Learning to share our faith

Nearly 200 people gathered at Bethany UMC Wescosville in Allentown for the Faith-Sharing training led by Dr. Eddie Fox, Executive Director of the World Methodist Council on Evangelism. From beginning to end participants were reminded that faith-sharing is very much a part of our Methodist DNA. Therefore, faith-sharing ought to take primary place in our personal witness and practice of faith and throughout the life of our churches and ministries.

Dr. Eddie Fox, who retires in 2014 after 25 years in his position, shared how the training that participants received at Bethany was the same offered by the World Methodist Evangelism Institute in many places around the world. He also told us how instrumental these trainings have been in fostering tremendous growth in the churches of Africa and Asia.

He quoted one of John Wesley’s more ominous statements: “I am not afraid that the people called Methodist should ever cease to exist in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion and not the power.”

Faith sharing at the heart of who we are

For some the word “evangelism” is not culturally relevant or modern enough. Yet, evangelism or faith-sharing is at the very heart of who we are and what we need to do in order to avoid becoming a dead sect.  Put simply, faith-sharing is not an option. It is fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission, his charge to us his faithful body of believers.

Many participants expressed appreciation for the event in their evaluations, writing:

  • Don’t be afraid to witness. I learned the (best) approach is (by) an invitation, and grace precedes being found. I have been inspired to invite family members, when we gather for Easter dinner, to ask me about my loving relationship with Jesus. Also I’m encouraged to invite a friend and 2 neighbors to come to worship.
  • I have never before experienced such a plain-speaking but powerful approach to faith sharing. I learned how to talk about Christ in an easier way without pushing Christ on people.
  • I will implement the faith sharing. I have many great ideas to take back to my congregation.
  • Reaffirmation of Wesleyan principles and their importance in our faithwalk as UMs.
  • I love this Faith Sharing NT (New Testament) as a gift to new members or for those reaffirming their faith.
  • Preacher Fox’s enthusiasm and love of Christ is contagious. I hope to return home with his excitement in sharing the good news.

We recorded and hope to make a DVD of this recent faith sharing training available by Annual Conference. I do hope that every congregation will take advantage of the training, and take decisive steps to put what they learned into practice.

During this season of Eastertide and during Pentecost which follows, it is my prayer that we rediscover our faith-sharing DNA, and take bold steps to share the powerful, life-changing message of God’s love shown in Jesus Christ.

Let us follow in the footsteps of the first disciples who proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let us follow in the footsteps of early Methodists who changed their world through powerful, persuasive faith sharing that addressed the holistic needs of the body, mind and soul.

In every encounter, through our personal evangelism as Christ’s ambassadors, let us share the blessing of our deliverance and salvation, indeed, the blessing of our faith, with the world.

By The Rev. Dr. Christopher Jacob Kurien
EPA Conference Director of Connectional Ministries