This was the title of the diocesan ministry school which I attended in Grafton from 5th-7th August. The talks and workshops were led by The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell who is the Bishop of Chelmsford in the UK and a personal friend of Bishop Sarah.
Bishop Stephen is a very engaging and challenging speaker who helped us to think about Evangelism as “the process by which people become disciples of Jesus” in different ways
He reminded us that part of our witness as Christians comes from OUR OWN relationship that we have nurtured with God. We call this Spirituality which means “How encounter with God is experienced, nurtured and expressed”. In the gospels Jesus reminds us that “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. Or to put it another way “you cannot give what you haven’t got”. We will only be effective witnesses for God is we can speak of the love and change that Jesus has made in our own lives and we can only do that if we remain close to God in prayer and study of his word.
Using the example of the disciples on the road to Emmaus from Luke 24; Bishop Stephen encouraged us to use this story as a model for how we do our evangelism. Recognising that most people come to faith over a period of years and that we need to journey with them and be there to answer their questions and help them recognise Jesus. This of course fits very well with the bible studies we are currently doing at the moment on sharing our faith and evangelism.
We also spent some time thinking about the various groups that we have contact with through our church and how we might put on events that might reach some of the needs and concerns that these various groups have.
Our church council will be grappling with some of the exercises we did over the coming months; as we seek to critically evaluate what we are doing in church with regards to our evangelism and outreach and also seek to be more creative and imaginative in the events that we plan for our local contact groups. Please do have a chat to me if you would like to know more or if you have any suggestions of outreach events you would like to see in the future.
Blessings in Jesus