This weekend Karlene and I were with Buchanan Park FM in Hamilton (we worshiped, enjoyed a warm welcome, and had a great luncheon!). We were encouraged by the young, new believers we met who obviously love Jesus, and are well loved by their church family. The Buchanan Park leadership is asking very good questions about accepting responsibility for their community. They face challenges similar to so many of our churches: older costly building, aging demographic, large vibrant churches nearby… What do they need to do to go forward?
I keep a list in my journal of “things I don’t know”. Basically, it’s a list of ideas, places, people and things that I want to learn more about by digging deeper. For instance “re-learning French” is on there, “being bishop” is on there and so is “evangelism”. I read a lot about evangelism and I find people who introduce others to Jesus regularly and ask them questions. I pray and ask for opportunities to tell others about this great gift that I have with God. I recognize that evangelism is a spiritual gift. I have dear friends, Rob & Collette (Rob is tracking) from Barrie that have this gift, and it seemed like every time Collette opened her mouth up in the deli she worked or the coffee shop, one more person became a believer! However as much as it is a gift it is also everyone’s responsibility – like prayer. I fall into the category of believers who do not have the gift of evangelism, but have the wonderful privilege and moral responsibility to introduce others to Christ.
Clearly evangelism is mostly about relationships – though there are those amazing moments one has at bus stops or airports. I just had one with a young couple at an airport in Toronto – I also had a not-amazing airplane encounter with a very loud drunk man who had much to say about “Christianity.”
The context of evangelism in the Bible is DISCIPLESHIP & PRAYER.
Evangelism is part of discipleship. I mean, when were the apostles born again? What was their spiritual birthday? The Bible doesn’t specifically tell us, because I believe that for Jesus, discipleship was the journey the not-yet-believer walked to becoming a follower. Discipleship is the context of evangelism. Discipleship starts with evangelism and ends when we graduate into glory – discipleship was never meant to be a 13 week course!
I just finished a very helpful book, The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations: Walking alongside people who believe differently, by Mary Schaller and John Crilly (Tyndale House, 2016). It is a very accessible read that would make for a good study group book. I agree with the authors’ major thesis that using QUESTIONS is a very effective method of not only building relationship but of helping introduce people to Jesus. Jesus asked over 150 questions! “Jesus invited others to participate in the activity of discovery, to take hold of truth for themselves… Jesus’ questions were also decisively clarifying” (page 106).
Evangelism involves being genuinely interested in another person’s life. One day I invited my neighbour Bob to kayak with me – he did most of the talking and then finally said, “enough about me, you always seem so interested in me, what about you?”
Evangelism must be grounded in PRAYER: prayer for you to be a good listener; that your friend’s heart would be soft to God; that you would offer right answers; and brave-prayer for God to do the miraculous in that person’s life. Not wimpy prayer, but the Jesus-up-all-night type of prayer. Recently a mother and I prayed for her adult daughter to be healed. Mom told daughter that we had prayed and the daughter who had drifted from faith was healed. Guess who has turned her life around?
It was not mostly through ‘friendship evangelism’ that people came to follow Him, but through the gift of forgiveness AND through signs and wonders that people flocked to experience these. My point is simply that good conversational technique is not the extent of evangelism. Finding the right set of questions to pull out at a bus stop is not the stuff of evangelism. Evangelism is not a project or a formula. It is relationship and the story starts in prayer:
|PRAYER POWER OF GOD in your friend’s life EVANGELISM / DISCIPLESHIP (becoming friends by spending time, sharing life and asking good questions).|
Pastors, Boards, delegates and FM’ers I invite you to have a discussion in your small group, or board meeting or at your supper table about evangelism:
- How important is evangelism to you? No, really because if it is important then it will somehow show up in your daily calendar.
- Cliff called evangelism our “moral responsibility” – what do you think is meant by that?
- What keeps you from sharing your faith? Give an example of a faith-sharing moment that you have had with a friend recently.
- Tell me about the relationships that you are building with a “None” or “Done”?
- Discuss Jesus’ questions: how are they “decisively clarifying”?
- What are examples of questions that could be used to help people think about Jesus?
- How should we pray for someone who is not a Christian? How much time? What words? Alone? With others? Do you feel like you are an expert in prayer? How can we grow in prayer (because prayer is a very rich and eternal opportunity and responsibility)?
- How as a leader can I promote evangelism?
- Your local church should have a “culture of evangelism” – what do you think that is? How as a church can we create a culture of evangelism?
- What would a “culture of discipleship” look like at our church?
- Can we revisit some of these questions in two months (everyone but questions 2 & 5): let’s mark it in our calendar?
SAVE THE DATE – 2018 REGIONAL GATHERINGS
Church Health Thursdays -Three Common Idols in Churches: https://www.fmcic.ca/three-common-idols-in-churches/New
News & Stories Blog – Being Ambassadors Outside the Church Walls: Conversation with a Millenial ‘Done’: https://www.fmcic.ca/being-ambassadors-outside-the-church-walls-conversation-with-a-millenial-done/ New
the conneXion – a Free Methodist theology blog: 3 Minute Theology 2.5: Knowing the Bible Inside Out: http://www.fmcic.ca/3-minute-theology-2-5-knowing-the-bible-inside-out/
New Leaf Podcast: Learning Party Talks – Mark Groleau: https://www.newleafnetwork.ca/podcast/ep-50-learning-party-talks-mark-groleau/ New
Faith and Finances Website: http://faithandfinances.ca
LifePlan Study Team Files
Do you know someone who would like to receive CliffsNotes? They can now sign up through the website at:https://www.fmcic.ca/cliffsnotes-signup/
The next deadline is February 15, 2018 to apply for the Leadership Scholarship Plan (LSP) for the winter semester of 2018. More information is available at this link:http://www.fmcic.ca/scholarships/
Heart of Canadian Free Methodism:
June 1-3, 2018 in Western Canada (location TBA*)
June 1-3, 2018 in Ontario (location TBA*)
(also available online through FMC-USA: http://fmcusa.org/leadership/courses/)
Personal and Church Stewardship
6-week online course – begins January 29, 2018
Culture and the Missional Church:
Next course date and location TBA*
(*these locations will be selected based on where the majority of the participants reside – so please register early!)
Registration is online for all courses at this link: http://www.fmcic.ca/foundational-courses/. Those tracking for credentialed ministry should take the Heart course first and then Wesleyan Theology if possible.
Ordination and Commissioning
- Laurie Lemke – Vennachar Free Methodist Church, Vennachar, Ontario – December 10, 2017 at 3 pm at Vennachar FM Church
CHURCHES IN TRANSITION
Harrowsmith FMC, Harrowsmith, ON
Rustle FMC, Kingston, ON
Sault Ste Marie FMC, Sault Ste Marie, ON
Church Profiles available
Contact Susan DePlanché in the Leadership Development Office to request a church profile – [email protected] or 289-228-1225.
(If you are interested in seeing the profile for any of these churches, please contact Susan at the Leadership Development Office [[email protected] or 289-228-1225] and the profile will be emailed to you as soon as it becomes available.)
Athens FMC, Athens, ON (Angel Valentin-Transition Pastor)
Asbury FMC, Perth, ON
Caistor Centre FMC, Caistor Centre, ON (Mary Lee DeWitt-Transition Pastor)
Centennial Chapel FMC, Kamloops, BC (Vern Frudd-retiring May 31, 2018)
Cornerstone FMC, Prince Albert, SK – (Dyan Mouland – Transition Pastor)
Dunnville FMC, Dunnville, ON
Grapeview FMC, St. Catharines, ON (Dan Sheffield – Transition Pastor)
Madoc Free Methodist/ Wesleyan Church
Marmora FMC, Marmora, ON
Melfort FMC, Melfort, SK
Odessa FMC, Odessa, ON
Tabernacle de la Grace, Montreal QC
Thunder Bay FMC, Thunder Bay, ON (Andre Korstanje retiring July 2018)
Warkworth FMC, Warkworth, ON
Functioning with approved local arrangements
Avonlea FMC, Avonlea SK
Campbell’s Bay FMC, Campbell’s Bay, QC (Orville White)
Church On The Hill, Orillia ON
Cordova Mines FM Fellowship, Cordova Mines, ON
Dryden FMC, Dryden, ON
Eglise Chrétienne Méthodiste Libre de Le Gardeur, QC (Duplan Auguste Lython)
Enterprise FMC, Enterprise, ON
Killarney FMC, Killarney, MB (Raymond Riglin)
Markham FMC, ON (K.K. Leung)
Pineview FMC, Cloyne, ON
Richmond Hill Chinese & English Churches, Richmond Hill, ON (K.K. Leung)
Roblin FMC, Roblin, MB (Heath Butler)
Surrey FMC, Surrey BC (Nathaniel Prakash)
theStory, Sarnia, ON
Timmins FMC, Timmins, ON (Lewis Byer)
Wesley Chapel Japanese FM Church, Toronto, ON (Misa Mochinaga)
Wyevale FMC, Wyevale, ON
Yarker FMC, Yarker, ON (Ken Babcock)
PASTORS IN TRANSITION