Diocesan Resolutions on Evangelism

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By The Very Rev. Dr. Benjamin A. Shambaugh

The Diocesan Convention passed several resolutions this year, including one on Evangelism. For many, the word “Evangelism” brings up images of a holier than thou “used car salesman” foisting unwanted faith – and not a little judgement – on others.  The good news is that this is not what we’re talking about!  Evangelism is about sharing Good News, specifically the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. The diocesan resolution said that the definition of evangelism is “we seek, name and celebrate the loving presence of Jesus in the stories of all people – then invite them to more,” and that “this definition guides our understanding that evangelism begins  with listening to the faith stories of those in our parishes and those in our wider communities and that our goal is to explore new ministries while strengthening existing ones and engaging people historically underserved and/or under-represented by the Church, for example, people of color, immigrants and refugees, youth, young adults, people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBTQ+), gender non-conforming people, people living in poverty, people with disabilities, the unchurched, and/or all others who are disenfranchised from the Church.”  If you compare that list to the people who live in Portland – most of whom are unchurched – you begin to see that we live in a “target rich environment,” a place with a whole bunch of people whose stories need a listen and whose lives would benefit from communion with God and the community of the church.

Like many churches, we are in the process of rebuilding after Covid. Like many congregations, we need to grow in order to survive and thrive. Evangelism, however, isn’t about that.  We need new members not just in order to fulfil our mission but because they are our mission.  It isn’t about building up a congregation, it’s about building up people’s live and helping them deepen their lives with God, showing them if you would that it is possible to be spiritual and religious at the same time!

With this in mind, everything we do is an act of Evangelism.  As you come to this Saturday’s Fall Fair, keep this in mind. Imagine the fair, not just as a time of fun and fellowship with friends, but as an opportunity of Evangelism – a high impact opportunity to welcome others into this space, into this community and into communion with God.  Start thinking of our Christmas Concerts, our pantries and outreach efforts, and other activities in the same way: opportunities to “seek, name and celebrate the loving presence of Jesus in the stories of all people – then invite them to more.” If you can do that, you may discover how much God is already at work in their lives, and in yours.


Link https://episcopalmaine.org/about/governance/convention/

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