Evangelism for All
January 6, 2016
by Heather H. Lear, Director of Evangelism at Discipleship Ministries
“You’re the new director of evangelism ministries at Discipleship Ministries? I didn’t know Discipleship Ministries had an evangelism position.”
“Discipleship Ministries has an evangelism area on its website?”
These are some of the responses received when colleagues found out I was moving to a UMC agency in Nashville. To be honest, as a local church pastor, I too was unaware of the tools and resources available to me through agencies.
Why is this?
My first few months here, I’ve seen how my colleagues work diligently and care deeply about equipping and supporting local churches and their leaders.
God has a dream and purpose for your congregation and community.
For the past several years of ministry, I struggled to navigate what ministry should be in the 21st century. I found myself searching for the latest, greatest models and programs that, if inserted exactly as prescribed, would magically bring results.
People would flock to my church and ask how they could sign up and commit their lives to Jesus. Surprisingly (or not), this didn’t happen.
Frequently, I receive requests for templates to reach the unchurched or for tried-and-true evangelism programs. My response to all of these requests is the same.
I don’t have any universal program to offer you that will work in every setting. There aren't any quick and easy solutions. You need to know your neighbors and hear their stories, hopes and needs.
But…the good news is that God has a dream and purpose for your congregation and is already at work in your community. I would love to help you discover what that may look like in your context.
For some, this response spurs excitement about discovering possibilities. For others, there's a sense of fear about what and where God may be calling them to be and go. Unfortunately, some shut down in frustration, thinking me unhelpful.
I willingly acknowledge that I’m not the “evangelism expert” for the United Methodist Church. Until two years ago, I found myself having the same visceral reaction to the word as many of our United Methodist brothers and sisters feel.
But I realized the evangelism we shun isn’t the model John Wesley or Jesus himself modeled.
Jesus cared deeply for all people, sought to meet their needs and offered them new life, meaning and purpose. What I’ve learned is that our world today needs the same hope and new life found through Christian discipleship.
All people are beloved children of God. Status and stuff (or lack thereof) do not define worth. This is a message worth sharing and a message people are hungry to hear.