Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Evangelism

In light of TEC's decision to eliminate the entire evangelism office at the national level, I now suggest that this was only symbolic anyway. While what it symbolizes is significant - it symbolizes that TEC does not find Evangelism important, but finds bureaucracy important, it finds litigation important, it finds social programs important. But it does not find Evangelism important.

So, what is evangelism and why is it so important? Most importantly, what can we - as persons, small groups, congregations and dioceses do to increase evangelism?

First, evangelism is spreading the Good News. So, what is the good news? It is simply this. God has begun His plan to deal with sin and death and evil in the world - first with the creation of man and then with the calling of the patriarchs. I think that the central point of Holy Scripture occurs in Genesis with God's call of Abram - By you all nations will be blessed.

Next, from the Patriarchs, God called Israel to be his special people in rescuing the world from evil, death, and sin. In the fullness of time, God Himself became part of His creation in the person of Jesus. Jesus went about healing the effects of evil, sin and death and, himself, became subject to their greatest effects and, in doing so, defeated them! The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is both the seal on his victory and the promise of our own sharing in his triumph. By our personal incorporation into the Body of Christ (the Church) through baptism (in which we are killed and raised to new life), we can participate with God in His work of redeeming all of creation.

So, that is the good news! God does not abandon us to death and sin; He redeems us from them and gives us work today to help in the reconciliation of all creation. Part of that work is to get others involved in the work by helping them to participate in God's victory and in His work. Evangelism is the act of recruiting other laborers into God's work and God's victory.

So, if we are getting no help from 815 (which may not be a bad thing. You can almost track the growth of the bureaucracy at 815 and the decline of membership and attendance in TEC), what do we do? First, we become evangelists ourselves. We learn how to share the Good News of what God has done for us, in us, and through us and what God can do for, in and through others. Evangelism is not just making guests or visitors in a congregation feel welcome, thought that may be part of a congregation's evangelism plan.

I submit that each congregation has an "Evangelism Plan" that helps the clergy and vestry of that congregation become better evangelists and lead others to become evangelists too.

One tool I've used is what I've heard called "life lines" where we chart our live on a graph with good points and bad points in our lives. We do this in two lines - the first represents our physical life. The second represents our spiritual lives - our relationship with God. We then look for correlation between the two. This took helps us understand what God has done for, in, and through us.

What your plans for evangelism? How many people have you successfully recruited (or gotten them to recognize God's recruiting) to work with us in the redemption of the entire creation. What are you going to do differently to become an evangelist?

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

2 comments:

Rob Eaton+ said...

Personally, DcnPhil, I have accepted this move as a victory of sorts. Not any glee that there was less money for the budget, not that a guy lost his job (and I have prayed for Terry to find a new replacement cash flow before this one finally closes out) nor in the way in which he found out, but that this particular closure in its starkness ("What? They cancelled Evangelism?!") will cause new interest and curiosity on a subject that gets virtually so little attention. It is a great opportunity for those who do value and teach and preach and practice evangelism to inform the rest of the dehydrated Church where the water is. The interim Commission on Evangelism needs now to pick up the pieces and become "the source" for the Church.

Now, I also am of the mind that the adventurous decision to hire Fr. Martin for that position was fated for an early demise right from the start. In "Fr Jake's" announcement of the job closure on his blog, I was not surprised to read his admission that he was already looking for something else to do because it just wasn't working for him. Can you imagine that headline? So I am thankful that it all came to an end now, rather than embarrasingly later.

Of course, that might just have been spite on his part. But in any case, that still tells me a lot about the hiring skills of whomever called him into that office. And that does need to be looked into.

plsdeacon said...

Hi Rob+

I would agree that the lack of money at 815 is a vicotry of sorts. I also know that like all unjust bureaucracies, 815 will cut things like Evangelism first and keep programs that show its true nature. I am reminded of the like from Blazing Saddles: "We've got to keep our foney baloney jobs!"

Having said that, it is still up to us who know and worship Jesus to make disciples and to spread the good news of what God has done for us, is doing in us, and will do through us because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and what God can do for, in and through others.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder