On Oct. 4, WELS Commission on Evangelism held its 200th School of Outreach event. The School of Outreach program helps WELS congregations with planning, assistance, and resources for evangelism programming and implementation of outreach strategies.
Originally, the School of Outreach was held at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. Then congregations began hosting the program, and nearby congregations would also attend. This “satellite” School of Outreach made it possible for more congregations to participate. The first satellite School of Outreach was held in September 1993 in Modesto, Calif., and eight congregations attended. Since then, the total number of registered congregations has been 1,344. Over the years, many congregations have attended more than once.
“The School of Outreach gave us an opportunity to evaluate our community, to dig into God’s Word, and then to wrestle with how we might continue taking the Word to the community in which we live,” says Rev. Joel Russow, pastor at Faith, Tallahassee, Fla. “It was a blessing to have our members wrestling with these things. We left invigorated by the tremendous message and the ripe opportunities before us.”
Faith attended School of Outreach sessions in September 2013 and February 2014. The current program is broken into two one-day sessions that are separated by several months. District evangelism commission members conduct the sessions and stay in touch with congregations after they attend to provide follow-up assistance specific to the needs of the congregations.
Russow notes, “The School of Outreach presenters have a contagious zeal for reaching out with the gospel of Jesus, and they were a Barnabas to us. It was also mutually edifying to spend a couple Saturdays with the other WELS congregations in our ‘area’— who drove from 2 to 3 hours away—studying God’s Word and discussing outreach. It made us thankful for the partnership that we share in the gospel.”
Throughout the 200 School of Outreach events that have been held, many changes have taken place. Rev. Mike Hintz, director of WELS Commission on Evangelism, notes, “Evangelism directors have come and gone, but one person has been involved with all 200 events. That person is Audrey Bluhm, the administrative assistant for the Commission on Evangelism, who helps coordinate all the details for these events. I’m so thankful for her service.”
For more information about the School of Outreach, visit www.wels.net/evangelism or call 414-256-3287.