History

During the first part of the 20th century, the church in America was going through a crisis.  The liberalism that had overrun the churches in Europe in the previous century had come to America and was reaching the height of its influence (roughly in the 1910-1940 time frame).  But those who held to the true gospel of Jesus Christ saw these disturbing trends and did not remain silent.  They did not remain inactive.  They stood up and proclaimed that there is still only one name by which we must be saved – the name of Jesus!  They stood firm on the authority of God’s Word and on the need for evangelism and mission around the world and throughout our country.  And so were birthed in this same time period many ministries that carried this unified message of the gospel.  It was early in this period that the Lutheran Bible school movement emerged.  We also saw the emergence of new mission societies like the World Mission Prayer League.  And it was also in this period that the Lutheran Evangelistic Movement (LEM) had its beginning. 
 
LEM began as a result of four evangelists from different synods coming together, recognizing the need for a unified effort in the area of evangelism within the Lutheran family of churches.  And so they approached a young up-and-coming pastor in his early 30’s, Pastor Evald Conrad of Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  They asked him if he would allow them to host a conference on evangelism at his church.  Pastor Conrad needed no convincing and together with these four evangelists became one of the key proponents of this renewed evangelism effort.  That was in 1937.  And over the course of the next 20 years or so, the LEM saw revival spread as the gospel was preached in churches and at Bible camps throughout the upper Midwest and beyond.  They used media to proclaim the gospel through their weekly radio program and Evangelize periodical.  They used retreats to call folks to repentance and faith as thousands gathered every year for their Deeper Life Camps.  And they used good old-fashioned preaching as they sent out evangelists to speak at churches for 8-day crusades in which they saw scores of individuals come to faith in Christ.
 

Some of the 900+ registrants at the LEM's July 1947 Deeper Life Conference at Mission Farms on Medicine Lake, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Visitors augmented the evening attendance to around 2,000 by the week's end.
 
But there is much more to the story than this.  The story of the LEM emerging as a catalyst for evangelism and revival is ultimately the story of a divine work of God in the hearts of many individuals.  We believe it is a story that needs to be told.  LEM historian Jonathan Anderson has written a book about the LEM's history, Our Fathers Saw His Mighty Works, with special focus on the first 20 years or so.  It is available for sale on our home page.  We've also created a "history blog" on this site where we are posting the chapters from this book and where you can discuss by posting comments.  We hope this retelling of the story of the LEM will stir something in all of us as we pray for God to do afresh in our day what he has done in the past. 
 
Click here to read more about LEM's beginnings.