Bill Hogg is an evangelism catalyst. His goal is to raise up a new generation of evangelists across Canada fuelled with a passion to boldly declare the Gospel. This is done through Advance Groups of evangelists that meet together every month. To find out more on how to start your own evangelism Advance Group, keep listening.
Learn More About Message Canada: https://messagecanada.org/
Start an Advance Group of Evangelists: https://canada.advancegroups.org
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
Welcome to the Evangelism Podcast. I’m Daniel King. I’m excited about telling people about Jesus today. I have a very special guest with me, bill Hogg. Thank you for joining me on the Evangelism Podcast.
Bill Hogg (00:11):
Delight to, to join you. Thanks for the invitation today, Daniel.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:15):
So we are together at the Advance Evangelist Summit in Calgary, Alberta in Canada, and evangelists from all over the nation of Canada. And even a few other parts of the world have come together to talk about evangelism. And you have helped to organize all this. Kind of tell me the story of, of this summit and, and why God put this on your heart to bring evangelists together.
Bill Hogg (00:43):
So there’s a bit of a backstory if you want that, where God stirred my heart about the fact that in Canada, the evangelist is missing in action. There’s a scarcity of the evangelist. I mean, you might be able to quote this Rice Brooks for his doctoral dissertation scan the United States, what, 10, 15 years ago and thought maybe evangelical, charismatic Bible teaching churches, maybe one in a hundred would be graced with the gift and anointing of the evangelist. So that was part of my covid reading. You know, what do you do when you’re encapsulated in a lockdown? You read stuff and I thought Canada, it’s probably anecdotally it’s maybe one in 200. So I, I was involved in assessing coaching, training and supporting church planters and was disturbed that many church planters could not articulate the gospel with clarity, which I think is basic foundation for any kind of ministry.
And a lot of church planting is not evangelistic. So we used to quote Peter Wagner, who said, the most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is the planting of new churches. But in response to that, I would quote the music composer, not the theologian called Porter, who would say, it ain’t necessarily so. So that used to disturb me. And I would meet with network leaders and church planting catalysts or denomin national officers and say, who are the evangelists in your tribe? And they would say, that’s a really good question. If I was feeling cheeky, I would say I only ask good questions. But generally, crickets would chirp in the background because they couldn’t identify the evangelists. So that used to disturb me a great deal. And, and a couple of things happened. One is I went to message trust in the UK and spoke at their first ever advanced summit where they had identified 250 evangelists in the uk, invited 170 or 170, came to the summit.
They probably invited all 250. It was 170 in the room. I was the closing speaker. And of course, evangelists never watched the clock, Daniel. So 170 had hemorrhage down to maybe a hundred when I was in the room. And we did a great time in ministry. And as I stepped away from that encounter, I was there with my wife, Morag. I thought, Lord, if you can identify and raise up evangelists in Jo Post-Christian England, why not here in Canada? At the same time, I’m involved in a, an entity called Church, plant Plant in Canada. We bring leaders and church planting catalyzers from across the country. And when the old church planting network, it was part of, I was the only member of our team there. So we had a facilitator. You’ve been in these rooms, they break out, they give you giant post-it notes, kind of what’s your contribution to our conversation?
So I’m a team member of one, a committee of one. So it’s command and control time. So I just drew the Edward Munch screen picture, ah, and then I put prison bars over it, and then I drew a gigantic foot. So I’m the only person that did any kind of cartoon, put it on the wall. People are talking about their aspirations of church planting. And I said, there’s a, I was asked to explain myself. I said, the food reminds us how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them who bring good news. But in Canada and appointed to in Canada, we’ve imprisoned, incarcerated, sidelined the evangelist. And after we’d been there in the mountains for three days, I was driving back in the rental car, rental car filled with the presence of God. And I had one of those holy moments where it’s just almost like a stillness descends on you.
And I said, Jesus, I think part of the story, maybe the primary reason, the big reason you brought me to Canada is to be part of reclaiming the advance list for the advancement of the gospel. So there’s been that partial as part of the story. I could go into more of the backstory around that, but I was intrigued that what, under Andy Hawthorne’s catalytic leadership, he would be a leading gospel champion in the uk, an apostolic evangelist. And now under Ben Jack’s leadership evangelists were popping up in the uk. And I’m like, why not Canada? So our first play was when I joined message as their national director. The first event we hosted was an advance summit in November, 2019. And we gathered about 85 leaders from across the country, two ends of the spectrum, young adults who were part of a school of evangelism, seasoned statesmen, evangelists like tv, Thomas pastors with a heart for evangelism, street evangelists, proclamation, evangelists, evangelist.
And it was a powerful time of prophetic activation and worship and prayer in networking. We thought, Hey Lord, let’s do that again. And of course, we’ve had to navigate the dynamics of covid where we couldn’t gather. And so this is our first gathering, and part of the gathering is just to identify evangelists. We want to create an association of Canadian evangelists. We want to populate churches and ministries with advanced groups. We want to be a broker of getting the evangelist embedded in the life of the local church as a gospel agitator, as a servant, as an equipper. And see what God would do. So big ideas, Lord, give us grace to find the flames of evangelism in Canada.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:22):
Well, as an evangelist, I’m very thankful for your heart to raise up evangelists. I think it’s so important. And I, I was called as an evangelist at a very young age and always had the heart for evangelism. And you start to, to try to figure out what that means. And so I looked at other great evangelists, looked at the pictures of TL Osborne and Billy Graham and Reinhardt Bonky and, and just dream about doing that someday. And then I did my doctorate ministry at Oral Roberts University and, and read all of Rice Brooks materials Okay. For my, my dissertation, which was on mass evangelism. And you know, so you grow in your understanding of being an evangelist and, and it’s so valuable what you’re doing to help people to understand what it means to be an evangelist. And so let’s talk about the need for evangelism here in Canada. You were sharing some statistics last night. Tell me, tell me about the need for evangelism here in Canada.
Bill Hogg (07:24):
Well, we’re, we’re really a gospel parch country. Daniel those joining us on the Evangelism Podcast might not realize the spiritual demography or landscape in Canada. So there’s Quebec, which is the most unreached piece of real estate in all of the America’s, north America’s, central America, south America. And of course there are Christians beyond evangelicalism, but Quebec has about 0.5% of its population who would self-identify as an evangelical using the classic, albeit reductionist, bebbington quadrilateral. Now that’s less self-identified evangelicals than in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which is 0.6%. There’s another trend, we talk a lot about the nuns and Dunns, and of course some other social issues have been front and center, and that’s kind of been on the back burner of conversation. But there’s a story of accelerated de Christianization. So in 1961, I think 1% of Canada would identify as having no religious affiliation whatsoever.
Now in 2023, it’s approaching 40%. The Evangelical fellowship of Canada created a composite category of aas sns. Now who are they? They’re atheists, agnostics, spiritual, but not religious and nuns. Those nuns have got no religious affiliation. And that composite category is 50% of Canada. And in the same piece of research, which is about two years old, they say zero as the new normal. Now what are they talking about? Church engagement? Church participation. So the normal Canadian is not remotely interested in engaging with the faith community, no matter how slick the programs are or how vibrant or spiritually hot the environment is. And then the other story which we’ve unearthed is that church planting’s dirty little secret is transfer growth. So generally speaking, church plants that grow are simply recycling Christians from other churches. So where are we seeing missional engagement? Where are we seeing fruitful evangelism?
And frankly, a church like say Auntie Greco’s Church or Dave Coop’s church, or First Alliances Church Calgary, where they’re seeing baptisms on profession of faith is rare, now takes catalytic leadership. So a friend of mine who I didn’t mention there, passes a church in Cologna. And during the pandemic when things were on hold, he said, we are about mission, we’re not about maintenance. So it requires that kind to leadership. So even during the pandemic one year, an Anthony at Calgary Life Church saw a hundred professions of faith and baptized. 62 people during the pandemic, two of them had baptized in secret because there were Muslim converts who showed up at the church and said, is this a church that interprets dreams? And an Anthony said to me, bill, I’ve never interpreted a dream in my life, but I said, sure, we are. What have you got?
And they had a dream where someone in Dalin White appeared to them, and it’s like, duh, it’s Jesus. So he shared Jesus with them. Let me give you the interpretation. You need Jesus, that, that that’s exactly right. So, I mean, there’s beautiful anomalies. I would say they’re outliers, but generally what we’re seeing is a decline. So other stats would be 80 to 85% of Canadian churches have plateaued or declined. And that would include evangelical Bible, believing churches, spirit-filled churches, not simply the mainline churches who we might say, well, of course they’ve lost the gospel, but you can’t say that wholesale. So it’s about 85% of the churches now that’s using the unhelpful metrics of church attendance. Church participation, which is a lousy metric. It’s not a kingdom metric. But what it does tell us, for most churches, their best days are in yester year. And they need to experience profound gospel recalibration, deep spiritual renewal, and actually embrace a journey of change. And of course, Robert Quinn who wrote about deep Change said most organizations and most people would rather choose slow death than deep change. And he said, you’ve got a choice the hell of deep change or the hell of slow death. And so that requires courageous leadership, wise leadership, probably apostolic leadership, to catalyze around the centrality of the gospel and, and create a dream for a new day of missional fruitfulness.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (12:16):
And that’s why it’s so important to raise up evangelists and to elevate the gift of the evangelist in the church. We desperately need more people who have a heart to, to go out and to to reach the loss. And that’s one of the things you’re, you’re attempting to do is, is to raise up evangelists. And one of the tools that you’re using to do that is the advanced course. And, and so talk to me about how evangelists can get together and to, to commit to meet together on a regular basis and use this curriculum, which the messenger trust makes available free of charge to people all over the world. And how, how can they use this to, to help disciple and mentor evangelists?
Bill Hogg (13:01):
Great, great question. So I think if we’re, if we’re going to learn new skills or, or, or call out latent evangelistic capacity, the best way is to learn in a community and not simply learn cerebral head information. I mean, you’ve, you’ve studied at postgraduate level, and that’s awesome because James Denny said, all our evangelists should be theologians, and all our theologians should be evangelists, but I would include myself in this. Most of us, what we know is not matched by our obedience or the level of our Christ-likeness or the level of our missional engagement. And this creates a learning community where you could be a gifted leader and facilitate a group, but it doesn’t even actually require strong leadership because we’ve created a curriculum. So initially the advanced group was kinda Lucy goosey Andy Hawthorne mentoring 12 others. And for about 18 months, I don’t think it even had a name.
You know, maybe it would be Andy’s disciples or something. And then at one point he said, go down and do likewise. And the 12, we’ve heard this before, the 12 went out to multiply, but what they created, Ben Jack created the advanced group guide. And that is the content which you wrestle with do homework on pray into apply. And, and that’s the centerpiece of the group that meets around a, if you like, a three-legged stool around how clear and pure is your gospel. Because we can’t assume gospel centrality, the Apostle Paul says, we’re all gospel amnesia acts. Let me remind you of that, which is our first importance. So we’re kinda pressing in, how clear is my gospel? Has the gospel really taken root in my heart in life to have a gospel-centered operating system? I’m a Twitter painted with the beauty and truth and infused with the power of the gospel, but then does my life actually commend the gospel?
So there’s questions about our Christ-likeness, our holiness, our purity or transparency or honesty. And so there’s also a third stool, which is around stewardship of gospel opportunity. And this is with the company of a group, could be six, I think it, it’s not as good. If you drop below that small group dynamics or a group of 12, you get beyond that, then maybe the big bold extrovert dominates the conversation and the the quieter person really doesn’t get an opportunity to engage. And there’s whole life accountability questions, not simply the classic financial and sexual purity and integrity questions around the stewardship of energy and, and family life and, and work life and questions like, are you sharpening the saw, which sounds like a Stephen Covey kind of question. But around those three dynamics, the groups meet regularly, Daniel, with the goal of mutual evangelistic sharpening, basically elevated evangelism, intentionality, and intensity would be outcome or more evangelism Mojo. And Ben Jack has now created a three year mentoring guide. So there’s plenty of content. So if you’re a gifted leader, it’s just a grab bag of resources to facilitate a group that doesn’t even have to do evangelism together, but can support and reinforce each other on a journey of going deeper with Jesus and be more intentional about making him known. And Tom Phillips, who’s I think the longest serving member of the Billy Graham Teamy, served under Billy and serves under Franklin said it’s the most gospel centered evangelistic training resource he’s found. And it’s free.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (16:52):
Yeah. I’ve gone through all of the advanced material and it’s really tremendous. And, and so if there’s an evangelist who’s listening who want to start an advanced group, what’s the website where they can download the advanced guide?
Bill Hogg (17:07):
That’s a good question.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (17:08):
What’s, what’s the Canadian website? It’s a advanced or no, the messenger trust ca
Bill Hogg (17:14):
If, if you go to, this is the convoluted way cuz you put me on the spot and I’m sorry. Said. Yeah, no, it’s good. I was saying, Hey, I’m usually good at thinking on my feet. But if you go to message canada.org, you’ll see more, more of what we do. And then if you click on what we do, you’ll go down to the advance page, and there you can download PDF of the three year guide or the advanced group taster guide. Now it’s based on commitment. I think it’s the pair of a consecrated idea that you commit, you follow through, but you would meet regularly, which translates to an investment of two hours once a month. You would be committed to evangelistic sharpening. You would be committed to staying in contact maybe through a WhatsApp group and praying for each other.
But the, the resources free is a pdf. If if you go there, if you go to this event, we’ve got an event landing page, advance summit org g you can scroll down there and you’ll see the blue shiny three month taster guide where you can say, okay, we, we gotta be all in. We gotta prioritize this, but let’s journey for three months and see what the fruit is. And I think the fact that you meet a month apart creates a learning loop. Okay, we’ve heard this, do the homework, or we’ve heard this, put it into practice. I actually met with a discipleship pastor and, and at a large church, and they wanted to include it in their kind of Christian education curriculum for the winter. And it put about bill, if we did it six weeks in a row, I said, I’m really not persuaded by that because you, you need to have space and time to put it into practice, you know, and Steve, this fruit. So if you and I are in the group and you say, bill what, what’s the Holy Spirit asking you to do with your five that you’re focused on, your five pre questions? Well, I’m going to take so-and-so out for dinner and I’m praying for a gospel conversation. Then I meet a month later that’s giving me enough time to book the dinner. And you can say, bell, how did it go? I’d say, Daniel, pray for me. It was a complete disaster. Or I screwed up what happened?
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (19:23):
Gives you time to test it and Yeah. Apply it in
Bill Hogg (19:26):
Your life. Exactly. Yeah.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (19:27):
Yeah. Now I was talking to some of the, the guys that are here, and they were telling me that they’re part of an Eden group Yeah. Up in Edmonton, where they’re going into the community, living in the community, and evangelizing and discipling people. And so tell me about the Eden Group and, and, and what you’re trying to accomplish with that.
Bill Hogg (19:48):
Great question. So it started in the uk really inspired by a scripture in the book of Ezekiel that says the city that has been laid waste has become like the Garden of Eden. And so there’s a, a vision of community transformation through gospel transformation. And there could be remainers people who live in a broken postal code or a challenging community. There could be returners maybe who grew up there when this girl got a job moved out the city and they could return, or there could be relocate who hear the disruptive call of Jesus who says, as the Father has sent me, so I’m sending you. And they’re really teams of incarnation, missionaries, whooo, roots down deep. Sometimes we engage with the poor, maybe even in a paternalistic fashion where we come in, hand out some food, wander the streets and return to suburbia.
And I happen to live in suburbia. So I’m, I’m pointing at three fingers back at myself there. But you’ve gotta hear a disruptive call from Jesus because it’s, it’s costly. But where it started with predominantly young adults in the United Kingdom here in the call of Jesus to move into some of these challenging postal codes and communities. And there’s, there’s some unique socio-demographics in the uk. So places like Bench Hill or Charleston or, or within Shaw, within Shaw is a sprawl of a hundred thousand people in Greater Manchester. And lots and lots of these people are going backwards financially. And one of the metrics, you could look there, they’re getting free school meals. And you go, okay, is there a partner church? And is there a place of deprivation in poverty? So it’s really the story in Edmonton’s. Beautiful. She, Moses who grew up in Sri Lanka, was traumatized by things in his family.
And being in a war torn country was redeemed by Jesus and has a huge heart for the broken, the poor and the marginalized. So the idea as a team of people would live in gospel community, they would intentionally discern what’s the Holy Spirit doing? How can we join them? They would do community assessments. So we don’t make assumptions about what the needs are, find out what the needs are. Do some community ex Jesus in the agendas to share the love of God, to proclaim the gospel, to bless and elevate the prayer. Now the UK story is across 20 years, there’s been more than 77 0 teams deploying over 700 urban missionaries. So it feels like a movement to me. Wow. And, and they’ve seen measurable community transformation through asset-based community development as the lens. So things like isolation, crime recede, because why the people who are salt and light are living out in front of them loving the neighborhood and loving their neighbors.
And so th this is one of the things we’re, we’re pursuing here in Canada. We’ve got couple leading teams in Prince George, which is a city of about a hundred thousand 12 hour drive or a short hop and a puddle jumper type aircraft from Vancouver. And we’re partnering with a great church there as part of their micro church planting strategy that the Eden teams would be catalyst for micro church. But there are couples who are recruiting teams who’ve moved into low income apartments and finding out what Jesus wants them to do. Coastal Church, which has a great motto or mantra, helping make the city a better place. They’ve got a, an Eden team under the leadership of far and Angela Mcg far is grew up a Muslim in Iran, moved to Denmark, came to Canada, got hijacked by Jesus. And he’s about 15 years into a story of being an urban missionary, I think nine years as a pastor at Coastal Church. And they live in the downtown East side. And we wanna see a proliferation of that. We’re in conversations in other places. And the strange story is during Covid, the Lord’s expanded the Eden teams, you know, here in Canada where we’ve had some very challenging restrictions for what is a high-touch ministry. It’s a community engagement ministry. So, so that’s the heart of Eden. And if people hear the destructive call of Jesus to bring good news to the poor, you can reach out to us.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (24:28):
So you’ve been involved in evangelism for many years in, in church planning and you call yourself evangelism catalyst. So what advice would you give to a young person who might feel called to be an evangelist?
Bill Hogg (24:43):
That’s a great question. I mean, I think they could learn from you, Daniel, cuz you’ve studied the great evangelists and not all the great evangelists are platform evangelists. Like I’ve got a growing friendship with Gordon, who used to be a VP of marketing with Tommy Hilfiger, and he’s having gospel encounters and he texts me all the time photographs of people, he’s led to Christ. And there’s, there’s low hanging fruits. So I think you can learn, I mean, I’ll learn how to give an altar call from Luis Pau. And, and I would consider Luis a source of encouragement, a friend, a mentor. We can be mentored by evangelist that will never actually have a cup of coffee with if we study their life. But I’m thinking as you ask that question. When I was recruited and interviewed to come on board the church planting network as national methodologist, my friend hired me and he became my boss.
Were no longer in that story. That’s for a different podcast. But when I was in South Africa at Cape Town 2010, the Lord spoke to me by direct immediate revelation from the Holy Spirit. He also spoke to me from exposition of scripture and conversations and, and challenged me about the evangelist being missing in action. But the Lord spoke to me and he said, I’m redeploying you as an apostolic evangelist and I want you to work with Gord Fleming. So Gord, my friend, became my boss, but he was a maniac or a lunatic. A lunatic in terms of interviews. I had 10 interviews.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (26:23):
Bill Hogg (26:23):
And some of them were sneaky like guys, says, I’m just one of a cup of coffee with you and find out what’s going on in your soul. I’m like, you stinker. You’re, you’re here to scan man and man and find out what’s going on. But God wanted to make sure we’re on the same page. So there’s great wisdom in that. But one of our meetings, he said, I don’t believe in job descriptions. I said, that’s awesome. My life mission statement is, don’t fence me in. I don’t like job descriptions. Now, I had to have a job description because Revenue Canada insisted on it. But he said, if you did have a job description, it would have three things.
Stay close to Jesus. Ask God to break your heart for the lost and do whatever it takes to fulfill the mission. Now I think if you and I live to be Caleb’s at 85, or you and I have birthday parties when we’re 110, I think that’s our job description. And I think that would be the job description for someone. Stick close to Jesus. Jesus says, abide, abide, abide remain in me. And the primary invitation in call is not to be an evangelist. That’s the secondary or tertiary call. The primary call is to follow Jesus and to enjoy loving union and communion with Jesus. So don’t skimp on that. You know, figure out. And it’s maybe like learning to dance. If you grew up in a legalistic Pentecostal church, how do you dance dancing’s wrong? And, and then you find it’s okay to dance and you stumble around to dance for it.
But stumble into spending time with Jesus, immerse in yourself in the scriptures, learning to hear his voice, and then ask God to do something na supernatural to break your heart for the lost. I mean, John Piper says, it takes a miracle to have a broken heart for the lost. And I think he’s exactly right. When I was a young, obnoxious evangelist like abrasive, I’d love to go on a time machine and sit back and evaluate young belt inaction. I would get up there somewhere, I’d still get my sermons. And there were nightmare sermons. But I would be praying and because I heard Luis Pau say that he used to prep his sermons on his knees. So I would sometimes do my sermons prep on my knees, on my bed with a notebook and a Bible. And sometimes tears would splash on my Bible as I would visualize who would be there because my local church is an act of generosity and stupidity.
Let me loose when I was 16 and then during a pastoral vacancy, had me preach when I was in my late teens and maybe 20. And I was a, an arrogant young punk of an evangelist. But I would be weeping and I would, I would work it as a little manipulator. I would invite the neighbors, Hey, you know, I’d really appreciate your support if you’d come because they’ve asked me to preach at church. And it would mean a lot to me if you came and I’m just getting them in my evangelist crosshairs. But I would find myself weeping in the private place, but on types just weeping. If I keep the altar call and it’s stand there being been overcome and people who were old enough to be my parents would come forward in response to an altar call. Now what does that tell us?
A couple of things. God can use an arrogant self-important guy who hasn’t even found out who he is cuz he’s an adolescent. You don’t know who you are. But there’s a principle. And the principle is this, those that sew with tears shall read with joy. So I don’t always weep buckets for the lost but we need to invite Jesus to, to give us soft hearts. And then the trifecta was, do whatever it takes. Well I think the root of that is just be opening, obedient, and available. Don’t be ambitious for platform. Be opening receptive to opportunity. Give Jesus your yes and get a mentor or figure out how can this gift be stewarded? Cuz there’s not a ton of developmental pathways for evangelism. And one of the things we want to do is we want to find the flames of evangelism broadly. We want to support pastors in create a culture of evangelism, embolden everyday Christians. But the evangelist is uniquely catalytic for the advancement of the gospel. So we want to figure out how can we draw them in and create a heart, create a warm fire where we can hear the stories, pray for them, encourage them, resource them. So those, those are some of the thoughts.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (31:00):
Well, thank you so much. Let’s finish by praying for those who are listening, that God would soften our hearts for the lost. Would you pray?
Bill Hogg (31:12):
Father, your heart is filled with tenderness and compassion for the lost. And we confess that we’re sometimes like Jonah the miserable prophet who has a theology of grace and mercy and salvation who can even make a, a bold declaration. Salvation is from the Lord. But like Jonah, we don’t carry your heart for the lost. When he protested that he didn’t want to come to Ninevah because he had that gut intuition that you wouldn’t judge the nites, you would extend mercy. And we thank you that you are the Lord, the Lord, gracious and compassionate, slow anger, and full of mercy. Jesus, we thank you that when you looped out on the crowds who were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd, your move with compassion. So we pray that you would baptize us with compassion. We pray that you would give us your eyes to see the lost around us and give us your beating heart for the loss. So we invite you to soften our hearts, Lord, break our hearts, give us the gift of tears and disrupt us where we’re just doing same old, same old, with a fresh revelation of your grace in mercy towards us. That we might not be like the older brother, but we would have your heart. Jesus, the faithful and true brother who came on a mission to rescue the lost because we asked this in your name for your glory. Amen.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (32:52):
Amen. Well, brother Bill, thank you so much for being on the Evangelism Podcast.
Bill Hogg (32:57):
Hey, thanks Daniel. It’s been a delight. Thanks for your hospitality and the opportunity to talk about things of first importance. God bless. Thank you.