– Garnet Wheaton with Michelle Peters
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
These words from Matthew 28 ring very familiar to us: the Great Commission. While we celebrate living redeemed and forgiven lives because of the death of Jesus Christ, we can’t keep the Good News to ourselves. For us as members, the enthusiasm to share the gospel motivates us.
Sadly, that statement is not reflective of many Christians in North America. In a recent survey conducted by Barna Research, half of the American churchgoing respondents (51%) replied “no” when asked if they had heard of the Great Commission. 25% said they had heard of it, but couldn’t recall the meaning.
According to a study last year by American Culture & Faith Institute, only 31% of Protestant Christians believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others who believe differently. Even many pastors feel this way: 27% of conservative Protestant pastors do NOT believe they have a responsibility to share their faith.
Believers who DO want to share their faith struggle with confidence and knowing what to say. They feel frozen by our culture’s political correctness and multi-faith respect, so they don’t initiate spiritual conversations and are wary of evangelism programs. As a result, participation as a member in a ministry like ours is not as attractive as it once was. And recruitment becomes very difficult.
This reality is both a challenge and an opportunity for us. We need more believers, like you, who have a passion in their hearts to share the gospel. They are the ones who will form the communities we call chapters. Without them, our chapters struggle, evangelism activity declines, and fewer people are introduced to Jesus.
When we look to churches and talk to pastors about this issue, we realize there is a new kind of work we can be involved in. Pastors recognize the decline in evangelism, but many feel ill-equipped to respond. They’re hungry for support in motivating and training their congregations to actively share the gospel. They’re also eager for Scripture resources to use in their evangelism programs.
And it’s not just in Canada where we see this need. Churches all over the world are asking us to help train and equip their congregations so they are more confident and better resourced to share the gospel in their communities. They love our evangelism training, the Scripture resources we can provide, and the resulting excitement in their churches for reaching out with the gospel.
So where does that leave us? What is our role in responding to these needs?
We believe our ministry is poised to play an expanded role in helping the global Church share the gospel: through evangelism training and the equipping of believers who have a renewed passion for evangelism. By building partnerships with churches and helping them ignite that passion in their congregations, more people will feel confident to be involved in evangelism and Scripture distribution. And more people will want to be active participants in chapter communities.
So, the Board has approved a new mission statement we’re excited to share with you. It embodies the three core elements that extend from our beginnings all the way to today—and into the future. It reflects the heartbeat of what we’re already doing as a ministry.
Our mission is to ignite and fuel a passion in people’s hearts to share the gospel—training and equipping them as community of believers, to effectively introduce people to Jesus through God’s Word.
There’s a lot in that statement, but in essence, the statement can be broken up into three pieces: motivation, preparation, and activation.
We have the opportunity to play a pivotal role and motivate people to share the gospel. We’ve been doing evangelism for 107 years, so we have lots of experience and passion for it. What an honour for us to help ignite a fire in people’s hearts to go introduce people to Jesus!
Once they’re motivated to go, we can prepare them to be more effective. This includes GRID training, Scripture resources, and a community of believers like you who will help encourage them, train them, support them, and pray with them.
Then it’s time to activate people and put the training into practice. We want to see more people sharing the gospel, placing Scriptures in the public arena, and personally giving people a copy of God’s Word to read.
That’s the vision we have for the ministry in the coming years: being advocates for evangelism, training and equipping a community of believers, and seeing more and more people all over the world actively involved in sharing the gospel with God’s Word.
Remember, this is not just a Canadian response. This mission statement can be scaled globally. Our dream is to continue growing our global ministry, inviting men and women all over the world to join the cause and be ambassadors for Christ through ShareWord Global.