Rev. Eric Roecker
Every Member Evangelism: How to Encourage and Equip People in the Pews to Reach the Lost, Rev. Eric Roecker
The American religious culture is radically changing right before our eyes. For the first two centuries of America’s history, most people had experience with and interest in attending church. This is no longer the case. Today, the majority of Americans have no affiliation with any church. Many have almost no experience with church, apart from attending a wedding or funeral. Church is less and less part of people’s past. They are less and less interested in it being part of their future. Studies show that most Americans do not trust churches or clergy like they once did. This is especially true in younger generations. One third of Americans under the age of thirty believe churches do more harm than good.
What does this mean for how WELS congregations attempt to evangelize the lost in their communities? It means corporate outreach efforts—congregational advertising, mailings, etc.—will be less impactful. We are promoting things—a church home, Christian programs—that fewer and fewer are seeking. Therefore, in a post-Christian nation, personal witnessing will be of paramount importance. While fewer Americans are interested in formal religion, they are still interested in exploring spiritual matters with people they know and trust. Almost eighty percent of unchurched people say they would welcome having a conversation with a Christian friend about spiritual matters. Over half of unchurched people say they would seriously consider accepting an invitation from a friend to visit church.
Our congregations will still use tools like social media to get the message “out there.” But it will be even more important that the people in the pews are encouraged and equipped to connect their unchurched friends and martial the army of saints sitting in its pews to carry out this critical task. How do we spur our members to build relationships with unchurched neighbors? In this breakout, we will discuss why personal witnessing, and not corporate outreach, has to be the foundation of our congregational evangelism efforts. And we will look at simple ways congregations can prepare their people to be the salt and light Christ has said we are.
Rev. Eric Roecker
Eric Roecker is a 1998 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Upon graduation, he was assigned to serve Resurrection Lutheran Church in Virginia Beach, Va. where he served until 2013. While in Virginia, he served as the Adult Discipleship coordinator for the North Atlantic District and later as the district’s second-vice president. In 2013 he moved to Menomonee Falls, Wis. to serve as the pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church. In August of 2018 he began serving as the director of the WELS Commission on Evangelism.
Eric has been married to his wife, Mary, for twenty-four years. They are blessed to be the parents of a nineteen-year-old son, Rees, and a seventeen-year-old daughter, Riley. He enjoys spending time with his family, travel, reading, and playing golf.