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Frequently Asked Questions about

The Evangelism Institute (TEI)

(Answered in the first person by TEI founder, Stuart Holt)

 

    1.     What excites you the most about people interested in evangelism?

    2.     What discourages you the most about people not getting involved in                evangelism?

    3.     What has TEI discovered about the effectiveness of the "evangelism                landscape"?

    4.     What are the primary weaknesses in the traditional approaches to                   evangelism?

    5.     What is the difference between evangelism, missions, and discipleship?

    6.     Why do you call what you do "Authentic Outreach?"

    7.     Do you have a religious, theological or denominational preference?

    8.     What training events does TEI have coming up this year?

    9.     Where does the Authentic Outreach Training take place?

    10.  How many hours of training are involved?

    11.  Who should take the course?

    12.  Can the course be utilized in a weekly small group forum?

    13.  Who will teach the course?

    14.  Is there a fee for the course?

    15.  I understand that movie film clips are used in the course.  Are they
           appropriate?

    16.  What are the follow-up efforts and accountability aspects of the course?

    17.  What have been the results of the course to date?

    18.  How can TEI help promote the course at our church?

     

 

1.    What excites you the most about people interested in evangelism?

     Many Christians would like to experience a closer walk with God. How can a Christian experience a closer walk with God if he/she is going to opt out of participating in God’s plan for growing His Kingdom by evangelism? As Christians make sharing their faith part of their everyday lives, love those who do not have a personal relationship with God, develop true friendships with non-Christians, and initiate spiritual conversations, they will experience the joy and adventure of God working through them and around them to transform lives. This is truly exciting.

 

2.    What discourages you the most about people not getting involved in evangelism? 

     There is no reason to be discouraged, but unfortunately my human side rises to the forefront from time to time.  To prevent discouragement, I decided to encourage church members to rise up and actively share their faith. I tried to lead the effort without laying a guilt trip.  My efforts follow my prayer; I desire to motivate the pastors and leaders of the Church to teach the lay people how to share their faith.  I also know that those churches that have 15% or greater of their adults “active” in sharing their faith are flourishing.

     This also helps the Church to stop thinking only of its own needs and direct its attention outward.  Even the Christian bookstores today have a predominate amount of self-help books in them.  I realize we all need help with the struggles of life, but we have gone too far and need more of a balance.  Many churches and their members have built moats around themselves and have very little to do with those who do not call themselves believers.  They may serve in a soup kitchen (and I often encourage church members to serve the community), but when it comes to reaching their close friends, they shy away from the sharing the gospel. My goal is to lead people to be prepared to give an answer for the hope they have in Christ Jesus, which is the true answer to individual, sociological, political, and world problems.

     85% of all churches have Evangelism in their mission statement but allocate less than 2% of their budget for evangelism.  They are not really walking the walk.  It is not uncommon for churches to encourage their members to go overseas for missions at approximately $1,500 per person.  They raise financial support for these trips with donations, car washes, etc.  Why then, is the church not raising monies for evangelism?

 

3.    What has TEI discovered about the effectiveness of the "evangelism landscape”?

     Of Christians, 95% are not personally involved in evangelism or the Great Commission.  This means that only the remaining 5% of the church actively shares their faith (and that includes the paid staff), while the vast majority sits on the sidelines.  Christ commanded us in Matthew 28.19-20,

 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

     Why is sharing our faith such a problem for the church if what we believe is truly the answer to many, sociological, political, and world problems?

     As long as most Christians think evangelism means confronting strangers, engaging in a Gospel monologue presentation, and trying to “close the deal” or gain an immediate conversion, they will continue to avoid personal involvement. Many Christians who have tried to evangelize unsuccessfully and failed have concluded that evangelism is not for them. It must be for someone else. It must be for the “gifted” or for the church staff.

     While certainly some people are called to a traditional style of evangelism, I find most people are not. In our training, we take a new and closer look at the Great Commission. We see that evangelism is a process that takes place over time and involves a series of spiritual conversations. It is not our job to convert someone; that is God’s job. What most people think of as “evangelism” is often our attempt to do God’s job.

     God works predominately through people to reach people, even though He uses all sorts of ways to reach people for Christ. Though we are imperfect messengers, God uses us anyway. In Authentic Outreach training, we focus on our true role in the evangelism process: loving those who need Christ, developing true friendships with un-believers and skeptics, and initiating spiritual conversations. If a person processing the Gospel goes through 10 spiritual conversations, are we willing to participate in one of those conversations, knowing that in 9 of them, Christians will not have the experience of praying with someone to receive Christ?

     We have found in our Authentic Outreach training that when people realize they have been trying to do God’s job, and now better understand their true role in God’s Plan, they feel liberated, motivated, and re-engaged in the Great Commission. They gain a greater appreciation of the joy of their salvation and see in their life the new adventure of God’s work around them and through them.

 

4.    What are the primary weaknesses in the traditional approaches to evangelism?

     Traditional evangelism approaches have been the standard for decades. We don’t
view them as having “weaknesses” per se. Our view is that the world we are trying to reach has substantially changed. We believe it necessary for most Christians to learn to adapt their communication style to the world that has changed around us.

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 says,

“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… To the weak I became weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

     God’s truth has not changed, but the world has. Like Paul, Christians will find it more effective to adapt our communication style to the person who needs Christ and not insist on our own way of communicating.

     One of the key teaching differences between Authentic Outreach and the traditional approach is the emphasis put on building active relationships with non-believers with a “listening” style versus a “telling” communication style.

     Some churches using a traditional approach to evangelism may find it satisfactory. In that case we are happy for them.  However, many churches are doing little if any evangelism and this is not satisfactory. The church should do something - if not with TEI, then with another evangelism strategy.  There is no time like the present for Christians to do more to reach those who need Christ.

     1 Peter 3:15 reminds us of God’s thoughts on sharing our faith.

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

 

5.    What is the difference between evangelism, missions, and discipleship?

     I like the way Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, separated the five purposes for our lives:

Worship

You were planned for God’s pleasure.

Fellowship

You were formed for God’s family.

Discipleship

You were created to become like Christ.

Ministry

You were shaped for serving God.

Evangelism

You were made for a mission.

      All of us are created for all five purposes.  The question we have to ask ourselves is, how, within the body, are we seeing all of these purposes developed and not just one purpose or the other?

 

6.    Why do you call what you do "Authentic Outreach?"

     Most Christians think evangelism means confronting strangers, engaging in a Gospel monologue presentation, and trying to “close” with an immediate conversion. Many Christians who have tried to evangelize unsuccessfully have concluded that evangelism is not for them; it must be for someone else.

     Authentic Outreach is about reaching the world you live in for Jesus Christ. 

     The name of the training process is Authentic Outreach.  The course is designed in a way so that every Christian who is willing will be able to learn a style of sharing that not only fits his/her communication style, is non-confrontational and non-argumentative, and not just for the “professional” and “gifted” evangelist. 

 

7.  Do you have a religious, theological or denominational preference?

     No. We believe the Great Commission applies to all Christians. We believe most Christians want to participate in the Great Commission, but 95% do not actively evangelize for many different reasons. We seek to make evangelism easy and available.  We are told often that local pastors and churches want an option that is practical and realistic for the Body.

 

8.    What training events does TEI have coming up this year?

     Our goal is to equip lay people in the church to teach this course.  The church staff has plenty of responsibilities, so it is best when the ongoing teaching is done by the church members.

     We have several upcoming Authentic Outreach Trainings. 

          Most pastors agree that more outreach efforts or more evangelism is needed in their local church.  The pastors that we have spoken with also acknowledge that they have a full plate of responsibilities and they are not going to spearhead the effort.

     We deliberated extensively on this issue because we want to provide significant help and support to churches and pastors in their church. We want to help churches and pastors train their whole congregation to experience the joy and adventure of seeing God at work around them and through their transforming lives.

     An additional strategy beyond the initial evangelism course to help pastors and churches is a Church Partnering Relationship with TEI. TEI partners with churches to help them by:

     Selecting a lay evangelism team, training the evangelism team to teach the evangelism course, and providing an on-going coaching/mentoring relationship to the evangelism team and church staff, under the authority of the local church, to support the evangelism team throughout the year.

    9.    Where does the Authentic Outreach Training take place?

     We want to help a church train its whole congregation with a new perspective on evangelism and our role in the Great Commission. Keep in mind, those churches that have 15%+ adults actively sharing their faith are flourishing.

     To accomplish a sustained effort in the local church we suggest the development of a lay evangelism team of 2 or more people. The church sends the team to be trained in Authentic Outreach at the TEI headquarters in Richmond, VA. We will also have these training sessions in key regional cities across America as needed, so long as there are five or more churches participating. The training will prepare the team to organize, promote, and start teaching Authentic Outreach in their church. In addition, we will provide regular coaching and support to the evangelism team and the church leadership, including TEI visits to the local church if desired in the additional phases.

  

10.  How many hours of training are involved?

     The course is twenty hours of teaching.  Some people have asked why so many hours are needed.  Our answer is that all of our research shows that when an insufficient amount of time is put into learning how to share your faith, the effort dwindles in six months.  Evangelism is worth the course teaching.  Realizing that prospective participants have full schedules, the course has almost no homework for the student, no memorization, and no evangelism track to learn.  Participants do not have to worry about assigned tasks between classes except for three homework efforts that are easy to do and not time consuming.

     As the course is taught at your church by TEI trained lay people from your church, it is traditionally taught two hours a week for ten weeks.  Many churches have offered the course during Wednesday evening programs with a slightly longer time period.  Dinner is often served before the class.

     The teacher training course is taught with the lay persons working schedule in mind.  The course is often taught on a Wednesday evening from 6:30pm to 8:30pm (with a dinner provided from 6:00pm to 6:30pm), Thursday evening from 6:30pm to 8:30pm (with a dinner provided from 6:00pm to 6:30pm), Friday from noon until 6:00pm (with lunch provided), and on Saturday from 8:00am until 4:00pm (no lunch provided due to lunch break).

     The course is taught in Richmond, Virginia on a regular schedule (see schedule section), but we are also available in other cities as long as we have five or more churches involved.  We can also teach the twenty hours in any time format that best fits (example: half day Thursday (6 hours), half day Friday (6 hours), all day Saturday (8 hours)).  We are flexible.

 

11.  Who should take the course?

     Often we have pastors, church staff, and active evangelists taking the course (which is great), but the course is designed for the 95% of Christians who are currently opting out of evangelism.  Most people learning about evangelism for the first time have never been taught the reasons we evangelize and the scriptures to support those reasons.  For experienced evangelists Authentic Outreach will serve as a good refresher course, but it will likely contain old material.  The classes examine important Bible passages that concisely convey the Gospel message.  Those experienced in evangelism may have already learned these verses to share.  The middle sessions of the course are about communicating God’s truth to a changing world.  Positive feedback has shown these classes to be extremely pertinent.

     The course is designed for adults, but we have had many high school and college students take the course.  It is not designed around young people (i.e. topics of discussion sometimes show an adult bias, such as friendships around children or working associates).  We will in the future develop a youth format, but for now have only an adult format.

     The course is applicable for foreign missions teams, but is designed for evangelism in the United States with family, neighbors, and coworkers. (FYI: The non-Christian population of the United States would rank as the fourth largest nation in the world.) We plan to develop a foreign mission version in the future.

 

12.  Can the course be utilized in a weekly small group format?

     Yes, but with some teacher adaptation.  The course is not yet developed in this format.  We plan to work on developing this type format in late 2005 and early 2006, but removing the teaching aspect of the materials and using a book or work guide on evangelism information and tactics only would possibly miss the big picture.   We want to develop the excitement and adventure of being active in sharing the faith.  People need motivation AND tools that are practical and realistic.  A course complete with teaching is best capable of inspiring motivation. Even with that said, we are actively developing a book for those who prefer to learn on their own versus group dynamics.

     TEI feels the motivation comes in two ways.  First, participants hear the teacher’s instruction and see God at work in the course materials.  Secondly, students find the evangelism approach comfortable and applicable to their lives.  Our surveys have indicated that our approach is appropriate for everyone.

 

13.  Who will teach the course?

     The initial teaching course is taught in four days by me, the founder, Stuart Holt.  I am assisted by several former students who have become excellent teachers.

     Keep in mind that TEI's goal is to equip teachers from your church to teach Authentic Outreach at your church on an ongoing basis.

 

14.  Is there a fee for the course?

     Yes.  The fees help cover some of the overhead of the non-profit 501c3 ministry, but we never cover the entire ministry overhead by the course fees and need a significant amount of other tax-deductible gifts to maintain the ministry.  I, the founder, Stuart Holt, do not receive any income from the ministry and do this to serve God by motivating churches to do something, anything, to reach others for Christ.

     The fees are two fold:  individual fees or a group church fee.

     The individual and church fees are outlined in the fee section; however, most churches have chosen the church fee because it covers as many participants as you want trained within one year.  Many churches have encouraged interested members to take the short teaching course even if they have no intention of teaching the course in the future.  The advantage with the short course is that it is taught by a trained TEI course instructor and me, Stuart Holt.  One church sent 56 people knowing full well that only four people were ultimately coming to be trained as teachers within their church.

     If your church is outside of the city hosting the course, you may want to choose the individual fee since it is costly for many people to travel.  Keep in mind that if five or more churches decide to participate, we can teach the course in your area and it will be easier for more members of your church to attend. 

     The fees cover the cost of some manuals and meals (see fee structure), but do not cover travel expenses for TEI staff if the course is held outside of Richmond.  The fees also do not cover the individual student manuals.  Each student is encouraged to pay for their own manual ($25) if the church is unable to afford the student manual.

     Eighty-five percent (85%) of all churches have Evangelism in their mission statement but allocate less than 2% of their budget for evangelism.  They are not really walking the walk.  It is not uncommon for churches to encourage their members to go overseas for missions at approximately $1,500 per person.  They raise financial support for these trips with donations, car washes, etc.  Why then, is the church not raising monies for evangelism?

 

15.  I understand that film clips are used in the course.  Are they appropriate?

      All the clips are filtered for any obscene language or references that are inappropriate.  The course is for adults and some of the clips are from R rated movies.  Hollywood films have many references to God and spiritual subjects.  The use of these films is great for class discussion and is a critical form of communication in our world today.

      One other note:  TEI has paid a fee for the use of these film clips that covers copyright regulations, but we are only allowed to “loan” the film clips to you.  There is no specific time usage, but they are still the property of TEI. 

 

16.  What are the follow-up efforts and accountability aspects of the course?

     TEI has developed a number of helpful tools.  First, after the course we distribute a Follow-Up kit that is full of suggestions, a planned schedule of events, and weekly follow-up emails to keep the course fresh in everyone’s mind. 

     Participants must be accountable.  It is necessary for them to stay on top of the course and its tasks while not overloading their lives with additional “stuff”.  As this course is a volunteer effort, participants must be self-motivated. 

     We have designed the course with very little homework and with no scripture memory.  Three tasks are required outside the actual class time, but it is kept to a minimum, taking approximately 30 minutes for each task.  Participants are expected to do the homework.  The teachers’ job is to lead, encourage, and make sure the students are giving the course their full effort.

    

17.  What are the results of the course to date?

      Remember that churches with 15%+ of its members actively involved in evangelism are flourishing.  Since most churches have 5% or less of the body involved, a change must occur.

      For years many churches have fallen into an evangelically stagnate place and now desire a quick fix.  Currently the church in America is declining by over 10% while at the same time the population grows by 13%. TEI’s course can not fix this type of problem over night.  If you need numbers you will need to look somewhere else.  We at TEI see evangelism as a process and not necessarily as a quick event.

   With that said, TEI trained approximately 800 students during our short four day teaching course to date. Churches also trained an approximately 400 other students.  Each student is encouraged to develop 3 to 5 relationships with non-believers.  That means, on average, TEI planted 3,600 to 6,000 evangelical relationships.  We have no doubt that God will use these newly developed relationships in exciting and amazing ways. We are aware of four professions of faith directly credited to TEI by TEI students. 

 

18.  How can TEI help promote the course at our church?

     TEI has developed a number of helpful tools.  First, we have a Getting Started kit that comes with pre-developed promotional table brochures that can be customized with dates, etc. and printed in your own church office.  The kit also contains bulletin announcements, pulpit announcements, and many other helpful start-up suggestions all on a CD-ROM and on hard copies.