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Evangelism key in sharing Godcomment (0)

January 4, 2001

By Greg Heyman

The excitement Jay Wolf felt during an Alabama Baptist evangelism event last spring couldn’t be ignored.
Wolf was among several dozen volunteers from various Montgomery churches who participated in the Inner City Evangelism (ICE) crusade. Sponsored by the State Board of Mission’s (SBOM) evangelism office and First, Montgomery, ICE featured a weekend of witnessing and block parties.
Evangelism is at the center of efforts by Alabama Baptists. A similar activity, Crossover Montgomery, Nov. 11–12 prior to the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting resulted in 69 professions of faith. Like its predecessor, Crossover Montgomery included block parties, prayer walking and door-to-door witnessing.
Far from just being a Baptist effort, evangelism is a practice embraced by all major denominations.
Alabama Baptists said they are aware the denomination cannot be the only one working to save the state’s residents. To that end, Sammy Gilbreath, director of evangelism with SBOM, said reaching all Alabamians through the “Through Every Door” evangelism campaign will only be accomplished through all denominations working together.
Evangelism is also a part of a Christian’s lifestyle, according to Steve Wesson, state director of the Church of God Alabama State Offices for Evangelism and Home Missions.
“Evangelism is not done just with words, it’s also with deeds that will lead to a verbal witness,” Wesson said. “The very word (evangelism) speaks of pronouncement.”
Michael Hansell, pastoral associate/campus minister for Saint Stephen the Martyr Catholic Parish in Birmingham, echoed Wesson’s comment, saying evangelism should not come primarily from the pulpit but in how believers live.
“Evangelism, to me, is setting a good example — setting the example of Christ for other people,” Hansell said.
Christians should be excited about evangelism because it is mandated in the Bible, Wesson said. “There comes a great satisfaction in being obedient to our Lord.”
“Every Christian, by their baptism, is charged to teach Jesus,” said Bill King, deputy for ministry and clergy development with the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.
Many churches utilize their own discipling programs to follow up with new believers, using professionally written material.
A program called Alpha begun in London is aimed at individuals who do not already attend church. Those associated with the program describe it as a 15-session “practical introduction” to the Christian faith.
“Stripping the gospel down to its base essentials, it makes Christianity accessible to men and women of today’s culture,” said Sandy Millar of the Holy Trinity Brompton in London, where the program was established.
John Harris Harper, canon-at-large with the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham, said Alpha proved a success during the two times it was offered at that church.
Stressing Alpha has been used at churches in the United States and overseas representing different denominations, Harris said Alpha’s goal is not to recruit new members at the church in which it is offered.
“It has nothing to do with any given church,” Harris said.
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