June 29, 2007

the e-word #1

I'm going to post here as well an article series that I am doing for the church on evangelism - the "e-word"

This summer, my ministry here at West End is shifting, as I focus less on our young adults and college students and more on that unfortunate ministry of evangelism. I say unfortunate, because I believe today it is one of the most misunderstood, misused, and mistrusted ministry of the church. We, mainline Protestants, have almost altogether sworn off the word and try to find other euphemisms like “faith sharing.”

I, too, have long harbored anxiety about this ministry of evangelism. To be honest it had become a sort of dirty word in my mind. It was something “those” people did. I found my justification for not engaging in the ministry in the letters of Paul; if it was a spiritual gift, it certainly wasn’t one given to me! I was very disappointed to learn that I was required to take a class in evangelism as a part of my requirements for ordination in the United Methodist Church, but resigned myself to bearing through it.

In the course of 12 weeks, I not only learned to trust the “e-word” again, but I have felt called to reclaim it. I have come to understand what evangelism is in the life of the church and what it is not. Throughout this summer and fall, I will be sharing some of these insights, some of the struggles I have, and I will be inviting you to rethink what evangelism means in your own life. In each edition of the West End Report, you will be able to find this column, but also look for a class being offered in the fall on conversion and evangelism.

To give you just a morsel to chew on in the coming weeks, remember that evangelism is rooted in the Greek word euangélion, which simply means – good news. To be an evangelist is simply to share the good news of God with the world. How we do that, and what we claim that good news to be are topics for another day.

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