What in God’s green earth does Christian ‘evangelism’ have to do with creation justice? And why, when there is so much else to tackle in this time of climate crisis, pestilence, social upheaval, culture wars and rumors of war is ‘evangelism’ the subject of this creation justice blog post? Fair questions. Honestly, the thought of linking what is often perceived as the Church’s ‘typical’ concept of ‘evangelism’ along with the work of creation justice had never crossed my mind. That is, not until I stumbled upon a new (2021) “evangelism resource” produced by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that is anything but ‘typical.’
I was hooked and reeled in to this new ‘uncharacteristic’ evangelism resource, “8 Habits of Evangelism,” as soon as I read the preamble written by Ray Jones III, Director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. A portion of that preamble reads:
“If evangelism is simply a tool to bring more people into our churches, evangelism is not good news. Evangelism is not good news when it is used to focus on one aspect of the faith, like eternal life. Separated from justice, evangelism is bad news. The gospel is meant to bring both hope and restoration to the world… The good news of the gospel is that God fiercely loves us and is actively at work reconciling broken systems, relationships and lives; indeed, all of Creation.”
What a refreshing, holistic, all-encompassing big picture introduction to what is too often consigned to a ‘soul-saving’ and/or ‘church-saving’ corner of Christianity. I invite and encourage you to visit “8 Habits of Evangelism,” watch the short video of Mr. Jones explaining authentic evangelism, read the whole preamble and explore the 8 modules that immerse us in experiential resources to form the habits of true evangelism. WARNING: This is not just a one time dive, but rather an opportunity to spend hours or days in the total experience. With Lent just around the corner (Ash Wednesday is March 2), this would be a perfect time to spend 6 weeks forming 8 habits that just might enlighten our understanding of evangelism and make us better ambassadors of creation justice at the same time.
I will end this post with the closing prayer from Mr. Jones’ preamble:
“So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus would be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus attractive to all, getting everyone in on the glory and praise of God. “ (Philippians 1:9–11, The Message)