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  • Writer's pictureTim Hill

Embracing the Evangelism Opportunity as a General Department…..Again! Let's Talk About It - Part One

Embracing the Evangelism Oppor

First of all, I’m writing to this because I have made it known that I am not a candidate for the proposed reinstatement of an elected General Director of Evangelism. I have said from the start that if the off-going EC members do not recuse themselves from being considered for this role, it will be D.O.A. due to being seen as creating a landing spot for tenured EC members. So there’s that.

Secondly, I’m contributing to this conversation because I was tasked with transitioning the Evangelism Department from a full time ministry to disseminating its remaining responsibilities in 2010 when I served as the Executive Committee liaison to World Evangelization. I was called upon to prepare a strategy for moving forward if the General Assembly kept the department or discontinued it. I went to the Assembly floor and presented the plan for both possibilities. The Assembly chose to discontinue the department, most states discontinued it as well and and we initially went forward with the administrative path that eventually led to what became known as USA Missions with a blended effort of Church Planting and Church Revitalization. More on that later.

Finally, I’m speaking to this because I’d like to see us talk about and do something at the General Assembly that sets the trajectory for Great Commission completion in the USA and Canada. The World Mission waterfront is covered very well by our leaders and workers working in that department and ministry but the North American church, which hugely funds global outreach is at a crises moment when it comes to the Great Commission.

If the COG does not advance its efforts in church planting and aggressively employ relevant and cutting edge methods to engage and coach prospective church planters we will eventually fade away into irrelevance as a denomination. We have had opportunities before to embrace the USA and Canada as the third largest mission field in the World but have typically been timid in our approach to that fact. The fact is, America is on a direct interstate highway to Hell and as a denomination, we need an intentional, Soul-winning, focused effort to rescue people from going there.  How’s  that for diplomacy, finesse, and political correctness? How's that for the truth?

It is a proven fact that a denomination must maintain at least a new church plant  rate of 3% of it's number of already active churches in order to keep ahead of the number of churches closed each year. For the COG that would be about 180 new churches annually. In the mid 1990’s State Offices averaged organizing well over 300 churches each year. Since the Covid Pandemic, we are averaging about 50 churches each year. Sure we plant many more than that, but we’re not experiencing the organization process completed. We’ve got to address this need with a significant answer, even to the point of taking some risks. More on that later, as well.

My intention is not to address everything that could be mentioned here. Time and space is limited to talk or write about revival, revitalization, training, resources, etc. Many of you have covered that well in your own articles on this subject. Bottom line: We must do something.

Here’s my caution, however:

Don’t reinstate what you had before.

Real quick, let me remind you what the Evangelism Department was in the 70’s and 80’s.

The Evangelism and Home Missions Department was the umbrella covering for:

  • Church Planting

  • Church Growth and Revitalization

  • National Evangelists

  • Men’s Fellowship

  • Multi Cultural Ministries

  • LifeBuilders Conferences and Local Chapters

  • Men of Action

  • Giants in the Making Conferences

  • Top 100 Conferences

  • Lay Leadership Development

  • Jail and Prison Ministries

  • Women in Ministry

  • Senior Adult Ministry

  • Southwest Indian Ministry

  • Kids Club Ministry (Yes, you read that right)

  • Leadership Development Partnerships with ENJOY(John Maxwell), Stan Toler and others.

  • Mission State Initiatives

  • and more

By the time it was discontinued in 2012, Evangelism and Home Missions didn’t have enough budget allocation to pay two director’s salaries and two secretaries. The department was given less than $300,000 per year and charged with raising over $1,000,000 to do everything they were tasked to do. Sadly, for many years some even viewed the department as the denominational bullpen for Executive Committee preparation.

By the time the department was discontinued in 2012, many of the original ministries birthed out of Evangelism and Home Missions had been proliferated off to become their own departments and they were basically left with the following ministries to give oversight to:

  • Senior Adult Convention

  • Women in Ministry Convention

  • Jail and Prison Ministry Convention

  • Southwest Indian Ministry

  • Taking the credit or blame for not being able to establish a Church Planting and Revitalization program on a $300,000 per year budget.

Then came the reallocation of funds in 2008. The decision was made to discontinue the department in 2010 with the assumption that every other department would be doing the work of evangelism anyway.

The decision served its purpose. Back then, given the circumstances and how the department had little funding and many ministries had been siphoned off to become their own departments, it had to be done.

Let me make it very clear.

The limitations of the past were absolutely not entirely personnel limitations, if at all. The department’s limitations were systemic. Undeniably, the denomination’s greatest leaders have served in that department. Men who excelled everywhere they had been prior to coming to the Evangelism Department  did the very best they could with what they were given, yet continually hit a frustrating lid of job restrictions, budget limitations and systemic nuances that stifled creativity.

That was then.

But, This Opportunity Is Now.

We need a restructured Evangelism entity to return to the Church of God as a bonafide and functioning force of ministry. Don’t bring it back with the same, lame and listless outcomes. Don’t bring it back with a limiting leash that hinders it’s impact. When you get the agenda, look carefully at the proposal for the vibrant, high expectations and qualifications of performance. Don’t tie it down with red tape and don’t starve it by limiting it’s impact. Fund it, Feed it and let it run.

The Church of God movement has grown from eight people in 1886 to more than 8.5 million members 138 years later in 2024. The organization has witnessed powerful continual growth and revival throughout these years. Today, the Church of God stands a quarter into the 21st century strategically positioned to partner with all of Christianity to complete the Great Commission on earth in this generation with the target date of 2033.

In order to sieze this opportunity for exponential Gospel productivity, the Church of God is in need of reframing its approach, structure and delivery for Great Commission impact. The alignment of existing evangelism ministries and efforts at the national/global level and state/regional level will ignite exponential Great Commission completion.

The future of the Church of God calls for a renewed Great Commission evangelism commitment, maximizing evangelism resources, rethinking operational paradigms, reframing structural implementation for evangelism, advancing multiplication movement systems, revitalization principles, and empowering evangelism for mission and vision impact.

Debts are paid off and other financial obligations are relieved to the tune of nearly $2 Million per year. Invest it now and help FINISH the Great Commission in the North America.

Forgive me if this is seen as taking wrongful advantage of position or a bully pulpit. With two moths left, I promise you, there’s not too much bully in the pulpit. It’s my heart, whether we confirm it or not. Only time will tell. I sure hope we do and I hope that if we approve it, the people elected will be given the freedom by the Minutes and the Executive Committee to do their best.

Tim Hill

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