Watch Rock the Lakes in Green Bay live starting at 4 p.m. (Central) on Saturday and Sunday at www.RocktheLakesLive.com.
Passion runs through the city of Green Bay, like cheese pouring over a plate of nachos.
Nowhere in America does a city embrace its NFL team like they do at Lambeau Field. Barely over 100,000 residents live in Green Bay (300,000 in the metro area), yet the Packers have sold out every game for more than 40 years.
In fact, the waiting list for season tickets is now more than 96,000.
“It’s a great city, a small-town atmosphere,” said Aaron Scheer, a Green Bay resident through his high school years in the mid-90s. “The Green Bay Packers are a lot of fun. It’s basically what the whole city is built around.”
But Scheer, whose 15-year absence from the city ended two years ago when he moved his family back to Green Bay, has noticed one fallout from the insanity that is Packer Nation.
“The big G in this city has been for the Green Bay Packers, not for God,” he said. “And we’re trying to change that.”
And that’s where Rock the Lakes Green Bay comes into play, precisely during the run-up to the NFL season.
On Aug. 18-19, this two-day outreach Festival will bring plenty of noise and excitement to Leicht Park in downtown Green Bay. Just three miles away and two days earlier, Lambeau Field will have a similar atmosphere as the Packers host the Cleveland Browns in the second pre-season game on Aug. 16.
“Green Bay Packers. Drinking beer. Hunting and fishing. Those have been the god of most people here,” Scheer said. “But as far as having a relationship with God, people don’t get into that much.”
But Rock the Lakes may just open that door for many. Eight bands during two days will help set the tone for the Gospel, as a variety of artists will be bringing glory to the Lord through music on what appears to be a picture-perfect, clear-skies, high- of-72- degree weekend.
“Skillet has a huge drawing across the board,” Scheer said. “All age groups, all demographics.”
Although, as Scheer points out, not everyone is in tune to the musical scene: “One pastor said ‘Who’s this band Skittles?’ “
Both events begin at 4 p.m., offer free admission and a life-changing message from Franklin Graham about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well as an invitation to begin a personal relationship with Him.
Admission both days is free of charge.
‘We Sold Everything’
Looking back, Rock the Lakes Green Bay happening this summer may be the exact reason God moved in Scheer’s heart to come back to his hometown, after spending 15 years in Alabama.
But he had no idea at the time.
A professional fisherman toiling in what he describes as the AA minor league baseball level of the Bass Pro Tour, the outdoorsman found Christ through a fellow fisherman.
The two would spend hours together on the lake, talking about life, and one day Scheer’s fisherman buddy asked Scheer to come to church and after that to a small-group Bible study, which he happened to lead.
“He was a deacon in the church and he began teaching us the Word,” Scheer said. “This was the first time someone really invested in me.”
Scheer knew about God, but was just going through the motions and lacked a real relationship. “I can’t go any further,” he finally told himself. “I know if I don’t accept Christ, I won’t be real. I’ll just be playing a game.”
Eventually, Scheer quit fishing for a living and went on staff at the church as the children/family pastor until two years ago when he felt called to move his wife and kids back to Green Bay—although he didn’t know exactly what God was calling him to do.
Scheer calls it a Jeremiah 24:6 moment: “My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.”
“We sold everything and moved up here by faith,” he said. “Now we see why. We see what He’s doing.”
‘A Spiritual Awakening’
What God was doing behind the scenes was preparing the churches around Green Bay to come together in ways many could not fathom. And Scheer has been an integral part.
An organization called CNEW (Church of Northeast Wisconsin) was formed to bring unity to the pastors and churches in the area and Scheer was named executive director.
As Scheer looks back, Rock the Lakes Green Bay has accelerated that unity and he’s convinced God’s fingerprints are all over it.
“We’ve seen the church of northeast Wisconsin complete each other rather than to compete with each other. Rock the Lakes has played a huge part in that.”
Scheer, who has taken on the role of Rock the Lakes Training and Counseling Coordinator, has seen evidence of the church working together in many ways, including the tremendous turnout for training classes.
More than 1,400 have completed either the Christian Life and Witness class — about half from the FM419 youth training classes — and for the first time Scheer is witnessing the walls of denominational borders come down.
“Just having the leadership from the very beginning, the leadership of the BGEA coming in here and expecting us to work together,” he said. “The BGEA really helped us walk through that, get people on board, bring pastors along.
“The BGEA met with us, gave us time to ask questions. They cast a vision. There was no one church in this region that was willing to cast that vision, but the BGEA did that for us. And as the unity began to grow, the excitement began to grow.”
And as Scheer points out, that excitement will have little long-reaching effect without a foundation of prayer.
Scheer and the rest of the Rock the Lakes leadership covet any and all prayers this weekend for the Holy Spirit to ascend on Leicht Park and do a great work in Green Bay.
“There’s been a huge emphasis in prayer,” he said. “Prayer from the lay people, prayer from pastors. We’re seeing some amazing things happening. We think (Green Bay) is on the verge of a spiritual awakening.”