Monday, March 19, 2018

Reflecting on Evangelism Matters


A regular scene during Evangelism Matters.
WOW! What can I say but that was one spirit-filled, Episcopal, Jesus love-fest. (If you haven't heard of Evangelism Matters, learn more at evangelismmatters.org. 400 people from all over The Episcopal Church met together for 4 days in Cleveland, Ohio. They describe it as "for those seeking to share, learn, and grow the Church’s capacity and passion for evangelism.") First, I wouldn't call this a conference but a gathering or think tank. There were some practical workshops but where I really saw the Spirit moving was in the connections and collaborations being made.


Here are some of my take-aways:

Evangelism is story telling. That can take practice. Start with people you know and love and tell them why you are a Christian. The Episcopal Church (staff members, committees, task forces, and those testing it in their churches) have developed an Evangelism 101 Tookit to help with this!

Evangelism is listening. As followers of Jesus, we are called into our communities to be a place of support, refuge, and healing. To do that, we need to be a listening ear. And when they are done talking ask them to “Tell me more”. Authentic listening also requires practice. It isn’t waiting to respond and thinking of what you want to say but just listening. Another great resource is the Beloved Community Storysharing Campaign. 

Evangelism is work that needs to be undertaken intentionally.

Evangelism is uncomfortable. It means talking to and reaching people that might not look, talk, or worship like you. It means saying words you may not be used to.

Evangelism is transformative. We continually talked about spirtual transformation not Episcopal kingdom building. Now I have seen that people that evangelize tend to have churches that grow but we have to go out with the goal of changing the world. The Presiding Bishop said it best "Evangelism isn't about building a bigger church but building a better world." 
One of my notes from Thursday night's sermon.

Evangelism is formation and formation is evangelism. Forma is partnering in this work. Learn more about this network at forma.church.

Evangelism is group work. In Luke 10, Jesus sent them out two by two for a reason. 

Evangelism is a mountain top experience. Now it is time to come down that mountain and bring some others up with us.

I am forever changed by this time and look forward to sharing it with more people. What did I miss or get wrong? What is evangelism to you?

Addendums from conversations today:

Evangelism ISN'T inviting someone to come to church with you (but please do that too) but creating space for someone to have a relationship with God.

We are all made evangelists at our baptism. Formation and relationships continue to form our sacred story and the words to share it.



2 comments:

  1. To me it is about outrageous hospitality. It takes authentic welcome to all to allow us to start the conference as strangers and end the conference as partners on the journey. Say hello, start a conversation, share a meal, worship together...It works!! As the Diocesan bumper sticker says, "love God, love your neighbor, change the world!" Thank you for being here with us!!

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  2. Yes, yes, and yes. And evangelism is about community and relationship. That spoke to me and has me considering "Am I being present with the people I'm around?"

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