Light of the Nations OPC in Dayton, Ohio is consistently doing evangelism. Recently, Allison Hill (Home Missions Staff) wrote a great article interviewing Pastor Tyler Detrick about one of their efforts with a youth evangelism conference. We are going to break the article up into a couple of short segments with some questions for thought or discussion. Think of it as your 3-minute evangelism meditation that you can think about the rest of the day or the rest of the week.
This week’s snippet:
“Gospel-sharing starts right where you are, and it goes out from there. Evangelism isn’t reserved for far-away mission trips—evangelism should be a part of the Christian’s daily life,” says Tyler Detrick, pastor of Light of the Nations OPC in Dayton, Ohio. This convicting statement is not mere sentiment for Pastor Detrick but is strongly supported by his demonstrated passion for and work in the area of evangelism and missions. For years, Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19 to make disciples has drawn Detrick to be intentional about evangelism. His latest plan to encourage mission-mindedness in his congregation and presbytery? A full-blown youth evangelism conference.
Inspired by the notable and admired work of the Boardwalk Chapel in Wildwood, NJ, Pastor Detrick desired to see the endeavor of that regional mission outpost brought home. Bring it home, he did. After an extended period of planning and correspondence with Chris Byrd, Boardwalk Chapel evangelist, about how a local evangelism event might be conducted with the same goals in mind as the Chapel, plans for a local missions event finally came together. In August, twenty-seven youth gathered at Light of the Nations Church for a four-day evangelism training event. Youth from the congregations of Light of the Nations Church, Covenant OPC (Vandalia, OH), Redeemer OPC (Beavercreek, OH), and other churches within the Presbytery of Ohio, participated in service opportunities, training sessions, and public evangelism events during their time in Dayton.
Detrick’s intention for the conference was clearly expressed in his perspective on how this event harmonizes with other outreach efforts at Light of the Nations Church: “We don’t want to pursue evangelism only in our other ministries [such as Quran/Bible discussions and ESL ministry] and give our youth the idea that evangelism must take place far away or be something completely different for them. It’s not. Evangelism is what we are doing each week when we are equipping people to witness to their family, friends, and strangers and we want to get our youth in on that.” Detrick’s desire was for youth to understand that evangelism can and should be done right where you are planted.
This may not seem like an exciting snippet, but in setting the tone for the conference, Pastor Tyler Detrick states two important things that warrant a pause for thought or discussion:
1. “Gospel sharing starts right where you are.” “Evangelism can and should be done right where you are planted.” These are statements that we nod our heads to, but what does that look like? In what ways is your church’s effort toward evangelism incorporating that mentality in the congregation? What are 1 or 2 ways you could strengthen that mentality? With the holiday season a couple of weeks away, is there anything you could do when many people around you (and your church) will at least loosely be thinking and hearing about Christ?
2. We’ve seen a number of examples recently from OPC churches emphasizing evangelism efforts with the youth of the church. A recent podcast with an OPC church in Michigan talked about how they think about evangelism starting with the youth and moving out (contagiously) to the adults. Does that seem unusual or backwards to you? Why or why not? What advantages or strengths come from focusing on and equipping youth to evangelize? What challenges?