The Missing Ingredient
Jamie Holtom, Lead Minister North Bramalea United Church, Brampton ON
Most church leaders I talk to want their churches to grow. I think that’s a good thing!
It’s not about growth or numbers for the sake of themselves. It’s about sharing the good news of Jesus with people so that we might have more people encountering the life-changing message of Christ’s hope and partner with God through the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing and hope to a broken world.
Who wouldn’t want more of that happening? Isn’t that the movement that God came to earth to bring about? Isn’t the vision of more people being bearers of good news as exciting as anything on the planet?
So then if THAT got our engines fired up and passion stirred in us it begs one more question:
What is the secret ingredient?
What is the one thing that makes evangelism really work effectively? What is the one thing that is consistent beyond denomination and beyond worship styles and beyond geographical locations?
How about the role of prayer in the work of sharing Jesus with others?
I was personally shocked to read in the National Survey on Evangelism put out by Alpha Canada that “Only half of church leaders connect evangelization with discipleship and prayer” and that “55% of church leaders agree that prayer is central to evangelism.”
I am not a math guru by any means but that means 45% of church leaders did NOT think that prayer is central to evangelism.
Personally I would have to question why that would be the case as in my own experience as well as that of our church PRAYER has been central to the work of evangelism and sharing our faith in an authentic way.
Here is what I mean by that:
It all starts with prayer. Revival starts on our knees. It is a gift from God and as we get on board with God’s agenda through prayer and time with Jesus I know I find myself overwhelmed with the conviction that the love of God is so transforming in my own life the very best I can do is to share that with as many people as possible.
It is my own experience of Jesus that moves me to even want to share my faith.
It is prayer and the working of the Holy Spirit that leads me to know who God is leading me to even reach out to or share Christ with. Sometimes it’s an invitation to worship that Sunday because that Sunday we are talking about something that will bless someone I love so much. Sometimes it is letting someone know Alpha or Alpha Marriage is starting and extending an invitation to them. (There is NOTHING better than to hear someone get up and share their testimony and have them point back to an invitation that YOU sent – all because of time with God in prayer who led you to do it!!)
It is prayer that gives us the words to say and the questions to ask and the ability to enter into peoples’ pain and the resiliency to go on when it’s hard and the sense that God is at work in and through us.
If you’re not sure how to do evangelism or share your faith I would suggest that you don’t worry about it at all!
Just take some time to pray, being open to who God might be leading you to share Jesus with…
And see what happens!
Who knows? Maybe you’ll find the missing ingredient?
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news? Romans 10:15
What We Are Reading
Models of Evangelism
In Priscilla Pope-Levison’s book, Models of Evangelism, she sees that various denominational traditions define evangelism in many ways, but common to these definitions of evangelism, “is the promise of evangelism that issues invitations, forges relationships, relieves hunger, quenches thirst, restores fruitfulness, and reconciles estranged parties” (p. 6). In this book, Pope-Levinson presents eight models of evangelism as: personal, small group, visitation, liturgical, church growth, prophetic, revival, and media. She devotes a chapter to each of these models and assesses each model biblically, theologically, historically, and practically. In each chapter, the Appraisal section of each evangelism model is well researched and balanced for the most part in its strengths and shortcomings.
Throughout the book, it emphasizes the importance of evangelism as the “good news” and each congregation or parish has a preferred model of evangelism or a combination of evangelism models. Regardless of model, there are qualities which makes each evangelism model good: “hospitality, relationship, integrity, message bearing, and church rootedness” (p. 181). For Pope-Levison, these five essential ingredients need to be indicators of a congregation’s evangelistic efforts.
I would also suggest that you listen to Priscilla Pope-Levison podcast Doing Evangelism with Integrity with Doug Powe from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership that is based on her book. Listen Here
Dr. Arch Wong is Professor of Practical Theology at Ambrose University and Associate Director of the Flourishing Congregations Institute
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