Outreach Initiative Blog Connect REV. DOUG KALLESEN

This month’s blog will deal with staying connected. Many of you will have heard the story about the deaf janitor who tirelessly worked to vacuum the entire sanctuary. The pastor came up the hallway only to find that the vacuum had become unplugged. The janitor had worked hard, went through all the right motions only to find out his vacuum wasn’t working! How many of our churches, schools and workers have had the right plans, gone through all the motions, launched and initiated new ministry, had recent visitors only to find out that somehow, at some point, they had become unplugged – disconnected!

Being disconnected, becoming unplugged spiritually is deadly so let’s start there. Jesus reminds us in John 15 that He is the vine and we are the branches and apart from Him we can do nothing. Again He says, every branch that abides in Him, He prunes and it will bear fruit. We stay connected by being in His Word regularly. Sadly this is not a given for our pastors and professional church workers. I often ask pastors to tell me about their spiritual and devotional life and that of their families. By the way perhaps I should ask, “how’s yours?”

If your devotional and prayer life isn’t what it should be, today is a great day to start! We have a God who loves us and just wants time to be in touch. His Word is His power unto salvation, it is able to make us wise unto salvation and also informs, instructs, leads, guides and strengthens us. Pretty important stuff for us to have. Think of Jesus promise apart from life on the Vine - we can do and are nothing but by abiding in Him and in His Word we will be pruned and we will bear fruit, lasting fruit, eternal fruit!

Several of our churches have embarked on, “The Story,” and it has increased Bible reading and SS attendance exponentially. Other churches have small groups or missional communities and are seeing real fruits. Others are having their members use one of the read through the Bible in a year plans or encouraging members to use their drive time to listen to the You Version Bible app on their cell phone. As Lutherans we believe the gospel is God’s power unto salvation so this is a given that we work hard at getting our people into the Word of God. The FLGA Outreach Initiative and Board of Directors also encourages each of our ministries to take an inventory of how many of their people are engaged in regular bible study. We want to see this number grow yearly.

As individuals we must also stay connected with those in our ministry and life context. Greg Finke points us in his book, “Joining Jesus on His Mission,” to look for lives to touch that we sense the Lord is already at work in. I call it walking wide, with arms outstretched through daily life trying to touch as many lives as I possibly can. Jesus has also called me and all disciples to do the two most important truths or expectations of us as Christians, “love God and love our neighbor…” Matthew 28:26-28. To avoid being disconnected or unplugged from them I need to be intentional in nurturing my relationship with these people. A new outreach model that I have become familiar with is the B.L.E.S.S. model shown below

What binds us together? What am I learning about them as I interact with them? How might I engage them? How might I serve them? What Gospel nugget(s) should I share at the right time?

Staying connected with individuals in our personal life will take time but it can be a part of your everyday routine. It’s like doing God’s work, engaging in the Master’s business, while going about your everyday life. It’s great. It’s fun and it’s God’s plan for you!

As churches and schools it is vital to stay connected with those whom He has sent our way.

As churches and schools it is vital to stay connected with those whom He has sent our way. This includes your active, delinquent and prospect lists. It means taking seriously the purpose of Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost and the parable of the Good Shepherd who had 99 sheep and the importance of the one that was lost. One of the lessons I learned about sheep in my Montana days – sheep that wonder off can’t find their way back. We have to go get them! Sometimes they make a real mess of their lives but the Lord loves them and wants them to be found, cared for cleaned up and brought back to the flock. Good pastoral care cannot stop every loss but it can go a long way towards closing the back door. Congregations that get the picture of what I am trying to share also see their role in staying connected through other members. The bottom line is stay connected with those who have wondered off.

It is estimated that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is now losing at least 30,000 members annually. What can be done to close the back door?

I see that each of the following bullet points provide a different perspective of being and staying connected!

• Ministry that disciples. Jesus said, “you did not choose Me but rather I chose you…I chose you that you might bear fruit, fruit that will last even unto eternity.” Jesus also said, “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” As the church we need to teach our people how to study the Word of God not only at church but individually and in their families. This is also true with respect to prayer, sharing our faith, living out daily life and serving Him. Our discipleship must equip members to be disciple makers. GodConnects is a resource from Lutheran Hour Ministries that I highly recommend for adult information courses and teacher training.

• Ministry that is bathed in prayer.

• Ministry that is intelligent- knows the needs of the congregation and community and is meeting them.

• Ministry that is sticky. What events and ministry opportunities will get them back? What is happening and on the horizon that will be of real interest to your church and community? You might want to make a list and field test which of the events have the best response before launching them. Remember your ministry is always rooted and anchored in Christ the Vine!

• Ministry that cares and is personal. Jesus spent a lot of time with a lot of people. He went to where they were at – where they lived, shopped, worshiped, and traveled. He did not wait for the masses to come to Him He went to them and the gospels are chalked full of individuals who Jesus took the time to minister to.

• Ministry that includes, engages, equips, empowers and sends the saints. The church doesn’t need any more pew potatoes! Pastors, teachers and church professionals do not have the capacity to single handily wage this battle for souls! We need disciples who will be engaged in the master’s business of going, teaching and making more disciples. This is a part of connecting them and keeping them plugged in. My friends this is a siren calling for “all hands on deck.” Pastors have been given to the church, “to equip the body of Christ for their work of service.” Eph. 4:11,12 and it is God Himself who has saved us by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and who has also prepared beforehand work that He wants us to be engaged in. Eph 2:8-10.

• Ministry that evaluates and does exit interviews on those who decide to leave. What can they tell us and what can we learn? How can we still love them?

• Ministry that has direction tells those coming to our ministry why they need to stay. It is clear to those coming what the congregation is doing and where it is going. The ministry will also have clarity, direction and entry points for individuals to jump in that will further their walk and service to the Lord.

Resources from the Outreach Initiative can be found at the link below. There are congregational, school and individual outreach resources that focus on CONNECT.

I would love to hear from you what you are doing in this area of staying connected. Please feel free to share this blog and connect with me further at dkallesen@flgadistrict.org or call me at 407.857.5556 x6.

By the way check the cord and make sure you’re plugged in!

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