During the month of May, 10 churches in the Knoxville, Tenn., area held evangelistic meetings as part of the Southern Union Field School of Evangelism. At first look, many people think of evangelism as reaping a harvest of souls. It’s the picture of the pastor in the baptistry and a new convert’s story of being saved by God’s amazing grace.
While that is most often celebrated and reported, there are many other incredible and vitally important benefits to a local church participating in evangelism. Through a planned process of preparing the church, planting seeds, praying for the Holy Spirit, and preaching the everlasting Gospel, evangelism can have multiplied benefits for members and friends of the church.
This process or “cycle of evangelism” is currently taught at Southern Adventist University (SAU). In order to apply the principles of evangelism in a practical way, a Field School of Evangelism is held once a year in a specific area of the Southern Union. Theology majors between their junior and senior year have the opportunity to participate with local churches as guest student evangelists.
This year, the Field School was invited by the churches of the Knoxville, Tenn., area, where host churches, local pastors, students, and professors from SAU teamed up for evangelism.
The process began more than two years prior to the arrival of the students. Working collaboratively, pastors from the Georgia-Cumberland Conference and the South-Central Conference came together to network and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the churches and communities in and around Knoxville.
Local church boards discussed the details and agreed to serve as host sites for “Discovering Revelation,” a series of reaping meetings. In order for the full effect of these meetings to truly be realized, each church agreed to participate in the cycle of evangelism.
In February 2021, an evangelism rally was held at the Knoxville First Church. David Hartman, D.Min., from SAU, shared “Keys to the Heart,” highlighting the ways in which each member could reach out to their circle of relationships with the love of Christ. This kickoff event was live-streamed to area churches, indicating that the process was beginning.
Throughout the course of 2021, pastors continued to pray and plan.
A “Season of Service” in October and November emphasized meeting community needs. Providing meals for the homeless, sharing food boxes, networking with local agencies for addiction recovery: all gave multiple ways for members to get involved. A Season of Service Celebration was held at the Maryville Church, and a calendar of events for the Field School was shared.
At the beginning of 2022, a seminar by SALT (Soul-winning And Leadership Training) was presented at the Smoky Mountain Church. This training brought specific tips for sharing Bible studies. Concurrently, invitations for free Bible studies blanketed the area through the mail. Many interests were received for follow-up.
In February, Tim Madding, D.Min., from the North American Division Evangelism Institute, came to the Knoxville North Church to share ways to make the local church more visitor friendly. This was live streamed as well, so that all participating churches could learn and grow in their “curb appeal.”
In March, a weekend revival was held where student evangelists came to their host churches for the first time. In April, a 40 Days of Prayer was initiated leading up to the reaping series.
Roger Hernandez, Southern Union ministerial director, provided a LEAD reaping series at the Knoxville First Church, May 7-14. Students were able to observe how to present difficult topics and make calls for decisions during this week. Daily classes were held for the students at the Knoxville Grace Church led by Barry Tryon, Ph.D., D.Min.
Nine other churches began their own reaping series on Thursday, May 12. Having sent out thousands of fliers, many new interests were gleaned. Some attended one or two nights, ripening fruit for follow-up. Others have continued to come night after night, learning the beauty of God’s end time message.
The final results of the Field School of Evangelism will never be fully measured. Church members are working together, serving the community, reaching out to their neighbors and friends. Young aspiring pastors are learning about the cycle of evangelism, presenting God’s Word, leading souls to the Savior. The harvest is truly plenteous! And now, through the Field School of Evangelism, more laborers are prepared to be involved in the process.
Churches participating in the Field School in 2021-2022 are Knoxville First, Knoxville Trinity, Knoxville North, Knoxville Grace, Lenoir City, LaFollette, Jellico, Maryville, Smoky Mountain, and Newport.
Georgia-Cumberland | July 2022