We truly live in a time of transition in North America. The mission field clearly includes our neighbors and their families. Our God has always called us to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to our immediate context. But we may not have felt the urgency. We used to think, “They know the story of Jesus and probably already have a church home.” It is obvious today that this just isn’t true, and it never really was. Because of this reality, North American Mission is in the process of purchasing land in Lincoln, North Dakota and planting a church in this community. As you read Pastor Ryan Nordlund’s exciting and challenging words below, please pray and consider how you can have a part in the CLB’s Disciple-Making Movement in North America.
Rev. Nick Mundis
Director of North American Mission
We were in our third month of sponsoring Kids Club in Lincoln, ND. The place was filled with excitement, as it always is at Kids Club. There were about 25 kids in attendance on that particular Wednesday night.
But let me back up a little. Grace Lutheran Brethren Church in Bismarck, ND had just taken a survey to determine our strengths and weaknesses. The survey revealed that our outreach and evangelism was very weak. So the leadership decided that a couple of one-time events did not constitute an outward focus. We needed to do something more. After much prayer and discussion, we determined we were going to plant another church in Lincoln, a small but rapidly growing community only fifteen minutes away from Grace. After a few “failures,” many hours of planning, and then going door to door with invitations, the Kids Club began.
So there we were, only three months in, approaching our first Easter together. After a few games “to get their wiggles out,” and after a little snack, we sat down to hear the Bible lesson for the day. And since it was the Wednesday before Easter, I wanted to teach about that. It became a most memorable lesson for me.
As I began, I simply asked the kids, “What is Easter?” After a short pause, one answered, “It’s when we get up on Sunday and get to have an Easter egg hunt.” “It’s when we go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house and have ham,” said another.
“But WHY do you do that?” I asked. “Why do we celebrate Easter? What happened the first Easter?”
I waited a long time for a response. And after about fifteen seconds, nearly an eternity for elementary students, I came to a chilling conclusion: They don’t know.
I tried to prod them along with a few more questions, but sadly, nothing.
These 25 kids, raised in central North Dakota, had never heard about the real reason we celebrate Easter. These kids had never heard about Jesus dying on a cross and rising from the dead three days later.
Not a single one!
When Kids Club was over, after the kids had all gone home, one of the other volunteers from our church approached me and soberly said, “Can you believe that? Not a single one of them knew.”
You don’t have to go far to find people who have never heard the wonderful news that Jesus came for sinners. There are people in your own neighborhood who have never been told that God himself became flesh and dwelt among us, and that he became sin for you, and for me, so we can have eternal life in paradise.
Today, in our fourth year of Kids Club, we have about 70 kids attending. They can now tell you what it means that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. They explain who the three persons of the Trinity are. These kids can tell you what sin is. And now, if you ask them, they will tell you why we celebrate Easter.
Rev. Ryan Nordlund is Pastor of Grace Lutheran Brethren Church in Bismarck, North Dakota.
If you and your congregation have questions about how you can get involved with CLB church planting, contact Rev. Nick Mundis at: [email protected]