Evangelism is, at one level, simply the spreading of Christianity. We live our Christian faith in community as we worship, pray, break bread and labor for justice. Spreading Christianity means inviting people to participate in Christian community. Evangelism then challenges us to have a clear sense of purpose and mission so that we can invite others to join us in our common life of faith.
Some congregations have attempted to develop vision and mission statements using strategic planning processes borrowed from business with varying levels of success. This is time consuming and can cause a congregation to focus inward at the very time the focus should be outward. The vision and mission of Christ are given in the Gospels and letters of the New Testament. A well designed campaign can start with a scriptural statement of purpose. Likely candidates include Matthew 28:18-20 or John 15:12-13. The campaign thus provides an outwardly focused purpose and mission that we invite people to be a part of rather than asking each congregation to go through a mission setting exercise.
An evangelism campaign must then be designed to achieve the enrollment of members of the congregation in the campaign purpose and mission. This is critical to the success of the campaign. Without significant support within the congregation the work of the campaign will either fail out right or fade quickly after the campaign. The gifts and character of a congregation will be revealed and celebrated as the congregation lives out the mission of the campaign. The campaign provides a shared narrative and members of the campaign will find themselves living out that narrative. This shared narrative provides both spiritual focus communal bonds.
Evangelism then becomes a process of inviting people to participate in the shared mission of the congregation. This enrolment process starts with the members of the congregation and continues with invitations to people outside the congregation. Everyone, both new and old, is invited to be a part of the project of creating networks of people who support one another in doing God’s work in their lives, in their church and in the world.