor     

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Inviting and Welcoming Visitors


















On Wednesday, May 1, beginning at 5:30 pm in the Sanctuary, we will begin our Everyone His Witness workshops.  There is still space available, so please join us!  This everyday evangelism program was developed to equip church members to live out their calling as witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we prepare to begin our series, I want to share just two thoughts with you - one regarding inviting and one regarding the welcoming of visitors.

For congregation members, walking through the front door of the church is one of the easiest things that we do all week, but for visitors, it is very intimidating.  When you invite your friends and family to join you for worship, please consider offering to pick them up or to meet them outside of the church.  Visitors feel a lot more confident walking into the church with people they know than by themselves.  It makes a huge difference to our guests when we offer to pick them up.

Of course, many visitors do indeed walk through our doors by themselves.  However, this doesn’t mean that they have to sit by themselves.  A wonderful way to welcome visitors is to introduce ourselves and to invite them to sit with us.  Additionally, please ask an usher to give you a copy of the visitors’ worship booklet.  This packet contains the whole service in one place so that they do not need to master the servicebook in their first outing.

Perhaps you have thought of some other ideas which will assist us in inviting and welcoming visitors to St. John’s.  Please share your ideas with me in person or send me an email.  Reaching others with the saving message of Christ Jesus is the common work in which we all have an important part to play.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Resurrection Joy . . . .

My grandfather died when I was nine.  I still remember a daydream from that time which persisted for a number of weeks.  As we would be driving in the car to my grandmother’s house, I would imagine that when we arrived my grandfather would be there.  Of course, I knew this wouldn’t happen, but there was a part of me that desperately wanted this to be true.  Perhaps you have had similar experiences in your times of grief.  Grieving the death of a loved one is painful and we want so badly to wake up and discover that it was all just a bad dream.

As we approach the passages which narrate the events of the first Easter, I believe that it is helpful for us to imagine the grief felt by Jesus’ family and friends after his death.  If we are to appreciate the full impact of their wonder and joy at his Resurrection, we need to remember how much they must have been hurting prior to discovering the tomb empty.  As I read these narratives, I imagine the women with pained expressions, darkened hearts, and low voices as they make their way to the tomb.  Our Easter gospel this year outlines the following:  “1But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’”  (Luke 24:1-7).  The women received a message from the angels which changed everything - “he is not here, but has risen.”  We see the compassion of the angels as they remind the ladies that Jesus had told them to expect these things.  In verse 8, we read that they remembered Jesus’ words and went to announce it to the disciples and the rest of Jesus’ friends.  The women and the disciples who beheld the risen Jesus that day got to experience what so many of us have longed for in our grieving - to have our loved one given back to us!  When cast in this light, it is perhaps easier to understand their joy and amazement.  Our yearly celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus is an important reminder to us that death does not win in the end.  We continue our journey through the valley of the shadow of death, knowing that the day will come when we will again see those in Jesus whom we love.  Our Easter celebrations are an appetizer before the heavenly banquet that will come when Christ Jesus obliterates death and ushers in the fulfillment of eternal life.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Religion is for the Weak.


















We sometimes hear people say “religion is for the weak.”  I whole-heartedly agree.  I do not possess in myself the strength or resources to provide for myself, heal myself, or comfort myself but my heavenly Father does all of these things for me.  His love shown to me is so powerful that I am not embarrassed to tell you that I am completely dependent on Him for everything.  Since our culture values strength, personal achievement, and independence above all else it is often difficult for people to admit that they need anyone else beyond themselves.  How many times have you seen others suffer unnecessarily because their pride prevented them from accepting another’s assistance?  It wasn’t strength that you observed - but stubborn pride.  When people claim not to need God and His precious gifts they are presenting a similar facade.  As long as we remain convinced that we are doing a pretty good job of being god in our life we will not turn toward the true God Who loves us.  It is only after the Holy Spirit, speaking through God’s Word, shows us our utter helplessness that we begin to find our trust in Him.  In our weakness, we find God Who is the true source of strength.  The Apostle Paul describes this well in 2 Corinthians:  “8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”  (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

We find our strength in Christ through the realization of our weakness because this is how God displays His power - under weakness.  Paul explained this in his first letter to the Corinthians: “26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).  Nowhere is this shown more fully than Jesus’ death upon the Cross.  Stripped of his clothing, bleeding, and spit-upon, Jesus defeats the powers of sin, death, and the devil in giving up his life as a substitute for the eternal death that we deserve.  It is difficult to imagine a more vulnerable and humiliating circumstance than our Lord upon the Cross - and there we see the supreme display of God’s power.  Lest anyone doubt this - the Father raised him in victory on that first Easter.  Jesus’ Resurrection confirms that he is who he said he is and has accomplished for us what he said he would.

Perhaps our consideration of these truths may reshape how we think about our weaknesses.  Do we deny or hide our weaknesses?  Do we try to act like we have it all together when nothing could be further from the truth?  I encourage you to look upon God’s power saving you for eternity through the dying Jesus upon the Cross and to reconsider your weaknesses and sufferings.  Instead of denying them let us acknowledge them before the Lord Who comforts and cares for the weak - because that is who we are - every single one of us.  How freeing it is to lay all of our frailties and failings before the God Who cares for us and to receive His words of forgiveness, compassion, and strength.  Jesus says “28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”  (Matthew 11:28-30).

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Message - "The Extravagant Love of God" (Jonah 3:6-10)

To listen to the message, please click here.


Every One His Witness Evangelism Program


















Before ascending to the right hand of the Father, Jesus gave to his disciples the Great Commission:  19“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  By its very nature, this command is a perpetual ordinance in the life of the Church - disciples are called to make disciples who will then make disciples.  The Holy Spirit has used this multiplication of disciples to spread saving faith in Christ Jesus to people all over the globe for over 20 centuries.  During the last few centuries, the majority of people living in Europe and North America were baptized as children and raised in a Christian congregation.  Consequently, the Church’s evangelism skills grew dull, with outreach typically consisting of inviting back people who had drifted away from the Church.

Today, surveys in the US indicate that 21% of our neighbors have no religious affiliation - with many of them having no previous experience with Christian worship.  People need Jesus, who died in their place and answered for their sins if they are to be saved for eternity and enjoy the fruit of the Christian life in this age.  However, as I am sure you have noticed, people are not seeking him out in significant numbers.  This may feel like a new problem for the Church, but it’s actually an old problem that is resurging.  In many respects, we are entering a day and age, not unlike the one inhabited by the disciples.  This is the reason that the Great Commission declares “go, therefore . . . .”  This has always been the mandate, but during those years when people were flocking to congregations, we became lazy about going out to seek the lost.  The Church has awakened from her slumber, but we are often ill-equipped to reach out to our neighbors because we haven’t been doing it to any large extent.  The Church who is entrusted with teaching the Great Commission is also responsible for equipping her members to be the witnesses whom God has called them to be in their baptisms.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has developed a wonderful program for helping Christians to speak with others about their faith in Christ Jesus.  It is called “Every One His Witness” and teaches people how to speak confidently about their faith right in the context of their daily lives.  This past December, a number of our members and I attended a one-day workshop on the program, presented by Pastor Burakowski.  I was really impressed by how accessible and engaging the material is.  In order to make this material available to more of our members, the Board of Membership and Evangelism are going to present the workshop over the course of six weeks - beginning on May 1st.  The classes will be held in the sanctuary during our normal Bible class time of 5:30 pm on Wednesdays. 

The classes are as follows: 
May 1 - “Witnessing: What it's All About”
May 8 - “You are a Witness: What Does this Mean?"
May 15 - “Vocation and Witnessing”
May 22 - “Listen and Ask”
May 29 - “Seek and Share”
June 5 - “Invite and Encourage” 

The congregation will provide the guidebook free-of-charge to those who attend and so we need to order them ahead of time.  If you are interested in attending these workshops, please sign up on the sheet in the narthex.  We hope that you will join us!