Evangelism Roundtable: Resources

Here are the comics, books, videos, and other media that Church Leaders’ Roundtable participants found useful for conceptualizing and discussing evangelism during a recent Roundtable: COMICS For approaching a prickly subject via humor: Pearls Before Swine (Click to view larger) 

February 18th, 2013 by Stephan Pastis

February 18th, 2013
by Stephan Pastis


by Tim Whyatt

Along the same lines, Frank Wood has curated some helpful clipart graphics about evangelism.   BOOKS *Please note that these links are to Amazon for your convenience in reading a more detailed synopsis and comparing reviews. We encourage you to connect with your local independent bookstore or to the bookseller of your choice if you purchase your own copy!

  1. Diana Butler Bass’s Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening poses that belonging leads to belief and that people are seeking a community that welcomes and engages their lived experiences.
  2. Marcus Borg’s Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith helps readers wrestle with the theology (both good and bad) that has stuck with them. Borg shares his journey towards more authentic faith as he seeks to find out for himself, “Who is this Jesus?”
  3. Loren Mead’s The Once and Future Church series (particularly The Once and Future Church: Reinventing the Congregation for a New Mission Frontier) focuses on the idea that the modern mission field is the street outside of the church building itself.
  4. Joan S. Gray’s Sailboat Church: Helping Your Church Rethink Its Ministry and Practice urges us to shift away from a “row boat” mentality where churches are driven by human effort to a “sailboat” mentality where the church is driven by the spirit. Gray writes for those who are discouraged and distressed by declines in church attendance and participation.
  5. In The Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (edited by Darrel Guder), six authors analyze the United State’s secular culture and present North America as the missional field in need.
  6. Marth Grace Reese’s Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism reminds us that praying can be more important than doing.
  7. Christian A. Schwarz’s The ABCs of Natural Church Development (available as both a pamphlet and as a book) shares research on what makes a church grow. Schwarz encourages churches to first focus on the health and well-being of their own congregations and objectively evaluating what they are currently doing before beginning to expand.
  8. Tim Suttle’s Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church-Growth Culture is a beautiful book that speaks to the church’s need to become local, challenging, and smaller.
  9. Martin Thielen’s What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?: A Guide to What Matters Most and The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion: a Guide to Good Religion for Skeptic, Seekers, and Believers engage with those are questioning their beliefs and may be leaning towards “spiritual but not religious.” The former deals with Christian identity, and the latter takes on religion as a whole.
  10. William O. Webster’s A Place of Grace: A Resurrected Church’s Journey to Vitality shares the story of a PCUSA church that was able to turn things around through simple acts of faith and community engagement. This success story is inspirational but also shows that such a turn around is achievable.

  CURRICULUM PCUSA’s Engage guides participants in crafting and sharing their faith journeys to foster discipleship.   VIDEOS

  1. Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” takes on how successful brands like Apple have created legions of fans through marketing. What would have if churches used the same attitude of starting of starting with the “why” and moving outwards?
  2. First Presbyterian Church of Englewood’s video ministry, 90 Second Sermon, found a way to restructure their message to a format best suited to reaching people via social media. Their website includes a guide to create your video.
  3. The Skit Guys provide many helpful videos to supplement services as well as scripts and downloads to let your own ideas take flight.
  4. Film can be a successful medium for unchurched groups to discuss sacred themes without church-y vocabulary. One participant suggests using the Wizard of Oz for women’s groups and Field of Dreams for men’s groups to spark the sharing of deep spiritual stories.


General Assembly: More Than Debate?


By Carol M. McDonald

The 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has begun in Detroit, MI.  Thousands of people are gathered here to worship, celebrate, converse, listen, discern, and debate.  And when the crowds disperse on Saturday, June 21, many of us will remember fondly reconnecting with old friends, acquiring new friends, amazing singing, and the power of gathering daily at the communion table.  But I daresay ALL of us will remember how the approximately 700 commissioners and advisory delegates debated the issues and discerned God’s will for our church for ‘such a time as this.’

It has been my profound privilege to moderate, since 2010, the Committee to Review Biennial Assemblies.  From the beginning of our work together, our dream has been for ‘a different kind of Assembly.’  We have encouraged the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly to structure the Assembly docket to include intentional times of conversation and prayer.  And we are particularly excited about the possibilities for a new kind of plenary session in 2014.

On Thursday morning, June 19, the plenary meeting of the Assembly will be a time for conversation and discernment, rather than a time for debate.  The Moderator of the Assembly, in partnership with the Stated Clerk, will select two critical/key/potentially contentious issues being brought to the plenary from two of the Assembly Standing Committees.  Each committee Moderator will make a 5 minute presentation to the Assembly – being clear about what it is the Assembly will be asked to vote on.  Following each presentation, groups of 8 will be invited to be in conversation: a.) What did you hear that might lead someone to support the committee’s recommendation(s)? b.) what did you hear that might keep someone from supporting the committee’s recommendation(s)?  Following the small group conversations, the Assembly Moderator will ascertain that what the Assembly will be asked to vote on is clear and will then lead the Assembly in prayer.

The hope of the Biennial Review Committee is that this non-parliamentary plenary with informal discussion of key issues will hopefully change the way critical and contentious issues are then debated and decided upon.(1)  It is our prayer that all commissioners and advisory delegates, during this time of conversation, will have both the opportunity to speak and the privilege of being heard.  You will want to be in the Plenary Hall – or glued to your computer screen for live-streaming – on Thursday morning, June 19.  Tune in to learn which issues will be discussed in a new and different way.

(1)Glen Alberto Guenther, member of CRBA, in Presbyterians Today, “Can General Assembly Offer More Than Debate?”


Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 5.07.56 AMCarol M. McDonald is the Executive of the Synod of Lincoln Trails and Moderator of the Committee to Review Biennial Assemblies. She is on the advisory team of NEXT Church.