Live Blog: Synod 2015 kicks off with focus on evangelism
We're blogging in real-time from Synod 2015 at All Saints' Church in Woodbridge, VA. The workshop will also be available online as audio podcasts and video.
Five Ways to Love and Reach Your Community Pre-Synod Workshop on Evangelism
Bishop John Guernsey welcomes the standing-room only pre-Synod workshop and opens with prayer. Tom Herrick also welcomes everyone and introduces the Rev. Matt Hemlsey of Truro Anglican Church (Fairfax, VA) whose focus is on the Alpha Course and the impact it has had at Truro.
How does the church become what it should be, Matt asks. We've got a massive problem that leads back to the problem of trust, he says, who have lost faith and trust in the church and institutions. How do we win back that trust?
What does winning back the trust of the culture looks like. They are learning about neighboring and becoming neighbors again.
Truro also is looking at peacemaking, in a divided city and environment, as well as re-energizing the parish model.
Don Everts will be speaking at Truro on these topics and more.
The first questions regard the problem of trust in American culture today, especially among millennials.
Another question was on "neighboring" to regain trust. Matt talks about community groups being like little church in a big church. Truro is just at the start of this. People might not come to church (though they will if you invite them) but even more will come to your home and do a Bible Study.
Social justice and evangelism belong together - in England they are while in the United States they are divided.
The Rev. Jay Baylor of Church of the Apostles in the City (Baltimore, MD) is now interviewing two people from The Falls Church Anglican who are "Public Square Evangelists," who are always ready to share Jesus as they go through their regular lives.
We are hearing testimonies on how regularly people in their daily lives are able to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those they meet and see live transformed.
Jay talks about how those who are public square evangelists need protection and blessing from the clergy.
The next session is on power evangelism. It relies on the Holy Spirit to open the doors for evangelism. We hear a testimony of the work of the Holy Spirit on the streets of Baltimore.
How do you do power evangelism?
"We are wired to do this," says Jay, "to do this where ever we go."
Find a friend and start doing it. Ask God to show you were to go. Jay gives the example of going to Panera's and if he sees someone who has a cast or his limping, he asks if he can pray for him.
You have to go out and do it.
Jay extends an invitation to come up to Baltimore and see for themselves.
Treasure Hunts are fun - ask the Lord who are you reaching today and write down what comes to mind, and they are like clues and then go find the people. And they find them. They mix mercy and power together. They do things like cooking hot dogs and give them away and pray for people. They make gallons of coffee each week and take it out to a neighborhood where there is a lot of people hanging around and ask if they can pray for people.
Share your testimonies with everyone. Just get out and do it, says Jay Baylor. We want to try things in the church first before we do it outside, but that's backwards, says Jay. If you go out you will see miracles on the streets, when you come back into the church and share testimonies you will see miracles in the church.
Having an alive relations with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is vital. If you want more of the Holy Spirit, just ask. He is faithful, says Jay.
How did he get started? Jay shares how after twelve years of ministry he started to see the Holy Spirit at work.
It's up to us to move, to initiate.
Jay talks about using liturgy forms and see God heal using the liturgical forms of prayer as well.
The workshop participants are now going to talk with each other in table groups to talk about what they've heard.
Just don't give up, says Pastor Carlotta Wright, as she encouraged everyone in the workshop to reach out right where they are.
The Rev. Patti Brown, Assistant Director at the LAMB Center (Fairfax, VA) about service in evangelism. The worse thing about homelessness is being ignored, says Patti. The LAMB Center is a walk-in day shelter for the homeless. Every Sunday they are picked up and taken to church where they have worship and a hot meal.
The LAMB Center began by Martyn Minns and Truro Anglican Church twenty years ago. Fifteen years ago, the LAMB Center moved to their current location two miles from Truro and recently broke ground on a new building in a new location. God is so good.
Patti shares stories about the guests who come to the LAMB Center, beginning with Donna who was sleeping at a bus stop and almost had forgotten her name, but had found her way to the LAMB Center where she was asked her name. Many of the homeless have not heard their real name in years.
We cannot fix the problems the homeless have, but we can walk along side.
The LAMB Center offers breakfast, prayer in the chapel with the guests, Bible Studies that are led by people in the community followed by lunch. One time the Jewish synagogue wanted to prepare lunch, but didn't have a place so went to the Presbyterian Church where they cooked the food and the Lutherans delivered it to the LAMB Center.
Patti shares more inspiring stories about the guests who come and participate in the Bible Studies and how lives are being transformed.
Patti invites everyone to visit the LAMB Center for their "strong coffee and might prayers."
The LAMB Center is located at Fairfax Circle in Fairfax, VA.
What should we do when we see the homeless? Patti says to find out their name, tell them yours and ask them for theirs and when you see them next time, say hello and use their name. You can also make Trail Mix bags and bring them to the homeless shelter.
The next presenter is the Rev. Joe Acanfora and Anita Abernathy from Church of the Apostle (Fairfax/Oakton, VA) share about holding public evangelism events in our communities.
Joe encourages the clergy of the diocese to visit the LAMB Center and share a teaching.
Everything we do we are called to do relationally, as God shares with us relationally.
It's not about persuasion, it's about inviting and getting to know people who will trust us.
Fun in the Park - a way to get out into the community in a fun way, to get the whole church involved. "We can do this," says Joe.
Joe interviews Anita about Fun in the Park. Fun in the Park was fun and in the park, says Anita. But each person who was involved had something unique about them, something they were good at. For example, face painting, music groups in small groups, prayer tent and more.
Event Evangelism was not only one on one, but 100 people to 800 people at an event like Fun in the Park.
It's not about the event or even the fun, it's about letting people to know about the Lord and Savior of the world, Jesus.
Anita is a music teacher in Fairfax County and by getting involved in Fun in the Park, she was called back into the church and healing. She started a Drum Circle in the park for the energetic children. Her school loaned the drums for the event and the children loved to play (as well as adults) providing an atmosphere of joy.
Joe said that as the day was winding down, the one that didn't wind down was the Prayer Tent where people were ministered to even as the other events ended. "We are here because God loves us and wants to share that love in the City of Fairfax," says Anita.
The goal is to expose people to the love of God.
The Rev. Clancy Nixon of Church of the Holy Spirit (Leesburg, VA) now of comes up to talk about how to create a culture of evangelism in our churches.
A culture is about how we think and behave. We think that evangelism is important, that people need to be saved. But we're not all doing it, we're not behaving like it's really all that important.
At home we don't have the "mission switch" in the "on" position, says Clancy.
How much do we care? Does it show up in our programatic life in our church?
Clancy then shares stories of how the culture is changing at his church.
1. Pray, pray Luke 10:2
2. Build a leadership team
3. Form an evangelism team
4. Help with training your people in evangelism
5. Decide your focus for outreach, and stick with it
6. The value of evangelism must show up on Sunday morning.
The battle has begun and ended in prayer. Pray, pray, pray.
The Core Curriculum at Church of the Holy Spirit:
3. Spiritual Gifts - Network class from Willow Creek
4. Becoming a Contagious Christian
6. Spiritual Forming
Issuing the Call
One of the goals, says Jay Baylor, is to raise up evangelists in the diocese who will "take it on the road." When they plant churches in Africa, they choose a region, they gather all the evangelists and clergy together and do evangelism in the region. Jay issues the call to help the church planters as they plant new churches.
Issuing the Challenge
Canon Tom Herrick talks about his field placement when he was in seminary was here at All Saints' Church when John Guernsey was the rector. They talked about doing evangelism and Tom didn't think he was an evangelism and John Guernsey said, think again.
It was a new chapter for me, says Tom.
At some point along the way we recognize that our wells are stopped up, Tom says. He needed the push to start digging the well again. He encourages us to take the testimonies we've heard and talk about what will get us started, to take what we've hard and do it.
If you don't see yourself as an evangelist, says Tom, think again.
We learn about terrorism attack in Paris. We stop to pray.
We ask Lord you would move by the Holy Spirit to bring an end to this violence, that the hostages would be freed, that the injured would be healed, that all those who are dealing with the situation will have wisdom and those who are grieving will be filled with your comfort and healing power. None of us know when this life will come to an end. Help us to spur us on, power out your power in Paris, be with us and those who so need you this night, in Jesus name. Amen.
Listen to the entire Pre-Synod Workshop on Evangelism, Five Ways to Love and Reach Your Community.
The Opening Eucharist of Synod 2015 followed the Pre-Synod Workshop.
Click here to listen to the Rev. Sam Ferguson's sermon at the Opening Eucharist.