October 1, 2006 - Through Schools of Evangelism, Christian Life and Witness classes and training seminars, BGEA is equipping believers around the world, individually and through churches, to share their faith and to disciple new believers.
by Decision staff
Being a member of Union Christian Church in Lynchburg, Va., means something different now than it did three years ago.
It means that you get involved in the community. You help people, even if you don’t know them, and you develop one-to-one relationships in order to share Christ.
Since Pastor Sayford Moon started attending the Schools of Evangelism (SOE) at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, near Asheville, N.C., he has become energized and passionate about sharing God’s love. SOEs, nationally and internationally, present practical ideas and tools for building evangelistic churches.
“We can stand in our pulpits and preach all we want to about what we believe and what the Bible says, but if you go out there and put it into action and people see it working, it will say a whole lot more than words alone.”
Through what he has learned at the SOEs, Moon has helped his congregation become more involved in the ministry of the church.
“I have been able to get them energized to have what we call acquaintance maintenance events, which is where we have events like picnics, socials and gospel songfests. These are events that we hope would draw people who wouldn’t normally come to a regular church service. We’ve started working on bloodmobiles, anything to create activity at the church to draw people in.”
One of Moon’s favorite courses at SOE has been BGEA’s 30 Discipleship Exercises, which he has taught to his own congregation.
“The course helped our members see that for a church to be successful, the people have to pitch in and help,” he says. “They’ve got to reach out to others, and they are beginning to realize that it’s all based on the one-to-one relationships.”
SOEs are designed with pastors in mind and are held about five times a year. In addition to plenary lectures, participants also attend break-out sessions that include topics like youth evangelism, faith in the workplace and preaching evangelistic messages.
Christian Life and Witness Classes
In Glen Burnie, Md., the sanctuary at Faith Baptist Church was filled to overflowing for the Christian Life and Witness Course in the spring. About 700 Christians filled the sanctuary, which seats about 350 comfortably, to prepare to counsel those who would come forward at the Metro Maryland Festival With Franklin Graham in Baltimore July 7-9.
BGEA holds the CLW classes at various churches in each Festival city to train counselors for the Festival.
“We had been told to expect about 400 at our church,” says Clarence Byerly, associate pastor of administration and discipleship at Faith Baptist. “We packed them in, just as tight as we could get them. We had people sitting all around the doors, up and down the aisles, up in the choir loft, anywhere we could put them.”
After the first night, the church set up an overflow area in its Family Life Center, which seats about 200.
“What we liked was the fact that our own members got the training,” Byerly said. “The material was relevant to what we were already doing, so the class helped us as a church to be strengthened.”
In Quito, Ecuador, about 10,000 Christians have taken the course in preparation for the Festival of Hope With Franklin Graham Sept. 21-23.
Fernando Lay, chair of counseling and follow-up for the Festival, estimates that there are about 100,000 evangelical Christians in Quito, which is about 5 percent of the population. “So in terms of population, Quito is one of the least evangelized capital cities in Latin America.”
In the Christian community, the greatest problem is division among the Body of Christ, Lay says. “The No. 2 problem is the slow growth on every level of enthusiasm for evangelism, which we had to face from the very beginning. There are not a lot of [outreach] activities in the churches. ... So we are glad we’ve been able to recruit such a high number of counselors.”
The Billy Graham Training Center
Through the years, Christians have enjoyed sound biblical teaching in a peaceful, tranquil setting at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.
Set in the mountains of North Carolina, The Cove features Christian speakers who teach directly from the Word of God to guide participants in exploring specific books of the Bible or select passages that apply to the challenges of today’s world. The Cove holds about 25 seminars a year with speakers like Joseph Stowell, Anne Graham Lotz, Alistair Begg, John Piper and Erwin Lutzer.
“Mr. Graham’s desire was to have a place where Christians could come and simply study the Bible,” says Scott Holmquist, executive director of The Cove, “a place to get away from the routine of life and let the Holy Spirit fill each participant with God’s Word.”
International Schools of Evangelism
BGEA holds about three International Schools each year to equip pastors and church leaders for effective evangelism through the local church. Schools are often held in cities where Christian leaders are interested in hosting a Franklin Graham Festival.
Earlier this year, more than 700 Christian leaders representing 26 denominations attended the “Kingdom Come: More Than Words” ISOE in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The focus of the School was on the centrality and uniqueness of Christ, a timely message for Christians seeking to engage with a society that holds increasingly little stock with the claims of exclusive truth, according to Norman Sinclair, who co-chaired the conference steering group.
The School featured keynote speakers Anne Graham Lotz, Ravi Zacharias and Trevor Morrow, a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Keith Getty, co-writer of the modern-day hymn “In Christ Alone,” and his wife, Kristyn, led corporate worship times.
In addition to plenary sessions on topics of witnessing and outreach, participants were exhorted to “take holiness seriously.” In his closing address, Bishop Ken Clarke issued the call: “People need to see another way of living before they will take us seriously. Today Ireland desperately needs to see the attractive power of holy lives. … Sadly, the Church has become a stumbling block to many, and not a stepping stone.” Clarke prayed for “a tidal wave of grace, mercy and truth” to come from the conference and that “Ireland [be] shaken, both North and South, for the Kingdom of God.”
This month, an ISOE in Kiev, Ukraine, will help prepare churches for the Franklin Graham Festival in Kiev next July.
Since 1989, BGEA has conducted 37 International Schools of Evangelism, training and encouraging more than 12,000 people to do the work of an evangelist.
To find out more about any of BGEA’s training ministries, go to billygraham.org/Training.