Training Christians for Outreach Ministry

Take Advantage of Available Resources

I realized early in my ministry that I needed to take advantage of the expertise of those around me who seemed to be doing things well. In the never ending “to do list” of parish ministry, it seems wise to me that the parish pastor make use of the help that is available to him as he carries out his ministry. In my opinion, there are some good resources available to us to assist us in training our fellow Christians for outreach ministry.

When our congregation first started (1990) we sent a team to a “School of Outreach”. These “schools” were prepared and presented by the WELS Commission on Evangelism. We sent a team that worked with our assigned consultant for an entire weekend. We came away from that weekend with a plan to share what we had learned with others in our congregation. A plan was developed to take the gospel to our community in our outreach efforts. That opportunity came at a great time for our new mission church. We needed a plan to get others involved in our outreach ministry. The counsel and direction in the realm of methodology was very helpful at that point in our history.

Our congregation sent a team to a second “school” about 8 years later. We were facing some growing pains as a congregtion. A large team was assembled (15 people) to spend their weekend working on our plan for outreach ministry. The presenations were helpful. The “outside perspective” of our weekend consultant proved valuable. We developed plans to add facility and staff as part of our plan that weekend. Those 15 people became a task force that shared our plans with the entire congregation. Those plans were incorporated into our congregation’s annual plan for ministry. Over time, God brought those plans to come to fruition. We added facility and staff.

Last year we identified the assimilation of new members as an area of ministry that needed to be strengthened. We contacted our district evangelism coordinator to seek some help. He scheduled an “Assimilation Seminar” to be held on our campus. We invited the area WELS churches and met on a Saturday in January. Once again we had a team of about 15 assembled from our congregation. The day proved to be valuable. The “team” has met since the workshop and several new components have been added to our outreach plan in the area of assimilation.

Our congregation also decided that we wanted to send a team to a “School of Worship Enrichment” hosted by the WELS Commission on Worship. You might say that this has little or nothing to do with training Christians for outreach ministry but I would beg to differ. It is true that we strive to do our best in worship because we are giving God honor and glory by doing so. It is also true that our first point of contact with most of our “prospects” is through our worship services. Our outreach efforts are hinged to our worship services. Doing things to the best of our ability seeks to proclaim the gospel to the lost and to the found. We found the encouragement at the “school” to be helpful.

These resources (Commissin for Evangelism, Commission for Worship, Mission Counselors, Commission for Congregation Counseling, etc.) exist to help congregations to proclaim Christ in their communities. These resources are available for you. Consider taking advantage of their expertise.

I would add one more entity to the list of available resources. The Institute for Worship and Outreach is also intended to serve as a resource for you in parish ministry. We hope to provide practical and helpful resources for you in your worship and outreach planning. Personally, I have already gleaned some very helpful materials from my brothers serving on this group. I pray that it might be helpful to you as well.

Rev. Charles Westra

Charles Westra serves as pastor of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Columbia, TN. In addition to his congregational duties, Pastor Westra serves as the chairman for the WELS Board for Home Missions.

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