This is a troubling question.

This question causes us to instinctively raise our defenses. It seems to suggest a lack of power in the Gospel. It prompts some of us to clench our fists and get ready for a brawl. Yet all of the depressing data indicates a shrinking percentage of Christ-followers in America.

This is a troubling question. Nevertheless, it was boldly posed as the central theme of the Exponential Conference in Orlando (March 7-9, 2023), attended by 50 Texas District leaders.

Together with 5,000 other participants from across the spectrum of Jesus’ Church, our LCMS pastors and planters and evangelists took hold of this premise: A church with a culture of evangelism will hold the Biblical values of evangelism, share the compelling narratives of evangelism, and live out the white-hot faith behaviors of an evangelistic church.

In the closing session of the conference, we were reminded of Jesus’ encounter with The Woman at the Well (John 4). After an unexpected conversation between Jesus and a woman with a messy history of marriage, she abruptly scurries back into town. She has discovered life-giving water, bubbling up in Messiah-Jesus, just beyond the city limits. Without prompting, she intends to tell everyone she knows.

John captures the pivotal moment: So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of town and were coming to him. (John 4:28-30 ESV)

A most striking contrast is found in this section of the story:
• The disciples return to the well, carrying snacks they’ve purchased at Seven-Eleven, fixated on getting Jesus to eat something. (v. 31)
• The woman returns to the well, bringing anyone who will agree to come along, focused on the inexhaustible supply Jesus has offered. (vs. 28-30)

Some of our favorite stories are those in which heroism, strength, or rescue emerges from unexpected quarters. In this particular story, it is a Samaritan woman rather than the steady acolytes of Jesus who proves to be our inspiration. It is her unbounded, unconcerned enthusiasm over Jesus that we aspire to.

In the included photo, a group of trained Evangelists from Area C are being commissioned (February 26, 2023) to carry the message of Jesus ‘just beyond the city limits’ to the people in their relational circles. We praise God for their eagerness to GO and for the enthusiasm of their Trainer Laura Sanders. Here in our Texas District, we anticipate a growing culture of evangelism and a consistent display of white-hot behaviors of an evangelistic church!

We praise Jesus that his passion for the ‘lost cause’ is sometimes carried out by those we least expect, and with the most unexpected outcomes.

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony… And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39, 41-42 ESV)

By Rev. Pete Mueller
Area C Mission Strategist

Over the course of 2022 and 2023, Rick Richardson and Dave Ferguson wrote five workbooks on the topic of evangelism. The entire set remains available on Exponential’s website and is FREE to download.