Igniting the flame for evangelism and worship has been the central focus of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) over the past few years. With that same goal in heart, dozens of pastor-lay person teams from the top 18 congregations from 13 districts gathered for the sixth “Igniting” event, at CrossPoint Community Church in Katy, Texas, Nov. 12-13.
Similar to the “Igniting” gatherings of the past, participants were asked to set new goals for increased worship attendance, share their expertise with the church, and join with other congregations to develop the first two objectives more effectively.
"In order for a fire to spread, it has to start," Synod President Gerald Kieschnick told the group, and he encouraged them to share their knowledge with other congregations "so that the flame of Christ's love will be spread" worldwide.
According to the LCMS news service, participants agreed that outreach was the best way to increase their worship attendants.
"Everything we do is with outreach in mind," said Dave Rossow, director of outreach for NewLife Community Lutheran Church in Swartz Creek, Mich.
Rossow gave the example of how his congregants were asked to purchase extra tickets for the “Passion of the Christ” to give to their unchurched friends. Rossow said the event was so successful that only two of the 400 available seats were left unfilled.
“Get your church's name out in the community, and then, when people need a church, they think of you,” Rossow was quoted as saying.
Another example of community outreach is sending postcards to local households. According to Rossow, one woman liked a postcard so much that she kept it three years before she visited NewLife; she is now a member of the church.
By the end of the two-day conference, participants agreed to use $1,000 in funding from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans to help achieve the goals set during the Igniting event. The remaining $22,000 from Thrivent will be used to fund a training event to help other LCMS congregations increase their worship attendance.