This is week 2 with Shane. If you didn’t read last week, here is more on Shane, or skip down to the final portion of the interview.
Shane Lems is the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Hammond, Wisconsin. He and his wife, Lisa, have 4 kids. Prior to ministry, Shane was in the US Army Reserves for 6 years and worked in the auto parts industry. He is a graduate of Westminster Seminary in California, and was a church planter in the URCNA in Sunnyside, WA.
This week, we share the Shane’s answers to our final 3 questions in the interview….
Question: What is a great idea or practice you learned from someone outside the Reformed world (something you learned in pre-Reformed days that you still do or something you’ve picked up from those outside the Reformed world) Doesn’t have to be you personally, could be church practice.
Shane: One thing I’ve learned from non-Reformed Christians is that hospitality and sacrificial kindness are essential for outreach and evangelism. I’ve heard and read so many stories about a church or a Christian going far above and beyond to help an unbeliever. Through this loving deed the unbeliever was deeply touched. The love shown to this person made him much more willing to hear the gospel and it made the Christian faith look lovely to him or her. We can learn from these stories of love for sure! (To be fair, Reformed churches/Christians have shown much hospitality and love to others, but many of the stories I personally have heard have come from non-Reformed churches.)
Question: What is a great idea or practice you learned from someone within the Reformed world?
Shane: I’ve learned a lot about outreach from various brothers and sisters in Reformed/Presbyterian churches over the years. I could give a list! Specifically, many Reformed church planters I know have done some great outreach events aimed at the neighborhoods around the church building. I don’t have one specific example, but the big picture that has stuck with me are the outreach events directed towards people who live around the area where the church meets for worship.
Question: What is the most “successful” outreach thing you’ve done or what has most contributed to your “success?” —not necessarily you personally, could be something you’ve implemented in church life or a collective church practice or approach.
Shane: Speaking of outreach directed towards the neighborhoods around the church, our best event is an annual neighborhood party that we host each August during out town’s “Heartland Days.” We host this event right on the church lawn. The first few years we did this only a handful of people showed up each year. However, on a few occasions people from the neighborhood – even unbelievers – did show up for a worship service after the event. They were able to hear the gospel because of the picnic/party. In 2019 our neighborhood party was so well attended that we had to go to the store to get more food in the middle of it all!
This outreach event works pretty well in our context. A week before the event we print out several hundred flyers and go door-to-door with a no-strings-attached invite to a free neighborhood picnic. Almost everyone is happy to get a personal invite like this. And when people do come to the picnic, they are able to interact with much of our church family and see that we are not some kind of strange cult, but regular people with regular lives who follow Christ. This event has even led to some opportunities to share the gospel. It has also been a blessing to the church family who has come to interact with others in a personal way.