The path of this dissertation project is to discover the strengths, weaknesses, and the next steps to growth for evangelism in the Evangelical Covenant Church. I am now beginning my second year as the team leader for evangelism. My position is unique because I simultaneously serve as the founding and senior pastor Fountain of Life Covenant Church and as the evangelism leader for our fine denomination.
In September 2011, President Gary Walter and Director of Church Growth and Evangelism Dave Olson approached me and asked me to consider the full-time job of evangelism leader. I prayerfully respectfully declined the opportunity for four reasons. First, all of my family and extended family live in Los Angeles. My family deeply loves our city and we could not imagine doing urban ministry in any other context. Second, I carry a deep love for the church my family and I planted four years ago. The third reason is a belief that evangelism leadership is best delivered in the context of local ministry. Ihave sat through too many inspirational sermons and seminary lectures where the
evangelism leader refers back to his or her ministry ‘on the ground’ five years past. Lastly, I work with the Los Angeles Lakers Band, and I half-heartedly joked with Gary and Dave that the Lord would never lead me to relocation before Kobe Bryant retired.
Together, we crafted a new model of evangelism leadership for our denomination.
The vision was to lead evangelism from the field, meaning that I would stay at Fountain of Life Covenant Church as the senior pastor half time, and perform the duties of evangelism team leader at 50 percent. I would train the denomination in evangelism; Long Beach as my learning lab. To my delight, my thoughtful and flexible leaders saw merit in this model. I was offered the role on my fortieth birthday. I received this invitation as both God’s affirmation, and a confirmation of evangelism leadership as a part of my destiny and ultimate contribution to Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
Of particular interest to me has been a burden to understand the challenges of leading the local church into evangelism without the instincts of one who is spiritually gifted in that area. For evangelism to flourish in the local church, the pastor does not need to operate in the spiritual gift, but the pastor does need to take responsibility for guiding the mission into evangelical fruitfulness. In the context of my current pastoral position as Director of Evangelism, my research this past year has been a process of intimately learning the culture, the climate, and the real needs of 831 Evangelical Covenant churches.
The following dissertation project is a detailed description of my experiences, as well as my theological and practical reflections on what God has taught me, so that the churches might bear much fruit in the years ahead.