Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Victory of the Lamb

I wanted to talk about my church. I am a member of Victory of the Lamb Lutheran Church in Franklin, WI. This church was started 2 years ago as an idea from St. Paul's, Muskego to start a daughter congregation in one of the most rapidly growing suburbs of Milwaukee that had a unique mission. Its mission was to reach out to the unchurched of Franklin and it would do it as a completely contemporary church. The original core group was 6 people and on a shoestring budget provided by St. Paul's, they called a seminary graduate to be the first pastor. The day Pastor Ben preached his first sermon at St. Pauls as a method of introduction to the congregation that was paying his salary, I became interested in the cause.

I offered him my services for doing the website and for helping with the multimedia and sound for the worship services. Victory hadn't had a worship service yet and had many tasks to complete such as finding a place to worship, getting sound equipment, canvassing, advertising. On December 6th, 2006 we held our first worship service with 140 in attendance. Most of them were folks from surrounding WELS churches coming to wish us well and see how things were like. Although I had started out with Victory to lend some help until they got started, I have not returned to St. Paul's for even one service since that day. Some other members of St. Paul's also got hooked that day too and with the addition of our two families the core group grew to 17ish and another 13 or so people who were helping out.

On April 1st, 2007 we had our Grand Launch service on Palm Sunday. 180 people came and this time there were numerous guests from the community after a massive advertising campaign. We followed that service the next weekend with an Easter Breakfast for the community in which 60 people came for my omelettes to order and a huge amount of food. 140 came for Easter service. It was a good start but still a little disappointing when within two weeks our average attendance was 35. However it was at this time that our full compliment of band members arrived at the congregation and the Victory worship band got started.

However we planned an aggressive summer of community activities to get our name out there, to canvass and to proclaim the gospel to the community. Our first event was the 4th of July float where we handed out 1000 pieces of literature and our band played on the float. We got a great reaction from the crowd. Two weeks later we had a Summer Music festival in the City park called Hallepalooza. The Victory band played music while there was kids games and adult activities and a devotion at the end. A new member who owns a fancy restaurant in downtown Milwaukee donated free food for anyone who came by. about 150 attended . Two weeks after that we ran our 1st annual soccer bible camp. 29 kids got to improve their soccer skills and hear the Word of God. Later in October we had about 60 people come to our Family fest/Chili Supper. All of these events attracted at least one family or indivdual to our church. About 50 were in weekly attendance by October of last year. In December of last year we hosted a "Christmas for kids" activity where 55 kids came and heard the story of Christ's birth at the City Library for 4 hours on a day where there was 7 inches of snow falling. More people who ended up hearing the word and coming to church and Bible instruction. By January 1st we had about 60 in weekly attendance.

I think the mission of Victory started to really click with people by this last Easter. Members and even people who were in bible instruction were bringing their friends and inviting people to come. The "Easter for Kids" event had 75 kids from the community show up and many of their parents came to Easter church. From there our attendance has been growing and we are averaging about 95 people a week. The last two weeks we had 102 people and 135. This years parade we handed out 3000 pieces of literature, this years Hallepalooza had 200 or more people come, this years Bible soccer camp had 67 kids register. Since our congregation has very few children in the age range of the soccer camp the kids were mostly from unchurched or other churched families.

We are now outgrowing our space at the Polonia Soccer Club and are trying to secure a new location within a warehouse of a local businessman. There are a few details to work out but if it does it could be a nice church home for the forseeable future until we can find or build a permanent church home.

Being a part of this mission even though my role is small has been a great experience. It has challenged my faith to grow and to live my faith as a person charged to proclaim the Gospel to the people in my sphere of influence. It is such a new experience. The unchurched come from a very different world. Everything is new. Faith is growing in babysteps. It has helped me to not take my education and background for granted and realize that the true mission of the church is to reach out to the unchurched and it demands that I move out of my comfort zone to do it.

So I continue to work on the website and produce the sound. New members have created a multimedia team that is doing a fantastic job. We have so many dedicated members who are taking various parts of the ministry and running with it and God truly is working faith and guiding hearts in this church. I invite you all to come and see....and better yet get involved.

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