In her classic book on evangelism Out of the Saltshaker Rebecca Pippert confesses that there was a time when, “there was a part of me that secretly felt evangelism was something you shouldn’t do to your dog, let alone a friend.” On the surface many kind-hearted mainline Protestants in Canada today would agree. Many folks who sit in our pews are more than a little embarrassed by evangelism, developing “liturgical laryngitis” outside the safety of our stained glass sanctuaries, more than happy to stand and read Scripture on a Sunday morning but afraid to do so quietly in the food court Monday afternoon. More than this, there is a deeper distrust and even despair in some, that due to the haunting legacy of our residential schools missionary past (that mingled Christianity and Empire) we may no longer have good news to share at all.
Taking these concerns seriously, the Bible still calls us as followers of the risen Christ/recovering sinners to always be prepared to articulate “the hope that is within us” with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3: 15) How might we shape leaders and communities to articulate and embody practices of evangelization in today’s increasingly secular world that feel both authentic and faithful within our Reformed tradition? How might we reclaim a “playful urgency” in our ministry of sharing the good news that is in line with Peter Rollins’ claim that we engage in evangelism not so much to change the other (the work of the Holy Spirit) but that in the practice of articulating our faith we are converted again and again?
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