I am reflecting on the year ending like so many of you. Taking time to explore how we fulfilled our mission and vision. Examining what is most exciting about the upcoming year.
The Foundation for Evangelism leads with the “Evangel,” the Gospel of Jesus, so that everything we do is to equip disciples to invite all people into life-transforming relationships with Jesus Christ. We have two purposes: 1) make grants and 2) provide a place for folks who want to invite the world to know Jesus to pool their resources to make that happen.
So how did we do in 2021?
For me, the highlight was the Foundation’s year-long review of the impact of the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism grant. It was almost 40 years ago when we boldly accepted the God-sized vision to change the ordination requirements for the largest Wesleyan denomination in the U.S. That change was facilitated through our grant funding. Evangelism became a required seminary class through a partnership between the Foundation and church influencers. Then we helped implement the new requirement with over $16 million in grants (through 2021) to support world-class scholars as mentors and instructors. I consider that a success!
We believed that to fully understand a grant’s impact, we had to go where disciples are invited and lives are transformed. Dr. Amy Valdez-Barker agreed to lead a team to survey church pastors and Christian leaders 5-8 years after their seminary experience and report what they learned. The graph below shows one of the insights we gained:
The result is an invaluable study of successes, challenges, and developing opportunities. We will share statistics, lessons learned, and stories with you throughout 2022 focusing on “How have the Foundation’s grants and expertise been a CATALYST for evangelical ministry?”
The Foundation for Evangelism continues to connect with more diverse Wesleyan-tradition believers who share our passion for these Evangelism Grant Focus Areas:
- Raising Up Gospel Leaders
- Engaging the Ministry of the Laity
- Equipping the Local Church
With the addition of the Dr. H. Eddie and Mary Nell Fox Endowment for Evangelism (global outreach) and The Foundation for Evangelism Fund (ongoing grant funding in three focus areas), we increased the number of active donors by 47%. Almost 150 donors made their first gift in 2021.
WHAT AM I MOST EXCITED ABOUT for 2022? Equipping the Local Church!
This year we will double the number of Local Church Cohort training opportunities in the U.S. If travel restrictions allow, the first international initiative is ready for 2022. Cohort Proposals are underway from Church of the Nazarene regional leaders, Spanish-language cohorts, and teams from small participation churches across multiple denominations who want to learn from one another.
Perhaps the most exciting news is our first $250,000 grant cycle for Equipping the Local Church! We can fund up to 35 grants and plan to use every available dollar to train, equip, and provide tools for disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Mark your calendar – applications open on January 15, 2022. Go to our website now to learn more – and then tell everyone you know!
I am excited to close this year knowing what has been accomplished, but eager to begin a new year with a new grant cycle and new opportunities. We are truly grateful to our donors, staff and trustees and look forward to forging new relationships with leaders, laity, and congregations who are equipping disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Have a Blessed New Year!
Jane Boatwright Wood