Canadian Evangelism Conference
by Doris Fleck
When Frank King posts his evangelistic blog, Frank’s Cottage, on Facebook, the results are almost always disappointing. These well written, thought-provoking opinion pieces examine tough questions for non-Christians and give the eternal hope that is found in Jesus Christ.
King, the News Media Relations Manager for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in Canada says his blog has over 100 followers, many of them Christians. But when he encourages them to re-post Frank’s Cottage as an outreach to their non-Christian friends on social media, only a few ever do. “The message I get is that no matter how easy and painless and risk-free evangelism is, people just won’t do it,” King bemoans. “It’s like evangelism is a dirty word.”
Director of National Initiatives at the BGEA, David Macfarlane, says, “One of the challenges we face is that the average Christian Canadian does not share their faith. They keep it to themselves.” In an effort to give pastors, leaders and lay people inspiration and new tools for evangelism, Macfarlane founded the Canadian Evangelism Congress, which had its inaugural conference in Niagara Falls last year. Bringing in plenary and workshop speakers who are using unique evangelistic methods, this year’s congress will be held at the Fantasyland Hotel in West Edmonton Mall, September 25-26.
Born in Uruguay, Macfarlane had a dramatic conversion experience and within two weeks led three of his family to the Lord. After moving to Canada, he pastored a small church in Toronto that grew from 14 Caucasian members to a multi-ethnic congregation of 1,200 over a 14-year span. Then he was asked to help a church in Chilliwack about to close its doors. That congregation grew to over 400 people mainly through conversions and discipleship. “I believe in their heart-of-hearts, every Christian wants to see their loved ones saved…but they just don’t know how to do it,” Macfarlane says. “Sometimes all a pastor needs is one clever idea that can revolutionize their ministry.”
Providing a plethora of clever ideas at this year’s Canadian Evangelism Conference are the speakers, including Charles Price who has preached in more 80 countries as former principal of Capernwray Bible School. He is the pastor of the Peoples Church in Toronto and a Bible teacher on the Living Truth TV program. Macfarlane himself will be speaking at the congress on how to build bridges to non-Christians from other countries, noting about 70 per cent of the growth in Canada today is through immigration.
Returning this year is Mark Hughes, founder and lead pastor of Church of the Rock in Winnipeg. Since its beginnings in 1987, the church has grown, mainly through creative evangelism, to more than 2,500 regular attendees at three campuses. Hughes is one of the leaders of the citywide prayer movement and an advocate for church unity. Their church also hosts community clean-ups and will be putting on six summer carnivals in different areas of the city as part of their “Love Winnipeg 2017” evangelistic campaign.
Canadian Danielle Strickland, now based in Los Angeles, is on the roster too. She is an officer with the Salvation Army, author, podcast host, and is an ambassador for Compassion International and Stop the Traffik a global anti-human trafficking campaign.
The congress’s plenary sessions and elective classes include the topics: cross-cultural evangelism; building a prayer foundation for evangelism; creating a DNA for evangelism; reaching those in prison; and combining social action with evangelism. Over 150 people attended last year’s congress in Niagara Falls and Macfarlane is expecting that to double this year.
With strong support from the Edmonton Ministerial and some large local churches set to send teams from their congregation, Macfarlane says Western Canada has a strong Christian heritage that is open to new ways to spread the Gospel message.
The Canadian Evangelism Congress is one part of the BGEA’s focus on evangelism in Canada this year. They are taking the Gospel across the country during the 150th birthday. It started this past March with Franklin Graham’s Festival of Hope in the Greater Vancouver Area and finishes in November with Will Graham’s Celebration of Hope in P.E.I.
More information on the Canadian Evangelism Congress can be found at www.billygraham.ca/congress.