Moving Church – Part 3

Part 3 of this 3-part series focuses on getting to know your neighbors and making meaningful connections with those in the community, and inviting them into the life and ministry of God’s people. Dr. Stone and Rev. Reynolds tell about real-life encounters and share ideas on how a church can be present to those in their neighborhood and community. Stone shares from his research published in Finding Faith Today.

Moving Church – Part 2

Part 2 of this 3-part series focuses on becoming a community mission focused church and planning for those who are not here yet. Dr. Stone and Rev. Reynolds talk through the process of working with the church to see its growth areas and play to its strengths, both inside and outside the church walls.

2023 Local Church Grant Recipients Chosen

The Foundation for Evangelism has chosen 50 churches and organizations to receive an Equipping the Local Church grant. A total of $350,000 will be distributed through $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000 micro-grants to small and medium sized Wesleyan tradition* churches and church-based organizations. The focus of the grant is to launch an experiment or initiative to share the Gospel, tell their faith stories, and invite others into a relationship with Jesus alongside a local faith community. The recipients are from 9 Wesleyan-tradition denominations across 24 states. Proposed projects range from children’s after school programs to experiments with local community participation.

  • Small-Medium Church Grants
    • Abundant Life African Methodist Episcopal  Church – Dallas, Texas
    • Agape Fellowship Church of the Nazarene – New Igeria, Louisiana
    • Aldersgate United Methodist Church – Olathe, Kansas
    • Aldersgate United Methodist Church – Augusta, Georgia
    • Bad Axe Church of the Nazarene – Bad Axe, Michigan
    • Bethel Korean United Methodist Church – Santa Clara, California
    • Bremen United Methodist Church – Bremen, Ohio
    • Brighton Rock African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – Portsmouth, Virginia
    • Canadian Hills Church of the Nazarene – Yukon, Oklahoma
    • Ceili Community (UMC) – Wheatland, Oklahoma
    • Committee on Native American Ministry of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the UMC
    • Community Cup Church of the Nazarene – Kankakee, Illinois
    • Converted Heart Christian Methodist Episcopal Church – Silver Spring, Maryland
    • Cooks Hill Community Church (Free Methodist) – Centralia, Washington
    • Cross Keys United Methodist Sunday School – Williamstown, New Jersey
    • CrossRoads Cowboy Church Natural Dam (Church of the Nazarene) – Natural Dam, Arkansas
    • Daniel Payne Outreach Ministries (AMEC) – Nashville, Tennessee
    • Deland Church of the Nazarene – Deland, Florida
    • DRC-Rwandan PAC of the South Austin Church of the Nazarene – Austin, Texas
    • Easter Hill United Methodist Church – Richmond, California
    • Ebenezer Church of the Nazarene – Aiken, South Carolina
    • Embrace – A Center for Community (UMC) – Waynesboro, Virginia
    • First United Methodist Church – Johnson City, Tennessee
    • Fleming Island United Methodist Church – Fleming Island, Florida
    • Forest Chapel United Methodist Church – Cincinnati, Ohio
    • Four Winds NYC (Wesleyan Church) – New York, New York
    • Goodsell United Methodist Church – West Point, Georgia
    • Grace United Methodist Church – Jackson, Tennessee
    • Hartsville District Cooperative Parish – Hartsville, South Carolina
    • Hemenway United Methodist Church – Evanston, Illinois
    • Heritage United Methodist Church – Madison, Alabama
    • Midtown Church (Assembly of God) – Kansas City, Missouri
    • Mosaic Church of Detroit (Wesleyan Church) – Detroit, Michigan
    • Mosaic United Methodist Church – Wilmington,  North Carolina
    • Mount Hermon United Methodist Church – Mount Jackson, Virginia
    • Mount Hope United Methodist Church – Lansing,  Michigan
    • Mt. Harmony United Methodist Church – Wellersburg,  Pennsylvania
    • Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church – Pittsboro, North Carolina
    • Rebirth Christian Methodist Episcopal Church – Florissant, Missouri
    • Russell Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church – Durham, North Carolina
    • Smith Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – Anniston, Alabama
    • St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church  – Nashville, Tennessee
    • Tehachapi Valley United Methodist Church – Tehachapi, California
    • Tempe First United Methodist Church – Tempe, Arizona
    • The Gathering at Washington Street (UMC) – Petersburg, Virginia
    • The Mosaic Center (UMC) – Evans, Georgia
    • The Way (UMC) – Pace, Florida
    • West Ohio Conference of the UMC
    • Word on the Street (UMC) – Huntersville, North Carolina
    • Zion Grove African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church – Eagle Springs, North Carolina

Other 2023 grants:

Evangelism for the Non-Evangelists Online Course co-sponsor

Engaging the Ministry of the Laity Grants

Raising Up Gospel Leader Grants

*We define Wesleyan-tradition as based on the ministry movement begun in the 18th century by John and Charles Wesley

EDIT: A previous version of this story listed 51 grant recipients. That number has been reduced to 50 due to one recipient withdrawing their application.

Evangelism Summit Gathers Pan-Wesleyan Laity

In March The Foundation for Evangelism gathered a diverse group of laity in Dallas, Texas. The group hailed from points across the United States, from six Wesleyan-tradition denominations, with one paramount goal in mind: TO LISTEN.

The Laity Evangelism Summit gathered laity from six Wesleyan-Methodist denominations across the United States for discussion and visioning.

Just a few weeks later, the group gathered again online to share and pray, and discuss how they were taking the next steps they had set during the gathering in March.

One participant logged on from the church, in their work clothes, ready to serve before working the night shift. They shared that the copy of The Quotable Mr. Wesley, which the Laity Evangelism Summit participants each received, had inspired a fledgling prayer ministry and an openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit to engage in a season of prayer with others.

The group brainstormed and discussed ways that the Foundation and others could encourage and engage the ministry of the laity.

Another participant shared that the ministry they are involved in has brought spiritual and physical healing to their community. They are doing the hard work of collecting and studying data around their ministry connections to help make those connections more fruitful. Prayer was requested that the ministry move beyond the current location to reach the larger community while also seeing individuals worthy of the invitation to join the church family.

The group discussed community and Kingdom impact that begins because children are first curious, and when welcomed bring the adults in their lives into that welcome. They each shared examples of young people called to preach, youth who answered when the church reached out to the community, and the impact that opening a space to the community can have. This led one of the laity summit participants to share how, in their ministry, they’ve seen the Holy Spirit work through the lives of young people when they are given opportunities to lead. Let’s pray that the same evangelistic spirit and culture engulf the whole church!

More check-ins are planned for this “think-tank” group that will be helping the Foundation form our Engaging the Ministry of the Laity initiative in the coming months. We look forward to sharing inspiring stories and resources as they emerge.

Ecumenical Conference Discusses WHY Evangelism?

The Foundation for Evangelism’s Vice President for Grants, Rev. Dr. Heather Lear, was a featured speaker at the LARCUM Conference of West Virginia in May. The conference included Lutheran, Anglican (Episcopalian), Roman Catholic, United Methodist presenters and participants meeting around the theme “Evangelism? Asking not how, but why

Dr. Lear drew on her experience with The Foundation for Evangelism, her years as Director of Evangelism for the General Board of Discipleship for The United Methodist Church, her work teaching evangelism courses for Wesleyan-tradition seminaries, and her years as a local church pastor. Over the three-day conference, she spoke and led discussion on multiple topics around the “why” of evangelism.

By Dr. Heather Lear

In my first few years of full-time pastoral ministry, the church growth “if you build it, they will come” model was still popular, and in some larger congregations located in areas with growing populations, remained effective. Yet in many congregations, they just weren’t coming. When I moved into a denominational role, I received pleas for help and requests for the magic program that would have people flocking to their church. To their frustration, I let them know such a program did not exist and probed further to learn about their context and motivation for reaching out. Almost always, the driving force was the same. They were willing to consider evangelism because they needed more people, and ultimately, more money to survive. While this is a compelling reason for committed, long-time members to act, why did it take getting into dire circumstances? Isn’t there another reason to share their faith and invite others into Christian community besides desperation?

I recently had the privilege of presenting the Wesleyan/Methodist perspective at this year’s LARCUM Conference in Charleston, West Virginia. LARCUM is an annual event offering dialogue and fellowship among Lutheran, Anglican (Episcopalian), Roman Catholic, and United Methodist laity and clergy. Each year a different topic is selected, and this year’s theme was around “Why” we do evangelism. They intentionally did not want to focus on practices and tactics, but on motivation and theological reasons for evangelism.

Over the course of two and half days I shared the stage with two other scholar practitioners. Dr. David Hahn, an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor and professor and Daniel Maul, Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for his Roman Catholic diocese. We each had three individual presentations and participated in a panel discussion together. Despite our theological differences, common themes emerged.

Saving a struggling or dying institution is not a compelling narrative or reason to join a church. But an invitation to follow Jesus, who offers a life-changing, transformative Gospel is.

And being part of a body who loves, supports, nurtures, and holds us accountable through all of life’s highs and lows is something offered in Christian community, not easily found anywhere else!

Moving Church – Part 1

Part 1 of this 3-part series is a kind of “case study” of a particular established church that is working to be more community mission and evangelism focused. Rev. Gary Reynolds describes the church’s strengths and growth-areas while Dr. Bryan Stone (E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Boston University School of Theology) shares from his research published in “Finding Faith Today” and Dr. Stephen Gunter facilitates.