Fellowship and Evangelism
Fellowship & Evangelism Commission, Ella Stewart
July 24, 2016
I’ve been a member of this particular church for over 25 years so I guess you might say my roots are fairly deep. At the same time, I am still growing in my faith so I guess you might say I am still reaching. I hope you are, also.
Over the years, I have participated in various areas of our church life and each experience has helped me grow. Today I want to share with you how Fellowship and Evangelism has been a part of that.
Oops! Did I just say “Evangelism”? When you heard that term, did you shrink back in your seat or inwardly, gasp? That is a word we Presbyterians don’t use very often, but we practice it—sometimes without even knowing it! Evangelism is the announcement, proclamation, and/or preaching of the gospel. Have you heard the phrase, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day”? Are we “preaching” the good news in our everyday lives?
Here at First, I have received the good news through meaningful Sunday School classes, Wednesday night classes, and Circles where the Bible has been read and discussed and where the concerns and needs of our community and world are addressed. I have been comforted in times of sorrow and supported by the caring goodness of my church family. In all of these, I see the proclaiming of the gospel of Christ.
But what about beyond our church walls and church family? This is where it seems to become more uncomfortable for us. We aren’t accustomed to approaching strangers about their relationship to God, so often we stay silent and perhaps miss opportunities. Have you considered saying not only “Thank you” but “God bless you today” or something similar to the busy cashier at the grocery store or the neighbor who watered your plants or walked your dog for you while you were on vacation? What about the street person who might occasionally enter our atrium and help himself to a donut? Do you speak to him or invite him in to listen to the service? These are small ways we can share the good news. Maybe we can become more intentional in our evangelism—with some practice.
Fellowship—Yes, I hear you sigh to yourself—“Finally, now I can relax; she’s going to talk about something safe.” Really?!
Sure we enjoy smiling and greeting one another on Sunday morning when we “pass the peace” during our worship hour or in the atrium after church, but fellowship takes place during the week, also. Some of our members deliver flowers from Sunday worship to home-bound members, visiting and perhaps sharing a bit of church news. Personally, I have found this to be a rewarding “connection” that I might not pursue, otherwise.
We enjoy the fall picnic, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, Wednesday night suppers and classes, our several choirs, Easter Brunch, and many other opportunities for fellowship throughout the year. They don’t magically happen! Many people volunteer time and energy to bring them to fruition. Perhaps you’d like to help! While you are contributing to something for the church family, you may meet new friends or reminisce with those you’ve known for years. Try something you haven’t tried before-stretch and grow! Fellowship with others.
You know the Fellowship pads located in the pew racks? Take a minute to note anyone whose name or face you don’t recognize that may be sitting in the pew with you and speak to them. Concerned that they are long-standing members that might be offended? Perhaps you can say, “I don’t know if we have met before” and introduce yourself. They may be thinking the same thing. What if they are visiting for the first time and you don’t make the effort? So much for evangelism and fellowship!
The staff follows up on visitors who sign the pew pad, but in addition, I contact those who Carol tells me have attended more than once or twice. We see this as a more personal touch when I email or phone the visitor and introduce myself as a member of the church. I seek to follow up with a one-on-one meeting with the person when he/she again attends church.
Thank you for all you are doing and I encourage you to look for other ways to
“share the love of Christ”.