I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had several years ago with a mainline Protestant pastor. “We don’t evangelize,” she said with a stern expression. As a newcomer to the tradition, I was clearly out of my depth. Still, I had to ask, “How does your community grow?” She looked at me through squinty eyes, as if I’d posed a riddle. “That’s a good question,” she said. Then she changed the subject.
With many evangelical Christians painting themselves so far into a right corner, a devout intolerance for evangelism has surfaced among moderate and progressive believers. To avoid identification with cousins who adhere to narrower social and political views, many Christians have decided talking about their beliefs is intrusive or (God forbid!) impolite. Sharing faith with someone who may be seeking a deeper spiritual experience is taboo. Too coercive!
But data keep telling us mainline Protestantism’s resistance to evangelizing is a serious mistake. Numerous studies, including a significant 2020 census by the Public Religion Research Institute, shows early stages of migration toward progressive churches, with mainline non-evangelical Protestants bucking an overall decline among white Americans as the only Christian category currently trending upward. (Churches of color have proven remarkably stable over the past 15 years.)
The numbers confirm what many of us already know anecdotally through experience. Disaffected people are seeking, and finding, homes in more affirming faith communities. But does that suggest we can take it easy and not bother following the command of Christ to spread the word? No! In fact, it substantiates a very real need exists all around us. It’s time to step out of the shadows and start talking about faith, because a lot of folks are listening for our message of unconditional love and social justice, i.e., the kingdom of God exactly as Jesus declared and taught. Open hands, open minds, open hearts—we talk about these things all the time, and in some churches we even sing about them. But do we risk holding too little in our open hands, thinking too small in our open minds, and loving too few in our open hearts simply because we’re afraid to open our mouths? It’s time to break the silence.
What might happen if we overcame our dreads about evangelism? That’s the question we’ll ask this coming Thursday at 7:30pm CDT. Sign on and join the discussion. You’ll be glad you did!
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 847 1086 9833
Or dial 1-312-626-6799 using the same meeting ID.
See you this Thursday at 7:30p CDT!
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.