They are long-time friends of my parents and life-long members of WELS. Kinder and more Christ-centered folks you will be hard-pressed to find. Both in their late sixties, they have been active in worship, Bible study, and service in their congregation for decades. At a family and friends get-together four years ago, I told them I had recently accepted the call to serve as the director for the Commission on Evangelism. They were curious what that meant. I explained that my Commission and I would be working to help WELS congregations and members reach the lost. Their reactions were identical. Each said that they would love to share their faith with other people. But they didn’t know how to do it.
It struck me like a bolt of lightning. Here were life-long, faithful members of our church body who honestly felt that they had no idea how to personally witness. How could this be? Yet it was. And it is. Over the past four years I have had the opportunity to listen to hundreds of WELS members share their thoughts about spreading the gospel, and it is clear that my folks’ friends are not alone. Our people are passionate about the spread of the gospel. They want lost souls saved. But they feel inadequate to the task.
With God’s blessing, the Commission on Evangelism wants to help change this. One way we hope to help is by providing Bible studies that both encourage and equip God’s people to be his ambassadors. Currently, three are available. Here is a bit about each and some thoughts on how they might be used.
In his second letter to Timothy, St. Paul wrote, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season” (4:2). Although originally written as an encouragement to a first-century pastor, Paul’s words are equally applicable to twenty-first century Christians. We have the same message to share with sinners who desperately need to hear it. Using St. Paul’s experiences in the city of Philippi as a model, In Season and Out of Season seeks to encourage and equip God’s people to share that message in any and every situation.
This video-based Bible study covers some of the basics of personal witnessing and provides plenty of opportunity for participants to discuss their fears, challenges, and experiences.
One by One is a Bible study based on Pastor David Rosenau’s keynote presentation at the WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership in January of 2020. Using powerful personal stories and drawing from his wealth of experience both as a detective and a parish pastor, Pastor Rosenau helps Christians understand why it is so important to see every soul as a treasure and why we want to be willing to spend the time and effort necessary to share the gospel with each one. This study helps participants understand that Christian witnessing need not be complicated, and that God builds his kingdom one soul at a time.
Let’s Go provides video-based personal witness training. It teaches a simple, three-part approach that any Christian can put into practice. 1) Love the unchurched people God has brought into your life. 2) Listen carefully to their thoughts, beliefs, concerns, etc. 3) Lead them to the gospel. Let’s Go can be used by both large and small group Bible studies as well as by individual Christians.
How can you use these studies in your congregation? Perhaps use one every six months in your Sunday morning Bible class. If you do, don’t be afraid to repeat them every 18 months so that your flock is receiving on-going evangelism training. Folks who didn’t attend the first time will be blessed and those who did could no-doubt use a refresher. After completing a study, you might take a few minutes at the beginning of subsequent Bible classes to have participants share their recent witnessing experiences. This keeps evangelism in front of your people and provides the opportunity for them to encourage one another. All three studies would work well for a small-group Bible study and could certainly become part of your curriculum.
However you choose to use these resources (and those we hope to produce in the near future) we pray they are a blessing to you and your people so that fewer and fewer WELS members feel inadequate to the task of sharing Christ with those who so desperately need to know him.
Rev. Eric Roecker
Director, Commission on Evangelism
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