The Evangelism Group

Equipping The Future

The Changing Face of Evangelism

***This is a great article originally written by John W. Kennedy for the Assemblies of God publication, The Pentecostal Evangel, and reprinted here with his permission. I hope you enjoy it!

THE CHANGING FACE OF EVANGELISM

Evangelists, with numbers dwindling, stick to Scripture while adapting to new methodologies

By John W. Kennedy

Watching FlightEvangelism in America in 2008 doesn’t conjure up images of Billy Sunday, or even Billy Graham. Like a lot of other popular forms of mass communication – movie musicals, TV Westerns and competing city newspapers, to name a few – crusade evangelists aren’t as prevalent or widely known as before.

The era when a crusade could pack a city stadium with tens of thousands of people eager to hear an evangelist preach and a robed choir sing seems almost nostalgic. It’s not due to any lack of worthy successors to Billy Graham. Rather, societal expectations, schedules and priorities have changed.

With more urban commuters and a plethora of interactive technological alternatives contending for free time, fewer Americans appear willing to soak in biblical wisdom for a couple of hours three or four evenings a week.

But savvy evangelists who have survived the culture shift are tailoring their outreaches for a new generation. While sticking to scriptural truths, they have reinvented their methodology. Instead of being a general revivalist, many are specializing in a certain area, such as baptism in the Holy Spirit or youth ministry. Others are cooperating with compassion ministries or other parachurch organizations in conducting outreaches as a way to broaden their appeal.

Additional adjustments are noticeable. Rather than crisscross the entire country, evangelists are likelier to focus on geographic regions. And many are serving as husband-and-wife teams.

“Our Fellowship was founded on revival and crusades,” says Marshall Windsor, national evangelists representative for the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Mo. “But we’re on different turf today. We have to adapt with meaningful venues.”

CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS

The Assemblies of God and other fellowships saw their numbers of evangelists decline over the past two decades.

Because mainstream society has grown more pluralistic and cynical, itinerant evangelists are finding fewer opportunities to minister in public venues such as a city park or high school auditorium.

Many local congregations have changed as well. Fewer churches are holding Sunday evening services, which has curtailed the typical four-night consecutive evening revival meetings of the past. Likewise, Sunday morning services typically are shorter than a generation ago, leaving less time for evangelists to make a presentation.

“Gone are the days when a church camp meeting was a big event in town,” says Windsor, 46.

Still, evangelists fill vital complementary and supplementary roles in meeting the spiritual needs of a local church, according to Randy Hurst, Assemblies of God commissioner on evangelism.

“An evangelist supplements by providing a particular specialty that may not be the local pastor’s strength, such as teaching on Spirit baptism,” Hurst says. “The evangelist complements by teaching the people from a second voice that confirms what the pastor has been sharing with them.”

STAFF EVANGELISTS

On the other hand, the position of “staff evangelist” is growing among AG churches. The role allows an ordained evangelist to occasionally teach and train those in the local congregation while still focusing on reaching those outside the church. Usually staff evangelists receive an office, health insurance and small stipend in conjunction with the church affiliation.

Greg and Robyn Hubbard have been staff evangelists at Glad Tidings AG in Reading, Pa., since 1999. One week a month they preach services, spearhead outreaches and do evangelism training at the church. The rest of the time they are on the road – including leading church teams on overseas missions trips.

“After 22 years of ministry as an evangelist that has included church revivals, over 130 youth camps and ministry around the world, the passion of our hearts continues to be reaching the lost, seeing believers baptized in the Holy Spirit and to see each church ignited with a fresh vision,” says Greg, 49. “Staying current with the culture is key.”

Gayle A. Brostowski, 44, has been staff evangelist at Green Ridge AG in Scranton, Pa., since 1994. While she is scheduled for revival crusades or Sunday services in the Northeast or mid-Atlantic states for 47 weeks of the year, Brostowski is grateful to have a local church link.

“It provides a covering and accountability,” says Brostowski, who is single. “It also allows me to function in a pastoral role through hospital visitation or occasionally teaching a Wednesday evening Bible study when I’m home.”

SPECIALIZED MINISTRIES

Tim and Rochelle Enloe, based in Wichita, Kan., have traveled throughout the nation and to 30 foreign countries with their teaching and music ministry. For 15 years, for 50 weeks annually, the Enloes have focused on connecting listeners with the Holy Spirit’s power.

“Today’s culture is so unchristianized in its desires,” says Tim, 37. “Postmoderns are looking for experience and wanting something that will have a long-term impact in their life. The message of Spirit baptism fills those needs.”

As with many evangelists’ wives, Rochelle Enloe acts as a crucial ministry partner. She is the administrator, and shares in speaking, authoring books, and music and prayer ministry.

Some evangelists still find favor at tax-supported institutions. Wayne Northup conducts high-energy choices-based assemblies in high schools. After much good-natured humor, Northup in the final few minutes talks about the rebellion of his teenage years that included abusing illegal drugs. Although not allowed to speak about Jesus during the daytime presentations, Northup wraps up his appearance with a quick pitch for students to return in the evening to hear about how his personal faith helps him in life. About 40 percent customarily return for the evening session. Last year he addressed 100,000 students across the nation.

“We hit the pain in the schools,” says the 33-year-old Northup, who is assisted by his wife, Kristi. “I’ve had students come up to me weeping about being diagnosed with cancer. They have written me gut-wrenching letters talking about the family cycle of alcoholism.”

TECHNOLOGY TOOLS

Northup has embraced technology through his ministry Web site, MySpace account and photo-laden blog as a way to connect with the youth he’s trying to reach.

The Enloes jumped on the modern technology bandwagon early, opening their ministry Internet site in 1996.

People from around the world have accessed the free ministry materials available on the site. In fact, many biblically based house groups in countries where church buildings are scarce or forbidden burn a compact disc of sermons from the site. The groups play the materials in a DVD player as a teaching aid during the church service because they don’t have a pastor.

“The Web is a great tool,” Enloe says.

Windsor’s national office provides a Web site (http://evangelists.ag.org) to help educate, mentor and connect evangelists. The site’s main feature is a searchable directory of AG evangelists. Windsor is exploring the option of overseeing one-week schools for evangelists, offering mentoring and internships in conjunction with AG colleges and Bible schools.

“Evangelists can have a tremendous place in teaching, training and equipping the church,” Windsor says. “They can take the fear out of sharing faith and being the witness the Lord wants us to be.”

Youth specialist Northup, who also conducts summer camps, weekend conventions and a Mardi Gras outreach, has started a school for evangelists at the church where he serves as missionary evangelist, Oaks Fellowship in Red Oak, Texas. Graduates of Bible colleges or Master’s Commission ministries attend the school in an effort to find their evangelism niche.

“The model is changing and we’re living in a specialty world,” Northup says. “We’re shifting away from the old way of simply calling up pastors in the district and seeing if they have a time for you to speak.”

Still, Windsor notes that a recent survey conducted by his office of more than 5,000 pastors shows that local ministers are largely supportive of the role of evangelists. The study shows that 37 percent of AG pastors invite an evangelist to their church annually while another 32 percent have an evangelist come twice or more per year. Only 7 percent of AG pastors never have evangelists hold meetings.

“There still is a demand for old-time Pentecostal revivalists to help round out a church’s ministry,” Windsor says. “God is still calling men and women into a ministry where He alone guides and provides.”

Hurst says evangelists provide teaching and exhortation that motivates churchgoers in areas such as helping them mature in Christ and being motivated for personal evangelism – which all Christians are called to do.

“The most critical issue in evangelism today is the credibility of the messenger,” Hurst says. “If people in our churches are not living godly lives, blameless before the world, the credibility of their message suffers.”

***This Article Was Reprinted By Permisson***

JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Midlife Musings (jkennedy.agblogger.org).

E-mail your comments to tpe@ag.org.

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©1999-2009 General Council of the Assemblies of God

NOTE: Our appreciation to AG evangelist Gayle Brostowski and her family for all her years of sacrifice to answer the evangelist calling. She graduated this year (2014) and now resides in heaven after an extended battle with cancer.

Blessings,
Marshall M. Windsor, D.Min.

October 5, 2014 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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