Our congregational evangelism chairman was following up by phone on a visitor to worship. When he called, he got a wrong number. However, when he heard the name of the person he’d accidentally called, he asked, “Are you related to _________?” It turned out that she was a relative of a member of our church. They chatted further, and our evangelism chairman invited her to church. That wrong number turned into three baptisms and two adult confirmations, one of whom eventually became member of a church council at another WELS church when they moved! After that, we joked about “wrong number evangelism.”
With the recent release from Congregational Services of “Let’s Go” witnessing training, and “Everyone Outreach” program for creating an evangelism culture, you might think that “Wrong Number Evangelism” is the third outreach program of the year! Not so. But I’d like to encourage you to think about making the most of opportunities to witness that might not seem like an opportunity.
Getting a wrong number doesn’t strike most of us as an opportunity for evangelism. A similar witnessing blind spot might be service in the military. The military even has regulations prohibiting proselytizing your fellow service members. But that doesn’t mean that talking about your faith is off limits. When the guy in your barracks observes you reading your Bible or praying, he may ask questions. How can you make the most of such situations in the military? WELS Military Services has provided a guide for WELS military members to share their faith.
Once I went to the home of a shut in, only to discover she had moved. The current resident of the house had no idea who had lived there before. As I turned to walk away puzzling about the situation, the woman at the door called after me, “Hey, I’m new in town! Where is your church?” Many church members would have seen that opportunity coming! But do we always recognize such obvious opportunities to invite someone to church or tell them about the Lord? For example, people who are struggling against addiction need the message of grace and the power of the gospel in their lives. WELS Mental Health Needs has prepared a short interview about the way churches and their members can offer Christ-centered encouragement to people in recovery.
Recognizing that there are countless situations where we Christians have opportunities to witness is half the struggle. We also need wisdom and words. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” the apostle Peter urged us (1 Peter 3:15). Always be prepared? Where can you start? Start clicking on the evangelism resources posted on the Congregational Services website. You can watch them on your own, or as a Bible class or an evangelism team.
Studies have shown that people with disabilities and struggles are far more likely to not have a church than the general population of your neighborhood. Cultivate Christian love for people with special needs. (There’s even a Bible class for that!)
I’m fond of the idea of “wrong number evangelism.” I often marvel that Jesus called me! I hope you’ll make use of some of the resources I’ve recommended—we never know whom the Lord will call to be His follower for time and eternity.
Rev. Jim Behringer
Director, Commission on Special Ministries
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