EDOD Missions Day 2019
More than 150 evangelists packed the chapel at St. Luke’s in Dallas, to worship, grow, pray and learn more on how to authentically share their faith with the world, at the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas Missions Day, May 4.
The day started with Bishop George Sumner’s commissioning of 32 lay leaders into the Order of Evangelists. The order is comprised of laity who are called and commissioned to do the work of an evangelist. They are dedicated to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in work and deed. They serve as catalysts for local and global mission in our parishes and cast a vision for all to live into our baptismal covenant of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are stories in this room of martyrdom, sojourning, and costly witness, Sumner told the crow. "There is no mission without deep solidarity, empathy and a sense of neighborliness," he said. "But we are also, as Peter says, ‘a chosen race, a holy priesthood,’ as Jesus himself said, salt and light."
After the commissioning ceremony, keynote speaker Rebecca Manley Pippert, author of Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World, gave practical advice about sharing one’s faith with others.
She told the crowd that advanced modernity has produced the collapse of absolute truth, and has shifted authority to personal preference resulting in a designer religion of cherry-picking whatever an individual deems worthy. This has resulted in threadbare theology with inconsistent beliefs, Pippert noted. For example, some say, “‘I really believe in Karma, you sin, you pay’ which is a harsh philosophy. The amazing news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is you sin and He pays. What a difference, she said.”
Pippert went on to say the most important aspect of sharing your faith is being authentic, and not “’I’m so perfect, I’m so together I can’t wait to get to know you.’ Our message is ‘I’m not so perfect.’ It’s about relationship of love, not about religious activity.” Come up with a style of evangelizing that is consistent with your personality. “God wants to use you as you are. You don’t have to be someone else to be effective in evangelism.”
The event also offered breakout sessions including one on biblical storytelling by Deacon Paul Thomas, a Wycliffe Bible Translator Missionary. He offered ways on how to share about Jesus through story, great tool for those attending mission trips and engaging refugees from other countries.
The best source for telling stories is the Bible itself, Thomas said. “The best way to learn is to tell a story. Start with the words, ‘I have a story,’ that gets their attention. Stories are chronological, ‘After God made David King, there was a conflict with the people of God and their enemies, on the hill was Goliath…’ The stories have already been written for us in the Bible,” he said.
Communicators from the Episcopal Church, Jeremy Tackett, and Chris Sikkema offered a workshop on how to make the most of websites and leverage social media to share the news of Jesus. “The discussion was really good,” said Jazmyn Ware, St. Barnabas in Garland. One woman told the group that she posted Christian content on her Facebook page and was met by an inquiry from neighbors about Easter services. The social media interaction resulted in a new family for the church, Ware said. “It was interesting,” Ware said. “It has motivated me to post more and do more.”
A third break-out session focused on how prayer can lift-up evangelism effforts. The session was led by Nancy Beth Roberts and Pat Allen who lead the ecumenical Harvest Prayer Network. Evangelists should pray for their church and for their clergy, Allen said. “The priest or clergy member who is not prayed for, will be preyed upon,” she said. Allen also gave an example of how dedicated, long-time prayer helped a parish grow. She told the story of when lay leader John Hinds, a parishioner of St. John’s in Dallas, who prayed every day in the church for a year, when the church faced financial distress, declining attendance, and was considering closing. The church saw a complete turn-around and is a vibrant parish today with a many families and robust youth group.
The entire day “was a moving experience,” Ware said. “I’m really interested in taking (Order of Evangelist classes), and Rebecca Pippert was awesome. I wish there had been more.”
The diocese is looking to train more evangelists through classes taught by Canon for Evangelism, Carrie Headington. These classes meet monthly at the Stanton Center School for Ministry, at various parishes, and/or online for nine months. For more information contact Laura Faulkner at .