Evangelism: a spiritual practice

Daily Reading for October 11 • Philip, Deacon and Evangelist

Evangelism is fundamentally a spiritual practice, as important to our spiritual health as prayer, worship, fellowship, and study. As such, evangelism is not simply an act or a set of Christian techniques. It is not a programmatic effort or a formulaic recitation of a memorized speech. It is not a generation of false sentiments or a sale of artificial emotion. It is not wanton advertising of religious slogans. It need be neither demonstrative nor dogmatic. It is not recruitment. It is not judgment.

True evangelism emerges from a practiced disposition of gratitude, a willfully embraced motivation arising from our experience of wonder, delight, and gratification in the Holy Spirit that propels us out to others to share our good news. And it is a new way of seeing and hearing others—as people who also have stories of delight and gratitude for God’s movement in their lives. Evangelism is a willful, joyful spiritual discipline of seeing and naming the Holy Spirit at work in ourselves and those we encounter—giving voice to our own grace-filled experiences, and helping others find their voice. It is practicing what we read in the Psalms—no matter what our current state, we can recall for ourselves and others the great works of God in each others’ lives.

Evangelism begins most fundamentally with you. On your holy pilgrimage you carry gifts for the world that are far deeper than you can even begin to recognize.

From Transforming Evangelism by David Gortner, a volume in the series Transformations: The Episcopal Church of the 21st Century, edited by James Lemler. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY. www.churchpublishing.org

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One Comment
  1. Josh Thomas

    I like this. I have often wondered as a TEC evangelist if I’m doing it right, simply posting the Daily Office online along with news photos and art that speak to me each day. People do respond, but my head is still full of evangelism as recruitment and conversion, and when those don’t happen I feel inadequate, that I’m not persuasive enough. Gortner’s definition seems to be that evangelism is Good News-sharing, and whatever level it happens on, the doing is good. Perhaps my function is faith-nurturance, not conversion.

    All I really know is that I benefit by doing this work. I am the one converted by it.

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