Through the Lay School for Ministry, the office of Development is offering a Lay Evangelism Licensure Program designed for those who seek to inspire, encourage, and lead the community toward a bolder proclamation of God’s Good News. Students will be equipped to develop and lead evangelism ministries with their congregation or diocese. We will explore evangelism leadership as a spiritual practice, its theological grounding and story-sharing form through an Episcopal framework. We will spend time reflecting on our own stories, how we recognize and respond to God’s action and invitation in the world and live in ways that share Good News. We will experiment with a variety of techniques for sharing and receiving stories, including social media and community service. For our final project, students will design an evangelism opportunity for their context.
What do you mean by evangelism?
Through our Baptismal Covenant, every Episcopalian has vowed to proclaim with our words and our lives the loving, liberating, and life-giving good news of Jesus Christ. Through the spiritual practice of evangelism, we seek, name and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in the stories of all people – then invite everyone to more. We recognize that God is already actively loving and present in all the world. The world doesn’t need us to bring God to them, but rather to open up the door to more openly share about the work God is already doing and invite people to go deeper in that work. Episcopal Evangelism is less about conversion, and more about conversation and invitation.
So, then what is a “Lay Evangelist”?
A better question might be “Who is a Lay Evangelist?” We are all called to the ministry of evangelism but, a lay evangelist is someone who desires to deepen that spiritual practice of evangelism as invitation and outpouring of love, draws others into that practice and then shares it with the community. Our canons describe a lay evangelist as someone who “assists with the community’s ministry of evangelism in partnership with the Presbyter or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation, or as directed by the Bishop.” In other words, a lay evangelist is someone within the community of faith who works with church leadership to mobilize the community in evangelism efforts. A lay evangelist is a catalyst for the faith community, sparking us to reach out, listen and celebrate what God is up to in the broader community, and invites us all to more.
Why would I want or need a license?
You may have noticed you are already gifted in or drawn to the spiritual practice of sharing your faith with others, but you would like more training in theology, community organizing, cross-cultural or digital ministry. You may have the desire to share the Good News with others and listen to their stories, but would like to be better equipped in the practice of evangelism. Your church may be interested in incorporating more evangelism in existing or future programs. If this sounds familiar to you, then you should inquire about this program!
Contact the Rev. Lydia Knizley Johnson, Missioner for Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.