Today’s blog entry is by Ross Nelson, pastor of Northwoods Vineyard Church in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.
About six years ago, my older son Nate worked in a family grocery business and oversaw the liquor department. In that capacity, he developed a friendship with another young man who was working as a beer distributor. The beer distributor got his girlfriend pregnant and they had a little girl. My son told him, “You should do something with that baby in terms of dedicating her to the Lord.” That suggestion piqued the guy’s interest. He came back later and said, “My girlfriend and are willing to do that. How can we make that happen?”
Now at our church, we make a standard practice of holding the majority of baby dedications, water baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc. outside of the church building. We’ve found that we get more of an unbeliever crowd at these events when we do that. As an outreach church, that’s just part of our philosophy, and it has definitely paid off many times over. So in the case of this infant dedication, we suggested that they host a gathering at a home.
When I arrived to do the baby dedication, the party was already in full swing. There’s an outdoor tent set up, with lots of beer and loud music. One guy at the party came up to me and said, “I just want to thank your church for blessing our tavern.”
I was momentarily at a loss. He explained, “I’m the owner of Cockatiel’s tavern and your people come by every year on super bowl Sunday to give us free cheese and sausage trays. The little notes says, “Showing God’s love in simple ways, compliments of Northwoods Vineyard Church.” Our people are always surprised: ‘A frickin’ church?!’ Most churches look down on my clients, but you show them respect.”
Back to the dedication, we gathered everyone together and got quieted down for the ceremony part. Then I did the dedication, blessing this man’s daughter. That was the last I saw of this couple with their new child until six years later, just this past fall, a couple with a little girl walks into our church. “Do you remember me?” I honestly couldn’t place him. “Six years ago, you came out to my buddy’s house and did my daughter’s dedication. Now we’re at a point where we’re seeking God and would like to get connected to a church. Can you help us with that?” Just last month, this young man accepted Jesus into his life.
This is just one of those really cool stories about being missional minded and sowing and reaping. Sometimes those seeds you’ve sown don’t come up for years down the road. Keep pressing that outreach envelope!