Do you fear the word “evangelism”? Have you or someone you know been harmed by the church’s witness? Wonder how you can share the good news? The Office of Theology, Formation & Evangelism of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, PC(USA), in partnership with Montreat Conference Center, is hosting the hybrid conference “Evangelism: Addressing Harm, Embracing Hope” on Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2022. We hope to engage a holistic understanding of the biblical witness
about the expansive nature of good news and address the ways in which evangelism became a tool to grow churches and save souls rather than spread the Spirit.
We must first address our sin: the harm we have caused by judgment, hypocrisy, leaving siblings out and driving siblings away from the church before we can truly embrace the hope we have in Jesus. Evangelism cannot be about harming others with our judgments. Therefore, evangelism must be connected to the way we seek to be like Jesus and engage in life fully. In so many ways, we are called to be like John in the wilderness exclaiming, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every hill be made low. The crooked road made straight, the rough ways smooth. And all the people will see God’s salvation…” (Luke 3:4-6). These words lead us into the beautiful and challenging ministry of bearing witness to God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ.
We are not calling people into church programs and ministries; we are calling people to experience the steadfast love of a faithful God. Therefore, biblical evangelism cannot be relegated to church life or be reduced to saving souls. Evangelism is good news. Period. This good news is about God showing up to release captives and restore sight to the blind (Luke 4:16-19). Evangelism is the good news of God’s salvation/shalom for all people (Isaiah 52:7). Justice is engaged to right ancient wrongs, and the table is set for all. What a vision! Therefore, we are being formed to live in the way of Jesus so that people experience the beauty of life with God.
This hybrid conference will offer participants an opportunity to lament and repent the harm the church has caused through evangelism and embrace a new hope in the lifestyle and call of evangelism in 21st century communities. We will explore practical ways that you and your faith community can engage in habits of evangelism that transform lives and invite people into God’s story in authentic ways. Through habits of radical welcome and justice, we will embrace a new hope, a new understanding, a new way of evangelism that shares the good news of Jesus Christ with all people and throughout all of creation.
“Evangelism: Addressing Harm, Embracing Hope” is for all synod and presbytery leaders, church pastors, educators, officers, members and people of God to attend. More information can be found on the registration page at montreat.org/evangelism.