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“He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”  And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.  And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.  He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.”  - Mark 6:1-7 (NRSV)

This is an important part of the Gospel, yet something that makes many very uncomfortable.  In this passage of Mark, Jesus sends out the apostles, two by two, to carry out his work.  Looking at the passage, this makes sense, as the people in his hometown were hostile to his ministry.  This was the beginning of evangelism, a topic that may clear a room when brought up.  We seem very uncomfortable with this concept and carrying it out.

What is evangelism?  The passage in Mark shows the apostles being sent out in pairs, with the authority over unclean spirits.  In our modern telling, they healed the sick and cast out demons in the name of Christ.  A dictionary definition tells us that evangelism is the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness, or  the zealous advocacy of a cause.  Perhaps it is the second part of that definition that gives us pause – most people don’t want to be labeled as a zealot!  Basically, evangelism is simply talking to others about Jesus and spreading the good news, or speaking with others about your faith and why you believe.

Many adults seem to fear evangelism, and this seems to stem from many causes:

  • Being afraid they will look or sound stupid.
  • Being afraid they will forget what to say or will say the wrong thing.
  • Being afraid of confrontation – they will be met with hostility.
  • Being afraid to start what they perceive may be an awkward conversation.
  • Being afraid others will want to fight what is being delivered.

I hold one of the adult seats on the Diocesan Youth Commission and at our last meeting, all youth and adults on the commission underwent a workshop in evangelism.  During that training, I was discussing with one of the other adult members how quickly adults seem to shy away from the subject, which is a shame.  The youth dived right into the training, we all had a good time, and we were reminded, time and time again, that by sharing the stories of our faith with each other, we were evangelizing.  What we can do with each other in that room, we should be able to do outside that room in society – even with those we do not know.  The apostles surely did not know those in the countryside they were sent out to serve!

Some have viewed that the Anglican Communion produces nice, civilized and reasonable people who do not feel very deeply about their religion, that Anglicans seem so afraid about getting excited over the wrong things that we do not get excited over the right ones.

We should not be afraid of evangelizing!  We hear Presiding Bishop Curry talk about us being the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement, which is evangelizing in motion!  He shared his vision of a whole church freshly oriented toward the proclamation and embodiment of the good news of Jesus Christ.  A practical definition of our movement can be quickly stated:  “We seek, name and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in the stories of all people – then invite everyone to MORE.”  This is the length of a tweet, and for good reason:  evangelism should be practiced using modes people use to communicate.
I could easily continue on this vital practice, but I need to close this.  For more practical hints on evangelizing and the Episcopal Church, you can visit the ECF Vital Practices page which contains a wealth of information on the topic. 

So let’s spread the word!

This month's blog was written by Bryan Irvine, the site adminstrator


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