Evangelism

Living and sharing the gospel and
helping others to receive and internalize its life-transforming power through Jesus Christ and his indwelling Spirit

A. Fosters Spiritual Maturity through Biblical Spiritual Disciplines

One of my personal and professional core values is faith-filled spirituality. See my Core Values.

Every morning and evening, my wife and I set aside time for family worship with our nephew. We usually listen to some of our favorite Christian music, have an opening prayer, read and discuss a passage of Scripture together, and conclude by asking God to help all of us apply what we have learned.

I usually take my regular time for personal worship in the mornings when my mind is freshest. I use this time for prayer, devotional Bible study, personal reflection/meditation, and reading other Christian literature. Perhaps, a unique feature of my personal worship praxis is my practice of reading about the crucifixion of Christ and the atonement wrought on the cross every day. I learned this when studying under Dwight K. Nelson, who does something similar for his devotional time. These are the daily readings I use for this aspect of my devotional life.

  • Sunday: Isa 52:13–53:12

  • Monday: Matt 27:26–54

  • Tuesday: Mark 15:15–39

  • Wednesday: Luke 22:63–65; 23:24–47

  • Thursday: John 19:1–4, 16–37

  • Friday: Phil 2:1–11

  • Saturday: portions of Rom 3–8

Every year, I take a week of time outside of my church district for a personal spiritual retreat. During this week, I spend more time in prayer, Bible study, and Christan meditation. I also set aside time for me to review my vision and mission statements and core values to assess how I have succeeded and/or failed in living up to them over the previous year. Some of this time is also used for catching up on the reading of spiritual, theological, and ministry-related literature.

Recently, my wife and I have been trying out the spiritual discipline of intermittent fasting together to improve our spiritual and physical health. 

It is important to me that my parishioners also spend time with God each and every day. One way I have encouraged this is through our midweek prayer meetings. Over the last two years, I have utilized our English-speaking midweek prayer meetings to dive deeply into the doctrine of Scripture, practical Bible study methodology, and macro-, mezzo-, and micro-hermeneutics. This has been helpful to many of those who attend to encounter God in their personal Bible study time.

Additionally, in my sermons, I often bring up the need for a personal devotional life daily. Here is a sermon I preached that focused on this subject: "How to Cleanse Your Way from Sin."

B. Effectively Teacher and Mentor

Teaching

During the coursework phases of both my M.Div. and Ph.D. programs, I took DSRE 610 Teaching for Discipleship and GSEM 860 Teaching Religion in College, respectively, two courses on educational philosophy and pedagogy. From these classes, I gathered many tools and ideas that have improved my spiritual gift of teaching for guiding learners to learn in the educational process more effectively. Below is an example of a teaching module on the doctrine of the Trinity that I designed—using backward design—which could be adapted for the church or school setting.

Teaching Module Example

Accompanying Materials

Below is an example of a Sabbath School lesson plan on a section of the book of Romans that I created using backward design.

Example of Sabbath School Lesson Plan: Redemption in Romans

Below is an example of a personal evangelism workshop (for only two of its sessions) that I have used for equipping my churches in witnessing and soul-winning.

Example of Workship: Sharing Your Faith

I have had several opportunities to use my teaching skills in a classroom setting.

Guest teacher at the Department of Theology, Southwestern Adventist University, in Keene, Texas.

I taught four course sessions for RELT 406 Christian Theology I on the doctrine of the Trinity in Scripture, theology, and philosophy (09/30/2021, 10/07/2021) for Dr. Michael Campbell.

 

Guest teacher at the Department of Theology, Southwestern Adventist University, in Keene, Texas.

I taught four course sessions for RELT 406 Christian Theology I on the doctrine of the Trinity in Scripture, theology, and philosophy (09/14, 16, 18, 21/2020) for Dr. Michael Campbell.

 

Online supervising teacher and facilitator at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, Michigan, from 12/2018 to 05/2019 for the following courses:

Spring 2019—THST 640-999 Doctrine of Salvation (Dr. Denis Fortin)
Spring 2019—THST 619-999 Principles and Methods of Theology (Dr. Fernando Canale)
Spring 2019—THST 611-999 Revelation, Inspiration, and Hermeneutics (Dr. Fernando Canale)

 

Guest teacher at the Department of Theology, Southwestern Adventist University, Keene, Texas

I taught one course session for RELH 320 Ellen White Writings on the doctrine of the Trinity in the writings of
Ellen G. White (02/21/2019) for Dr. Michael Campbell.

 

Guest teacher at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University Berrien Springs, Michigan.

I taught three course sessions for THST 639/885 Doctrine of the Holy Spirit on subordinationism, the Trinity,
and the gender debate (02/12/2019) for Dr. Denis Fortin.

 

Guest teacher at the Department of Religion & Biblical Studies, Andrews University Berrien Springs, Michigan.

I taught two course sessions on the works of Christ for RELT 325 Theology I: one on the life and ministry of
Christ (11/10/2017) and one on the extent and theories of the atonement (11/13/2017) under the mentorship of
Davide Sciarabba.

Guest teacher at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University Berrien Springs, Michigan.

I taught two course sessions for NTST 628 The Holy Spirit in the New Testament: one on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (10/04/2017) and one on the deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit (10/05/2017) under the mentorship of Dr. Ranko Stefanovic.

 

Guest teacher at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University Berrien Springs, Michigan.

I taught two course sessions for THST 639/885 Doctrine of the Holy Spirit: one on the Seventh-day Adventist Perspective on the Trinity (09/28/2017) and one on subordinationism, the Trinity, and the gender debate (10/04/2017) under the mentorship of Dr. Denis Fortin.

 

Associate administrator and instructor for the South East Youth Conference Summer of Evangelism, Southern Union Conference, from May through June of 2010 in Atlanta, GA, on behalf of the School of Religion, Southern Adventist University.

I administrated a five-week evangelistic training program for youth and taught several class sessions for RELP 264 Christian Witnessing on personal and public evangelism and biblical spirituality under the mentorship of Dr. Alan Parker.

This program, cofounded by Michelle Doucoumes, Joseph Reeves, and myself under the mentorship of Dr. ALan Parker, was the beginning of the Soul-winning and Leadership Training (SALT) program operated by It Is Written and the School of Religion, Southern Adventist University.

Additionally, I regularly give Bible studies to teach and disciple baptismal candidates, who often become new members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Below is an example of one of my simple, three point teaching outlines with a four-point close.

Bible Study: The Second Coming of Jesus

Below is the "clear and set" document that I use to lead baptismal candidates to be set in their relationship with Jesus andacceptance of his biblical teachings and to be cleared for baptism.

Clear and Set

Mentoring

Part of the work of the pastor-teacher in equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4:11–12) is mentorship. Not only do I intentionally seek out and maintain mentoring relationship with more experienced pastors, but I also intentionally create opportunities for me to mentor my church members in doing the ministries of evangelism and discipleship. For example, I try to never give Bible studies to baptismal candidates alone; I'm careful to involve church members with me and take them through in the simple mentoring process outlined below.

I teach … you learn.
I do … you watch.
I do … you help.
You do … I help.
You do … I watch.
You teach … another learns.

Another example of my intentionality in seeking out mentoring opportunities is my mentorship of Sherry Lowe, a member and leader at the Knoxville Grace Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 2021, the Georgia-Cumberland Conference offered through its evangelism subsidy opportunity of churches a bonus subsidy for churches that included a lay-led, lay-preached public evangelism series. The church board wanted to take advantage of this, and Sherry volunteered to preach a seven-night evangelistic series.

From the start of choosing the series's content and planning to marketing and implementation, I mentored Sherry in learning how to organize/coordinate, advertise, and preach a public evangelism series. This included helping her prepare the sermons and having her rehearse them in front of me in the church's sanctuary for affirmation and constructive feedback. After the series concluded, I was so proud of what she had done for Jesus and the personal growth she experienced in advancing his kingdom in West Knoxville. As a result of her efforts, she was able to begin a set of drop-off Bible studies with one couple and planted seeds in the hearts of other non-Adventist attendees.

"A Man for All Time" with Sherry Lowe

Audio/Video Recordings of "A Man for All Time"

C. Advocates for the Marginalized

With a passionate social worker with a heart for the the downtroddened as a wife, I often receive opportunities to help those who are marginalized. For example, a church member at the Lenoir City Seventh-day Adventist Church, who works for a nonprofit organization that helps to settle and integrate displaced people into a positive life in the United States, made us aware of a situation of some needs of an Islamic African refugee family who recently had come to the U.S. Moved by the hardship that this family had experienced, my wife and I donated funds to purchase them a washer and dryer for their downtown apartment in Knoxville, Tennessee.

In 2021, all of the pastors and churches in the area of Knoxville, Tennesse, organized a 40-day season of service during which I led my churches to help meet community needs, such as make donations to the "Coats for the Cold" initiate of Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) and to Iva's Place, a 501c3 nonprofit that has provided services, advocacy and placement to victims of domestic violence in Lenoir City, Tennessee. This season was concluded with an area-wide "Celebrating Service" Weekend that included inspiring messages about reaching the community by Roger Hernandez, Ministerial Director for the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Advetnists, and multiple service projects for area churches to meet community needs side by side.

"Celebrating Service" Weekend Flyer

One of the service opportunities was to partner with a Christian ministry in downtown Knoxville, Tennesse, known as "Water Angels" to feed and distribute clothing to the homeless. My nephew and I enjoyed reaching out to this vulnerable  and displaced population.

"A Concern from My Heart" Advocacy e-mail for my the Hispanic members of the Lenoir City Seventh-day Adventist Church

D. Successful in Leading and Promoting Small Group Ministries

Because I have mostly pastored small congregations, I have had less ministry experience with leading small group ministries. However, I have been a member of small groups in the past, like Sabbath School classes. When I was in high school, I participated in the small group ministries of the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church's youth program called Collegedale Adventist Youth in Action (CAYA). CAYA Community, as it was called, happened every Friday night. We gathered at someone's home with an intimate group of youth for food, fellowship, prayer, singing, and Bible study.

I also participated in the small group ministry of the Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, called grow groups. I was part of a group that worked together to become more fluent in reading biblical Greek. My wife joined a grow group for women's self-defense.

During my two-year practicum called Theological Field Education (TFE) at the Village Seventh-day Adventist Church, I participated in and co-led a Grief-Share small group ministry with my wife under the supervision of Bruce and Dorothy Hayward. Grief-Share is a kind of Christian support group that helps people who have experienced the loss of a loved one through the stages of grief. I was appreciative of this experience because it gave me a better understanding of issues concerning death, loss, and bereavement and how to support those who are going through it. (For confidentiality reasons, I was unable to document this experience with photographs.)

Ministry Report of Experience

Observation Evaluation by Dorothy Hayward

E. Facilitates the Full Cycle of Evangelism/ Discipleship

Below is a model that I have put together to demonstrate my understanding of the cycle of evangelism and discipleship to make disciples who make disciples (Matt 28:18–20).

Each member of the church is gifted and called to minister in one or more of the four quadrants of the cycle. As we faithfully work in unity within our beautiful diversity of giftedness (1 Cor 12:1–31; 14:1a)—one planting, one watering, etc.—we leave the growth to God (1 Cor 3:5–9).

"5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building" (1 Cor 3:5–9 ESV).

Every year at the beginning of Autumn, I meet with my church boards and personal ministry councils to make plans for evangelism and discipleship for the upcoming year in preparation for our conference's evangelism subsidy application process. I work with them to select ministry activities and events that fall within all four quadrants of the cycle. Here is one example of the fruit of these planning sessions in my current church district: 2022 Plan for Evangelism and Discipleship for the Knoxville Grace/Lenoir City Church District. These plans include dates/times, the naming of leaders, preliminary budgeting, and other important details for each ministry event. We try to include at least one evangelistic proclamation event each year.

F. Effective in Gaining Decisions and incorporating Pre- and New Members

Preaching and teaching the word of God is largely a meaningless enterprise if the pastor-teacher does not call for the hearers to respond to a gospel invitation. Building off of the some advice given to me by Mark Finley, I attempt to include some kind of appeal in every sermon that elicits a heart and mind response and tangible expression of that response (e.g., raising of the hand, verbal affirmation [e.g., saying "Amen"], standing to one's feet, coming forward in the sanctuary, turning in a decision card, etc.). I do this, not only for public evangelism sermons but also for my weekly Sabbath worship sermons. I designed new pew cards to make available a tool for helping people tangibly represent their decision in relation to the content of my sermons at the Knoxville Grace Seventh-day Adventist Church.

I also use the simple four-part appeal process of gaining decisions for Christ outline by Mark Finely in Persuasion: How to Help People Decide for Jesus, Church Leadership (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2016), 17–24, especially in personal Bible studies with baptismal candidates.

  • Information: does the candidate understand the facts regarding the decision to be made?

  • Conviction: does the candidate sense what is the right decision to be made through promptings of the Holy Spirit?

  • Desire: does the candidate want to choose to carry out the decision to be made?

  • Action: what can/will the candidate do to implement tangibly the decision to be made?

Below are some examples of the fruit of my ministry in partnership with the Holy Spirit.

Incorporation of Pre- and New Members

I recognize that, in order to gain and retain new members, it is important to integrate them into the life of the chur ch community as soon as possible in the spiritual journey. Here I will share two examples of this in my ministry.

 

Ginger Lamon is very active woman in her 70s, who enjoys helping. Before we had even finished with her Bible studies for baptism, Donna Asbury, Sherry Lowe, and I employed Ginger in helping with the preparation of the fellowship meals on Sabbath afternoons at the Knoxville Seventh-day Adventist Church. She is now a baptized member of the church, continuing her ministry on the social committee and helping with fellowship meals. We look forward to using her talents in other areas of church ministry in the future.

Marko is a young adult, who visited the Knoxville Grace Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath from the community at the end of 2021. Immediately, my wife and I invited Marko to the church's Christmas social, and he came. We had a wonderful time getting to know him. A week or so later, I invited him to go out to eat with me. In that meeting, Marko decided to begin Bible studies with Pam Garren and me. Marko attends worship every Sabbath (and sometimes fellowship meals), and, occasionally, he brings his girlfriend, Roxanna, with him. We are excited to see how Marko grows in Christ and becomes even more engaged in the life and ministry of the church.

G. Advances Church Planting

Under the leadership of pastors Fred Fuller and Paul Eirich, the Chattanooga First Seventh-day Adventist Church relocated from the East Ridge/Brainerd area of Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Tunnel Boulevard to Standifer Gap Road. This left a gap in Adventist presence in that area of Chattanooga. This prompted a dream in the heart of Pastor Eirich to have a new church planted there. During my externship at the Chattanooga First Seventh-day Adventist Church, he approached me and a good friend of mine, Ethan White, to help him start a church in East Ridge, Tennessee. With his help, Ethan and I planned, marketed, and led a full-message public evangelism series in the Spring of 2008 at the East Ridge Church of God (1512 McBrien Road, East Ridge, TN 37412). I also did health presentations every night of the series. After the series, we rented a small storefront and began a branch Sabbath School. We helped Pastor Eirich with the preaching and other needs for the plant in East Ridge. Later in the process, the McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church in McDonald, Tennessee, took over the plant along with young adults from GYC Southeast (formerly the Southeastern Youth Conference [SEYC]), and it thrived until it grew into a church.

The Table is a church plant in Farragut, Tennessee, led by Matthew Brass and overseen by the church board of the Lenoir City Seventh-day Adventist Church. For more information, visit www.tableknoxville.com.

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