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June 2009

Use God’s gifts to reach others, says Evangelism Institute head

The World Methodist Evangelism Institute (WMEI) has three goals, says its director Dr Winston Worrell.

They are to 1) train leaders in evangelism; 2) connect the leaders of Methodist and Wesleyan churches around the world; and 3) produce resources for evangelism.

One of the key ways the WMEI does 1) and 2) is through training seminars such as Equipt 09.

"While the regional churches give their own particular contextual touch to the format of the seminars, they all have lectures, workshops, and Wesley Groups. Wesley Groups are a chance for people to meet in small groups of 12 for prayer and personal sharing," Winston says.

Last year WMEI held a regional evangelism seminar in Paraguay that attracted delegates from throughout South America. In August in holds a regional seminar in South Africa that will draw people from Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe as well as South Africa.

"The Equipt regional seminar in New Zealand has a very good logo because that is what we are doing, equipping leader to more effectively be of service to Christ in local communities.

"Each conference develops its own ministries, and the seminar is a chance to expose people to a multiplicity of ministries."

In his own workshops Winston discussed reaching new people and using the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

"I look at what the Bible says those gifts are and how God manifests these gifts in the Methodist movement today. They include mysterious gifts such as healing, which we personally have no control over. They also include enabling gifts and serving gifts that are more intentional, such as teaching and hospitality."

WMEI director Winston Worrell (left) with Auckland-Manukau Tongan Parish superintendent Taufa Filiai

In seeking to reach new people Winston says Jesus provides us a good model. Jesus constantly reached out to people. He didn’t wait for people to come to him but rather visited homes, met people ‘on the way’, and participated in community events.

He mixed with all kinds of people, he was not afraid to be rejected and he had a passion for people.

It is important, he says, to have holistic ministries that combine word, deed and sign. In addition to our words and deeds we should show the signs of God’s presence and power. There are many references in the Gospel to the actions of Jesus and his disciples that display word, deed and sign. An example is Mark 6:34-42 in which Jesus first preached to the gathered crowd and later fed them through the miraculous fishes and loaves.