Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What does Evangelism mean?

As the Evangelism Elder at Stodgy Presbyterian Church, I have prayed to figure out what my purpose in this church is.

Mirriam-Webster defines evangelism as:

Main Entry: evan·ge·lism
Pronunciation: \i-ˈvan-jə-ˌli-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1626

1 : the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ
2 : militant or crusading zeal
— evan·ge·lis·tic \-ˌvan-jə-ˈlis-tik\ adjective
— evan·ge·lis·ti·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

So, I've tried to do the actions as defined by the first definition, with the determination as defined by the second.

I've seen some winning of commitments to Christ as the number of attendees and those becoming members has increased. Not a large number, but greater than previous years. The trouble is, the second part of that definition; the revival of commitments to Christ seems to have eluded me.

What can you do about a congregation that is:
1. aging
2. feel they've done it all, and know it all
3. do not feel they need anything more than an hour on Sunday to be Christians.

How can you change a Board of Deacons who:
1. Feel that congregational care is the dropping off of the sanctuary flowers to a 'deserving' shut-in.
2. Think that having a Deacon (or two) on every ministry commission is a requirement
3. Does not provide a "Fellowship Hour", just provides the donuts. The pastor actually makes the coffee.
4. Spends more time attending meetings and having fundraisers, than doing anything else except on the day the church food pantry distributes its monthly quota.

What do you do with a Session that:
1. Is more like a Board of Directors, than the spiritual leaders of the congregation.
2. Who does not do any congregational care, except perhaps meeting people at worship, but when asked why aren't the Deacons doing this reply "We've never done it that way".
3. Who think that the way to save the church is to provide a youth director to a church with a very limited set of kids of an age group that matters. We've already lost those senior high kids, middle school kids are a target, but I'm not sure that will sustain this congregation.

Frankly, I'm not expecting any answers, just needed to vent since I just had to cancel this quarter's Alpha Course due to lack of interest. I'm going to try again after Easter, and this time, I'm going to spend a bit on advertising in the local paper, and give up trying to evangelize this congregation.

That said, if this congregation doesn't wake up to the fact that its losing more members because of members being promoted to the Church Everlasting, than to the kids not coming back, it won't survive another 20 years, and wind up like many of the churches you read about on Presbyweb where the 16 remaining members decide to close the church, rather than merge with another.

What's interesting is that at another Presbyterian Church close by, some changes have prompted members to start coming to Stodgy Presbyterian. This may result in our gaining some members, however, as most are of AARP age, again this will not result in any real, sustainable growth. More than likely, the other church will be facing in about five years, what I expect will happen here in 15 to 20.

And so it goes ....


  1. RC<

    Great post and timely question. I've linked to you over at the Scuttlebutt. What say we explore this for a day or two?

  2. Hey guys - I had planned to start a similar thread this week as well. Not to horn in but I will likely be bouncing off your blogs as well.

  3. I hear you. As one of our Synod reps says, "We're in this together."

  4. Bill,

    I'll be looking forward to your thoughts also.


    I agree ...


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