In The Episcopal Church (TEC), we are moving into a heavy emphasis on evangelism. But what is evangelism?
Is it calling people to join the church? Or is it calling people to join the mission??
The Episcopal Evangelism Toolkit seems to say evangelism means calling people to join the church. A one-liner on the opening page reads, “As we share our stories, we practice becoming Beloved Community.”
When do we get around to practice becoming beloved agents of God’s mission?
The “Evangelism Charter” for TEC reads, “Through the spiritual practice of evangelism, we seek, name, and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in the storied of all people – then invite everyone to MORE.”
What is the MORE?
Does Episcopal evangelism ever get beyond story-telling to story-living wherever we are?
Sunday, our pastor asked the children gathered in the front of the church, “What is mission?” Only one answer was offered, and it came from a third grader: “It is like finding something that is wrong and making it right.”
Is your church teaching this as the kind of mission that your evangelism is asking people to join?
Are your members ever getting this message about righting wrong? Do you ever move beyond becoming Beloved Community? Do you ever hear about becoming beloved agents of God’s mission wherever we are?
Or do you hold that back until “they are ready for it”? How does our church prepare the Beloved Community to be ready for it? If we take our cue from Nike and “just do it,” how will your church send the faith community out into their everyday lives, to “do the work God has given us to do, as faithful witnesses of Christ Our Lord”? (BCP, p. 366)
Wayne Schwab is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Newark. Reprinted from Living God’s Mission