Tag Archives: World Methodist Evangelism

Connecting Globally

By Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes

World Methodist Evangelism leaders are connected with schools and organizations on the leading edge of theological studies, not just in the United States, but also abroad. For example, both our Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Kim Reisman, and our Director of Education and Leadership, Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes, are Visiting Research Fellows at St. John’s College, Durham University, in Durham, England. Founded in 1909, St. John’s enjoys a distinctive relationship with the Wesley Study Centre and Cranmer Hall, which trains ministers for service in the Church of England and the “Free Church”. These three enjoy a thriving relationship through, in part, their Anglican Methodist student covenant.

This is just one of the many ways that the ministry of World Methodist Evangelism is unique. It is also one of the things that makes our Convergence Conference a particularly special opportunity. During the Convergence Conference, the complex dynamics of living missionally in a postmodern, post-Christendom context will be probed and dissected in the beautiful, historic setting of Durham. Learn more about Convergence here. Learn more about St. John’s College and see all the Visiting Fellows here.

Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes is the Director of Education and Leadership for World Methodist Evangelism. His new book, Consuming Mission: Towards a Theology of Short-Term Mission and Evangelism (Wipf & Stock) is now available: www.consumingmission.com. He can be reached at rob@worldmethodist.org.



Looking to Share Your Faith? Slow Your Pace

By Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes

We live in a culture that wants to move faster and faster still. But, is faster always better? There are some things about going slow that you cannot get when you are moving fast.

When I was serving as a youth minister, I took the youth group hiking to the top of a small mountain. At the end of the trail was a vista with a beautiful view of the city below. I had hiked it before, and I was eager for the young people to see the breathtaking view for themselves. As we quickly unloaded the vans, I rushed the youth to the trail. Once on the trail, we were soon met with a large fog bank. It appeared that we were not going to get to see the beautiful view at the end of the trail after all. We hiked on, mostly to keep with our planned program of holding devotions there, though at a slower pace because of the fog. Because of that slower pace, and because I was forced to carefully watch the trail beneath me, I began to notice things that I had not seen before. I found the tiniest, most beautiful flowers. I marveled at fascinating trees that I had missed before. We reached the trail’s end and had our time of Bible reading and devotions in the thick fog. Afterwards, we all closed our eyes for a time of prayer. When we all said “Amen” and open our eyes, we discovered that the fog had lifted during those few moments of prayer. There before us, splashed by the colors of the setting sun, was the most beautiful view of the city. By slowing down, we got to see the flowers on the trail immediately at our feet and the beauty that was still far away.

Slowing down can have a powerful effect on Christian discipleship and on faith-sharing alike. When we slow down, it is not just the deeper connecting with Creation that we notice, like on my hike. Moving at a slower pace allows us to stop and speak to our neighbors, to meet new people, or to renew old friendships. Remember that Jesus and the disciples did not zoom in to a community, stay a few moments, and zoom out. Rather, they walked from village to village with one another. And once there, they frequently remained with the people. Additionally, many of Gospel accounts take place inside a relatively small area and mostly in small villages. You see, they were known to one another and the residents of those communities. Not only did the disciples know the townspeople, but they would have known their family members, how they made their livelihood, and what they enjoyed doing. Jesus and the disciples did not hide behind a busy schedule, a social media profile, or a forced public persona. Rather, the people of Galilee knew Jesus and the disciples to be people who lived what they preached and preached what they lived.

Admittedly, there can be something a bit unnerving about moving at such a pace. We might be afraid to let people know us for who we are. In our modern world, it is easier to hide behind the screens of our devices or the impersonal nature of emails or electronic posts. It is easier to hide behind the busy pace of life to not allow others into the spaces in which we dwell. But these are not the exemplar principles of the Bible. Rather, abiding in the presence of God, waiting for the Lord, and being still before God are what we are taught to do. In much the same way, being present with others is key to faith-sharing. Such a presence includes active listening, lived compassion, and embodied empathy. This sort of things can only come when we move at a slow and deliberate pace. This allows us to join God in what is going on in someone else’s life.

Moving at such a pace in the modern world—literally and figuratively—forces us to live out a key component of faith-sharing: integrity. Not only will you get to see people around you with great clarity, but they will get to see you with greater clarity as well. For this reason, personal holiness is a key aspect to any sort of social holiness in missional service and/or faith-sharing.

I often hear people say that they are waiting on God. In a world that is moving at such a break-neck pace, maybe waiting on God is not so much about stopping and waiting for God to show up. Maybe waiting on God is, spiritually speaking, slowing down to God’s pace and walking together. A slow, deliberate, and faithful pace can impact our own discipleship, and impact those with whom we seek to share our faith.

Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes is the Director of Education and Leadership for World Methodist Evangelism. His new book, Consuming Mission: Towards a Theology of Short-Term Mission and Evangelism (Wipf & Stock) is now available: www.consumingmission.com. He can be reached at rob@worldmethodist.org.



Faith-sharing as a Way of Life

By Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes

The word “relational” gets thrown around a great deal when discussing evangelism. Just what that means deserves a closer examination. Allow me to illustrate one way I have in mind. I had many questions about faith before I made a decision to follow Jesus in my early 20s. One of the things that compelled me to become a disciple of Jesus Christ was the honest and open engagement with Christian friends who cared about me. Just such a relationship was as much a force in my Christian conversion as anything else. Maybe I am not alone.

As I reflect on those days, one incident sticks out. I was out for dinner with a group of friends. As we sat out on the balcony enjoying a beautiful fall evening, we could hear someone preaching on a nearby corner. We could not make out much of what he said, but it was obvious that his message was one of condemnation for all in earshot. I listened to my friends ridicule him and the message he was offering.

A few days later, these same friends and I were having deep conversations about faith with a Christian neighbor. Her steady, calming, loving answers to our doubts and questions about faith told us that she cared about us. You see, my friends and I were not disinterested in faith, as our dismissal for the street preacher may have suggested. Rather, we wanted to engage in discussions of faith with someone who cared about us and was willing to be involved in our lives to prove it.

A recent survey (see Bryan Stone’s work at Boston University’s Center for Practical Theology) has affirmed that the role of relationships is paramount in faith sharing. Across all major streams of American Christianity: Mainline, Catholic/Orthodox, and Evangelical people frequently reported that making a decision to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is an inter-personal matter. The survey revealed that the three most influential things that lead to Christian conversion are:

               1.      A spouse/partner

               2.      A minister (especially that minister’s preaching)

               3.      A particular congregation

Near the bottom of the list were things like television/radio and evangelistic events. Notice that the more personal and relational aspects of the life of faith have a greater  impact on one’s decision to follow Christ. The more programmatic or impersonal seem to be less effective. I share this not to cast aspersions on the efforts of those who hold large-scale evangelism events or broadcast a Bible study over the radio. However, I do offer it to challenge some of the assumptions about who are the evangelists in our churches and our communities. It often is not the “professional” who is all but unknown to the members of the audience pushing people to make a decision. Maybe the cliché has credence: “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

So how can we translate such findings to our own ministry contexts? First, the role of a spouse in the role of faith formation can be vital. For those of you who are praying for your spouse, keep it up! Be encouraged as you minister to your spouse and know that you are not alone. Lean on your pastor or a trusted friend to walk alongside you in this journey.

Second, if you are a minister serving a church, your relationships with the believers and unbelievers in your community (and the pews) are so important. Stone also reminds us of the importance of preaching in evangelism. The opportunity to preach week in, week out is a gift. While there are dozens of pressures that may demand your time each week, preaching is tantamount. Be intentional about the time you set aside for the sacred space of sermon preparation. Notice the difference between this type of preaching and one I mentioned earlier is the personal relationship of the minister. Take time to unpack your sermons through conversation in the public spaces: the coffee shops, soccer fields, and park benches in the community where you serve.

Third, the culture of the congregation is crucial. Many visiting a church will decide if they are coming back long before the notes of the first song are ever played. Rather, the greeting they received at the front door, the help they got finding the nursery, or the handshake they got as they found their seat all go a long way to helping them determine if they will return.

Thinking of faith-sharing along these lines also leads us away from looking for another off-the-shelf program to try next month in our churches. It encourages us instead to think of faith-sharing as a way of life. I am thankful for my friend who saw it that way. I pray that someone sees you and me that way too.

Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes is Director of Education and Leadership at World Methodist Evangelism. He may be reached at Rob@WorldMethodist.org.[/vc_column_text][vc_facebook][vc_tweetmeme][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Life Changing ~ Faith Shaping

Most of us can look back on our lives and point to an experience that was instrumental in shaping us into the persons we are today. Maybe it was a conversation or encounter with another person that transformed the way we looked at things. Maybe it was an event or incident that remolded our understanding of the world or our faith. Growing into the people God desires us to be requires these kinds of moments – they are a crucial way in which we are formed into mature adults and mature disciples of Jesus Christ. 

Participating in a WME-sponsored international young adult gathering called ICYCE when I was 20 years old was this kind of experience for me. We gathered in Truro, England, slept in tents, heard amazing speakers, and met young Christians from all over the world. Peter Story, from South Africa, challenged us with words that have stayed with me ever since:  

For these seven days, I want you to dream with God, because there is a dream in the mind of God, and I want you to do what John the Evangelist did a long time ago, I want you to hear God’s dream. I want you to see it with your own eyes. I want you to touch that dream and to feel that dream touch you. And then I want you to go and declare it to all the world. 

In 2018 young adults from all over the world will mobilize for the 10th WME young adult conference, renamed Metanoia. We will gather in Alajuela, Costa Rica and even though we won’t be sleeping in tents, there will be amazing speakers like Danielle Strickland and Stanley John. Danielle is an officer in the Salvation Army, and is a speaker, author, and social justice advocate. Her “aggressive compassion” has made the boundless love of Jesus Christ visible and tangible to people all over the world. Stanley is an Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Alliance Graduate School of Mission and is passionate about forming servant leaders for Christ. He will help us view scripture in a global Christian context, particularly in light of global migration. 

There will be numerous other leaders who will lead us in deepening our commitment to Jesus Christ, discovering our place in the global community of believers, and expanding our vision of God’s purpose for our lives. In the midst of that we will also have loads of fun exploring volcanos and ziplining through rain forests.

Don’t miss this opportunity for a faith-shaping, life-changing experience. If you or someone you know are interested in joining us, you can email Shirley Dominick for more information.  

As Peter Story said all those years ago, there is a dream in the mind of God. Metanoia will be a place where we can hear God’s dream, see it with our own eyes, touch it and be touched by it – and then go declare it to all the world. I hope you’ll join me! 

Keep Up with World Methodist Evangelism

Earlier this week I wrote about recent joys and sorrows happening in Wesleyan Methodism around the globe. 

To keep up to date on prayer requests, global events, creative mission, and moves of the Spirit in a variety of countries and denominations, you can also connect with us in a variety of ways. 

Opportunities, news, articles, and updates also appear on our World Methodist Evangelism Facebook page and our Wesleyan Accent Facebook page. 

Follow us on Twitter for a global perspective of life in the worldwide church. 

Check out Wesleyan Accent, our hub for practical and theological resources like articles, sermons, interviews, and book reviews generated with Wesleyan Methodist laypeople, clergy, and academics in mind. 

And note that registration is open for our global young leaders’ Metanoia conference next May in Costa Rica! We are excited about the compelling lineup of international speakers who are confirmed to join us. 

It’s such a privilege to join with brothers and sisters around the world in prayer and in celebration. Our global family stretches from Costa Rica to New Zealand, from India to Ireland, from Peru to Korea, from South Africa to Canada.  

Come see what God is doing! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Spirit Nudges: Winston Worrell’s Life of Listening

Periodically, events happen in our lives that are natural points of reflection. Graduations, weddings, retirement.

I’m in such a season these days due to the recent retirement announcement of Winston Worrell, the Director of WME’s Evangelism Institute at Candler School of Theology.

Winston has led our Institute for 25 years, so his departure in June will leave a significant gap. His depth of spirit, personal passion for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and faithful work to equip others for evangelism have been instrumental in the success of WMEI.

I often teach that God’s preferred method of interacting with us is to use particular people at particular times, usually to deliver a particular message. That has been my own faith experience. Twenty years ago, at a time when I was doubting myself in ministry, God used a particular person – Winston – to ease my fears. At the exact moment I was prepared to leave ministry behind, God used Winston to deliver a particular message – stay the course, I will be with you.

Until recently, Winston didn’t know how God had used him in my life; but in the 20 years since, I’ve watched him as together we worked and worshiped, prayed and taught, preached and played. Through it all his openness to the power of the Holy Spirit has never wavered. He always stands ready to be used by God – even when he doesn’t know he is being used.

Several years ago, at our Order of the Flame gathering, one of the speakers, Lyle Pointer, had to leave shortly after he had spoken, so at the break he left to gather his belongings. After the break, Winston was settling into his seat, excited to hear the next speaker, when he felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit: Go pray with Lyle.

To hear Winston tell it, he was not happy with this feeling that he should leave the session to pray. He was excited about the topic of the next lecture and didn’t want to miss it. Everything seemed fine with Lyle, why did he need to go pray? After a few minutes of wrestling, he reluctantly left the room to look for Lyle. Seeing him and his wife, Paula, across the parking lot, Winston hailed them down and told them he felt a strong urging to pray with them. This was not in the least surprising to them, so in that moment, Winston, a black man from the Caribbean, and Lyle and Paula, two white folks from Oklahoma, encircled each other and prayed.

After they had prayed, Winston returned to the conference session and Lyle and Paula began their journey home.

About 15 minutes later, while the next speaker was mid-lecture, Winston heard a rapping on the window near his chair. An African American man gestured for him to come outside. Curious, Winston joined him and it was quickly very clear that something had deeply moved him, so they began to talk.

He was a delivery man who happened to be unloading his truck when he looked across the parking lot and saw Winston, arms wrapped around Lyle and Paula, praying.

As Winston listened, the man cried as he shared about his burdens. He shared that seeing black and white people with their arms around each other, praying together, had moved him in a way little had in the past. Winston continued to listen with the compassion and spiritual sensitivity that has marked his entire ministry. And then he shared his own faith in Jesus. And they prayed together for the next steps in this man’s spiritual journey.

God uses particular people, at particular times. Winston realizes that. His ear is tuned to God’s voice, nudging him even when he is reluctant or doesn’t understand.

What is your ear tuned to? What is the Holy Spirit nudging you to do or to say that only you can do or say?

As I move through these next months in anticipation of Winston’s retirement, I pray for that same spiritual sensitivity. And I pray that each of us, like Winston, will become ever more in tune to God’s voice, ready to be the particular person, at the particular time, used to channel God’s message of loving mercy, forgiveness, and grace.