The Relationship Between the Campaign and Congregational Development
The evangelism campaign is not a quick fix for declining congregations and it is not intended as an alternative to good congregational development practices. Congregational development training is vital to support the networks of members, both new and old, that are created by the campaign. Without establishing best practices in congregational development, the people and groups that come to a church in a campaign will have trouble finding acceptance in the congregation.
Congregational development can sometimes be used as a euphemism for “evangelism.” Congregational development, as vital as it is to the health of our churches, is not evangelism. The people we most want and need to reach are not necessarily even looking for a church. That’s where the campaign comes in. The campaign provides the support, structure and message to reach out to new people and give them the life changing gift of the Gospel of Jesus.
A congregation that is considering an evangelism campaign would be wise to learn and establish good congregational development practices. Evangelism is inviting people to become Christians, and that means inviting them to become a part of a Christian community. The local church has to be willing and able to welcome and celebrate the disruptive influence of new Christians in their midst. The people who come to a church through a campaign may never have attended church before. Existing members must be willing to be challenged in their own faith as they support these new Christians.
The evangelism campaign helps us reconnect individually and communally to the salvation narrative of scripture. This connection can be the source of spiritual vitality in a congregation. With the narrative come a sense of mission and a purpose for the congregation’s worship and life.
The social changes of the last several decades have lead to a steady decline in mainline churches. This proposal attempts to take advantage of social and technological changes to turn that around.
The Church is going through what Phyllis Tickle calls the Great Emergence. The evangelism campaign uses the Internet to create networks of people engaged in Emergent Church practices. We have the opportunity to lead the change.