150208 John 17:3

Last Updated on Monday, 09 February 2015 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: John 17:3
Theme: To Know Jesus Christ And To Make Him Known On Campus
Guest preacher: Pastor Bill Limmer, Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel

Thank you for allowing the students and me to come and celebrate Mission Festival with you. It is our honor and privilege to share with you God's Word and some of what God is doing at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel and Student Center. By the grace of God for fifty years Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel and Student Center has been sharing God's Word on Gilman Street and on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison

Quiz time: Pass or fail. What is the motto of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. A. God is Light B. On Wisconsin C. A Common Bond for all the Arts. The answer is A: God is Light. That is somewhat interesting, isn't it? The University does a pretty good song and dance to get around that today.

The mission or motto for Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel and Student Center is "To know Jesus Christ and to make Him known on Campus." When we talk about knowing Jesus at the Chapel, we are not just talking about knowing that Jesus is fully human and fully divine, not just that he was born of the Virgin Mary, not just that he was crucified, died, was buried and rose again on the third day, not just that he died for my sins and your sins and the sins of the world but to also know him personally. To know is not just head knowledge, but to know Jesus in our hearts.

In John 17:3 Jesus prayed: This is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent! About a month and a half ago we celebrated along with all Christianity that Jesus came in human flesh so that we might know God personally more than ever before. When Paul wrote to the Christ followers in Corinth, he said he knew their love for one another was sincere because they knew, had experienced personally, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 8:8,9) Christ's love for them has a personal impact on their daily love for others.

The average college student is on a trajectory that will lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. Students are choosing their majors which will at least theoretically guide them in their career path. Students are making friends that will influence their day to day choices. Some students are choosing the person they will marry too. These are big time life influencers and life changers.

It is so important for the Christian church to walk side by side with young people as they are making these kinds of decisions. In many churches they wonder where all the young people are and what they will find is that many young people are found where people care for them. If we as the Christian church don't care for them, understand we have a pretty good chance of not seeing them again. The refrain for the last thirty years or so is that when students go off to college they will drift away but when they get married and have kids they will come back. And every congregation can point to a few couples like this. And it is awesome. But what about all the other people that never came back.

One of the ways that we build up our students is to walk with our students at the Chapel is through Life Groups. This semester we have run six different Life Groups throughout the week. Among those studies this semester is an apologetics classes, four Scripture classes and one Christian doctrine class. In addition to this we have two other classes that meet once per month. The Life Groups are facilitated by staff and/or students. Through these Life Groups the students not only get to know God through his Word but they get to know him by just spending time with him.

In a recent article I read, it said that there are two spiritual disciplines the 21st century western Christian needs: simplicity in life and time with God. These classes also help students get to know each other on a deeper level and share their Christian faith which ends up building up one another. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

The Chapel is not only a ministry to build up students but also to bring back students who have drifted away. In Luke 15:13 it says: "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered is wealth in wild living." Some students go off to college thinking that they are going to be free to do the things they want to and kind of cut loose and one of the things they unfortunately cut loose is church attendance which very often leads them cutting loose from the one they need so much and the one who loves them so much.

Others get blown away by the knowledge and "alleged knowledge" of professors who have more initials after their name than you and I have in our names. One of our students who was very faithful got off track in an introductory philosophy class. The first class began with the professor stating that they would examine the question "Is there a God?" The professor assured his students that he would teach from a neutral point of view. He first presented arguments for the existence of God.

But then as the semester progressed, he led the students with great logic to the belief that they themselves did not exist. You may think this is crazy and insane but when you sit in a class with a very intelligent and highly persuasive professor you might just be surprised how the power of logic can work. This young student began to doubt his own existence even though he dressed himself, ate and walked every day. Then the professor made the easy deduction that if you do not exist God doesn't exist either (except in your mind and imagination). And he wrapped up the semester stating, "This proves there is no God." The young man lost his faith for about a year. He came to the Chapel because something was missing and he heard the Word of God and the Holy Spirit stirred his faith back to life.

Part of what we do is reach out to our students that we know about but haven't been in a while or have never been and encourage them to come back. We also have students who have fallen into sinful lifestyles that we counsel too and pray over in an effort to bring them back.

In addition to building up and bring back another part of our mission is bring students into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. Weekly we have about 350 students who use our building to study, to worship, to hang out, to drink free coffee and tea. We provide a safe atmosphere for our Christian students but also to our neighborhood students so that we might have opportunities to share the love of Christ with them by word and action.

We have a monthly session called Tackling Tough Talks so that we can prepare our students to handle the objections of others and in a loving way offer Christ as an alternative way to live. Monthly we have an on campus worship called Cross Reference so that students who don't live close to the Chapel or those students who are too uncomfortable to ever set foot in a worship facility can come and check out the claims of Christ in a "neutral environment." For example our last Cross Reference met at Union South and the topic for that night was GRACE.

Any number of our students do a real nice job in sharing their Jesus with other students too. Like in a Gospel reading, Jesus called John. John followed Jesus and shared Jesus with Andrew. Andrew followed Jesus and shared Jesus with Peter. One by one we reach out.

Currently we have 21 attending our adult instruction class called Set Free. Three of those attending are adult baptisms. One of those students in from China and this September he returned to China for a couple of weeks for a wedding. He shared Jesus with his parents and his friends. He bought his mother a Mandarin Bible and the Holy Spirit is at work every time she opens up the cover and begins to read. UW Madison has 43,000 students and it is our goal to make Jesus known to all of them. And that includes our international student population.

Once a month I get the privilege of sharing Jesus with people all over the world in a special time of devotion after our international luncheon. Through this ministry in the two and half years I have been here we have baptized 10 people. I will have the privilege of baptizing another one on February 22 and we have one who I am waiting for him to tell me the day.

Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel thanks you for your partnership in our mission to know Jesus Christ and to make him known on campus through sending us your students, through your prayers and also through your financial support. Amen.

Our Mission Statement:

Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.


Worship Schedule

8:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M.

9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

Monday at 7:00 P.M.

Television Broadcast
Thursday at Noon & 7:00 P.M.
Sunday at 10:00 A.M.
on Charter Cable Station 985 or on-line


St. Matthew's Lutheran Church
818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066




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