The Foundation for Evangelism Vice President for Grants Presents at 2023 LARCUM Conference

Contact: Barby Bowser, Communications
+1 (828) 454-6800

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 discussions on multiple topics around the “why” of evangelism.Over the course of two and half days, Dr. Lear 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. Presenters had three individual presentations and participated in a panel discussion together. We lift up Rev. Dr. Lear for her participation in the 2023 LARCUM Conference!

Read Dr. Lear’s Reflection HERE

Teaching People About Jesus – on TikTok?

When many people think of a “mission field,” they think of remote or challenging physical places. Yet a group of churches that received a 2022 Equipping the Local Church Grant made the challenging online spaces of TikTok and YouTube their mission field.

Pastor Michael Madden with the Sangamon River District Digital Discipleship Plan is one of the familiar faces behind a series of videos that seeks to provide accurate, understandable, and easily accessible information about the Gospel on the internet and social media, specifically TikTok and YouTube. Unlike many content creators on these social media channels, which can be divisive or hostile to certain groups of people, the “Teach Me About Jesus” series bridges the context between the Old Testament scriptures and the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, to spread a message of hope, love, grace, and peace to those who desperately need it.

Their typical TikTok audience is 61% male with 87% 44 years old or younger, and YouTube subscribers are 63% male with 76% age 44 or younger – a group that is largely missing from physical churches which tend to be made up of a majority of females and older adults. The grant has allowed the Gospel message to reach a different group of people that typically don’t attend a Sunday morning worship service.

This grant has opened the door for us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with so many people we would not normally reach. It has also given us insight that, perhaps, the [traditional] church (in our contexts) is not the avenue through which most of these populations will [first] experience Christ. 

Pastor Michael Madden

These videos, posted daily, provide seven opportunities a week to not just share the hope-filled message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, but for interaction and connection. Often, subscribers ask for prayers or encouragement through the comments section.

Pastor Madden recalls one interaction with a subscriber who said the videos had encouraged them to continue reading the Bible, specifically delving into the Psalms which was the focus of the daily posts at that time. The subscriber said that the content and discussion was helping them to continue their daily Bible reading journey.

Initially, the goal for the project was to help people deepen their faith, but this group of churches has realized that the videos are the first step of faith awareness and development for many people. They plan to build on what they have learned and will launch a podcast later this year to make the experience more interactive for subscribers, allowing them to ask questions or comment live. Recordings of the “Teach Me About Jesus” podcast will be made available on YouTube to help more curious people find the content and connect with the caring community that’s behind it.

When asked about the grant’s impact, Pastor Madden shared, “…this grant has created the opportunity to speak to several different groups of people with whom our churches do not regularly interact. Secondly, this grant has given us the resources to reach another audience missing from our physical churches… It has also given us insight that, perhaps, the [traditional] church (in our contexts) is not the avenue through which most of these populations will [first] experience Christ. ” But they’ll see a glimpse of who Jesus is when they connect with this community reaching out in an unusual and challenging (online) place.

To learn more about this grant initiative and watch videos in the “Teach Me About Jesus” series go to:

Foundation Team at Nazarene General Assembly

L-R Dr. Heather Lear (VP for Grants Administration), Dr. Stephen Gunter (Director of the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism Program), Barbi Moore (trustee) and husband, Pastor Harlan Moore (retired pastor in The Church of the Nazarene).

By Heather Lear, Vice President for Grants Administration

The Foundation for Evangelism continues to build relationships, expand our networks, and share our story across the Wesleyan-tradition family.  Serving as a sponsor at the Church of the Nazarene General Assembly provided a setting to be among the 10,000+ Nazarenes from around the world to learn about their ministry, challenges, and opportunities to embody and share the love of Jesus. As I tried to gain understanding about ministry contexts when clergy and lay leaders stopped at our booth, most began describing their setting with the same refrain, often after a brief hesitation. “Well, we’re pretty small,” or “We’re not a big congregation.” Upon hearing these apparent confessions, I would smile and say, “That’s great! We love and value smaller congregations and have some resources to come alongside you and fulfill the purpose and calling God has just for you.”

…the idea of receiving a grant of $5,000 to help a small local church launch an evangelism experiment was life-giving and potentially life changing

L-R Terri Farmer (Administrative & Facilities Coordinator), and Dr. Heather Lear

As we talked further, amazing stories and ideas began to emerge of how they already are or desire to live together faithfully in the settings where they are planted. We also received many questions about our funding sources and denominational support. The fact that we are strictly donor funded yet seek to not only be responsive to local church and leadership needs but be discerning and forward thinking about how to be a catalyst for the church moving forward was acknowledged as inspiring and surprising. I have said this before, but the idea of receiving a grant of $5,000 to help a small local church launch an evangelism experiment was life-giving and potentially life changing. We still have quite a bit of work to do telling our story and raising awareness across the Wesleyan family, but my time at General Assembly was additional confirmation that our intentional efforts of becoming crystal clear about who we are what we do was worth it. We continue to be on the right track, and I can’t wait for others to join our efforts!

“Conversational Testimony” Gives Laity a Voice to Share Their Faith

By Jane Boatwright Wood, President

As the young man approached Professor Jack Jackson, I could sense the earnest need to ask the question driving him forward. He began by relating a situation so many of us will find relatable, “I am asking my friends to say yes to Jesus, but they have not said yes. How am I failing?”

On a Saturday afternoon in March 2023, 500 passionate Christians gathered at Good Shepherd Methodist Church (Seoul, Korea) to participate in an afternoon of learning called Conversational Testimony. This event was the culmination of the partnership between professor and author, Rev. Dr. Jack Jackson, Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Dawe “David” Kim, and the Foundation for Evangelism. Professor Jackson has honed his research on REVEAL – a laity approach to sharing the story of Jesus – in several North American congregations, but the partnership with Good Shepherd offered a way to refine the training further. In addition to translating the material with the help of Rev. Dr. Young Ho Chun, Jackson refined the process to work in everyday conversations.

The key is loving relationship. Jackson shared his own testimony during which he confirmed that he said “no” for years before finally saying yes to God, but the friend who walked with him through this process never stopped loving or being in relationship with Jackson. It is the tenacity of Christian love that grounds every evangelistic ministry.

For Jackson the transformation led him to ordained ministry and ultimately to training clergy and lay leaders who share the Gospel story around the world. For the 500 gathered at Good Shepherd, they came to understand their reason for saying yes to God, and then began to translate that understanding into relationships that will now become invitational conversations based on their own testimony.  In that afternoon, they became evangelists capable of replicating their stories. They shared stories like transitioning from Buddhism to life in Christ, being saved from the influence of cults to enjoy the grace and love of God through Jesus, and finding the deeply Christ-centered faith that comes from living as a follower of a minority religion.

The partnership between The Foundation for Evangelism, Good Shepherd Methodist Church, and Professor Jack Jackson was made possible by a generous gift from the YS Mae Foundation (California). The YS Mae Foundation’s vision is to equip evangelists to share the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout Korea, honoring the faith and ministry of YS Mae, a lay woman in the Methodist tradition credited with supporting new churches and pastors in her native country, and whose passionate faith inspired the concept for this laity faith-sharing initiative.

Rev. Dr. Jack Jackson is a visiting professor at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He previously served as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Claremont Theological Seminary in Claremont, Ca. He is a Wesleyan scholar whose research centers on the theology and practices of mission and evangelism both in global contexts in the increasingly post Christian West. Dr. Jackson has extensive experience in global Christianity and Methodism having studied, taught, or made presentations in England, South Africa, South Korea, Israel, China, Costa Rica, Honduras, Brazil, and Colombia. Dr. Jackson is an Elder in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, and has served a number of churches over his fifteen years in pastoral ministry.