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Some Questions & Answers About the Position

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Back on Dec. 30, the CC team posted the first question and answer for the blog. This post includes more questions and our answers. Note that we did take the editorial privilege of changing our first answer just a bit. We look forward to hearing your comments!

Why change the name from Director of Evangelism to Director of Community Connections?

The CC Team agrees with what Eugene Peterson has stated in his writings; that ‘evangelism’ is a term that has been ruined and carries with it a variety of meanings and perceptions to many Christians today. In our context here at Third, we discussed that evangelism is probably seen as somewhat intimidating to many within our fellowship. Some probably envision evangelism in the style of Billy Graham where you speak in front of large crowds. Others might envision evangelism as ‘cold calling’ on the telephone, knocking on doors and talking to complete strangers. Others might hold the belief that evangelism is really only for those who have the ’spiritual gift’ of evangelism. Our team believes that all of us are God’s ambassadors (missionaries if you will) where God has placed us. We all need to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have -“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do so with gentleness and respect,” (I Peter 3:15) The team agrees with what Billy Graham has written: “The evangelistic task, first of all, should send us back to our bibles, carefully and prayerfully studying to uncover the heart of God’s message to an unbelieving world. It will also mean a recovery of the biblical priority of evangelism.”1 Our hope is that this name change will help lower the perceived barriers for our members to actively share their faith with others.

Is the revised job description a new approach to evangelism?

The CC Team would hesitate to call this a new approach if by the phrase ‘new approach’; one means an approach that is not centered on the great commission and on a solid theological foundation. It could be considered a new or different approach if we compare the contents and expectations of the new job description with some of the previous evangelism thrusts at Third Church. To some the approach we are proposing is a shift in thinking. The team believes that all of us are missionaries and that we are all called to encourage each other to share the good news to all our friends, all those that we share our everyday lives with, whether at work, at play, at church, or even while serving the community by sharing produce from a community garden. We all are in full time ministry service which is consistent with Reformed theology as we are ‘the priesthood of all believers‘.
Given the major changes in culture over the last years, the CC team has been led to believe that the approach of the director of community connections should be to focus on equipping and training our members so that they can feel comfortable sharing the good news through personal relationships. Some call this friendship evangelism. One of the roles of the CC person would be to be a bridge builder: facilitating the opportunities for the interaction and building of relationships between those who are serving and those that are being served. Within these relationships, the “Word” which lives within each believer, can be expressed ‘life on life’. One author states it this way – ‘friends listen to friends’. Our skate ministry is an example of this where Pastor Shawn and other volunteers, through their serving of the skate youth, have opportunities to share the “Word”. Personal relationships take time and so we must be prepared to take the long-haul approach to evangelism.
The CC team acknowledges the concern that if we focus solely on serving (deeds), that the sharing of the gospel (the ‘Word’) might be diminished. The team realizes this tension between serving and proclaiming and we desire that the ministries facilitated/conducted by this new director should strive to be holistic in nature, thus there needs to be both ‘Word’ and ‘deed’. Word & deed must go hand in hand. Jesus we read, “went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” (Matt. 9:35). Immediately following this he commissioned the 12 disciples to do likewise. Jesus
proclaimed the Good News but also deeply cared for social and physical needs.

Why would Third Church collaborate with an organization like A Rocha?
• Background:
To fully answer this question, we first want to share with you the pertinent background information that preceded this proposed collaboration.
As you may know, the director of evangelism position has gone unfilled since 2003. We realized that finding a part-time evangelism director was difficult for the reasons that it would take someone in just the right life situation (financial, etc.) to be able to take this position. The phrase ‘evangelism is a lifestyle’ seemed to be true as we observed other paid kingdom workers who were involved in doing evangelism were mostly, if not all, full time in ministry. If Third Church was not in a position to hire a full time director of evangelism, the team concluded that a new approach to this part-time staffing position was in order. The team began discussing ministry philosophy and we found ourselves greatly affected by what Pastor Joel Van Dyke had shared with us over the last two years. As well, we have had a continuing conversation with Jeff Littlejohn from Imagine! NW (supported by CRWRC) who challenged us about how holistic community development can transform lives and communities. We were then led to a ministry approach that in church terminology, is called a Missional approach (please see readings on ‘Missional’). [Simply put in our terms, being Missional means that one of our primary foci and organizing principles of the church is the love imperative to bring the gospel to our neighbors in a relational way since we are the ‘sent or ‘called out’ ones]
Approximately 7-8 months ago, Pastor Shawn informed us that he had been having conversations with Dave Timmer and that Dave had expressed an interest in exploring the possibility of serving Third Church in the position of ‘community connections’. In subsequent months, more formal conversations with Dave occurred as we together shared our ministry hearts and thoughts. These conversations led to a revised job description (see job description on resource table) that included elements of social justice and creation care that Dave was involved with already. The CC team recommended to the elders and trustees that our church increase the compensation for the revised part-time evangelism position in our 2009 budget, approve a new job description, and call the revised position the ‘Director of Community Connections.
The possibility of Dave filling the Community Connections position would necessitate him having a certain amount of income that we felt the church couldn’t provide at this time. Then we became aware of grant monies that might be available in 2009 which would be controlled and administered by A Rocha which could provide the income needed for Dave to move from his present job to serve with Third and with A Rocha. These grant monies administered and paid by A Rocha, plus the increased budgeted funds for the position, would allow the possibility for Dave to fill the community connections position.
• Are we going to seek/advertise for other possible candidates for this position?

The CC team has not addressed this fully and so has asked you the congregation, for input and co-discernment on this matter. The question the team struggles with is this: As a church and allowing for doing things in an orderly manner, do we need to fully apply ‘business models and principles’ when hiring someone such as for this ministry position? Can these same business practices interfere with the Lord’s leading – i.e. – has the Lord led us to Dave for this position?
• What would the relationship between A Rocha & Third Church look like?
From the perspective of the CC team, this collaborative relationship is mainly one of practicalities – it allows Third Church to fill the Director of Community Connections and it allows A Rocha to have a part-time position in the local area to assist them in their environmental activities. To this point, all discussions between Third and A Rocha have been conceptual or in generalities, there have been no written understandings. A Rocha has committed to release supervision of this grant funded position to Third which means that Third would set this person’s schedule and priorities. Third Church would effectively treat this position as any other staff position in regards to work schedules, supervision, accountability, and scheduled job performance reviews.

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1 Recovering the Primacy of Evangelism, Billy Graham, Christianity Today – Dec. 8, 1997 Issue

The Community Connections Team invites you to attend an informational meeting/discussion about this position on Monday, Jan. 12 – 7:00 p.m. in the Fireside Room

Questions & Answers

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

The CC team thought it might be helpful to share in a question and answer format some of the questions that we have heard or that people might have regarding this proposed position. We will add questions and answers as our time permits. Please feel to free to comment or make your own post.

Why change the name from Director of Evangelism to Director of Community Connections?

The CC Team believes what Eugene Peterson has stated in his writings, that ‘evangelism’ is a term that has been ruined and carries with it a variety of meanings and perceptions to many Christians today. In our context here at Third, we discussed that evangelism is probably seen as somewhat intimidating to many within our fellowship. Some probably envision evangelism in the style of Billy Graham where you speak in front of large crowds. Others might envision evangelism as ‘cold calling’ on the telephone or knocking on doors and talking to complete strangers. Others might hold the belief that evangelism is really only for those who have the ‘spiritual gift’ of evangelism. Our team believes that all of us are God’s ambassadors (missionaries if you will) where God has placed us. We all need to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have -“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do so with gentleness and respect,” (I Peter 3:15) Our hope is that this name change will lower the perceived barriers as we try to further equip, train, and mobilize our whole church for proclamation of the gospel to our community and beyond.

Welcome

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

The members of the Community Connections Team of Third Church welcome you to this site. It is our hope that this site will be a forum for the sharing of your ideas, insights, and opinions about the Community Connections position. Feel free to read and post! We value everyone’s input as we together dialogue and learn from each other.