John W. Vest, Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism at Union Presbyterian Seminary, has developed and is available to offer small-group workshops on evangelism. If your congregation, group, or council is interested in working with John, please contact General Presbyter Carson Rhyne.
The twin headlines of American religion right now are the overall decline of Protestantism and the so-called “rise of the nones.” These seem to be the obvious answers to the question, “why evangelism?” But the real why of evangelism is much deeper. A relentless pursuit of why peels back superficial layers—like an onion—until we finally get down to the singular irreducible core of who we are and what we are called to do and be in the world.
Telling Our God-Stories
We shouldn’t approach evangelism as a church growth strategy or a way to save struggling institutions. Rather, evangelism ought to be part of our identity as followers of Jesus and should flow from us as spontaneously as the breath we breath. We should be so moved by our experience with the divine that we naturally bear witness to the good news of God’s love for the world. This workshop will challenge participants to tell compelling and relevant God-stories. What is the gospel and why does it matter? How have you personally experienced God and how has this shaped your life?
Network Church: Living the Gospel in a Post-Christendom World
Are congregations based on anachronistic social capital models? The church at large has failed to recognize that our most basic form of organized religious life—the congregation—is rooted in social constructs that are being eclipsed by new means of social connectionalism. Instead of focusing exclusively on attractional or program-based approaches to ministry that will have limited results in a post-Christendom cultural matrix that we cannot realistically hope to change, the church must also invest in the religious and spiritual lives that people are actively cultivating beyond congregations. This workshop will explore a new model of church life based on a network approach to ministry in which people live authentic gospel-shaped Christian lives in their native and natural social contexts.