It used to be something you wouldn’t mention in polite circles. Not really English, a bit intrusive, not the done thing.
Things have changed. Growing up in the 1980s. ‘Evangelism’ meant Billy Graham or Luis Palau stadium filling crusades, door knocking and invitation events. Many thought it was the same thing as ‘Evangelical’ which meant some churches were very keen, others decidedly less so. Nowadays the idea of sharing the good news, through words as well as actions, is embraced by all sections of the church, and there are some excellent Catholic examples.
The old assumption that ‘We are all Christian anyway, so what’s the point?’ clearly no longer applies, if in truth it ever did. This is not just due to a national growth of adherents to other world faiths – nowadays there’s a greater understanding that people make definite decisions to live their lives in different ways and that being a member of a Christian society is not the same thing as being a Christian.
Also, I think we may have got better at it. At the recent churchwarden’s visitation Bishop Lee showed a comedy video of two young men sending up old style doorknocking. It brought back embarrassing memories of hit and run style Bible bashing. While tracts, guest speakers and even door to door still have their place, there is now a much greater emphasis on sharing our faith naturally through friendship, on invitation to good quality events, and offering excellent courses like Alpha and Pilgrim.
Evangelism is no longer a dirty word. Christians have realised that it’s greater than a matter of more people on Sunday so the church can pay the bills. Instead sharing our faith is an outflow of our love for God and for the people we meet. Like me, you may feel that you need some help and encouragement in how to do this well. So our churches will be running a sermon series throughout June, exploding some of the myths, exploring what evangelism really means, and learning how to do it naturally and with confidence. Follow us at: https://revchristopherbryan.wordpress.com/ and http://deaconosity.wordpress.com