My opposition to a proposed measure extending the West Virginia Annual Conference‘s quadrennial focus on evangelism garnered a few atta-boys, which was really nice. The measure also passed by a score of everybody else-to-about 6. I have never garnered the courage to speak on the floor of the Annual Conference session. I had a good argument chiseled out in my brain. I walked into the session after a break and BOOM, the session had reconvened and the measure was being debated on the floor. The sponsor of the Resolution spoke, the Bishop called for discussion, then a voice vote. I’m not really mad about it. I never expected it to fail. I am disappointed in myself however. I’ve wanted to speak on the floor for 3 years now and have never garnered the courage nor seized the opportunity.
The irony is that the victorious measure totally contradicts the teachings of Rev. Doug Anderson, who gave a solid presentation on evangelism in our morning teaching hour. Rev. Anderson is the Director of the Bishop Rueben Job Center for Leadership Development and a former DS in Indiana. Springpad just ate all the notes I took on Rev. Anderson’s talk. He differentiated between preference-centered churches and purpose-centered churches. He helped us understand Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. He gave a “graduated” approach to evangelism that made sense in some areas and confused me in others.
- Elementary-level evangelism is service-evangelism. The example he gave is giving out water-bottles with church info printed on it. People get the water, they get a message on the refreshment of God’s grace and an invitation to church. This was kinda hokey. Though he mentioned that Service (aka Acts of Mercy) are a means of grace, he didn’t display much appreciation or understanding of this concept.
- Middle-School-level evangelism consists of faith sharing within small groups. Rev. Anderson developed this idea quite well. Learning to tell your story is vital to understanding your own faith. When you routinely testify as to how God is working in your life, you begin to notice more. It also prepares you for higher levels of evangelism.
- High School-level evangelism is testimony given in worship or a larger group. This will involve a greater degree of risk as there are different people at different faith levels in attendance.
- College-level evangelism is inviting people to come to church via one’s story (from middle school level)
- Graduate-level evangelism is forming a relationship with another that eventually leads one to Christ.
Rev. Anderson explained that power is energy plus direction. The direction of a purpose-centered church is outward. A few mere hours later, we voted overwhelmingly to spend four years of time, energy and money looking inwardly. I don’t really understand that. But I am more disappointed in myself than anyone else.