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Jane’s Journeys – August, September 2018

General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Board Meeting

In early August, Jane participated in the GBHEM board meeting and was present for the signing of a new strategy agreement to establish the agency as the resource center for leadership, education, and formation to support future and current church leaders of the United Methodist Connection. “It was so good to be among friends and colleagues who share a vision for being the catalyst to equip emerging leaders in the church to share the Good News. I was excited to be a part of this meeting in which a new direction has been visioned for the future of this organization!”

Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies

Jane traveled to the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies at Pembroke College, Oxford, just a few weeks later to meet with E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism from seven of the 12 Methodist/Wesleyan-oriented seminaries. This gathering served as the annual meeting of the professors and was a great opportunity for them to engage with peers and academia. Jane noted that “I watched as the ESJPs were greeted with respect and interest, drawn into deep conversation across a spectrum of topics, and, perhaps most importantly, how they, in turn, challenged the academy to think about how this research might best translate to their training of students and beyond to equip the local church.” You can read the full story in the Oct/Nov fastFORWARD publication.

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ESJ Professors Gather at Oxford Institute

John and Charles Wesley began “The Holy Club” on the campus of Oxford University, so it is fitting that every four years, theologians in the Methodist/Wesleyan connection from around the globe gather at the Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies. In August, the institute convened at Pembroke College, near Christ Church where John and Charles Wesley began their ministries which ultimately grew into a global Christian movement.

This year, in place of The Foundation for Evangelism’s bi-annual meeting of the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism (ESJP), each professor was invited to submit an academic paper and to present their work at the institute.

Professors from seven of the 12 currently occupied E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism Chairs attended the event where they participated in Worship and Spirituality, Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Mission and Evangelism working groups.  Those attending included Dr. Bryan Stone (Boston University School of Theology), Dr. Mark Teasdale (Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), Dr. Daniel Shin (Drew Theological School), Dr. Joon Sik Park (Methodist Theological School in Ohio) , Dr. Jeffrey Conklin-Miller (Duke Divinity School), Dr. Sergei Nikolaev (Russia United Methodist Seminary), Dr. Stephen Gunter (FFE Professorships Director), and Jane Boatwright Wood (FFE President). Beyond these current professors, three former ESJPs participated in the event including Professor Priscilla Pope-Levison, who was a plenary lecturer.

The time provided academic and theological exploration; however it also provided a time for building connection and contemplating practical application in mission and evangelism. Dr. Daniel Shin (Drew Theological Seminary) said of the gathering:

This experience has given me a better understanding of the global reach and character of the Wesleyan/Methodist movement, and as such it was a very meaningful experience. I have made connections with people from Africa, southeast Asia, Korea, England, and of course, the U.S, with whom I hope to continue conversations for further studies and shared ministries.

Jane Boatwright Wood, President of The Foundation for Evangelism reflected that the event was a testament to the impact of the ESJPs on the global academic community, and confirmed that the professors were fulfilling the Foundation’s vision to be a catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. She stated:

I watched as the ESJPs were greeted with respect and interest, drawn into deep conversation across a spectrum of topics, and, perhaps most importantly, how they, in turn, challenged the academy to think about how this research might best translate to their training of students and beyond to equip the local church.

The E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism are a partnership between The Foundation for Evangelism and the respective seminaries to prepare the next generation of leaders for ministry in the local church through classes in evangelism, missions, and a variety of other disciplines all taught with a focus on evangelism in the spirit of John Wesley. Through ongoing research and publication, these professors reach far beyond the seminary walls to educate and equip clergy, laity, and youth for evangelism ministries that bear fruit in the 21st century local church.

The Foundation for Evangelism is a catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is a 501(c)(3) organization with roots in The United Methodist Church, serving in ministry to Methodist/Wesleyan partners who share in its mission and vision.

The Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies is an affiliate of the World Methodist Council. Its mission is to foster and support disciplined theological study among professional scholars and scholarly ministers and laypersons within the Methodist and Wesleyan traditions around the globe, with a goal of undergirding and enriching the ministry of these traditions in their global settings.

6 Keys to Sharing the Gospel in a Pluralistic Culture

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe, Jr., says evangelistic strategies often fail because they don’t meaningfully and respectfully engage those we are trying to reach. Powe highlights key values and practices for reaching others while honoring differences, gleaned from a recent study of the renowned 20th century evangelist, E. Stanley Jones.

It’s tempting to imagine that revitalizing a church is a matter of reverting to an earlier, “purer” tradition, as in the case of Methodists intent on emulating what John Wesley did in the 18th century. Others think it’s a matter of adopting practices that work in other churches. They go to a training event and hear someone say, “Our congregation started growing when we gave out refrigerator magnets,” and think a similar, seemingly easy evangelistic strategy will work for them.

The ideal of engaging all as children of God means altering the way we approach people, creating a space where all perspectives are honored.

What both approaches lack is an understanding of the importance of contextualizing practices. They fail to distinguish between the idea and the activity resulting from the idea. Sharing the gospel in a pluralistic culture requires that we contextualize the gospel in ways that honor the personhood and the perspectives of those we are trying to reach. I believe these six values and practices are key.

1. Engaging differences

The idea of engaging others who are different is something we often talk about, but we aren’t often successful in living it out. We either seek commonality at all expense, glossing over differences, or we shut down all conversation by demeaning those who disagree with us. We label them as liberal or conservative, progressive or traditionalist, etc. The implication is that they are not even worthy of engaging because we already know their perspective. The ideal of engaging all as children of God means altering the way we approach people, creating a space where all perspectives are honored.

2. Encouraging dialogue

Can we believe that Christ is the only way to salvation and still be open to the beliefs of others? We don’t have to accept the beliefs of others to appreciate their beliefs, to enter into dialogue without shutting them down, and to show genuine interest in what they have to say. Even those who claim to be open-minded can treat others in a cursory manner by failing to really listen to those with different beliefs. We need to genuinely listen and learn from others.

3. Valuing relationships

When individuals who think and believe differently than we do are not swayed to accept our perspective, some of us will stop being in relationship with them. Being in relationship with another is not about conformity, but about authentically seeing the person as a child of God, and treating that person as such, no matter the circumstances. We are called to be in relationship with people who don’t necessarily hold our beliefs.

4. Being accessible to others

It’s easy to paint a picture of society as “going to hell in a handbasket” and close ourselves off from those who aren’t like us. We live in a culture where we often give access only to those who run in similar circles with us. In many cases this is not intentional, but we never move outside of our comfort zones. We need to broaden our circles so that others will see that we are accessible. If I talk about wanting to connect with soccer families, it’s not helpful if I do this from inside my church. I need to hang out in places where those who play soccer attend. This may mean coaching a team or getting involved as a referee. We need to be intentional about building up relationships outside of our normal networks.

5. Becoming more vulnerable

It’s one thing to be accessible but another to be truly open to others. Too often we take the safe route and do things that do not require us to expose ourselves. An example is a feeding ministry where we get to set the terms and control all the resources. How can we be more intentional about entering spaces that we do not control so that those who believe differently will feel comfortable engaging, dialoguing, and relating to us?

6. Recognizing the importance of reciprocity

Our work in Christian outreach can never be one-sided. Too many Christians either abuse their right to speak in the public square by trying to shut down all the other voices, or they fail to speak up in the name of Christ because they do not want to offend. Neither is a reciprocal approach. We need to make space for others so that their voices can be heard. We cannot be afraid of letting others speak and voice opinions that differ from ours.

Our goal should be to be known not simply as Christians but as Christians who cherish the personhood of others. We need to learn to contextualize the gospel with people and not for people as we work to transform lives and communities.


This article originally appeared at churchleadership.com/leading-ideas and is adapted from the conclusion of E. Stanley Jones and Sharing the Good News in a Pluralistic Society (General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 2018) F. Douglas Powe, Jr., and Jack Jackson, general editors. Used by permission. The book is available through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and Amazon.

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New Book from ESJ Professor Mark Teasdale

God tells us to “Go!” So let’s do it!

Nothing holds us back. God’s mission for us and our churches is more exciting and rewarding than we can possibly imagine. This book gives tactics to get your church moving forward in mission by looking at biblical passages where God commands us to “Go!” God calls us to break stereotypes and witness in surprising and unexpected ways.

Click here to see a promotional video! Click here to order from Amazon!

Mark R. Teasdale is the E. Stanley Jones Associate Professor in Evangelism at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL an elder in The United Methodist Church. He is also the author of Methodist Evangelism, American Salvation.

Reviews from colleagues:

Too many of our churches have circled the wagons, and Mark Teasdale and I are both convinced that step one in the renewal of most churches will involve liberation from their comfort zone and into their communities. Within this agenda, Mark’s very readable contribution, rooted in scripture and relevant to church life today, will join the (unfortunately) short stack of books that can actually help thousands of churches find their way forward.

George Hunter, Dean and Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, School of World Mission and Evangelism, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY

What’s more important than the Great Commission? Unfortunately, too many churches—including the one I grew up in—a lot! This is the book that I wish the leaders in my church had read while growing up.

—Daniel Im, Director of Church Multiplication at NewChurches.com and teaching pastor

Teasdale pushes us to see the Great Commission in a new light, a light that encourages us to respond to God’s sending us into our community no matter our size, pedigree, or circumstance. By sharing practices any congregation can do, he carefully provides concrete ways of engaging that do not require huge resources. This book Teasdale removes all excuses congregations make for not seeking to participate in God’s work of transformation.

F. Douglas Powe Jr., James C. Logan Professor of Evangelism (an E. Stanley Jones Professorship), Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington DC

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2017 Winter FORWARD

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FFE Convenes Evangelism Summit

Board and staff leadership of The Foundation for Evangelism (FFE) will engage a select group of innovative Christian leaders in Atlanta, Ga. on January 30-31, 2017 to determine how the FFE may best support evangelistic efforts in the spirit of John Wesley.

“The Evangelism Summit is designed to help The Foundation for Evangelism effectively engage with our key constituencies, which include laity, local church pastors and younger generations, and to determine best practices for evaluating the impact of those partnerships,” said Dr. Larry Klemann, board chair.

The group of 11 United Methodist leaders and Christian innovators, experts who have effective evangelism ministries, were specifically selected for their areas of impact that match the FFE grant focus areas. The FFE identified ministries across the United States where metrics exist to document that lives are being transformed–places where the ideas leaders read about are no longer ideas, but ministry reality.

“We recognize that we are not the practitioners who can answer the key questions. These exceptional leaders can help FFE more clearly understand how evangelism succeeds today, what are needed improvements for the future, and where FFE can invest our grant funds to have the greatest possible impact,” Mrs. Mary Brooke Casad, task force leader and immediate past board chair, said.

“We spent a great deal of time locating ‘next generation leaders.’ We specifically invited folks who are catching the attention of today’s leaders, who in turn say to us, ‘you better keep your eye on that one –God is at work in that ministry!'” Casad said.

Through careful listening and guided discussion during the Evangelism Summit, the FFE leadership expects to inform its ongoing efforts to discern where God is calling The Foundation to engage, provide resources, and encourage efforts to address adaptive challenges in Wesleyan evangelism.

The following individuals/ministries will be participating in the summit:

  • Adolf Hanson, Theologian in Residence, St. Luke’s UMC Indianapolis,
  • Craig Robertson, Founder, Spiritual Leadership, Inc.,
  • Eric Lindh, National Executive Director, Project Transformation,
  • Heather Lear, Director of Evangelism Ministries, Discipleship Ministries of the UMC,
  • Kay Kotan, Founder, You Unlimited,
  • Olu Brown, Lead Pastor, Impact Church;
  • Scott Chrostek, Campus Pastor, RezDowntown, [The UMC of the Resurrection]
  • Tyler Best, Campus Minister, Pfrimmer’s Chapel UMC,
  • Owen Ross, Founding Pastor, Christ Foundry,
  • Rob Peabody, Co-Founder, Awaken,  and
  • Adam Weber, Founding Pastor, Embrace Church.

Headquartered in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, the FFE is an international grant-making foundation that promotes, encourages and provides resources to grow Wesleyan evangelism by bringing all people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Of particular interest are ministries impacting young people and the local church.

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Seeking Innovative Evangelists – Clergy and Lay

 

Foundation for Evangelism (FFE) invites exceptional, innovative leaders – both clergy and lay – working in a United Methodist Church setting to apply (or be nominated) for its 2016 Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church Award.

Given annually since 1990, the Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church Award is designed to recognize all who are called to be evangelists in the spirit of John Wesley – not just those who are called to be clergy.

To be considered for the award, the applicant should be known for the tangible ways in which their ministry transforms the lives of those they mentor and shepherd. The successful candidate will be a role model and inspiration for others who seek to embody FFE’s vision of growing generations of Christ followers in new and impactful ways.

The Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church:

  1. Is an innovator.
  2. Practices evangelism in the Methodist or Wesleyan context in a United Methodist setting.
  3. Is known for the tangible ways in which their ministry transforms the lives of those they lead, mentor, and shepherd.
  4. Nurtures, mentors, and develops “Timothy” leaders who seek to be in ministry in similar ways.
  5. States clearly “Why Jesus.”
  6. Embodies FFE’s vision of growing generations of Christ Followers – clergy and laity – who have a passion for evangelism.

Upon receiving the award, the 2016 Distinguished Evangelist will be invited to:

  1. Participate in media efforts to promote FFE and this award.
  2. Speak at the Lake Junaluska Summer Sermon Series the summer following being named.
  3. Deliver a featured lecture as the Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church on a national stage.
  4. Participate in FFE’s Speakers Bureau.
  5. Share with FFE links to websites, blogs and other social media with which they are affiliated.
  6. Provide articles and videos (or access to existing) for use on the FFE website.
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Meet the 2016 Harry Denman Evangelism Award Winners

Luke Edwards, King Street Church [Boone, NC]

Western North Carolina Conference Clergy Award Recipient.

“Luke is meeting people where they are, really listening to them, helping meet the physical needs of food, shelter and warmth as well as answering the “Why Jesus” question and leading them to“How do I invite Jesus into my life’.”

Rev. Luke Edwards began his work at Boone First United Methodist Church in Boone, North Carolina as Director of Missions, starting a community garden, a firewood ministry, and supporting several mission programs and services. When the church fully recognized the need to have a presence on King Street, the local main street of Boone, Luke was tapped to be the pastor of that street church, beginning with an evening worship service in the home of Luke and his wife, Ginna.

When it became more than their home could accommodate another site was found. Now people meet in Boone Saloon, study the Bible, discuss the tough questions, drink a beer, and have church. Several street people have found Jesus, as well as a church family and Luke has been a stable, steady person to help shepherd them along the way. People who simply don’t relate to a traditional church structure  now study and worship through King Street Church. Hear more about his ministry from Luke.

The person who nominated Luke Edwards for this award actually knew Harry Denman as a frequent guest in their home when she was growing up. She remembers him always saying you needed to meet people where they are, and she saw him being genuine, a person without polish or worldly power, yet who exemplified Christ in her life in a profound way. She says, “Luke has that same gift. He is real. He is genuine. He is quick to hit the homeless shelter. Yet, he also takes time to hang out with people like me who are old enough to be his mom. He connects with me personally. That’s the Christ connection. That’s what Harry Denman was all about.”

She continues, “Luke Edwards meets people where they are in all respects, and has consistently strived to meet their needs in sustainable ways that respect the individual and equip that person to provide for him or herself. Whether it’s breaking bread with the homeless, the Bible Study at the shelter or the local jail, Luke is connecting people with Christ and the Word of God in Christian community.”

Luke has been recognized by Fresh Expressions US for innovative ministry and use of the Fresh Expressions model of church. 

Culture of the Call Church Award

We want to hear from you.  Apply HERE for 2016 Culture of the Call Church Award. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS 9/15.

This award continues The Foundation for Evangelism’s tradition of recognizing excellence in local church evangelism, incorporates the focus on striving to impact younger generations, and encourages those who seek to grow the United Methodist Church. Originally designed “To recognize one local congregation of The United Methodist Church each year that has a history of having young people 35 or younger experience God’s call to full time Christian service as a result of their being active in the life of that church,” the award has come to represent a level of excellence desired for all churches as they seek to identify, support, mentor, and encourage young people who are called to Christian service.

What does a Culture of the Call Church look like?  Learn more here from the 2015 Culture of the Call Church Award recipient Hasting United Methodist Church !