For 22 years now, Leadership Institute at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection has drawn ministry leaders and pastors from around the nation, and even globally. This year was no different, however the event LOOKED very different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held virtually. Despite having to move online, the conference drew over 3,000 participants, a record in its 22 year history.
The Foundation for Evangelism was a sponsor at this year’s event, and provided a grant for a breakout session presented by Denman Fellow, Rev. Dr. Alma Tinoco Ruiz. The breakout session titled “Being Present: Evangelism and Social Trauma” urged attendees to provide a Spirit-led and compassionate presence during this time of communal trauma, drawing on the sermons of Saint Oscar Romero who served as Archbishop of San Salvador (1977-1980) and ministered to the marginalized and oppressed people of El Salvador.
Rev. Dr. Ruiz is the Lecturer in Homiletics and Evangelism, and Director of the Hispanic House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. Her presentation was developed with collaboration from Rev. Dr. Laceye Warner (the Royce and Jane Reynolds Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies and Associate Dean for Wesleyan Engagement at Duke Divinity School), who served as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Duke Divinity from 2001-2015.
Over 692 people have viewed the session so far, and participants had this to say:
Amen! Thank you Pastor Alma. That was very helpful. I like how you have lifted people like Wesley in England and Romero in El Salvador.
Thank you! This was very helpful, and inspired me to seek a way to make “safe space” for lament in my context.
The Foundation, through grants like Rev. Dr. Ruiz’s breakout session at Leadership Institute 2020, can be a Catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
For those who registered for Leadership Institute 2020, these sessions and all others are available online through the L.I. Whova app for a full year. If you were not able to register, you can still access the recordings on-demand by registering at https://li.cor.org/.
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In most typical years, The Foundation for Evangelism would have received announcements of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award Presentations at annual conferences months ago. Yet, because of the current pandemic and restrictions on gatherings, many annual conferences had to be creative in how they made the award presentations. Most conference staff or chairs of evangelism that contacted us shared that their annual conference was delayed until the fall or that they would going “all virtual” with their conference. This was certainly not a small undertaking, and so we are grateful that they chose to keep this annual award part of their conference celebration!
As part of lifting up these special people, we want to highlight two award recipients whose work, no doubt, has been a beacon of hope and transformation in their community, pointing people to the hope found in Jesus Christ. More inspirational stories on award recipients can be found on the Denman Evangelism Awards page.
Marie Ferree – West Ohio Annual Conference
Marie is the director of the St. Paul’s Food Pantry, a ministry of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Defiance, Ohio. Her exceptional ministry brings hope to those she serves and leads them into transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. She has walked with countless people as they have started or reignited their faith journeys, and she sees each client as a child of God. Rev. John T. Schlicher, Marie’s pastor says, “Marie has made a genuine bridge to the community with many people moving forward in their faith journeys, ultimately being baptized and joining [the church].” Seeing potential where others saw none, Marie has employed and mentored clients who were out of work and needed help getting their lives back on track. She has a genuine interest in the clients she serves, showing compassion, interest, acceptance and attention to needs. Having been a client of the food pantry herself before coming to work there, she knows, perhaps better than anyone, what her clients are going through. One client shared, “Marie gave me a job in the kitchen…it’s because of Marie that I come to worship every Sunday and attend the Tuesday Bible Study. I’m keeping my faith alive.”
Billie Jean Baker
Many nights, Billie Jean slept on an outside balcony at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. As an unsheltered person, she helped open the eyes of the church to meeting a need that was literally on their doorstep. Through her relationship with church members and leadership, she helped the church to expand its welcome to other unsheltered individuals. Billie Jean was recently able to find housing, but it is 7 miles from Oak Lawn UMC. The distance, combined with the pandemic has limited her ability to be at the church for worship, but on Sunday and Tuesday evenings, she brings her Bluetooth speaker outside her apartment and invites neighbors to listen with her to livestreamed worship services. Billie Jean’s pastor, Rev. Rachel Baughman, says she has led other homeless people to worship at Oak Lawn United Methodist and participate fully in the life of the church. “I’m grateful for the witness of Billie Jean, not just in paving the way for us to open shelter, but also for building connections and relationships with so many people who found themselves in very similar circumstances to hers.”
Billie Jeans says she has just one calling, “to help the homeless folks hear the Word of God…. I stand up for those that can’t stand up for theirselves ’cause I have a loud voice and pink hair and people are gonna pay attention to me!”
https://foundationforevangelism.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/unlikely-evangelist-2-with-clergy-690.jpg763690Barby Bowserhttp://foundationforevangelism.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/logo_2.pngBarby Bowser2020-10-09 16:03:432020-10-12 18:15:52Denman Award Presentations in the Time of COVID-19
This Easter will be different than any most of us have ever experienced. COVD-19 has changed our lives in ways that we are only beginning to realize. As people who follow Jesus Christ, we have been and will continue to be called upon to respond in ways we never anticipated. What should we do? Especially as we find ourselves approaching Easter Morning, a time that’s usually filled with joyful worship, sequestered at home as the sun quietly rises over our garden.
I find encouragement in the scriptures. Words so relevant to our situation at the moment as some of us are confronted with losing jobs. Many are separated from loved ones. Others work long hours to care for the sick and dying or make food available to the hungry. Jesus offers words to calm our fears. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) His promise prepared disciples then, and now, for the presence of the resurrected Savior and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
As we frail humans confront the reality of an unseen enemy – one that could take our lives or those of our loved ones – once more our faith provides hope.
“He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”
(Matthew 28:6-7 )
Again, we ask what should we do?
Live the Gospel story for a world that desperately needs to believe. I pray that we will rejoice as Mary Magdalene did upon seeing Jesus in the garden, “I have seen the Lord!”
Tomorrow as the sun rises remember – Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!
Jane Boatwright Wood President, The Foundation for Evangelism
https://foundationforevangelism.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/sunrise-beach-beautiful-clouds-269583.jpg8531280Barby Bowserhttp://foundationforevangelism.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/logo_2.pngBarby Bowser2020-04-11 11:54:042020-04-12 23:59:28The Hope of an Easter People
Like many of you, we at the Foundation for Evangelism have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus and related closures and restrictions. We wanted to assure you that we continue to operate during this global pandemic. Our staff has transitioned to working from home and on staggered schedules in the office, and remains available by phone and email. We encourage you to reach out to us. The building is closed to visitors at this time, at the recommendation of the North Carolina governor’s office, in an effort to protect our staff, building tenants, and the surrounding community.
Our commitment to be a Catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, a message that is needed perhaps more than ever right now, remains unchanged! We will continue to honor our grant commitments and promote Wesleyan-tradition evangelism resources. Some grants, like the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards, may need to shift due to changing Annual Conference schedules. The invitational faith these awards celebrate offers a nationally representative resource for powerful, inspirational testimonies of God’s work with and among us. We will work with our conference partners to support their changing schedules so that they can recognize these leaders. We also commit to providing you access to their stories of transformation to inspire, equip, and refresh your ministry.
As you might imagine, The Foundation for Evangelism and many other non-profits anticipate being financially impacted by the pandemic and the related economic stressors. We need your help to ensure that we can continue to promote, encourage, and provide resources for Wesleyan evangelism now and for generations to come. We are grateful to our donors and partners who consistently stepped up during fruitful and challenging times in the past, yet we also know that many people will experience hardship during this time. We encourage you to do what makes the most sense for your situation. We, the staff and board, as individuals, will do our part through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to those in need, and we invite you to do so as well.
We live in uncertain times, yet we know One who is, was, and
will always be constant. It is that very knowledge that affirms the work we
have done and will do together. God is
with you through this journey, and we will be praying for you, our dear
Foundation family, as we navigate the
season that is unfolding before us.
Your partners in ministry,
The board and staff of The Foundation for Evangelism
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
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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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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.
https://foundationforevangelism.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Black_Allen-e1579796786469.png739900Barby Bowserhttp://foundationforevangelism.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/logo_2.pngBarby Bowser2020-01-23 16:24:032020-01-23 16:27:08Allen Black to Chair FFE Board of Trustees
Matt Bistayi (at left), pastor of Valley Church in Allendale, received the Harry Denman Evangelism Award at the 2019 Michigan Annual Conference. After 10 years, Valley continues to “gain traction” with Jesus.
(This article originally appeared at www.michiganumc.org and has been reprinted with permission.)
BY KAY DEMOSS – Senior Content Editor for Michigan Conference of the UMC
None other than Billy Graham once called Harry Denman, “one of the great mentors for evangelism.” Denman lived a simple life, made friends with everyone he met, and shared the love of Jesus far and wide. Denman died in 1976 but his spirit lives on in an award that honors those who bring people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.
In his introduction Elliott quoted Harry Denman saying, “The only way we can see Christ is to see him wrapped in a person. We need to become a package of love, a package of faith, a package of Christ. Then we will be a package of evangelism.”
Matt Bistayi is such a “package.” He and his wife, Shellie, were sent to Allendale in 2009 to start a new church. “It was a parachute drop,” Matt says. “The pastor and family are parachuted into the community, and they say, ‘Good luck!’” He reports that 70% of parachute church plants fail in the first two to three years. But after five years Matt reports that Valley Church “had hit its stride,” and now, ten years in, “we are gaining traction.”
Matt and his team launched Valley on October 10, 2010 with over 100 people in attendance. The church was totally self-sufficient, receiving no conference funding, by 2013, at which time they were chartered. The church is now averaging 175 in worship.
The pastor gives credit the community into which he was dropped saying, “We were blessed with people who came on board, and who wanted to do something different here in Allendale.” Plus, Matt had good instincts. “Part of my story in ministry is what I experienced in college … when I wished I had a community like Valley to surround me,” Matt explains. As they arrived in Allendale, “that was a big part of what was important to my wife and me. We wanted to care about the Grand Valley campus and its students.” The excitement of those young people about involvement in a local church became “a big part of why Valley succeeded in those early years.”
While Valley cared about the campus community, the young and growing congregation never met on campus. “We are not a college church,” Matt says, “though we do care about college students.” The infant Valley first met in the township hall and then moved to a banquet hall in the Main Street Pub. Outgrowing those spaces, the group leased space in the Chemical Bank building on M-45, and they have gathered there ever since. Eventually they would gut and repurpose the bank space to make it look like what it does today. “It’s a non-traditional space that fits our vibe and culture well,” Matt remarks. “Valley is not auditorium-style. We have more of a warehouse-feel. And God is moving in our space.”
The vision statement of Valley Church, which grew out of Matt’s passion, is: “Helping Others live For God, For People, For a Change.”
Asked to describe the “vibe at Valley,” Matt says, “At Valley we believe it’s okay to have fun in faith. We are laughing with Jesus and with each other.” But the main hallmark of the Valley faith-style is “making a difference in practical ways in the lives and relationships around us.” In a phrase, Matt describes the Valley vibe as, “super real.” He continues, “That’s what a lot of people say. When we meet each month for Pizza with the Pastor, that’s often what we hear.” And it’s clear that “real” does not mean “easy.” “At Valley we are not fake. We are honest. And we are able to laugh even when we screw up royally.”
Perhaps the realness factor at Valley merges out of their radical openness. “We value stories,” Matt shares. “Everyone’s story matters, and that means you matter to us.” What Valley loves is spelled out in compelling fashion on the homepage of their website. The statement concludes, “There are an endless number of things that divide us in the world and we’re convince that God and the church shouldn’t be one of them.”
The stories of individuals are just the starting point for relationship at Valley. Matt says, “Jesus changes everything. When Jesus gets ahold of someone, their life and story changes. They become infused with hope. Then they want to share that hope with others.” Matt often reminds the Valley family that, “It is not about us. The most important person at Valley is the person who’s not here yet.”
When asked what exciting things are going on in the life of Valley in 2019, Matt mentions the “15 babies being born this year.” He notes that it’s scary, too. “Where are we going to put them if they all show up on the same Sunday?” he laughs. Valley Kids Ministry is already repurposing space. Go Groups is another ministry that generates energy. Go Groups are 8-12 people meeting regularly to build community and to go deeper with what was preached on Sunday. “Go Groups do life together,” Matt says. “And we like to say, ‘Go somewhere and make a difference.’” Three Go Groups each received $500 grants during 2019 to enable their creative service projects. With that support one of the college Go Groups sponsored a Family Fun Day for those not able to go away on spring break. Another Go Group is planning a Back to School Boutique, open to the community to do “school shopping on the cheap.”
Now a decade old, the pastor says, “We are still learning who we are, what that means, and how we can become more of what God wants us to be.” They continue to “lean into growth.” Matt poses the question, “How can we be momentous enough that we can keep being faithful?”
Valley looks head to the next ten years with a bold vision. SENT is a two-year big-vision-initiative for mission ministry, and multiplication. “It’s also about a home for our church in the future as a launching pad for Disciples to be SENT from.” The SENT outlook is expressed this way on Valley’s website: “We don’t want to be a bunch of saved people, we want to be a bunch of SENT people. Who send other people. Across the street. Across the city. Across the world.” Read more about SENT here.
Upon presenting the award at the 2019 Annual Conference, Dirk Elliott said, “Matt describes his ministry by saying, ‘Reaching more people for Jesus is the vision. Because, we know that God is crazy in love with people and the more people who know that; the more lives become filled with the hope, grace, and love of Jesus.”
A “Super Real Evangelist” is not doing what he or she does for personal glory. The 2019 recipient of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award in the Michigan Conference concludes, “God and Valley are in the zone.” And that is what brings Pastor Matt Bistayi joy.
https://foundationforevangelism.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Bistayi-Denman-Award.jpg639960Barby Bowserhttp://foundationforevangelism.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/logo_2.pngBarby Bowser2019-08-21 14:39:142019-08-21 17:45:03"Super Real Evangelist" Honored with Denman Evangelism Award