This week I had a revelation, epiphany, and light bulb moment. I received a new insight into the dirty little “e” word: evangelism.
On Tuesday morning while walking up Baynard Boulevard a woman stopped to ask me why our trees were wrapped in colorful cloths. My explanation about our focus on the stewardship of creation led to a conversation about our ministries, which led to her expressing her admiration for our care of earth and community.
At last Saturday’s Super Sale while greeting people entering the building many asked about our congregation, and then commented on how meaningful it is to have communities of faith active and helpful in the neighborhood. At least four people who came Saturday morning came back Sunday morning.
Several weeks ago when we registered two teams to run in the Delaware Marathon I received an email from the race director. He noticed that we were a church group and was moved to hear more about how we – including the pastor – would manage Sunday morning worship and participation in the race. I replied that our running was an act of faith, ministry, and worship; that at Hanover we deeply believe that faithful legs, hands, and hearts live and move in the world. Then I told him to watch for our bright and witty T-shirts!
For many of us traditional evangelism is foreign, if not scary. Many of us are not comfortable approaching someone and sharing our faith stories.
Based in these three experiences, my revelation was of an alternative evangelism: do something that makes someone ask; then tell them your story.
My epiphany was that, yes, actions speak louder than words – double Amen for our acts of faith! But faithful words that share the story behind the actions are no less powerful; such stories are no less evangelical.
My light bulb was this: authentic Hanover evangelism happens when we respond to questions about what we do with the stories of why we do it. This is evangelism – this is the good news.
May our actions continue to inspire questions that ask us to share our faith, and may our stories spread the good news of God’s love.