|A Vision for Relational Evangelism||Email | Print|
by Heidi Baumgartner; Source: Washington Conference, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyler Long casts a relational vision for evangelism in western Washington.
Born in Southern California, Tyler Long was raised with a very diverse religious upbringing. His father was Catholic and mother Presbyterian.
His parents divorced while he was still a toddler and Long’s mother remarried a Foursquare minister, yet the family attended a Baptist church. His father married a devout Catholic woman, and Long often attended Catholic Church with them every other weekend. Baptized at a young age in the Evangelical Free Church, Long unfortunately never really knew the Lord.
Joining the Navy at the age of 18, Long traveled the world on three different aircraft carriers, yet felt empty inside.
In the fall of 1999, Long attended every night of an evangelistic meeting held at the Oak Harbor Seventh-day Adventist Church with his Washington Adventist-raised wife, LaVonne (Cladoosby). He knew he was called to work for God. He was baptized in February of 2000.
Less than three years after his baptism, Long preached his first evangelistic meeting and 17 people were baptized. He then spent 12 years with Amazing Facts, both preaching and coordinating evangelistic seminars. Long is excited about being back home in western Washington where he can serve as the Washington Conference evangelism coordinator.
The Seventh-day Adventist church is an evangelistic movement raised up by God to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Evangelism is like a blood transfusion that brings new life into churches. Without this new life, churches are one generation away from going extinct. While this is a sobering thought, there is good news.
“For evangelism to be successful, both personal and public must work together,” Long says. “It was evangelism that united the early church.”
In Acts 1:8, Jesus called His followers to go out and be His witnesses. By verse 14 in the same chapter, the church is in prayer and they are in one accord. What unified the early church was their desire to take the good news of Jesus Christ to all the world.
“I believe this same desire will be what unifies our church in the last days,” says Long.
With the start of a new year, Long is seeking to work with a team of pastors and members to build evangelism plans for 2015 and beyond.
“Someone once said, ‘The only bad evangelism is the evangelism that we do not do,’” Long says. “While I would agree with this statement up to a point, I believe there are areas in which we can certainly improve.”
Twenty years ago, a church could mail out 50,000 brochures and get 100 people from the community to attend your seminar.
“I don't have to convince you that the times have changed,” Long notes. “Today, when you mail out 50,000 brochures, you would be happy to get 25 people from the community. So what can we do?”
“I want to help churches to begin to see evangelism as a cycle and not an annual event,” Long explains. “We will continue to encourage churches to participate in Reach Washington. However, I want to give churches the tools that need to help make their seminars more productive. Quality always trumps quantity!”
With a relational viewpoint of evangelism, Long is working with a marketing company to develop materials to increase seminar attendance. He is also planning to coach churches in a 12-18 month cycle of evangelism with resource packages available.
Right at the beginning of the year, 10 pastors will be going into the conference’s studio to record Thunder in the Holy Land, a sharing DVD series that is designed for small group Bible studies.
“I am humbled and deeply grateful for this calling and the trust you have given me to coordinate evangelism,” Long says. “It was an evangelistic meeting, held in this conference, that changed my life. I feel it is my duty and honor to give back and serve the churches that make up the Washington Conference.”