I recently rubbed shoulders with several people interested in Evangelism at the PC USA’s consultation on Evangelism at Stony Point NY.
The person overseeing Evangelism for the Denomination Eric Hoey has encouraged me greatly.
He has become a fan of this website and even has written an endorsement of it on his.
I agree with him on many occasion and share a lot of the same passion to help people find faith in Christ.
I find his passion to communicate his faith to be contagious.
I’ve gotten to meet him on several occasions and pray for him and his family regularly. He has a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and it is a joy to know Eric personally and professionally.
I look forward to continuing to work with Eric, helping train others in communicating their faith. I’ve asked him for a copy of the slides so hopefully I can get them here.
Pray for Eric
Regardless of your viewpoint on politics in the PCUSA and its struggle as a denomination, Eric deserves our prayers and encouragement. He is a man of God serving in a denomination he loves, with an unwavering commitment to Christ.
Eric’s thoughts as relayed by the various outlets.
Here are some of the reports about Eric’s talk with us at Stony Point.
From the PNS report on Eric’s talk the first night.
The Rev. Eric Hoey, director of evangelism and church growth for the PC(USA), told the consultation: “We must change the ethos of the church. People come to the faith in a variety of ways.”
He said the PC(USA) has a “humility” problem. “If it is not our way, the Reformed way, we throw the whole thing out. Shouldn’t we listen to a variety of ways” of doing evangelism?
“If an evangelism program is working in another tradition,” Hoey said, “should we not at least listen to that method?” He quoted the Apostle Paul, who said he became all things to all people that he might by all means save some. “We should have a variety of tools in our belts. We should have the tools and seek the training.”
Hoey said the biggest roadblock to effective evangelism is “the culture of me.”
“We need to see the world as God wants us to see it. If we just tune the world out, if we just get on the bus with our iPods and earphones and never connect with those around us,” he said, we miss our opportunities. “But if we get on the bus praying for God to use us, thoughts pop into our minds” about the evangelism possibilities all around us.
Hoey told about a family tour of Shaker Village in Kentucky. “Four hundred people came to this place and dedicated their lives to living simply. In their buildings you are going through a slice of history, and it is quite beautiful.” But he said they dedicated themselves to celibacy, “so only the remnants are there.”
“I hope that doesn’t happen to Presbyterians,” he said. “I believe we can make a difference and turn this church around. Let’s get moving.”
Over at the Outlook, in Same old, old story, Editor Jack Haberer recounts Eric’s talk that first night
In fact, Hoey overviewed conclusions drawn in a 1996 Presbyterian Panel study on evangelism in the denomination, repeatedly sounding the refrain, “Nothing has changed in 12 years.”
What did they say then that they’re saying now?
“Presbyterians are uncomfortable with street corner or stranger evangelism.”
He recounted to a laughing response, “I did a workshop in Chicago Presbytery. A woman told me, ‘I don’t even believe in evangelism.’ I asked her, ‘Then why are you at a conference on evangelism?’” She responded, “‘Because we have to learn how to do it.’”
However, rejecting stranger evangelism need not be the end of the discussion. He acknowledged that he got so frustrated with random evangelism on his college campus that he formed a new approach, organizing the Asian-American Christian Fellowship. Sure enough, “God blessed it with real growth.”
A second complaint voiced then and echoed today: pastors provide little help to those members who would like to evangelize, or, as Hoey said, “If the decline of the church is so important, why are we spending so much time not training in evangelism?””
A third, ironic complaint: pastors generally see evangelism as members’ responsibility, and members see evangelism as pastors’ responsibility. The right answer: it is every believer’s responsibility.
From the PNS report:
Hoey said, “I had never dreamed that this [consultation] would come out the way it did. I think each and every one of you can testify that we have seen the Spirit of God in our midst. You couldn’t program this, especially with this kind of outcome.
Hoey said, “It has been my heart’s desire ever since I took my position that somehow God would raise up a movement of people passionate about evangelism across this country. And it’s here. And I know that passion is in each and every one of your hearts, and I pray that God will continue to fan that flame so that we can move this across the country and change our denomination.”
Can there be a movement of pastors in the PCUSA (where my ordination is held) who are excited about evangelism? Can our denomination change?
Can we quit fighting among ourselves and call others to follow Jesus with all their heart soul, mind, and strength?