1. Proclaim was written in 2005 correct? What led you two to invest in a evangelism training program that could be used church-wide? Was it something Sovereign Grace Ministries’ leadership approached you to do, or a special leading you or Stefan felt?
Correct. Our first draft of the course manual was in 2005. This was not something the Sovereign Grace leadership approached us about, though they did ask us about filming the class later on. The reason we went from a seminar-format to small-group-format was because we found that as we offered the seminar, the normal attendees were usually folks already active in evangelism. Those that most needed the class were often more unlikely to register for it. We realized that if we wanted to penetrate the value of evangelism into the entire church, we needed an approach that exposed the entire church to the curriculum and integrated it into the normal fellowship of the church (hence our small groups). This was only being consistent with our conviction that evangelism is a spiritual discipline and that we all need ongoing accountability and encouragement of other believers to persevere in evangelism. Integrating the class into our established small groups was the most obvious way to do this. After taking the entire church through the class, we're now shifting to integrate the class into our leadership development process. That way new folks who join the church later on will get introduced to the materials and teaching, without requiring past members to retake it.
2. How widely used is this program? Is it primarily being used by Sovereign Grace churches? How much response or use has there been by non Sovereign Grace churches roughly?
Honestly we haven't done a great job tracking this kind of information. And now that Sovereign Grace Ministries does all our order fulfillment, we've lost touch with the numbers and ratios. I would imagine about 100 churches have used the course with about a 50-50 split, but that's just a rough and dirty estimate.
3. This question is a good one for you both perhaps. I had written a training seminar earlier in my ministry, and I know that from the transition from how you hope curriculum works @ layout and composition to how it actually works in use is borderline intertestamental in nature. How has it met both of your expectations? Is its operation and use what met the objectives you had when you wrote it? The program is very fluid, concise, and engaging from my perspective. Is the program as seamless and as you hoped it would be?
The development of the course has been quite an iterative process. It has increasingly become more seamless as we've made each set of edits. Since the DVD filming, we've been very happy with the final product, though we do have some tweaks in mind for the future. So far the class has met our expectations. That being said, ultimately we don't believe any evangelism class, ours included, can itself create a culture of evangelism. Evangelism must also be practiced, modeled, and demonstrated in an ongoing way from the leadership of the church for the value to sink down deep into the DNA of the church. Just as pastors model and mentor Christians in the other spiritual disciplines, the church needs this kind of personal discipleship in the area of evangelism.
4. In your own words what do you think Proclaims purpose is?
The purpose of Proclaim is to equip believers to share the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and leave the results to God. To inspire Christians everywhere to join God in the unstoppable spread of the gospel. Phrases lifted right out of the course, which also happen to be our own words. :-)
5. Is there anything you or Stefan would change?
Though we love the Alpha Course at our church, we realize that not every church is as enthusiastic about it. We're currently editing the DVD to reduce the number of references to Alpha. We are also updating some of the recommended resources at the ends of each session.
6. How often do you find yourself using this evangelistic approach outside of seminar in your own spontaneous witness engagements?
Every week. My wife and I have just had a relative over for dinner on Monday that we've been reaching out to. We had a pamphlet sitting out in our living room about the reliability of the Bible and he asked if he could have it. He hopes to come to church with us on Sunday. Tuesday my wife and I were able to share the gospel with two teenage girls downtown. It was part of an outreach we were doing with our small group. We read through the gospel tract with both of them. Wednesday I was able to give out a "How Good Are You?" tract to our water delivery guy. I transitioned things to the spiritual using the principles outlined in session three and he was quite open. I try to carry a "How Good Are You?" tract in my back pocket wherever I go. Some weeks are better than others, and like most Christians I'm often more aware of my deficiencies and lack of faith, but God is continually stretching me and providing sovereign opportunities.