Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Evangelism Today: New Ways for Authentic Discipleship

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Evangelism Today: New Ways for Authentic Discipleship

Article excerpt

Report of Ecumenical Conversation on Evangelism

The purpose of the ecumenical conversation

The ecumenical conversation on evangelism (EC 08) addressed and assessed the key challenges and opportunities in the global changing context of evangelism, and emphasized the urgency to recommit anew to our witness to God of life. Moreover, the conversation highlighted the importance of a common witness to the gospel of life in inter-denominational as well as inter-religious contexts, while addressing evangelism in relation to conversion and the concern of proselytism. This ecumenical conversation also aspired to present new concrete approaches for the work on evangelism and the importance of discipleship in secular contexts in particular.

Narrative report of the proceedings

Preamble

In our age of globalization and alienation, God, the source of all life, brings about transformation through justice and peace in every part of the world within concrete socio-political, economic, and cultural contexts. Called to participate in this transformative mission, the participants of the ecumenical conversation recognized that the incarnation of God in Christ demands that evangelism be rooted in Christ and expressed in culture. The new landscape of mission opens up new possibilities and challenges for evangelism by making Christ and his work of reconciliation relevant to all people here and now. Therefore, evangelism and discipleship, embracing creativity, innovation, diversity, and transformation, becomes an imperative for each local community. Thus, it becomes a necessity for all Christians to explore, seek and discern God's ways for us to proclaim the good news in new ways.

Proceedings

The group had about 70 to 80 participants in each of the four sessions. In each of the first three sessions, two resource persons spoke on a theme. This was followed by a creative audio-visual performance by Teatro Ekyumenikal (the cultural theatre group of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines). Following that, participants met in smaller discussion groups of about ten in order to reflect on and discuss specific questions related to the inputs of the session. At the end of each session, every group reported back and the outcomes, the affirmations, and the challenges were collected.

Session 1. Prof. Kirsteen Kim spoke on "God of Life: Evangelism Today," relating the theme of the conversation to the theme of the assembly, "God of Life, lead us to justice and peace." She emphasized the importance of our contribution to the life of the world, being members of the one body of Christ. She reiterated that the life we have in Christ is the good news itself. Furthermore, she highlighted that the "Gospel becomes life-giving in its effects mainly because it challenges injustice, oppression and marginalization, and works for peace, well-being and healing." She concluded that witnessing to the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit to the good news for all people is both our duty and our joy.

Rev. Dr Wonsuk Ma spoke on "Today's Global Context of Evangelism and Its Challenges and Opportunities." He began with a brief overview and observations on a millennial shift in global Christianity. He pointed to the fact that despite the increase of the global population during the last century, the global Christian population dropped significantly. He also referred to the fact that only for a short period (around 1910), world Christianity surpassed the one-third line of world population, remarking that this challenge entails new parameters for evangelism. The clear verbal proclamation of Christ's good news needs to remain the basis for evangelism, where possible. Moreover, evangelism needs to be truly "holistic" through life, word and work. Peace-making is an indispensable part of Christian witness, in particular when living among other faiths. He also pointed out the importance of developing theologically "the prophet-hood of all believers" and of fostering south to south exchange of missionary gifts. …

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