It was just like Luke 10:17 when the 72 “returned with joy” after their going out to witness to the Kingdom of God.
In the pictures that follow I tried to capture something of the joy and amazement on the faces of the teams coming back after having been sent out into the city of Guelph during the Canadian Dunamis Project Unit # 6 on Listening Evangelism.
This is the final unit of the Dunamis Project Track. Les Ferrier has been the Director of this Track. Over the past three years the Rev. Cindy Strickler, Director of the Dunamis Fellowship International and I have provided the teaching and also worked closely with the team.
This has been an amazing journey of watching the members of the Dunamis Fellowship Canada truly grow in ministry.
This sixth event was on what we call “listening evangelism.”
This type of evangelism is based in the concept that the Holy Spirit is the director of fulfilling the Great Commission.
It is the Holy Spirit’s job to open the door and bring people to salvation in Jesus Christ.
Our role is to take part in the great dance of cooperating with the Holy Spirit.
The key to entering into this dance is to listen to the Holy Spirit, listen to the person in whom He is working, and then act in obedience as the Holy Spirit leads us.
The model for this type of evangelism is Acts 8 which tells the story of how Philip was led step by step right into sitting beside the high official from Ethiopia in his chariot, telling him the gospel of Jesus Christ.
No less amazing is that we may be called to participate in the very same way in doing listening evangelism today.
After teaching on listening evangelism we then all took a huge risk! We moved from theory to practice.
After a time of prayer for guidance everyone headed out two by two, into the university town of Guelph just to listen to the Holy Spirit and receive guidance about how to connect with whatever the Holy Spirit was doing in the people He brought to them.
One of the principles of listening evangelism we teach is that “Paul planted and Apollos watered.” This means that each of us will have a particular part in what is often a long process of a person coming to faith and growing as a disciple. Rarely do we get to take part in the great turning point of the person actually making a profession of faith in Jesus and coming to salvation. Usually we will simply be a part of the process.
For instance, in the story of Philip and the eunuch from Ethiopia, the Holy Spirit prepared for that divine encounter for years by making the Ethiopian hungry for God, enabling him to raise to a high position in the court of Candice, the queen, getting him to Jerusalem, leading him to purchase the scroll of Isaiah and on and on in an amazing weaving together of circumstances. All this to bring him to the moment that Philip: “beginning with this scripture proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:35)
So we went out seeking just to be led by the Holy Spirit to do our part.
The stories that came back that afternoon were amazing! The Holy Spirit really worked. And people had all sorts of divine encounters in which they were able to connect with people in different degrees. As we debriefed that afternoon we rejoiced in how the Holy Spirit had led.
Sharing our faith is so important and is critical to expanding the reach of the gospel. But often, with a few exceptions, this is greatly neglected by the Church. I really think that most of this neglect has come from just not knowing what to do. Or we have seen models of doing evangelism that do not fit who we are or the circumstances that we are called to.
We heard many comments like, “This really works!” Or , “Even I can do this!” Or “all my life I have been a Christian but this is the first time that I have ever spoken to another person about Jesus.”
A week after the Guelph Dunamis, The Revds. Susan Finck and Chris Walker were teaching Listening Evangelism in Tukwila, WA.
Chris forwarded to us some of the comments he heard during the final day:
“This was immensely practical and you made evangelism doable for us.”
“We like to say, ‘you put the cookies on the lowest shelf,’ which is to say, you made evangelism accessible to me.”
“I came to this conference scared about evangelism because of prior experiences, but you showed us how evangelism can be a natural part of our life.”
“Your teaching shows both the joys and heartache of evangelism, and I could identify with many of your stories.”
“You showed us a model of evangelism that is not complex and really very doable without a whole lot of memorization.”
“Your practical teaching showed me that I really CAN share my faith.”
“I realized how much personal responsibility for evangelism failures I had taken on. Your teaching lifted that burden and helped me trust and see God’s working in the evangelism process.”
If you want to grow in Listening Evangelism you are welcome to come to any of our Dunamis Projects Equipping Events.
We have also recently released a version of the Dunamis Video Course for Congregations. And we offer an online moderated course. For more information go to www.dunamisinstititute.org.