What would it look like if making disciples were really our church’s priority?

June 11, 2014
Archbishop Welby talking about evangelism.

Archbishop Welby talking about evangelism.

A while back, I shared a link to a blog post by a professor at the United Methodist Church’s lone orthodox seminary, United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, who complained that if the UMC believes that fulfilling the Great Commission and making disciples is our top priority, shouldn’t umc.org, our denomination’s website, reflect that in some way? He wrote:

Perhaps the public website should take a more evangelistic approach. How about, right up front, a link to the testimonies of people who have accepted Christ and known his transforming power? How about a link to a video called something like, “Why Should I Choose Jesus?” Or perhaps a video, or at least a page, called something like, “Why Does Christ Make A Difference?” Perhaps one could have the option to chat or have a video call with a pastor. Maybe it would be helpful to have something on the basics of Christian belief.

I’m certainly no marketing expert, but it does seem to me that if we wish our public internet presence to be consistent with our mission, these types of changes would be in order.

As I said then, “Indeed. But one shouldn’t hold one’s breath.”

Meanwhile, the Church of England (the actual English church, not its heterodox cousin in America, the Episcopal Church), which faces all the same challenges our little UMC faces, only more so, have gotten their priorities straight. Last Sunday, on Pentecost, he Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops are telling their people that they must do the work of evangelism.

The word ‘evangelism’ means sharing good news. For Christians, it means sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ – what he has done for us, and what he continues to do in our lives.

What does that mean in practice? It means introducing the people around us to Jesus. We do this by how we live our lives and how we relate to one another. But we can also do it by how we express our faith in conversation.

Jesus did all of this so well, and he invites us to share the gospel not just in actions but in words too.

Did you get that: “not just in actions but in words too”? Their website is even called usewords.org. And they provide resources for helping you use words.

But they place their primary emphasis on prayer: they recognize that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we’re equipped and empowered to do evangelism. As Archbishop Justin Welby said, “There’s absolutely nothing I can do or any of us can do without the power of the Holy Spirit in the service of Christ. Nothing at all.” Well said!

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