For the past thirty-two years the Institute of Evangelism has equipped churches to share the Christian faith, and for the past eight years it’s been my joy to serve as its director. While I have also taught courses at Wycliffe College in evangelism, church leadership, worship, and mission, my work for the Institute has involved mentoring young leaders, developing resources, and offering workshops, webinars, and conferences across Canada and the United States. Even in the face of declining church attendance, wherever I have gone across this land I have sensed among God’s people a deep love for God and an excitement to learn how to better share the faith. I’ve also sensed that the Holy Spirit is preparing the Church for something both challenging and exciting in this time. But what exactly will that look like?
As I move into a new phase of my vocation, I’ve been sensing that this is a golden opportunity for the Institute of Evangelism to enter a period of discernment about that very question. For this reason, I made the decision to step down from the Institute of Evangelism directorship and proposed that Wycliffe hire a transitional director for the Institute, whose work over the next two years would focus specifically on several aspects of discernment. This will include such things as gathering feedback, assessing resources and structures, and suggesting strategic new initiatives. The search process to fill this two-year interim directorship is already well underway, and Wycliffe will soon be ready to announce the successful candidate. There is real excitement afoot!
And what will I be doing now that I’m moving out of the role of Director of the Institute of Evangelism? For one thing, I plan to do more writing. My research over the past few years has focused on what we can learn about sharing the faith from the conversion stories of Scripture. Next spring Baker Academic will be publishing the result of that labour. A New and Ancient Evangelism: Rediscovering the God Who Calls and Sends will be released next spring. Additionally, I will be overseeing the revision and publication of the 4th edition of Christian Foundations, a resource that teaches such basics as the story of Israel, who Jesus is, what all Christians believe, how we arrived at so many denominations, and basic practices of the Christian faith. I’ll also be spearheading the production of a Mandarin translation of Christian Foundations, which we hope will be used by the many churches now reaching out to new Chinese immigrants coming to North America. Finally, I’ll continue to serve the broader Church by preaching and leading webinars and workshops, although these will take up a smaller proportion of my time.
As I step out of the role of director of the Institute of Evangelism, I want to particularly thank Judith Purdell-Lewis, who for many years, month after month, has published our Good Idea e-letter. Judith, your creativity and attention to detail in this task has been a very real blessing to both the Institute and to me personally. I also want to thank Ryan Sim, who has served many years as the I of E webmaster and communications director, and for those who served through the years on the I of E team of mentors. You’ve all been wonderful to work with!
Now I bid you all farewell, with a promise to continue to pray for both the new interim director and the future long-term directors of this organization, through which God has blessed his Church and the world. I’m so grateful for the faithful support of our donors, whose prayers and financial support have made the work of the Institute of Evangelism possible through the past three decades. My prayer is that all of you will take this opportunity to renew your own commitment to the Institute of Evangelism’s ministry, until every church is cultivated and equipped as an evangelizing community in the service of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
May God bless you all!
Judy Paulsen, Professor of Evangelism