Could it really be true? Is Evangelism making a Comeback in the UMC? It appears to me that many in leadership are realizing that we have stopped doing what we need most, to lead people to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Here is a blog from Bishop Scott Jones that you will enjoy.
Evangelism is a measure of our faithfulness
In 1996, the General Conference set the mission of the United Methodist Church, and the mission was slightly amended in 2008. Our purpose is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This is our main thing, and the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
One of our unfortunate human tendencies, though, is to repeat general principles without ever asking, “What, specifically, am I going to do about that?”
The phrase “making disciples” is biblical and sounds great. We like repeating it. But until it leads to changes in our behavior, we cannot say we really believe it.
Paragraph 122 of “The Book of Discipline” is specific about the process for carrying out our mission. We are to proclaim the gospel, lead people to commit their lives to Christ, nurture them in Christian living and then send them into the world to transform it.
The Kansas East Conference mission statement says we “invite, nurture, equip and send forth disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The Kansas West Conference mission statement says we “invite through radical hospitality, excite for intentional faith-sharing and unite in risk-taking mission for the transformation of the world.”
The members of the Extended Cabinet and I will be offering some measurable goals to help us bring our behavior in line with our professed beliefs. One of them will concern professions of faith.
Here are some questions every Kansas United Methodist should consider:
- How many unchurched people have I invited to worship at my church in the last month?
- How many pre-Christian people have I talked to about my faith in the last month?
- How many pre-Christian people have I helped to make a commitment to Jesus Christ?
- How many professions of faith did my congregation receive last year?
- What is that number if we take out the young people who came to Christ through the confirmation class?
Recently, a district superintendent was sharing an early draft of these goals with the clergy of the district. One pastor raised a hand and said, “If professions of faith are going to be important, maybe someone should teach us how to do this.” A number of other heads nodded in agreement.
Note the word “if.” There is not widespread agreement that evangelism is important.
Note the request for training. Unfortunately, many clergy have never led another person to Christ. The same is true of laity. I am grateful for the pastor’s honesty and the pastor’s willingness to learn.
The truth of the matter is that evangelism is not just the pastor’s responsibility. In fact, laity are often better evangelists for at least three reasons. There are more of them, they have stronger relationships with pre-Christian people, and their invitation to the life of Christian discipleship is more credible than a pastor’s.
There was a time when the Methodist and EUB churches were known as evangelistic denominations.
Our willingness to engage in faithful conversations with pre-Christians about their relationship to Christ is in fact a measure of our faithfulness to Christ.