Out of the dream and invitation of Kurt Miller, the first Evangelists Gathering-a gathering of evangelists from the Grace Brethren family for conversation, encouragement and movement-happened over the weekend of October 7-9, 2005.
No one knows for sure, but quite possibly the last time evangelists from across our fellowship gathered in this fashion was back in 1973 for the Grow73 initiatives. Forty Grace Brethren men and women from across the United States all came together for this recent gathering.
This Gathering kicked off Friday night with opening stories and remarks by Pastor Jim Custer from the host church-Grace Brethren Church of Columbus. Following a time of introductions, Kurt Miller, the National Director for Church Planting from Grace Brethren North American Missions, shared his story.
He started by telling of how within hours of his mother being saved, she led him to the Lord as well. Then within a day, even as boy he turned around and shared with his best friend who came to know the Lord as well. That set him on a path as an evangelist.
Kurt continued to share stories from his life as well as the Biblical need for evangelists. The passage which was emphasized was 2 Timothy 4:1-5. He pointed out that if there ever has been a day when the evangelists need to rise up, it is today because people want their ears tickled rather than to listen to the truth.
He finished by sharing that his own evangelistic ministry took the shape of church planting in a variety of contexts. After a time of small group sharing, Saturday evening was finished off with some ice cream sundaes and a fellowship time.
Saturday was full of discussions in small groups, presentations and sharing times with the whole group. Tom Julien, former director of Grace Brethren International Mission, delivered a presentation on Recognizing, Equipping and Mobilizing Evangelists. He highlighted these three seed truths about evangelists: 1) Evangelists are a gift of the Lord to the Church, 2) Evangelists have a distinctive profile, and 3) the Church is to recognize, equip, mobilize and celebrate its evangelists.
After some discussions and lunch, Vic Young of Fountain of Life Bible Church shared about what their church is doing in evangelism. Vic shared the mission of Fountain of Life-to see the lost saved, the saved grow and to be real.
He shared some of the tools that they use: motorcycles, renting a civic center to have a service once a month, discussion groups in local bookstores, getting T-shirts that prompt questions, a car and bike show, and long hair. Fountain of Life will try lots of things to reach people with the Good News of Jesus.
Next, a forum of the presenters (plus Pastor Stephen Joyce from About My Father’s Business Outreach Ministries) fielded questions from those gathered. At the conclusion of this time, each person spent time alone with the Lord sorting through what God wanted from this time.
Saturday afternoon was closed out by a presentation by Dr. Duke Heller, a dentist and author of the new book Kingdom Conversations, about how he shares the Gospel. This helpful teaching was reinforced by the generosity of BMH Books donating a copy of Dr. Heller�s book to each participant in the gathering.
Saturday evening was a time of fellowship over supper. Sunday brought the gathering to a conclusion which included joining the Grace Brethren Church of Columbus for Adult Bible Classes and morning worship and a terrific lunch together.
The feedback from this first gathering was so positive, that a second Evangelists Gathering is being planned. If you missed this one, you can get some of the handouts and notes as they are posted on the GBNAM site www.gbnam.org.