C18—Synodwide program to reach one million souls

One million souls.  

This Christmas season, walking together, we are going to share the Good News about God in flesh, coming to bring light into our dark world, to one million souls.

C18 is multi-faceted program to assist WELS congregations in their seasonal effort to boldly proclaim Christ.

Here are two facts about Christmas time.

Fact number one. Multiple mental health studies have demonstrated Christmas time is the mostly likely time of year for one to experience depression and anxiety. The suicide rate spikes in the last week of the year. There are multiple factors for this, some of which are obvious. For many, Christmas time is extremely joyful, an opportunity to spent time with family and other loved ones. That joy can make those who feel alone more acutely aware of their pain. The end of the year also provides a natural time for self-reflection.  As some consider the perceived failures of the past year, the weight becomes too much to bear. Christmas time is extremely difficult for millions of Americans. It is not a time of hope and good cheer, but darkness and gloom.

Fact number two. Christmas Eve has surpassed Easter as the church service that unchurched or dechurched individuals are most likely to visit. A few years ago, LifeWay Research conducted a survey of 15,000 unchurched adults. 63% of those adults say that a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would “be very or somewhat effective” in getting them to visit a church. That number jumps to close to 80% when the invitation is for Christmas Eve. Invite ten unchurched friends to join you at your congregation for Christmas Eve, and eight of them will be at least somewhat encouraged to accept your invitation.

Put those two facts together. Christmas Eve is a fantastic, natural opportunity for believers to reach out to their community.

So, in WELS Congregational Services, we’ve set a goal to reach one million souls. It is aggressive, but given the size of our church body, realistic. Some of those one-million will hear the gospel as they accept an invitation to join one of our congregations on Christmas Eve.

Some will hear the gospel as our members take up Christ’s call to be witnesses. They will look for friends or neighbors or co-workers who are experiencing that seasonal depression, and they will share the reason we are never alone… the reason why our failures do not crush us.

Still others will hear the Christmas gospel through online devotionals we will be providing.

We are calling it C18–a multi-faceted program to assist WELS congregations in their seasonal effort to boldly proclaim Christ.

Every commission in Congregational Services will provide royalty free resources that congregations and members can use in this effort:

  • The Commission on Worship is providing worship resources, including worship plans, sermon helps, worship folders, and newly commissioned music, for Advent and Christmas. The theme for our Christmas Eve service is A Light in the Darkness, which will stress how Christ is the answer to any stressor or fear one might be experiencing at Christmas time, or anytime.
  • The Commission on Evangelism is developing promotional materials such as postcards, banners, and Facebook posts for congregations to use. A Bible study related to the new outreach movie To the Ends of the Earth (coming out this fall) will discuss how to witness and share your faith to help prepare members to invite their unchurched friends, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors to Christmas Eve services.
  • The Commission on Discipleship is producing family Advent devotions, with a special emphasis on training and encouraging families to reach out to the unchurched during the holiday season.
  • The Commission on Lutheran Schools is providing WELS school with evangelism training materials for children and teens.
  • The Commission on Special Ministries is developing supplementary materials for the Christmas for Kids program developed by Northwestern Publishing House to allow congregations to offer a service for special-needs children.
  • The Commission on Congregational Counseling is providing materials to help congregations coordinate this outreach effort as well as helps for following up on contacts after the holiday season. These materials are almost all free. They will be shared at the Congregational Services Resource Center.

What will come of us sharing the gospel with one-million souls? Might some join your congregation? That is entirely up to the Holy Spirit. He alone can create and strengthen saving faith. So, we let him do his job. And we will zealously do our job–preach to all the good news of the Light that pierces the darkness.

C18 will help you do just that. Start thinking now of who you are going to invite to your church this Christmas Eve. Keep C18 in your prayers.


The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…
Isaiah 9:2

Visit the WELS Congregational Services website to download resources.