Last summer, Rev. Kevin Golden and then deaconess intern Laura Jostes led lay people in the Every One His Witness training at Village Lutheran Church in Ladue. Rev. Golden likes this resource because of its strong biblical and theological foundation, but also because it offered his congregation very practical applications.
Rev. Golden had heard of the training for a while, and he credits the Missouri District’s promotion of this resource as one of the reasons they decided to take it on. He hopes the continued promotion of this training will lead to other congregations in the Missouri District participating in it. Another reason Rev. Golden decided to offer this training was the urging of Jostes, who is now serving the congregation as a deaconess.
Every One His Witness contains a robust introductory training, which can be taken over a series of weekly events or as a weekend intensive, and then offers specific modules based on reaching out to specific groups of people, such as Muslims, Mormons, or “de-churched” people. Rev. Golden thinks these follow-up modules also have potential for small group settings.
Rev. Golden describes this introductory training as “meat and potatoes” Christianity, which can sometimes be harder to discuss. He notes that if people are discussing more advanced theology or questions, odds are they’re talking to another believer, which can be less intimidating. However, if they’re talking about the basic foundations of the faith, that’s probably a conversation with someone they want to witness to, which is a more challenging dynamic.
The congregation reacted very positively to the experience. Rev. Golden heard from members they felt more comfortable speaking with their adult children who have strayed from regular church attendance in particular. In addition, people reported feeling more equipped to reach out to their neighbors and their co-workers, something many had been thinking about and doing already.
Rev. Golden thinks the flexibility inherent to Every One His Witness means congregations in pretty much any circumstances will be able to succeed with it. While Rev. Golden led the training for Village Lutheran Church, the role of the in-person trainer is more of a facilitator. With materials developed by Rev. Mark Wood, the theological foundation is already baked into the materials, which means this experience can be a lay-led training if that’s what works best for the congregation. Rev. Golden also thinks circuits could come together to get large groups together for this training.
Sometimes, because they care so much, Rev. Golden has seen people feel like they need to have all the answers. He says, “You can put so much pressure on yourself when it comes to witnessing, but it’s the Holy Spirit that does the conversion.” This tendency is something addressed in the training.
Rev. Golden points out that once people embrace admitting they don’t know everything, it can actually be something that spurs on a conversation about faith with a friend or family member. Saying something like, “I don’t really know, that’s a great question. Let me think about that or talk to my pastor,” can extend what started out as a casual conversation.
If you’re uncertain about taking on Every One His Witness, Rev Golden has this advice: “Don’t hesitate. Just make use of it.”
If you’re a Plus One congregation, the Missouri District is willing to cover half the costs of Every One His Witness. Contact Bill Geis to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org or (314) 590-6205.