CHICAGO – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America issued several resources for implementing its newly adopted evangelism strategy entitled, “Sharing Faith in a New Century: A Vision for Evangelism in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”
"The resources are a potpourri of possibilities that a congregation might be able to use [for] some encouragement on becoming a witness, not just to be a passive observer but to realize that Jesus Christ is giving us a mandate to go the ends of the earth," said the Rev. Robin J. McCullough-Bade, a member of Galilean Lutheran Church, Corpus Christi, Texas.
According to Bade, the resources, including a new booklet, video and website, will assure the strategy’s success.
"Strategies get shelved very quickly, unfortunately. So, we wanted to follow up with some immediate resources to use during the season of Epiphany, which is a great season of sharing the light of Christ in the world, and Lent, a season of prayer. Part of the strategy lifts up a call to prayer."
Penned by Bade and her husband, the Rev. John McCullough-Bade, "Sharing Faith in a New Century: Inspiration for Witnessing" is a 24-page booklet based on the ELCA evangelism strategy. It includes four Bible studies related to the strategy's four objectives: to pray for the renewal of the church, prepare and renew leaders, teach discipleship, and start and renew congregations across the country and the Caribbean. The booklet also provides bulletin inserts and suggestions for celebrating the church seasons of Epiphany and Lent.
The new video accompaniment, "Shining Witnesses,” combines visual images and music to "stimulate and inspire reflective conversations" about evangelism. The video focuses on several key questions, such as: Why is it so difficult to tell the old story of Jesus and his love? How do we witness in our unique contexts? And, how can we become more effective witnesses?
"The video uses only images and music to help engage the listener, the participant, to get in touch with thinking about evangelism, how to do evangelism and develop contacts in our places of work and where we live,” said Bade. “It begins with a very comfortable and familiar scene of a Christmas candlelight service and the light that shines in the darkness. It also [features] images of darkness in the world and how we can become shining witnesses in the darkness. The video is designed to open up conversation and invite people to think about what it means to be a witness."
The website, entitled, "You Shall Be My Witnesses," is maintained by the evangelism team, ELCA Division for Congregational Ministries. The Web site -- http://www.elca.org/dcm/evangelism/ -- contains the text of the evangelism strategy, resources, frequently-asked-questions, assessment tools for evangelism and more. There are four primary areas to access information and ideas for leaders, individuals, the 10,721 congregations and 65 synods of the church. The Web site also houses the "Shining Witnesses" video and information on obtaining these and other resources on evangelism.