Minister's Musings

Transforming Outreach: 12 Steps to Evangelism Success

January 18, 2024: This month, we embark on a journey under the theme "Embracing the Liturgy: Evangelism," drawing upon Priscilla Pope-Levison's "Models of Evangelism," Mike Breen's "Building a Discipleship Culture," and Janet Gear's "Undivided Love." This initiative is a response to West River United Church's mission to create a community that grows together in love, fellowship, and service, seeking a richer life in Christ. It also aligns with the United Church of Canada's call to being disciples of a bold, evolving church united in deep spirituality, inspiring worship, and daring justice.


As we navigate this theme, we recognize these lessons can create an array of feelings, such as hope, excitement, fear, uncertainty, and resistance. It's crucial to note that the perception of evangelism, particularly in places like the United States and some areas of Canada, often carries negative connotations. This is largely due to the association of "evangelicalism" with certain political and cultural stances that might not resonate with the inclusive values of many Christian communities. However, it's important to distinguish this modern perception from the simple, authentic essence of evangelism as Jesus practiced it.

The evangelism we are discussing is about returning to the roots of Jesus' teachings and actions. It's about embodying the simple yet profound principles of love, compassion, and service that Jesus himself demonstrated. This form of evangelism is not about aligning with a particular political ideology or cultural viewpoint. Instead, it's about reaching out to others with the genuine love and grace that Jesus showed, offering a message of hope and inclusion. Our focus is on personal transformation and communal growth, deepening our connection with God, each other, and all of creation. We aim to move beyond contemporary controversies and misconceptions, anchoring ourselves in the true message and methods of Jesus.

In the spirit of Jesus' mentorship of his twelve disciples, we will explore 12 Steps to guide you on your evangelism journey. These steps will help you engage in this critical aspect of our faith with understanding and conviction

Prayerful Preparation: Prioritize prayer before taking any evangelistic steps. Seek guidance and openness to opportunities through the Holy Spirit. Take as much time in this phase for spiritual readiness.

Prayerful Preparation: Prioritize prayer before taking any evangelistic steps. Seek guidance and openness to opportunities through the Holy Spirit. Take as much time in this phase for spiritual readiness.

Biblical Familiarity: Deepen your understanding of the Bible, especially the teachings and actions of Jesus. Engage with religious writers to reinforce your knowledge and conviction.

Spiritual Preparedness: Stay engaged in your own spiritual growth. This ensures you're spiritually nourished and prepared if and when opportunities for meaningful conversations arise.

Reflective Observation: Reflect on feedback and dynamics within your church and social circles. Use these insights to discern the most effective approach to evangelism in your context.

Prayer and Reflection for Others: Regularly include in your prayers those you hope to reach through evangelism. Reflect on their needs, challenges, and your role in their spiritual journey. This practice can provide spiritual insight and empathy, enhancing your approach to evangelism.

Focus on Relationships and Meeting New People: Make efforts to meet new people and continue building and maintaining genuine relationships with your friends, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Expanding your social circle can lead to more diverse conversations. Authentic connections with new acquaintances and long-standing friends often create a more receptive environment for deeper, meaningful conversations about faith and life.

Live by Example: Demonstrating the values of your faith—like love, kindness, and compassion—in your daily life — can be a powerful witness.

Seek Common Ground: Find topics or activities you and your friends enjoy and are comfortable discussing. This can sometimes open doors to more profound discussions in a natural and non-threatening way.

Be Respectful and Sensitive: Always respect others' beliefs and boundaries. Avoid forcing religious conversations if they are clearly unwelcome or may strain the relationship.

Engage in Community Activities: Participate in community events or volunteer work that aligns with your faith's values. This can be an avenue to meet new people and gently share your beliefs through community service.

Small Group Evangelism: Consider the small group evangelism approach, where discussions about faith happen within a supportive and interested group.

Embrace the Invitation: Acknowledge that discussions about evangelism can push you out of your comfort zone. Resist the urge to settle into familiar patterns and give yourself, others, and the church the opportunity to explore new pathways in evangelism and discipleship.

Evangelism is often most effective when it's a natural outgrowth of genuine relationships and personal integrity in living out one's faith. It's also important to remember that not everyone will be receptive, and that's okay. The key is to be respectful and patient and to find the right balance that works for you.