Anglican Evangelism IV: The Five Elements
Tonight was the fourth class in the series, titled "The Five Elements." Fr. Daniel opened the class with the Prayer for Missions, and then an overview of what we could cover tonight. Main emphasis (according to my notes): we are to "make disciples" and not "preach" -- Anglican evangelism is as noted before a long process with much follow-up past the "conversion" point. We aren't "saved" once we're "Saved" (or "born-again" or whatever you want to label it -- a Greek Orthodox friend makes this point over and over, and C.S. Lewis notes the point also in The Screwtape Letters).
And in fact the class topics tonight were focused on the one-on-one, revisiting the overall title of "How to Share Your Faith Without Losing Your Friends." This isn't foreign-mission evangelism we're discussing, this is close-to-home stuff -- how to talk to a friend or someone else with whom you already have some kind of relationship. (This may be the harder kind, because if you blunder you may lose a friend; blunder in a street-corner soap-box ministry and a day later hardly anyone will remember you enough to identify you.)
So the main points tonight were "The Five Elements" of evangelism. I'm not going to walk through them, though they're available in the source text (which I have already linked, but which I hope to re-post a week hence in the multiple-document format, including handouts, that Matt developed from the original). I will just note a few key quotes that will give a hint:
- This is not a cold call on a stranger about a stranger.
- Forcing a witness on someone before they can object is not helpful.
- Asking permission is better than asking forgiveness. (How often do we hear the reverse of this?!)
- Conversion usually takes lots of time.
- Evangelism can be described as the ministry of introductions.
We've had a bunch of spinoff ideas that will be explored. Already a Google Group has been formed for class members (graduates?) to discuss ideas. One already raised is: how do we introduce our form of worship to those who may be new to Anglicanism? I expect lots of active discussion on that topic, drawing in part on various churches' response to that question.
The one thing that seemed clear (to me): we thing we have something special even in the Christian orbit, and we want to share it.
We're beginning to learn how.
I hit the road to California tomorrow, with uncertain Internet access for the next week. I'll be back when I can.