Friday, May 30, 2008

Evangelism and the Continuum

Millo Shaw offered this as a comment, but I consider it far too important not to be given a thread of its own. Let's have some answers, folks. I'll be making a few observations of my own presently.

I would personally love to see a discussion on evangelism, specifically, on how we, who are so devoted to traditional Anglicanism, can articulate our faith to the great unwashed, as well as unchurched Christians, who know little or nothing about the Anglican Way, to open their eyes and their hearts to the Lord and to bring them closer to the Lord.

We all believe that traditional Anglicanism is the best way to achieve these ends, but how exactly, how best, do we go about it?

My own gut instinct is that a distinctive Anglican evangelism must flow from our distinctive and primary sources of Anglican spirituality, namely our liturgies, especially Holy Communion and the offices (including Compline), as presented in the BCP, but I don't know how to translate the instinct into a working, effective, evangelistic program.

How do we sing the Lord's traditional Anglican song in this strange (and increasingly strange) land? If we are to flourish, or rather if we are effectively to serve our Lord, this is an issue we must come to grips with, and it's an issue that transcends all, or at least most, of our divisions and quarrels within the continuing Anglican movement.

12 comments:

Abu Daoud said...

Well, I really hate to come here and promote myself, but I (a conservative Anglican) have just written an article and sacrament, discipleship, and mission. My specific area of focus is mission to Muslims, but I think the points I make can be applied elsewhere. Download it from St Francis Magazine.

Salaam.

Albion Land said...

Thank you, habibi, for your most welcome contribution.

But before we go further, I would ask everyone to refrain from commenting until after they have read a link that I will put up here later today.

The reason is that I want to generate not only a vibrant discussion, but also one that might prove to be fruitful. In the context of what I post, I will also try to suggest some talking points, which might serve as jumping off points for your comments and suggestions.

And as a teaser, my first, gut response to Millo's suggestion, which is echoed in what Abu Daoud says, is "yes, but no."

Watch this space.

Robb said...

#1 The link does not work? Get errror 404

Albion Land said...

As promised, here is the item that I would recommend we all read. It is called "How to Share Your Faith Without Losing Your Friends."

Though produced by people from ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada, it gives every indication of being orthodox.

I cannot figure out how to give you the link directly, so will give you directions:

1. Click on http://trad-anglican.faithweb.com/
2. Scroll down to Other Resources
3. You will find this document listed there under its title. Click on it.

I would strongly recommend this piece be read by all clergy and all laity.

As I said in my previous comment, my answer to Abu Daoud and to Millo is "yes, but no." I know Abou Daoud well, so he will bear with me, but the message that needs to be got across here is that there is no way around a central, unavoidable fact: if the church is to evangelise, each member of the church must do so; and each member must be prepared to talk very openly, as St Peter commands us, to be prepared to explain his faith, to answer questions when asked.

The liturgy and the sacraments are central to this -- once you have people in the door. But remember, the greatest challenge facing the church today, at least in the West, is not atheism, but unbridled apathy. And if we are not prepared to be on fire with our faith, you can be fairly sure, no one will catch fire with faith.

Albion Land said...

You will find this on Page 31.


Friendship Evangelism
Keeping Faith with Your Friends

1. Remember that a conversion is usually a process. Think of yourself as influencing another person towards faith in Jesus Christ. Think of yourself as one link in the chain of conversion sometimes you will be one of the first links in the chain, sometimes one of the last. You don't always have to be the final link in order to be an effective friend and witness!

2. Begin with those who are closest to you: family, friends, and business associates. It is always easier to understand and to be understood by those with whom we already have credibility, than with total strangers. In this way, we will be able to have an influence on others not only by what we say, but also by who we are.

3. Pray continually. Genuine conversion is always the work of God's Spirit at work in someone's life. Pray that you will always know who God is leading you to, that God will graciously enable your own words and the other person's understanding, and that you will recognize the opportunities God provides. Pray for the courage to speak.

4. Be yourself. Don't take on a different personality or tone of voice in a faith-sharing conversation. Sharing Jesus does not mean that you are preaching: you are simply introducing one Friend to another. Let your conversation be a natural part of who you are.


5. Ask leading questions that will take the conversation deeper. Ask your friend what he or she thinks about God, about what they think is wrong with the world and human nature, how they find the resources to deal with crises or manage their stress, or what they see as their purpose in life. Talk about the sources and origin of their convictions.

6. Listen for openings and possible contact points with the Gospel. Remember that people develop an interest in Christian faith for a variety of reasons. Some are looking for truth, for meaning in life, or a way to cope with personal pain; still others, because they fear death. All such issues, when sensitively explored, can open the door to faith.

7. Ask for permission to speak about your faith. No one likes to be cornered, or forced into a conversation they really don't want to have. When the time seems right, you might say something like, "I would love to have chance to share with you what my Christian faith means to me; would you be interested in that?"

8. Don't start the conversation by trying to convince someone of their sin. The Christian perspective on guilt and sin is one of the most misunderstood topics in the world. Since most people have more than enough guilt to deal with already, talk instead about the specific issues they are facing. Besides, conviction of sin is God's job, not yours.

9. Invite your friend to a social event. If someone is not ready for an invitation to church, invite them to a party or barbecue where meeting your other Christian friends will go a long way toward easing their fears. Or if it seems appropriate, invite them to a course or special church event at which the Gospel will be presented.

10. Remember to stress the relational aspect of Christian faith. Christianity is about a relationship before it is about dogma or creeds. It is about turning to follow Jesus, about enjoying friendship with God. Don't let the conversation turn into a theological debate for which neither of you are equipped. Far more people are loved into God's kingdom than are argued in. If the conversation begins to turn into an argument, draw it to a close until a more opportune moment arises.

Harold Percy

Anonymous said...

Albion et al,

As a welcome visitor here and a Roman Catholic I find the 10 points you listed to be excellent and very helpful. It is important, I find, to keep these things in the forefront of our efforts. I know for me that there are times when I lose focus on the highest mission and get caught up in certain details (albeit important details) like the precise nature of Divine Ecclesial Authority. Anyway, may we all give ourselves to God in the efforts to win souls for Christ. Keep up the good work and God Bless.

Patrick

poetreader said...

here, this link will get you there more directly:

ftp://members.aol.com/revmollege/ted/sharing.doc

ed

Alice C. Linsley said...

Restore the beauty of His House.

Be joyful in His worship (without being "enthusiast")

Teach people that Matins is the proper preparation for Holy Eucharist, though this will mean more time at church on Sunday. This used to be part of our spiritual "duty" and many today are seeking a religion that involves duty.

Train cantors to chant Matins and led the Psalms.

Dig deeply into the Word of God in Scripture. Use that concordance to trace themes and connect the dots.

Pray without ceasing.

And when His light shines so brightly in you that people begin to wonder, share the Gospel and invite them to join you in Church.

Sandra McColl said...

"How do we sing the Lord's traditional Anglican song in this strange (and increasingly strange) land?" To paraphrase one of the responds at Matins in the old breviary: "Like this: Alleluia."

As usual, Alice, you are very wise and very right. To add my own twopennyworth: and teach the folk that Evensong is the perfect preparation for the rest of the week.

Abu Daoud said...

Sorry, here you go:

Here

Canon Tallis said...

I am especially glad to see this dialogue as I think that a revival of genuine prayer book Anglicanism is much more important than any of us can possiibly conceive. Albion;s suggestions are especially important, but I would also endore what Alice and Sandra have written as, taken together, it represents the fullest use of the prayer book.

Fr. Daniel said...

I am writing a series of short essays at my website about why we should return to the traditional thinking of the "parish". The ministry of our churches should include the surrounding neighborhoods. We can't withdraw into our church precincts and expect the world to know of Christ's redemption. Christ himself was the friend of sinners; we must be no less. As you quote, Albion, we must be engaged with the community. There are several reasons: for evangelism, for works of compassion, for simple human civility, and so on. Even though we are not of this world, we are in it--at least until the Second Coming.