Sure, it’s a cheeky way of putting it – but Wycliffe College Evangelism Professor John Bowen has some very serious things to say about how Christians witness to their faith.
His helpful definition for evangelism is: ‘Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, helping people take steps toward discipleship.’
In this interview, this seasoned academic unpacks this definition, shares with us the things that are ‘working’ in the Fresh Expressions movement in Canada, and gives us some best practices toward building healthy congregations.
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John Bowen has devoted his life to helping others reach people with the Gospel, and says today’s enterprise begins by asking church leaders to discern; ‘where is God at work in the community around us?’ Here are my notes from the interview.
Slow Down Church! Evangelism is a Process
Dr. Bowen points to research suggesting the average amount of time is 6 months to 5 years for a person to travel between the convictions: ‘I need to figure this faith thing out’ to ‘I want to be baptized.’ Churches hurt these folk (and themselves) by asking people to move any faster.
One Day a Week…
Dr. Bowen suggests clergy and church leaders need to spend one day a week in the community. Period. Not visiting parishioners or tending to church-related errands, but making friends with our neighbors.
Ministry in the Skyscraper
Pointing to some research, Dr. Bowen says people who live in high rise buildings are 7 times more likely NOT to go to church. Finding a way to bring community, then, to these places is fertile ground for evangelism.
About Dr. John Bowen
John P. Bowen is Professor of Evangelism and Director of the Institute of Evangelism at Wycliffe College in Toronto. He is the author of Evangelism for ‘Normal’ People (2002), The Spirituality of Narnia (2007), and Growing Up Christian (2010); he is also the editor of The Missionary Letters of Vincent Donovan (2011). He has a Doctor of Ministry degree from McMaster University, and is an Anglican layperson living in Hamilton. His wife Deborah is an English Professor at Redeemer University College in Ancaster. They have two married children and three grandchildren.
Sponsors I Mentioned
Turnaround 20/20 – Learn from experts who have conquered obstacles to growth and watched God turn things around. Turnaround 20/20 is a unique congregational development conference that brings together 20 experts who speak for 20 minutes each. People like Nelson Searcy, Charles Arn, George Hunter, and Elmer Towns will focus on a specific area of congregational development and are out to spark new ideas and innovations for you and your church. Turnaround 20./20 is Tuesday, October 23 in Nashville, TN.