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!