Discerning Mission

Rethinking Evangelism - Recap Question 1

Courtney Young is a graduate of Luther Seminary - M.Div. with an emphasis in Congregational Mission and Leadership.  Missional, a Millennial, and a new mother, Courtney shares her thoughts with us here:

It's hard to recap a conference with so many different angles and perspectives on a topic that is huge all by itself -- evangelism. It is especially hard at a conference that refused to spoon-feed attendees any easy answers. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I'll offer my thoughts on the three questions we were given to mull over during our three days together.

Why do you think current evangelism practices struggle?

As I was thinking about this question, I realized how much of evangelism was defined by the evangelist. The evangelist got to decided how people were going to be reached (engaging Bible studies, cool worship, brochures/pamphlets, etc.), where they were going to be reached (in church, obviously), and what someone who had been successfully evangelized looked like (a church-going, communion-receiving, money-giving Christian). When I imagined these programs, I got a creepy feeling as I realized how much was being done to people without any of their input. It reminded me of when I was preparing for childbirth, and I learned about the "twilight sleep" from the paternalistic medicine of the mid-twentieth century.

Just like women are taking back control over their own bodies and want to give birth in a way that is meaningful and comfortable for them, people want to have a say in their own faith journey. They want a say in what they learn about. They want a say in how they grow. And they will say what the end product is, if there is even an end product.

One reason evangelism practices are failing is because people do not want to be "done to" anymore. They do not want to "be churched." They do want to have a lot of faithful companions for the journey.

Why do you think current evangelism practices struggle?

Photo: Alert Olivia,Creative Commons image by B. Baltimore Brown on Flickr

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