For the past month, we have been engaged in an Adult Education forum after worship on the topic of Reclaiming Evangelism. I wasn’t quite sure what kind of response a class like this would have, since so many of us tend to shy away from doing any kind of evangelism in our own lives - and have story after story of being made uncomfortable both by strangers and friends who seem bent on trying to save our souls.
But much to my delight, each week we have had a packed room of folks ready to engage in conversation on what evangelism looks like in the world today and how we might think about how we do evangelism as Presbyterians and as members at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.
The most engaging aspect of these classes has been hosting three of our mission partners in the city of Philadelphia, who while they are doing what we would consider mission work, are also leading worshipping communities and telling the story of the Gospel to the people in their communities.
We spent time with the Rev. Karen Rohrer who is one of the Pastors of the Beacon Church. Karen talked about what it means for her to be an engaged member of her neighborhood in Kensington, what it means to tell people not just the story of faith but also the story of being part of a faith community. While we may take for granted the diversity of ages and experiences that come with being a part of a church community, for those who have no experience of church, it is Karen’s challenge to share with people why a person would want to be a part of a group of people who are radically different from them.
The next week we spent time hearing from the Rev. Andy Greenhow, who helped us to focus on what it means for Christianity to no longer be the dominate cultural force in our communities. Andy is one of the Pastors leading Broad Street Ministry, and he talked about how much of his work relates to helping people recover from previous church experiences and telling them a new story of the Gospel - one of hospitality, love and grace.
Finally we heard from the Rev. Adan Mairena, the pastor at West Kensington Ministry. Adan shared with us the work that his faith community is doing in a neglected and harsh part of the city. For them evangelism mostly looks like showing up and standing next to. It is through their actions and advocacy that they are able to tell the story of the Gospel to that particular community and for those in need of a safe place to be.
We have one more Sunday left, and I am especially looking forward to our final conversation. Because this week, inspired by the stories and the experiences of our partners, we will discuss what it means to tell the story of the Gospel here on the Main Line. Certainly there are people in our own community who need to hear a message of welcome and diversity, a message of hope and gracious love, a message of that love put into action.
Even if you have not been with us for the past four weeks, you are invited to join us for this conversation as we continue to share our own experiences and continue to learn from each other.