Pastors’ conference focuses on evangelism strategies

Keynote speaker Gary Comer urges leaders to promote mission culture

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The National Pastors' Conference was centered around six sessions with author Gary Comer. He encouraged the pastors to taking the time needed to build relationships that bring people to Jesus. Photo: Janae Rempel

Nearly 100 pastors and spouses attended the National Pastors’ Conference July 26-28, that featured author and speaker Gary Comer in six sessions.

Comer exhorted pastors to help their congregations be more effective at evangelism by, as Paul did in Galatians 1, remembering and returning to their calling.

The problem, Comer said, is that in a changing culture, biblically literate Christians are ineffective at reaching nonbelievers and making disciples. Presenting a need for a shift in paradigm strategy, Comer said spiritual formation must include mission. The sermon is just one part of discipleship, and church members need feedback on their evangelism and discipleship efforts.

Pastors and their spouses enjoyed coffee and dessert as affinity groups following the Wednesday evening session. Photo: Janae Rempel

Comer listed four pillars to shape mission culture: the pattern is missional discipleship; the permeation provides mission training people can assimilate; the posture is authenticity and the process puts into practice principles to help mission unfold effectively.

“We have to have a kingdom wisdom,” Comer said. “We are here on mission to redeem the world. I want the conversation to be about Jesus, and I know you do too.”

Reaching nonbelievers involves building long-term, authentic and honest relationships that lead to spiritual conversations, identifying people’s needs and moving people from an openness to hearing the message to a place of accepting it.

Creating buy-in of this mission requires clarity of vision, conviction of leadership and credibility of content, Comer said, adding that evangelism is more than a token class or service day. Relationships take time.

“We can’t just let people come to faith and ignore them,” Comer said. “We’re called to make disciples.”

Sessions also included worship through music led by Kim Bontrager and musicians from Ridgepoint Church, Wichita, Kansas. Pastoral staff and spouses also heard three testimonies.

Chandelle Claassen

Chandelle Claassen, who is a spiritual director from Koerner Heights Church, Newton, Kansas, has practiced noticing everyday holy moments while on a journey with bladder cancer. Claassen said she merely existed in 2020, a year with three surgeries, a pandemic and a son stationed out of the country.

“I started to look for manna everyday,” she said of what she called a holy and dark season. “I trusted in God’s promise of daily provisions.”

Claassen invited the audience to consider their own portion from God.

Larry Smith

Leadership Board member Larry Smith’s first wife, Yvette, died from colon cancer in 2018 after 44 years of marriage. Smith, together with his second wife, Benita, who also lost a spouse to cancer, minister through GriefShare.

“The Lord has blessed us to share our testimony and give spiritual advice to those dealing with grief,” Smith said. “Grief is a process that you have to go through whether you want to or not. … Look to Jesus. All our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

 

Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez, new Central District Conference minister, came to the United States at age 14. He intended to return to Mexico, but after meeting his wife, he stayed in Omaha, Nebraska, eventually pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees and pastoring Iglesia Agua Viva.

“My parents taught me the importance of teaching the gospel to people,” Rodriguez said. “God has been so faithful to me and my family, always providing for everything we needed.”

The National Pastors’ Conference also included breakfast and dinner on-site as well as free time and affinity groups for coffee and dessert.

Janae Rempel
Janae Rempel is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Rempel is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Rempel graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She attends Hillsboro MB Church.

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