"New Christians," an evangelism emphasis in Oklahoma, launched a weekly prayer program this month that calls United Methodists to focus on growing their lives and churches in spirit and in number for God.
Some 150 laity and clergy—a total of 14 groups—last year began developing "New Christians." They are working through the Oklahoma Conference Discipleship Ministry Team’s evangelism task force.
The weekly prayer calendar will be accessible at www.okumc.org. These are the selections for the next three weeks:
- Week of Jan. 23—Focus: Humility. Scripture: Luke 18:4. Prayer: Gracious God, humble us in order that you may receive all the glory.
- Week of Jan. 30—Focus: How can we prepare hearts to accept Jesus? Scripture: Matthew 3:3b. Prayer: Lord, prepare our hearts to make paths for those who need to find you.
- Week of Feb. 6—Focus: What message is God giving us to share with the lost? Scripture: Matthew 11:10b. Prayer: Like John the Baptist, send us to prepare the way to you for those who are lost.
The goal of "New Christians" is to compile and share a comprehensive set of resources and program suggestions for churches, of all sizes and situations, to reach more people for Christ. Various media will be used, and one-day training events will be offered. The first of these will be March 5 at OKC-Chapel Hill UMC.
Each congregation can draw from the materials to design an approach to evangelism that reflects its distinctiveness.
Task force leaders identified key words for this two-year emphasis: resources, training, motivation, and encouragement.
Temple Diehl and Ben Williams chair the Prayer Subcommittee. Others are leading evangelism classes at Local Church Leaders Workshops this winter. Recognition for "Magnetic Church" and "Welcoming Congregation" are in development. A Lenten initiative is planned.
Here is the full list of subcommittees and leaders.
- Hospitality congregations program—Bob Johns
- Plans for evangelism that are more effective in a smaller church—Jim Hollifield
- Plans for evangelism that are more effective in a larger church—Ray Crawford
- Social networking and evangelism—Becky Pierson
- Assimilating new members—Janelle Brammer and Jim Stilwell
- Training—Bob Pierson
- Ministry to young adults—James Lambert
- Older Adult Council—Frank Nelson
- Children/youth ministry evangelism program—TBD
- Lenten emphasis—Brad Humphrey
- Home for Christmas—David Daniel
- Follow-up to Advent and Lent—Chris Buskirk
- Local Church Leaders Workshops—Randy Scraper
- Prayer—Ben Williams and Temple Diehl
"New Christians" seeks to reinforce the Oklahoma Conference Strategic Plan, evangelism leaders noted. The emphasis uses proven concepts from the denomination’s programs such as Rethink Church, Welcoming Congregations, etc.
Further information will be shared in future issues of the Contact. —Holly McCray