How do we tell others about Jesus within the context of our present lifestyles and “church-styles” – once we’ve earned the right to speak, then what do we say and how do we say it?Continue reading
Today is a special day for The Foundation for Evangelism as we celebrate moving into 71 years of being a catalyst. When the foundation began in 1949, its purpose was to help Christ’s church, then the Methodist Church, remain true to its evangelistic calling through discipleship. As the church and our society has changed, the foundation continues to forge inroads to equip and impact the church’s call to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
You might say the FFE was born with the “Baby Boomers,” and like its human counterparts, the FFE values relationships – relationships built with you and told through your stories. We value your ideas about what the Church needs to be able to invite all people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. There’s that word again – Relationship!
Throughout 2019 we celebrated with you how we’ve made a difference these last 70 years. You’ve heard about the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism (ESJ Professors), who since 1984 have helped train the leadership of the local church. And you likely know about, or perhaps have received, the Harry Denman Evangelism Award. Only the FFE created a way for every annual conference to celebrate lay, clergy and youth whose passion is talking about and inviting the people they meet to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But these are just the tip of the iceburg!
Yes, the FFE was born in the time of the Boomers, but it joined the technological wave of Generation X by embracing the changes as they appeared on the horizon. We have been a catalyst at the beginning of some truly exciting efforts including Path1: New Church Starts, Refresh Campus Ministry Conference, the Web Empowered Church, Making Disciples on the College Campus, and VOMO (Awaken My City).
The Foundation for Evangelism expanded our focus beyond The United Methodist Church to the Wesleyan tradition family in 2012. Our purpose – to be a constant reminder and companion helping the church fulfill its purpose to invite all people into life-transforming relationship with Jesus – did not change. The relationships and conversations covered a broader spectrum, and we began learning from our brothers and sisters in denominations such as the Church of the Nazarene, the African Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches to name a few.
Now the Millenials are leaders in our churches and show us that 21st century relationships incorporate innovation, ingenuity and independence. Their tech-savvy challenges us to reach out beyond physical boundaries and utilize tools that their parents and grandparents only dreamed of! I’m reminded of two recent webinar series that are reaching clergy and laity in the local church. “Evangelism for Non-Evangelists” online course led by Rev. Drs. Mark Teasdale and Heather Lear is giving clergy and laity in the local church a “ground-up” approach to evangelism. The FFE-sponsored “E Word” webinar picked up where the previous online course left off. Earlier this month we released a companion group study guide which makes it possible for a small group or congregation to use this three-part webinar to continue their transformation and remove barriers to inviting folks into relationship with God by talking about their faith.
We are only beginning to build relationships with Generation Z, yet we are listening to their stories, and learning that these disciples live their faith boldly and seek to make a difference.
There is still much more that God is calling us to do! We know that there are so many opportunities for spreading God’s amazing message of love to a hurting world. We invite you as we continue on this journey called “Catalyst 2024” to join us in prayer, conversation, and support. Go to https://foundationforevangelism.org/catalyst2024/ to see how you can be involved.
As we begin this year, and a new decade for the FFE, I’m looking forward to the “Catalyst Conversations” we hope to have with you and others like you who are passionate about spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ! It’s a message of love that is so needed in our hurting world. Won’t you join me?
Your Partner in Ministry,
Jane Boatwright Wood
President, The Foundation for Evangelism
Part of a Series Highlighting the 2019 Harry Denman Evangelism Award Recipients
The Foundation for Evangelism reached out to the recipients of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award from each Annual Conference, encouraging them to share their story and ministry of inviting all people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. This is one in a series of responses that we hope will inspire you to share your faith story and the Good News of Jesus Christ with those you meet and know.
I am grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of the 2019 Harry Denman Award in our Annual Conference. I was surprised to know that what I enjoy doing on a daily basis is considered as a service within the conference, when all I set out to do is to let people know how awesome the God [is] who sought me out in my deepest, darkest and painful moments in my life.
It is such an awesome experience to share my story with you and to acknowledge that my journey has not been easy but it indeed has been worth it.
In the sharing of my testimony I want to tell you that in June 12th of 1986 my mother was shot and killed by her husband here in the City of Chester Pa., just before my 21st birthday. I lost my way and I had no idea how to grieve. I’d buried my grief in medicating myself with drugs and alcohol every weekend and then during the week my addiction began to take control of me, until one day my friend ask me why I always got high and talked about God? I knew He was the answer to my troubles I just didn’t know how to get up from that dark place. Finally one night they asked me to leave and I refused and my friend had a seizure from doing the drugs. I clearly heard a voice say “this is not the life I chose for you”. When the I left that place I went to Grace UMC requesting prayer after I confessed to the people where I had been and what I was doing, how my life was so out of control and I needed prayer for deliverance for God to remove the taste and to help me get up from that place of addiction that was seeking to destroy me. He heard the prayers, answered my cry and set me free from me, to follow Him in May of 1998 and I am forever grateful for this journey with Jesus that has changed my whole life. I owe it to Him to tell the world. What God has done for me He can and will do for others who desires a one on one relationship with Him. I’ve been blessed by the Best and now I am praying for the rest. My testimony is my story for His glory.
How did I know that I was called to this evangelism ministry? The answer is that I was doing it even when I did not know what a calling really was. In my days of addiction I would always talk about God to those who were in my company and it seemed that I could never get away form acknowledging while needing help in my time of trouble.
Who encouraged me? There were many along the way but most of all what I thought was my conscience then, I now know was the Holy Spirit speaking to me in my moments of sanity and convicting me at a time when I needed it the most, more than anything the change was slowing happening.
Were there obstacles? Most certainly there were obstacles called people, places, things, hurts, pain and weaknesses. I overcame those through prayer and prayer services. At 6am prayer on one Monday morning I stumbled into Grace UMC under the influence and I requested prayer for deliverance. Slowly and surely my prayers were answered.
What is one thing I wish I had when I started? I wish that I had the help and support that was needed to help those who were medicating themselves like me because we did not know how to process our grief.
What is the most important advice I could give to someone who is feeling that call to evangelism ministry? The most important advice I could give to someone who is feeling the call is to pray for and with them and encourage them to tell their story and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to work on them, in them and through them as they seek to reach out to the least , the last, those left out and those who feel alone.
Thanks for the opportunity to share, knowing God gets all the glory and the honor because I never could have made it with out Him.
Committed to Serve.
In January, eleven E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism gathered in a web conference in which they shared how they are expanding beyond changing and equipping new leaders to focusing on evangelism in the local church. These experts in Wesleyan-tradition evangelism logged in from the U.S. coast to coast, as well as from Germany and Russia.
While the professors have gathered on an annual or biennial basis in the past, this virtual meeting was a first for the group, and future gatherings like it are planned. The participants shared that it was great to hear what their colleagues were working on, and at several times during the conversation encouragement was given, connections were made, resources shared, and suggestions given for collaboration.
Several themes became apparent throughout the discussion. A need to equip small churches was voiced, especially in areas where attendance is declining. Several shared of their experience with students eager to try new models of evangelism applicable to their context such as “Dinner Church” and “House Church” as well as church gatherings that take place in and address the needs of the community. Most of the professors shared recent publications or those in the works. In April, Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe at Wesley Theological Seminary will release, The Adept Church: Navigating Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Abingdon Press).
Rev. Dr. Stephen Gunter, director of the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism program for the FFE, reflected that it was good for the professors to be able to connect in this way. By seeing one another and sharing more frequently, it helped them to feel less isolated and part of a larger cohort .
Changes In the Classroom
Technology has changed the way many of the professors teach. Several cited that their seminary has multiple campuses or offers online courses for students working remotely. This use of technology has allowed better engagement with students and has in some cases been a bridge for church leader training outside of the traditional seminary track.
Rev. Dr. Mark Teasdale has been leading the “Evangelism for Non-Evangelists” online courses for several years now through Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Having helped Teasdale and other professors lead many webinars in her previous role as Director of Evangelism Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, Rev. Dr. Heather Lear noted that technology has enabled many second career pastors and local pastors to get the training in evangelism they need in an accessible way. Heather is now serving as Teaching and Research Fellow for the FFE and is working on more ways to engage the E.S.J. Professors in training the local church using media and technology as a resource. Last fall, she was able to engage three professors of evangelism (two of which are ESJ Professors) to expand on that webinar and explore the concepts more in-depth. “The E Word” webinar series was offered to previous participants in Teasdale’s webinar as well as a select group of church leaders, laity and Foundation for Evangelism partners and friends.
Connecting Church and Community
Increasingly, part of the work of the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism is expanding to study and facilitate connection between church and community. Rev. Dr. Angel Santiago Vendrell at Asbury Seminary Orlando shared that he is working with a small parish near a difficult area of town to foster relationships between the church which is predominantly white, and the neighborhood which is predominantly Hispanic-Latino. Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe shared about his work with the Lewis Center for Church Leadership (he is currently the director in addition to his position as an E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism). There, he says, he works with students as well as church leaders, clergy and laity to help churches become more viable and engaged with their communities, taking the Gospel outside the church and not waiting for people to come to them.
The Foundation for Evangelism’s president, Jane Wood, shared that as a lay leader in her annual conference, it was great to hear the professors thinking beyond the academic institution and finding ways to prepare leaders – both clergy and laity – for a culture of evangelism in the local church.
Collaboration for Greater Impact
The professors also discussed collaborative projects. Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith (written by Powe and Rev. Dr. Hal Knight) will be translated into Spanish in 2020 through a grant from the FFE. Rev. Dr. Santiago will be the reader on that project. The professors plan to share syllabi to help them shape their classes in evangelism to better equip students. Rev. Dr. Achim Hartner from Reutlingen Theological Seminary in Germany expressed his excitement about presenting alongside Rev. Dr. David Whitworth (Gammon Theological Seminary) and Rev. Dr. Daniel Shin (Drew Theological Seminary) at the 2020 Wallace Chappell Lectures tentatively scheduled for June at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Ga.
Throughout the conversations, it was apparent that The E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism are not just teaching in a classroom but are actively engaged in connecting to and equipping the local church through leadership training and resource development. Each one expressed a love for the local church and a desire to help equip them to be an authentic voice to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with their communities.
The Foundation for Evangelism is pleased to announce that Rev. Allen Black was elected as the chair of the board of trustees at its annual meeting on October 29, 2019. Rev. Black is an elder in the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church and serves as district superintendent for the Harpeth River District.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Allen accepted the call to ministry at age 15. He served as Youth Director, Associate Pastor and Senior pastor of churches in Alabama while studying for his BS degree in Religion and Philosophy at Samford University in Birmingham. He received a Master of Religious Education (MRE) from New Orleans Theological Seminary and a Master of Divinity (M.Div) with honors from Memphis Theological Seminary.
Rev Black has served United Methodist Churches in Mississippi and Tennessee and has been a trustee of the Foundation for Evangelism since 2011. He is a representative to the World Methodist Council and is a member of the Order of the Flame and National Association of United Methodist Evangelists. He is married to Marjorie Black and they have five children and lots of grandchildren.
A new group study guide has been released for “The E Word” webinar which launched in November 2019. This study guide expands on the webinar and provides a way for small groups and congregations to dive deep into what evangelism means and explore ways they can use what they learn to better tell the Gospel story to their community. Written by Rev. Dr. Heather Lear, The Foundation for Evangelism’s Teaching and Research Fellow and former Director of Evangelism Ministries for Discipleship Ministries, the guide is broken up into four sections – an introduction, and three sessions based on the webinar speakers’ topics, Rev. Dr. Jack Jackson (Claremont School of Theology) with Faith Sharing & “Why Jesus,” Rev. Dr. Laceye Warner (Duke Divinity School) with Evangelism and Discipleship, and Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe (Wesley Theological Seminary) with Contextual Awareness. The sessions have a biblical and theological grounding in the Wesleyan tradition while asking culturally relevant questions to help your group look at current practices, motivation, and outcomes with exercises to challenge you to go beyond “what we’ve always done” and dream for what God is calling you to.
The guide is flexible and gives suggestions for groups meeting for different lengths of time, making it ideal for small groups, Sunday School, Bible Study groups, and even as a congregation-wide study. The questions are intentionally open-ended, and can be adapted for your particular ministry setting.
This group study guide and “The E-Word” webinar it is based on were both sponsored by The Foundation for Evangelism as a way to help local churches equip disciples to share their faith and the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike 4.0 International license, and may be printed/reproduced under the guidelines of this license. If you wish to reproduce this material for another purpose, please request permission by contacting our office.