Equipping The Next Generation Of Evangelists

Just what is an evangelist these days in a post Billy Graham world? Do we even use the ‘E’ word anymore? What’s the difference between ‘missional’ and ‘evangelism’? What is the place of an evangelist in a pastoral care focussed church context? These and many other questions were tackled during our 3rd annual Emerging Evangelists Confernece, held at Collins Street Baptist Church in Melbourne.

For the last three years, our State Taskforce members have invited submissions from churches about people who they think have the gift of evangelism. The result is a rich diversity of candidates from all walks of life, many cultures and different ministry contexts. A significant percentage of candidates are bivocational. We had everything from cattle farmers with Stetsons through to new migrants who represent the fastest growing part of the Baptist movement in Australia. As usual our Taskforce members did a fantastic job of ensuring a wide cross section of our movement of churches were present.

Our main speaker was UK based Dennis Pethers from The Rooftop. Dennis has worked with Crossover since 2010 resourcing churches through training, consultancy and speaking engagements. Dennis was backed up by an experienced team of speakers from our State Baptist unions. Speakers included Kim Hammond, Darren Cronshaw, Jenny Allen, Andrew Turner, Mark Holt and Stan Fetting.

Mark Holt in full flight talking passionately about the principles of cross cultural evangelism

Topics and talk titles included the following:

The Calling– understanding the nature of the call of the evangelist and the types of ministries it can lead to, and staying faithful to it.

Just Put Your Hand Up For Jesus -Styles and methodologies for evangelists in 2015 and beyond.

Trending Now – what research is telling us about the Australian scene and how this information can shape our mission.

Lone Ranger or Pied Piper – bringing your local congregation along for the ride.

Ashley Maddison Moments – Guarding against disqualification, self care, ethics and boundaries.

Shape shifting – evangelism shaped by context.

Missional Maze – how the ‘missional conversation’ has shaped evangelism.

The Gospel In A Nutshell – the limitations and opportunities of explaining the Gospel in a short time space.

Prayer & Spiritual Warfare – ministering in power with protection.

Digital Evangelist – the evangelist and social media.

Trending Now – How research can help shape mission.

When In Rome – How context shapes mission.

At the start of every session time is made for selected candidates to tell their faith story and the where and how of their evangelistic ministry. This ensures a steady stream of profound insights and stories about how God has intervened into the lives of the people present.

Pictured here is Myles Simons (Hervey Bay), Ruby Parker (Sydney), Thomas Joyce (South Australia), Joel Furneaux (Mornington Peninsula)
Pictured here is Myles Simons (Hervey Bay), Ruby Parker (Sydney), Thomas Joyce (South Australia), Joel Furneaux (Mornington Peninsula)

There are a few opportunities outside of the conference program for candidates to connect, especially the mid conference meal. This networking proves valuable each year and leads to collaboration and ongoing connection through our Facebook groups and webinars.

One of the attenders reflected afterwards that “I loved hearing church and evangelism discussed in a relevant way. So clearly articulated. And a beautiful space to share stories and move past titles and roles to what Christ is doing in each of our lives. A place to be understood. “

Crossover is keen to continue investing in helping to equip the next generation of evangelists to understand their place in the church and the most effective way to use their gifts in our fast changing cultures. Our funding of travel costs for delegates was thanks to the support of churches through our Crossover Easter Offering.

(Social media posts during the conference used #crossovereec)