Hello Hazelwood Friends!

I’m on vacation, but I left this fantastic article that I wanted to share with you in place of my Pastor Post this week. It gives us all more “food for thought” as we think about our place in the world as the part of the Body of Christ known as Hazelwood Christian.

Evangelism in the 21st Century
The Cost of Disciple Making
in the 21st Century

The beginning of the 20th Century challenged us to re-examine who we were. We met that challenge. Now, we face multiple frontiers in the 21st century as unprecedented changes press in on the church from all sides. We are called to reimagine our approach to mission and ministry to grow God’s kingdom in a waning Christian society. The vestigial images of spreading the gospel must go! New visions need to be created, endorsed, and financially supported to grow the kingdom.

The following five keys to living out your faith in your mission and ministry must be done in such a way that people will notice and ask questions. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks to give the reason for the hope that you have. Evangelism in the twenty-first century looks a lot like evangelism in the first century.

Real Mission and Ministry
Many congregations faithfully engage in mission and ministry. Then there is a “real” mission and ministry. What makes mission and ministry “real”? Real mission and ministry are being relevant in your community. Real mission and ministry mean that the level of engagement by the congregation is more than just assisting or helping other mission and ministry projects achieve their desired goals. Real mission and ministry mean congregations own the outcome. Congregations that take time to critically assess and evaluate the mission and ministry that is needed or lacking in their current ministry context understand that they must engage in “real” mission and ministry on more than a superficial level. Christ challenged his disciples to engage in real mission and ministry, and that challenge is still ours, as disciples, to live into today.

A Welcoming and Hospitality Component
It is important that not only our church members feel welcome but also each person who enters the doors of the church. All who enter must feel the welcome of Christ who invited all God’s children to come unto Him. Local congregations must develop a culture of being “welcoming” communities of faith if they intend to be relevant in a 21st-century context. Just being a friendly church will not suffice in the culture that the church now finds itself. Congregations must develop and practice radical hospitality. Welcoming and hospitable congregations understand that they must see their ministry through the eyes of outsiders. These congregations know that they will grow only as they effectively invite, welcome, and include new people.

A Spiritual Gifts Component
Does spiritual giftedness have anything to do with evangelism? Yes. The role of evangelism is no longer the sole responsibility of the evangelism team appointed or elected by a congregation.

A Sharing or Talking About Your Faith Component
This component is designed to help the local congregation grow into a deeper commitment to God and God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and in so doing, develop a lifestyle of evangelism. The aim of this component is not to enlist callers for an evangelism program. Persons who participate in this process will not be asked to sign up as bearers of a specific formula which they memorize and use to “convert” persons. While the terms “evangelizing” and “witnessing” are good descriptive words, coming from the ministry of the early church, because of some negative understanding of the terms today, one prominent church leader in evangelism has used the term “reclaiming the great commission” rather than “witness” or “evangelist.” In this component, the congregation will be challenged to empower their members to become comfortable with learning to “share their faith and talk about their faith.”

Media Matters Component
In the 21st century church, technology will be a key component of how effective and far-reaching our evangelism efforts will take us, although technology in the past has impacted the church and evangelism efforts, very few local congregations will be able to survive without a comprehensive, intentional, and effective media presence. The media ministry of the local congregation will be key in deciding just how relevant a congregation can be in its mission and ministry context. In the 21st century congregation media matters; every congregation must have a relevant Media Matters component in place to communicate their evangelism strategy.

The cost of disciple-making in the 21st century is moving away from who we were last century and encouraging Disciples congregations to embrace and engage who God is calling us to be in this frontier called the 21st century.

Rev. Dr. R. Wayne Calhoun, Sr.
Executive for Evangelism and Congregational Transformation
Disciples Home Missions