By Kim Plummer Krull
As Deaconess Maryann Hayter helped introduce congregations to a “first-of-its-kind, practical” approach to sharing the Gospel with people God places in our everyday lives, she discovered that one future Every One His Witness® (E1HW) component sparked the greatest anticipation — because, no doubt, it explores many a parent and grandparent’s greatest witnessing challenge.
“This is the one everyone has been waiting for,” Hayter said of “Witnessing to Dechurched Adult Children,” the newest E1HW video context module.
The goal of this fourth offering in the Lutheran evangelism program is to help parents and grandparents have conversations about Jesus with sons and daughters who have left the faith in which they were raised.
“We don’t need to shy away from talking about Jesus. What could be more important to share with those we love?” said Hayter, manager of Resource Production for LCMS Witness, Outreach and Revitalization.
As with all E1HW resources, the heart of this new module is the LASSIE (Listen, Ask, Seek, Share, Invite and Encourage) approach to witnessing.
“It’s so appealing that you’re not setting aside time to knock on doors or do something that feels unnatural,” said Nichole Hetz, community engagement coordinator for the LCMS Nebraska District.
Hetz appreciates that E1HW “gives you tools to share Jesus while you’re doing things that are natural. I don’t have to be uncomfortable to share my faith.”
Having conversations, building relationships
After participating in E1HW training, Hetz changed her approach to meeting people in the community where she moved two years ago. She’s more intentional about having conversations and building relationships that can lead to meaningful exchanges.
One such relationship developed with a Hispanic neighbor who spoke little English.
“But still we had conversations and built a relationship,” Hetz said of the woman, who had needs Hetz helped meet.
The woman clearly understood when Hetz said, “I will pray for you.”
Although her neighbor has moved, “seeds were planted,” said Hetz, one of an estimated 8,840 people who have taken part in E1HW training since the core kit became available last September.
Many of these newly trained men and women are Nebraskans. With financial support from the LCEF Kaleidoscope Fund, the Nebraska District provided E1HW training for 14 district staff members.
Some 40 Lutheran school principals and early childhood development center directors were invited to take part in E1HW training at a district conference last spring.
The district’s 23 circuit visitors and four vice-presidents received a free kit and had E1HW training at their conference last fall and, in turn, have been encouraged to lead workshops for pastors in their respective circuits.
In addition, the district is using its Kaleidoscope funding to offer congregations grants to help defray the cost of the E1HW core training kit.
To date, CPH has sold some 600 core training kits, each of which includes a DVD and materials for 12 participants.
Training is a must before understanding — and accessing — the free E1HW context modules posted on the E1HW website.
Millennials: ‘Greatest mission field’
Last spring, St. Michael Lutheran Church, Portage, Mich., used E1HW for a six-week, faith-building campaign, incorporating it in sermons, the liturgy, Bible study and small-group discussions.
“We liked that this was something our congregation could do themselves without having to bring someone in,” said the Rev. Dr. Paul R. Naumann, adding that he “appreciated [E1HW] came from our own LCMS.”
So far, three context modules — witnessing to Jewish people, to Muslims and to Mormons — are available on the E1HW website at everyonehiswitness.org.
A module on scientism is due out in October, to be followed by one for witnessing to veterans. Plans call for a total of 40 context modules.
Featured in “Witnessing to Dechurched Adult Children” are two formerly dechurched LCMS members: Paula Isakson — an LCMS pastor’s daughter who now heads up Faith Family Reunion ministry — and the Rev. Jonathan Fisk, who now serves as senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Rockford, Ill.
Both share their stories of leaving and finding their way back to the Lutheran faith. They also give practical examples to help parents “find a bridge, a connecting point between their child’s story and Jesus’ story, the Gospel,” Hayter said.
Naumann is among those watching for this new resource.
“For many families — especially the parents of millennials — there’s no greater mission field,” he said.
Kim Plummer Krull (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a St. Louis-based writer and editor.
Posted Sept. 5, 2018