Bob Johns believes. God transformed him and, in turn, he has taken to heart the command to tell the world. He relishes the call to be an evangelist for Christ.
In workshops during 2009, he also eagerly taught others to embrace that calling. He was a presenter and planning committee member for "Tri-District Evangelism Training" in Oklahoma. The regional training events were developed by the Evangelism Committee of the Conference’s Discipleship Ministry Team. About 200 people attended.
"We talked about creating enthusiasm and passion for the Kingdom of God," said Rev. Johns, who is pastor of Vinita UMC. "Our goal was less about programs and more about inspiring people to do evangelism. When you let the community know you are interested in their well-being and trying to do something to help them, there is an opportunity for them to experience the Church in that setting."
Johns said his faith journey began when the former salesman was "living the American dream," yet sensing something missing in his life.
"Until God got hold of me, I didn’t know what being a Christian could really be all about," he said. "When I discovered what God was really offering me, it changed my whole life. It was amazing how God delivered me from that worldly model and filled me with meaning and purpose.
"Other people out there need the same fulfillment."
He became a Lay Speaker in 1979, joined the staff at Tulsa-Christ UMC in 1980, and received his first assignment as a Student Local Pastor in 1982. He recently completed an eight-year term on the Board of Ordained Ministry. He has been at Vinita UMC since 2003.
For his presentations at the Evangelism workshops, Johns used the "10,000 Doors" concept from the denomination’s new media campaign, Rethink Church.
He said, "Give a congregation one idea that they say they can do, and you can revitalize the entire church. If a church does one thing really well, that is enough for people to be attracted to that church."
Below are some of his suggestions, or doors, "that don’t cost churches anything to open in these hard times."
- Offer the parking lot for drive-through flu shots.
- Offer the church as an elementary-school registration and pre-testing site.
- Provide training for youth sports, such as a baseball clinic. "Teach the fundamentals. All that it takes is someone who knows how to play baseball," Johns explained.
- Tutor students in third grade and younger.
- Offer classes on resume writing and job interview skills. Offer jobs training.
- Be a location for events such as the National Commemorative Candle Lighting for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
- Host Financial Peace University.
- Recognize law officers, firefighters, or military personnel.
- Host support groups such as Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, single-parent organizations.
Johns said participants at each training event heard at least four presenters discuss "this thing we call evangelism." Among the leaders were Administrative Council chairpersons, district superintendents, and nationally recognized ministry specialists.
The Evangelism Committee is planning a week of special activities for late February. Bob Pierson chairs the group.