I hope you had a great time at Synod Assembly and that you and your family are able to get some vacation this summer. With that rest and rejuvenation, here’s some things to help you in context with outreach and evangelism when you’re back in town.
Idea worth considering: Opening the doors and wondering where people are isn’t a Biblical understanding of evangelism.
I know we all know this. For those of us who have been through seminary, it’s pretty self-evident.
The New Testament church was out in its community, meeting people where they were, creating these set-apart communities that bucked the trends of the day by living in a different way. I don’t know of a single place in the New Testament where a community of faith opened its doors and just expected new people to show up.
For a good part of the 20th century, that’s what happened. The post-war boom was real in our churches. After the war, people had families, made a good living, and gave to the church. Babies were automatically baptized, children were confirmed, and we built huge buildings to accommodate the boom. In the living memory of many of our people, these are the “good old days” – when churches could open the doors and people would just come.
If we are a Sola Scriptura church, it is interesting to me that we look back to the heyday of the 20th century when going to church on Sunday morning was automatic as the good old days, and not to the days of the Spirit-filled church of Acts and the Epistles where apostles worked miracles. As much as we are struggling with evangelism – partly due to the mid-20th century successes of the church – are our congregations trying to replicate the early church or the 20th century boom? If we are trying to make change in our congregations’ approach, appeals to scripture may be a powerful tool in breaking the nostalgia spell and working to be a church that looks a little more scriptural.
Resources worth a look: Some resources that can help with Faith Formation
Back in May, theCongregational Vitality Team hosted an event about Faith Formation beyondSunday School. While I can’t replicate the discussion for you here, I can sharethe resources the 18 people in attendance compiled:
- Vibrant Faith is a websitefull of resources. The group particularly lifted up the Vibrant FaithMasterclasses (found under the training portion of the website).
- Faith 5 may be a familiarframework for you (share, read, talk, pray, bless). Regardless of how familiaryou are with it, it is definitely worth a look.
- Slides from John Roberto about intergenerational faith formation.
- The ELCA’s growing younger initiative, along with the book Growing Younger
- The ELCA’s Children, youth and family ministry network
I know it’s that time ofyear where you or people in your congregation are thinking about what to bedoing this fall, and if you’re looking for something new to achieve newoutcomes, I hope these might be a good place to start!
Thanks for Reading
If you want to have a conversation about moving your congregation outside the walls, or how adjusting faith formation might help you engage new people, just let me know! I’m never too busy for good conversation.
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