Evangelism Initiatives

 

Episcopal Evangelism Initiatives represent the many ways we celebrate and share the good news of Jesus’ life and love with everyone everywhere. First, by sharing stories that energize and inspire Episcopalians. Then, by spreading resources that equip regular Episcopalians and churches to become evangelists and storytellers in daily life. Finally, by sharing good news with people beyond the Episcopal fold via new ministries and digital evangelism. Share your thoughts and experiences.

Ask for what you need. Join the Movement.

The second Episcopal Revival, Awakening the Spirit in Western Missouri was held on May 5, 6, and 7, 2017. The revival brought the message of the Jesus Movement into the public square with large-scale worship events held at Kansas City's Power and Light Districts and Springfield's Hammond's Field. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people experienced the revival in person and online through facebook live.

Bishop Martin Field and his incredible team were creative, enthusiastic and generous hosts. Together with members of the Presiding Bishop's staff, the people of the Diocese of West Missouri put together an event that re-envigorated the spirit for Episcopalians from the Diocese and neighboring dioceses, including Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma, and invited the public to share the good news. 

Several portions of the revival were livestreamed on facebook, and nearly 100,000 people witnessed the revival through the Episcopal Church's facebook page. Social media was an important part of the Awakening gathering and Episcopal News Service has an archive of the social media aggregator available here.

For more information about Episcopal Revivals, please visit the Episcopal Revivals page.

 

The second Episcopal Revival, Awakening the Spirit in Western Missouri was held on May 5, 6, and 7, 2017. The revival brought the message of the Jesus Movement into the public square with large-scale worship events held at Kansas City's Power and...

What is a Revival?

We like the way Mark Labberton put it: “Revival can be a loaded word. But it almost always shows itself in two interconnected ways: personal experience of spiritual renewal marked by lament and hope, and social transformation marked by justice and righteousness.” A revival is a dedicated series of gatherings that combine inspiring worship, compelling teaching, honest faith-sharing, intensified prayer, and some form of engagement with the mission of God – all for the sake of the spiritual renewal and transformation of people and of society.

What makes Episcopal Revivals “Episcopal”?

Episcopal Revivals seek to fulfill that age-old purpose, in a uniquely Episcopal way. From California to Georgia, Missouri to Honduras, Pittsburgh to New England, these gatherings will take on different shapes, depending on the hosting diocese(s) and the diverse contexts where we share the good news of Jesus Christ and welcome people into the Jesus Movement. Thanks to vibrant partnership between hosting dioceses, the Episcopal Church’s Evangelism Team and many more partners, we’re organizing a series of Revivals that do much more than fire people up. Each revival seeks to …

  • Proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in the language of the people
  • Share faith and open space for others’ stories about God
  • Organize people to embody good news through reconciling action and justice
  • Engage in intensified prayer and preparation before, during and after the “event”
  • Gather a diverse body that crosses lines of age, race, culture and class
  • Equip and send people to share, celebrate and embody the good news in daily life

How is this part of the “Jesus Movement”?

As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has announced, we are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. Together, we are following Jesus into loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, with each other and with creation. That first part – welcoming people into loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God – is the heart of evangelism. Evangelism is listening for Jesus' movement in our lives and in the lives of others, giving thanks, celebrating and proclaiming this good news out loud. Then we welcome the Holy Spirit so that God’s will might be done in all our lives.

That’s a different kind of evangelism, and it’s especially relevant right now. Jesus said, “I have come to bring life and life in abundance” (John 10:10). In this moment, Episcopalians and many of our neighbors yearn for more of this gift. We yearn to draw near to God who has drawn near us in Jesus, whose way is loving, liberating and life-giving, who sets all of creation free.  

Where are the Episcopal Revivals and how can I join?

Five Episcopal Revivals are slated for 2017 and 2018, with more tentatively set. Any individual or group is welcome to join these gatherings. Some diocesan host teams may provide travel and lodging recommendations; otherwise please stay tuned to this site and the links below for more information:

Is an Episcopal Revival a one-time event?

The Episcopal Revivals are not an end in and of themselves. The hope is that each revival will spark greater passion to be part of the Jesus Movement and to join in ministries of evangelism, reconciliation, care of creation, church planting, formation, youth outreach, justice in our local communities and beyond.

Episcopal Revivals are preceded by months of planning and training for local teams learning about evangelism and listening for the Spirit among their neighbors. Following the Revival, each community will follow through on plans to water the seeds the Spirit planted: hosting workshops and trainings, engaging in mission experiments, planting new churches, Mission Enterprise Zones or Jubilee Ministries; forming new global mission relationships with partners who teach us about evangelism and mutuality. The possibilities are endless.

If your diocese is in interested in learning more about hosting a revival, please complete the form found here.

What is a Revival? We like the way Mark Labberton put it: “Revival can be a loaded word. But it almost always shows itself in two interconnected ways: personal experience of spiritual renewal marked by lament and hope, and social transformation...

 

 

 

The first in a series of Episcopal Revivals took place in Pittsburgh, PA, February 3-5, 2017. The Episcopal News Service's coverage of the weekend's events can be found here. For more information about Episcopal Revivals, please check out our FAQ, available here.

      The first in a series of Episcopal Revivals took place in Pittsburgh, PA, February 3-5, 2017. The Episcopal News Service's coverage of the weekend's events can be found here. For more information about Episcopal Revivals, please check...

Come by here, my Lord, come by here....Oh Lord, come by here.

Stephanie SpellersWhen you live in New York City, you pretty much expect the unexpected when you sit down in a taxi. In fact, they've built a whole TV show on this very premise. It's called "Taxicab Confessions." People share their deepest, darkest secrets with a cab driver they hope they'll never see again. You don't know what's gonna unfold when you crawl inside. You just need to be ready.

On November 9th, the day after the presidential election, I sat down in a cab and I've got to tell you: I was shellshocked ... like nearly every American, however they voted. The driver Mauricio asked how I was doing and, at first, I couldn't even find the words. And then I couldn't stop. I was scared at the forces of hatred America had now unleashed. I was sad, as a black woman, to see Obama's legacy so gleefully reversed. And I was disappointed at just how deep the fault lines separating us run.

Mauricio listened. He nodded, like a good confessor. And then, I want you to know, he peered in that rearview mirror and gave me a talking to, the kind your grandmama gave when she caught you moping around her kitchen. "I've seen a lot of people today," he said, "and they're all sad," "People in my cab are sad. People in my neighborhood are sad. Yes, we're immigrants. Yes, we're poor. But here's what I told them and I'm telling you: 'I am not afraid. You can't be afraid either.'"

Mauricio's words sounded lovely and hopeful and completely divorced from reality, but he just kept going. "I'm not worried," he said, "because if the day comes when a president tries to hurt us, really hurt people, there's gonna be somebody in that Congress who believes in God. They might be a Republican or a Democrat, I don't know. But that person will say, 'No, Mr. President, you cannot do this. Because I believe in God and God lives in these people, and you cannot hurt them.' And other people who believe in God will speak up, too. I am not afraid, because somebody in there follows Jesus."

I was the one wearing the clerical collar, the priest on my way to a church function. But Mauricio--he was the preacher, the messenger who reminded me that God is mighty, that God working in God's people is mighty, and that Jesus and his followers are still on the scene.

On this third Sunday of Epiphany, the Sunday after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the president of the United States of America, I hear the voice of Mauricio. I hear the voices of my grandmothers. And as I read the gospel of Matthew, I see and feel and hear God incarnate calling people to repent and turn toward the kingdom of justice and hope and mutuality and love for the other. I see and feel and hear Jesus beckoning us to follow him. And I am not afraid. No, I feel ready--ready to follow like I never have before. And thanks be to God, I know I'm not the only one.

I fear that for generations mainline churches have been lulled into a deep, deep sleep. We've too often placed God in a pretty and inconsequential box, pulling him out as a decorative life accessory or the ultimate therapist, but not really expecting God to do anything. We humans get the job done; God inspires, teaches, soothes.

Really? Where would we be, if that's all there was to God? Surely there's more. Ask the Israelites, and you'll hear about a God who liberates people from every kind of slavery. A God who touches the mouths of prophets with burning coal and gives them a word and a truth they could not have manufactured on their own. Oh, there must be more to this God.

We Christians ought to know there's more to God. Just look at Jesus, the clear and true embodiment of God with us. Would so many people have flipped their lives inside out, literally dropped their nets, for a really good teacher, an entertaining speaker? Would the religious and political authorities have been so dead set on shutting this brother down, if he was merely a good organizer or one more wannabe messiah?

No, Jesus walked up and down Galilee, and everything about him radiated the fullness of God. He was the real deal, and when he announced the kingdom was near, people believed it because it was unfolding around him with every step he took. Simon Peter saw it, sensed it. His brother Andrew did, too. When this Jesus turned toward them and said, "Follow me," they simply replied, "Alright. We're with you."

He walked and walked, teaching like one with wisdom in the synagogue and proclaiming good news on the streets. He touched people and brought them to wholeness. With every step, every move, the kingdom unfolded in Jesus' presence.

Maybe you remember Michael Jackson's video for "Billy Jean." He's stepping down the street, and everywhere his foot lands, that block of pavement lights up. Now I'm not drawing any equivalencies between Michael Jackson and Jesus. Don't get worried. I'm just saying that image works for me. Wherever Jesus stepped, there was the light and power of God. Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled in real space and time: the people sitting in darkness looked up when Jesus drew near, and they couldn't deny the God-power shining out of him. "Now that's light," they said. So much light that even death on the cross couldn't extinguish it. That much light.

Wealthy women and uneducated men followed it. Lonely children and abandoned elders followed it. Centurions and Samaritans, tax collectors and holy people followed it. Countless generations of every nation, race and tongue have followed it.

And when they did, something happened. Folk stepped into Jesus' footsteps, were literally baptized into his life, death and resurrection, and they became powerful, just like him. They became salt and light in the world, just like him. They rose up in the face of death, just like him. As long as they stayed hooked up with that source, as long as they kept walking the streets and studying his word and falling in love with God and sharing his body and blood and healing all that is broken and proclaiming God's dream for this world--as long as they followed Jesus' Way, fear didn't stand a chance.

If we ever needed this light and power--the light and power of Jesus before--we sure do need it now. You must have heard the yearning among our friends and neighbors and perfect strangers. People who have nothing to do with church are turning this way and that, seeking at last a truth that cannot be spun and a light that cannot be quenched.

In just last month my friend Josh reached out to me. He's a twenty-something working for one of those fast-talking Washington, DC, think tanks, you know, the kind with all the answers. And he just about broke my heart when he told me: "Rev. Steph, since the election we've been in deep trouble. I've got friends who are conservative and progressive, lots of faith and no faith. And we don't know how to trust, how to talk or even how to look at each other. It's like something inside us and between us is broken. I think we need a spiritual retreat. You're a priest. Can you help us?"

Josh hasn't been to church or even called on the name of Jesus in a long, long time. But when the secular platitudes fell flat and the think tank officially ran out of solutions, when the temptation to demonize and lash out welled up and just about took him over, he remembered. In his gut, he knew this Jesus Way could heal what's hurting us and stop us from hurting each other.

Josh and Mauricio know something about God that we good Christians have almost forgotten. So now, dear ones in Christ, wake up! Remember who and whose you are. Because the followers of Jesus were made for moments like this. Fear looms like that thief in the night; we answer with resurrection hope. Selfish lies threaten the fabric of our democracy; we speak truth til our voices are hoarse. Hate and division push people into terrified corners; we link arms and walk the loving, liberating, life-giving way Jesus showed us, humble but not humiliated, healing but not dominating, smarter than any serpent but never as cruel. We do not stop.

You feel the fire and the light of Christ burning bright and good and hot, and when it's your time, you stand up and say, "No, you cannot hurt the beloved children of God. And we are all beloved children of God." And when they ask who sent you, when they ask who you follow, you say the name above all other names. You tell them: Jesus. And watch this world turn. Amen.

Come by here, my Lord, come by here....Oh Lord, come by here. When you live in New York City, you pretty much expect the unexpected when you sit down in a taxi. In fact, they've built a whole TV show on this very premise. It's called "Taxicab...
Tagged in: Evangelism

 

 

Videos of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, workshops and plenary sessions from Evangelism Matters, along with handouts and additional resources for each workshop, are now available on-demand at no charge here and here. 

Evangelism Matters, an Episcopal Church Evangelism Conference on November 18-19 in Dallas, TX, was designed for anyone who would like to learn more about evangelism and available resources to share our faith. More than 400 people attended the landmark event, which was co-sponsored by Forward Movement and the Presiding Bishop’s Office for Evangelism Initiatives, and was hosted by the Diocese of Dallas and Church of the Transfiguration, Dallas, TX  where the activities were held.

On-Demand Videos
Videos available for viewing are:

• Keynote address by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

• Eucharist: Celebrant Bishop George Sumner of Diocese of Dallas and preacher Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

• Panel: What Is Evangelism?, with the Rev. Alberto Cutié, Diocese of Southeast Florida; Carrie Boren Headington, Missioner for Evangelism in the Diocese of Dallas; the Rev. Marcus Halley, Diocese of West Missouri; and Mary Parmer, creator of the Invite *Welcome* Connect program in the Diocese of Texas; moderated by the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Executive Director of Forward Movement.

• Plenary: Testimony: Sharing the Faith that Is in Us, by the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism and Reconciliation.

• Workshops
Cultivating an Evangelistic Church
Presented by Carrie Boren Headington and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers

From Visitor to Member in 12 Months
Presented by the Rev. Chris Girata and Elizabeth Carrière Peeples

How the Church Can Reach and Engage Millennials
Presented by Grant Skeldon

Storytelling as Evangelism: How to Connect Our Story with the Never Ending Story
Presented by Bishop Porter Taylor

The Shape of the Jesus Movement: Strategies for Discipleship, Evangelism and Reconciliation
Presented by the Rev. Jay Sidebotham and the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers

Made for Evangelism
Presented by Bishop Andrew Doyle and Bishop Gregory Brewer

• Various highlight videos

• Cardboard Testimonies video, with instructions on leading the exercise in your ministry

On the web:
Evangelism Matters videos now available

    Videos of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, workshops and plenary sessions from Evangelism Matters, along with handouts and additional resources for each workshop, are now available on-demand at no charge here and here.  Evangelism Matters, an...
Tagged in: Reconciliation

Lots of us are heading home for Thanksgiving, but we're not feeling especially thankful. We're tired, wary, and the last thing we want to do is see Christ in the other with whom we disagree. So I sat down with Heather Melton - staff officer for the United Thank Offering - to pen a word of encouragement AND share a set of resources for practicing gratitude and dialoguing respectfully. It's not the end of the journey, but it is a start ...

 

In 1863, the thick of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. He knew how divided America was, with entire families and regions suffering deep wounds, stark oppression and deprivation, and seemingly untenable ideological difference. He hoped the annual commemoration would help families to gather, remember and give thanks, even as they faced the uncertain and painful days ahead.

                       

More than 150 years later, we face another moment of national division, confusion and pain. Many of us are worried about how to gather with people who hold vastly different beliefs and opinions, in our own families or in the wider community. There are no quick fixes, but there is a Christian practice to which we can return, and it is the one President Lincoln recommended: gratitude. Together, the United Thank Offering and the Office for Evangelism and Reconciliation have compiled resources that we hope will help people of faith who want to remain rooted in gratitude and love for self and for the other, even as we remain honest about the values that guide both our faith and action.

 

Gathering in gratitude is not something new for Episcopalians. In 1883, the women of the church first took up a thank offering to support mission and ministry.  That offering became our modern day United Thank Offering or UTO.  UTO continues to encourage Episcopalians to participate in a daily spiritual discipline of gratitude, to seek the goodness of God even in the darkest times.

 

We trust that, if we begin with gratitude and ask for eyes to see Jesus in the other – not as a pithy phrase that hides judgment, but as a deep spiritual practice – we can avoid falling more deeply into “us” vs. “them” patterns and begin the long, slow, rehumanizing work of reconciliation (which requires both forgiveness and justice).

 

Attached are resources for nurturing gratitude within and in our interactions. We have also included recommended resources for engaging in effective, nonviolent dialogue across difference. These should be helpful whether you’re navigating a holiday gathering or future conversations in church, in social settings or on social media, with neighbors, family or acquaintances.

 

We wish you every blessing this Thanksgiving, and pray that it will be a time of spiritual restoration, connection and rest. We need all those gifts in the days ahead.

Heather and Stephanie

_____________________________________________

On Faith and Gratitude:

  1. Materials to help children understand gratitude: https://uto2014.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/thanksgiving-united-thank-offering-lesson-plan.pdf
  2. Read the Theology of Thankfulness and learn more why gratitude is a Christian spiritual practice. https://uto2014.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/web-theology-of-thankfulness.pdf
  3. Worship resources on thankfulness.
  4. United Thank Offering

     

On General Gratitude: (not an endorsement of the complete site, just the page referenced)

  1. Fishbowl Gratitude Questions:
  1. TED Talks on Gratitude:
  2. Gratitude and the body: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/23/gratitude-effect-body_n_6510352.html

 

On Respectful Dialogue and Reconciliation:

  1. Members of the Presiding Bishop’s staff curated a list of resources for racial reconciliation work and dialogue, including books, articles and resource pages. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/resources-racial-reconciliation-and-justice
  2. The Episcopal Church in Minnesota offers materials to help with difficult conversations:
  3. The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, a facilitator for Fierce Conversations in the Episcopal Church, recommends the following webpage: www.fierceinc.com.
  4. Eric Law, founder of the Kaleidoscope Institute, offers a process for engaging in gracious, post-election dialogue on his blog. http://ehflaw.typepad.com/blog/2016/11/post-election-gracious-conversation.html
Lots of us are heading home for Thanksgiving, but we're not feeling especially thankful. We're tired, wary, and the last thing we want to do is see Christ in the other with whom we disagree. So I sat down with Heather Melton - staff officer for the...
Tagged in: Evangelism

Congregations, dioceses, groups, and individuals can connect with Evangelism Matters without traveling to Texas for the groundbreaking event.

Evangelism Matters, an Episcopal Church Evangelism Conference on November 18-19 in Dallas, TX, is designed for anyone who would like to learn more about evangelism and available resources to share our faith. The churchwide event is co-sponsored by Forward Movement and the Presiding Bishop’s Office, and is hosted by the Diocese of Dallas and Church of the Transfiguration, Dallas, TX where the activities will be held.

“Episcopalians are excited to focus on evangelism, noticing and celebrating how God works in our lives and in the lives of the people around us,” commented the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism and Reconciliation. “We’ve made arrangements for those who could not attend to connect through a live webcast and on-demand afterwards, and we hope as many individuals and groups as possible will host viewings and participate in this churchwide movement.”

Evangelism Matters is ideal for congregational discussion, adult forums, youth groups, and other Episcopal gatherings.

 

Live webcast

Key portions of Evangelism Matters will be live webcast to allow for individual and group viewing during conventions, discussion groups, and local evangelism gatherings.

The live webcast is especially important as the registration for Evangelism Matters is full.

The live, free webcast will be accessible here, and it does not require advance registration or password. Those seeking to watch in Spanish may follow the Facebook live feed here.

On demand will be available following the event here and here.

Sessions slated to be live webcast include:

 

Friday

9 am – 10:30 am Central – Welcome and main panel presentation 

10:45 am – Two workshops (selections to be announced)

1:30 pm – Keynote address by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

2:45 pm – Two workshops (selections to be announced)

7:30 pm – Eucharist: Celebrant is Bishop George Sumner of Diocese of Dallas and preacher is Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

 

Saturday

9 am – Plenary on “Sharing the hope that is in us” by Canon Spellers

9:45 am – Two workshops (selections to be announced)

11:30 am - Closing plenary

 

Main panel presentation

In addition to the plenary speakers, the main panel presentation, What Is Evangelism?, will feature a group of Episcopal evangelists, including the Rev. Alberto Cutié, Diocese of Southeast Florida; Carrie Boren Headington, Missioner for Evangelism in the Diocese of Dallas; the Rev. Marcus Halley, Diocese of West Missouri; and Mary Parmer, creator of the Invite*Welcome*Connect program in the Diocese of Texas. The panel will be moderated by the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Executive Director of Forward Movement.

 

Workshops

Workshops have been designed for those who are new to sharing their faith as well as for confident evangelists looking to develop their own practice or grow the evangelism capacity in their congregation or diocese. A special track is designed to speak to the evangelism needs of church planters. Check here for the fully updated list.

 

Contacts

For more information about Evangelism Matters contact Alyssa Finke at 800-543-1813, afinke@forwardmovement.org; or Spellers at sspellers@episcopalchurch.org; or Gunn at sgunn@forwardmovement.org.

For assistance in connecting with the live webcast, contact Neva Rae Fox, Episcopal Church Public Affairs Officer, nrfox@episcopalchurch.org.

Media inquiries should be directed to Fox at nrfox@episcopalchurch.org, or Jason Merritt, Forward Movement Marketing Director, jmerritt@forwardmovement.org.

 

Key Links

Evangelism Matters here 

Episcopal Church Evangelism Initiatives here  

Episcopal Church here 

Forward Movement here 

 

Congregations, dioceses, groups, and individuals can connect with Evangelism Matters without traveling to Texas for the groundbreaking event. Evangelism Matters, an Episcopal Church Evangelism Conference on November 18-19 in Dallas, TX, is designed...

Welcoming Sunday. Homecoming Sunday. Back To Church Sunday. Welcome Home Sunday.  Registration Sunday. Gathering Sunday. The names vary, but the purpose is the same – events and activities slated for that one Sunday in each congregation which marks the conclusion of summer and the beginning of the new program year.

The following are some resources and ideas to consider for use in congregations, ministry, discussion groups, etc.

Evangelism Initiatives offers an array of evangelism and welcoming resources for Episcopalians, from a Hospitality Audit to Neighborhood Prayer Walking kits; quick links to parish marketing tools and community organizing tips; plus links to websites, books and articles. Available here 

Episcopal Public Policy Network to consider engaging congregations in advocacy this year.  Learn how the Episcopal Church is engaged in the ministry of public policy advocacy by joining the Episcopal Public Policy Network here 

Bible study resources here 

Bulletin Inserts which provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church are available here 

Sermons that work, designed to assist congregations and preachers with original, lectionary-based sermons for Sundays and major feast days throughout the liturgical year.  Available here and in Spanish here 

Videos that teach, prompt discussion for all ages, and spread the word about the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church, available here 

YASC, the Young Adult Service Corps, offers videos available here to discuss the ministry and adventures of the Episcopal Church Young Adult Service Corps.

Episcopal Migration Ministriesrefugee resettlement program of the Episcopal Church. Each year the Episcopal Church works in partnership with its network of 30 local affiliates in 22 states (across 26 dioceses), faith communities and volunteers, to welcome refugees from conflict zones across the globe. This year, Episcopal Migration Ministries will welcome refugees to the United States from 32 countries, from places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Afghanistan, and Syria.

Episcopal Relief & Development  For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as the compassionate response of the Episcopal Church to human suffering in the world. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners, helping communities to create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters. Using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework, the agency reaches more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries each year, through multi-sector programs that fight poverty, hunger and disease.

Episcopal Church Foundation   (ECF)  is an independent organization, serving the Episcopal Church since 1949.  ECF partners with congregations, dioceses, and other Episcopal faith communities, empowering them to engage in strategic visioning and planning, develop effective lay and clergy leadership teams, and raise financial resources for ministry. ECF's Vital Practices website offers resources for Episcopal leaders by Episcopal leaders including Vestry Papers articles, a blog for sharing ideas and experiences, and practical tools and resources. 

Forward Movement here  is a ministry of The Episcopal Church, inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists around the globe since 1935 through offerings that encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations.

Acts 8 Movement has developed a series of videos, commentaries and resources for congregations, available here.  Scroll down for a free video you can post as is, or customize. 

Note: We welcome your ideas – kindly post them to the Episcopal Church Facebook page here, or tweet them to  #episcopal  or send them to publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org.

 

Welcoming Sunday. Homecoming Sunday. Back To Church Sunday. Welcome Home Sunday.  Registration Sunday. Gathering Sunday. The names vary, but the purpose is the same – events and activities slated for that one Sunday in each congregation which marks...
Parishioners at Christ Church, Coronado, in the Diocese of San Diego play Pokemon at the church’s front gate. Photo: Christ Church

Parishioners at Christ Church, Coronado, in the Diocese of San Diego play Pokemon at the church’s front gate. Photo: Christ Church

[Episcopal News Service] Pokémon Go is a game, but Christie Tugend is ready to nominate it for a Nobel Peace Prize.

“In the middle of these contentious times, people are coming out of their houses,” said Tugend, parish administrator for Christ Church, Coronado, in the Diocese of San Diego. “They’re walking their neighborhoods and public places, gathering together at all times of the day, and interacting with one another with kind and friendly words and smiles on their faces. Barriers seem to disappear. Okay, so they’re walking around with their noses in their cell phones but still…”

Tugend is among the millions of people playing Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game where folks use their phones to find and capture animated creatures. The game, released in early July, has experienced record-breaking growth, with an estimated 30 million downloads in just a few weeks. Tugend and others are not only playing the game themselves but also taking advantage of its wild popularity by extending Christian hospitality.

Gamers are showing up at churches – in their yards and inside – to play the game; many church buildings are “Pokestops” and “Gyms,” places where gamers can collect creatures. Some churches are offering free water and places to sit, play, and talk. Others are hosting events or creating space for recharging stations.

“When is the last time we have had a literal flood of people onto our parish grounds?” asked the Rev. Mark A. Spaulding, rector of Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Castro Valley, in the Diocese of California. “How shall we respond? ‘Keep them out. Don’t step on the daisies?’ Or, ‘Welcome, we are glad you are here! Here is a chair to make it more comfortable for you.’ The game’s draw has provided a golden opportunity to tell our story, the story of how God loves us and draws us toward peace, justice, and love for all of creation.”

After the first day of the game’s launch, Spaulding asked a parishioner to make a sign to post outdoors. Using the game vernacular, the sign welcomes trainers and Ingress teams. A photo of the sign found its way on Reddit, a social networking site, which sparked hundreds of comments about Christianity and the faithful witness of churches like Holy Cross.

Said Spaulding, “If this silly little game is the tool that invites the profound and deeper work of making spiritual connections, then yeah, we are all in!”

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Dallas

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Dallas invites gamers to hang out and recharge their phones. Photo: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

At St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Sherman, Texas, a pastoral-size congregation in the Diocese of Dallas, the Rev. J. Wesley Evans invited a local Pokémon Go group to come inside and recharge their phones.

“Our next step is to make ourselves more hospitable for players by placing a cell phone charging station in our parish hall, which also happens to be in range of our two Pokestops. We’ll also start providing water because Texas gets really hot!” said Evans.

This type of “hospitality is an opportunity for the church, particularly in an era when so few people consciously come to us anymore. People are getting outside, meeting strangers, and contributing to the growth of downtown. Our role in this, I think, is to give people a positive experience of church.”

Some Christians have derided the game, calling it either “of the devil,” said Evans, or dismissing it as a waste of time.

“With Pokémon Go, the opportunity is more of a what not to do rather than anything specific,” he said. “People are coming to the building, and we can either do what should be the norm, show hospitality like Jesus, or we can build a wall because we don’t want ‘those kind of people.’”

To help churches respond to the Pokémon Go phenomenon, Forward Movement produced some free resources available for download. A poster welcomes gamers — and, if they’re still searching for something, invites them to learn more about the church, to come to worship, to talk, and to explore. A free bulletin insert is designed for parishioners who may or may not know a lot about the game. It explains Pokémon Go and offers some suggestions for engagement.

“As Episcopalians, we love our slogan, ‘The Episcopal Church welcomes you!’ but how often do we get to trot out our warm welcome?” asked the Rev. Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church and publisher of Forward Day by Day and other discipleship resources. “Thanks to the Pokémon Go game that is sweeping the country, lots of people are showing up at our churches – sometimes to play on our lawns and sometimes to go inside to catch Pokémon. What can we, as a church, do to welcome these people who may not have ever been to a church before?”

Gunn encouraged people to enjoy the opportunity — and to be creative.

“If evangelism isn’t fun, we’re not doing it right,” he said. “So have fun offering Christ’s welcome to all who come.”

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ladue (a suburb of St. Louis) is a Pokémon Go gym. The church has set up Pokémon Go Gym Parking signs on the street to let visitors know they’re welcome. Photo: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ladue (a suburb of St. Louis) is a Pokémon Go gym. The church has set up Pokémon Go Gym Parking signs on the street to let visitors know they’re welcome. Photo: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

Pokémon Go isn’t “some magic solution to all of the church’s issues around demographics and attendance,” said the Rev. Ian Lasch, associate rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in St. Louis, Missouri. “But I’m fond of saying that after decades of wondering how to get young people to come to church, Pokémon Go is quite literally bringing them to our doorstep,” he said.

“At the very least, we have the opportunity to show how welcoming and loving we can be to our neighbors with no strings attached. Even if that’s the most that we can make of this phenomenon, I call that a win.”

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Provided by Forward Movement

What is Pokémon Go?
The video game of Pokémon isn’t new. It started in the late 1990s in Japan. The goal is to collect virtual creatures through battles, adventures and trainings. In addition to the Pokémon video game, there are trading cards and a slew of tchotchkes. What’s new is the release of Pokémon Go. Run on an Android or iOS system, the game uses a phone’s GPS and clock to detect your location and then make Pokémons “appear” on the screen. You then capture the Pokémons and continue on the quest to “Catch ‘em all.”

It’s anyone’s guess why Pokémon Go has become wildly popular in such a short time — an estimated 30 million downloads in the first weeks! But the impact is that people of all ages are exploring new places as part of the game. And our churches are frequent hangouts for virtual Pokémons and real-life players.

Why should the church care?
Sure, this is a video game, not the heady and vital concerns of our fragile state. But thisgame offers us an opportunity to witness to the type of community and hospitality that Jesus calls us to in the gospels. And our grand Episcopal Church welcome must be extended over and over again—not only to those dressed in Sunday best and perched on pews but also to those who are wandering by on a Tuesday morning, perhaps to find something they didn’t know they were looking for.

This app is a game changer for all organizations, not only those that are faith-based, said Sarah Hartwig, communications director for Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio. "The initial adoption rate of this virtual scavenger hunt has never been seen before in the tech world, and that translates very quickly to encouraging folks who wouldn’t normally converse with one another to engage, at least initially, about Pokemon Go. Churches have a real opportunity to leverage this willingness for people to connect about the app to take that discussion further and to get to know their neighbors better." Photo: Christ Church Cathedral

This app is a game changer for all organizations, not only those that are faith-based, said Sarah Hartwig, communications director for Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The initial adoption rate of this virtual scavenger hunt has never been seen before in the tech world, and that translates very quickly to encouraging folks who wouldn’t normally converse with one another to engage, at least initially, about Pokemon Go. Churches have a real opportunity to leverage this willingness for people to connect about the app to take that discussion further and to get to know their neighbors better.” Photo: Christ Church Cathedral

How can my church engage?
* Find out if your church is a Pokestop. Download the free game to figure that out — or, if you have people hanging around with their phones, then it’s a good guess that your location is part of the game.

* Welcome folks to your church. If you’re able, have greeters outside to engage visitors. Hang a poster (Forward Movement has one that you can download) to welcome gamers. Put out some welcome brochures along with disposable glasses and a cooler with ice water. Open the doors to the church and invite folks to come and explore—and maybe provide a cool place to rest and recharge their phones.

* Encourage folks to share their Pokémon Go experiences on your congregation and personal social media feeds. Set up a personal hashtag or use #pokevangelism for it to flow into the larger Episcopal Church Pokémon feed. Share your church’s experiences at #parishpokemon.

* Engage Pokémon Go users in your congregation. Brainstorm] together about how to encourage and support visitors. Maybe the congregation could host a Pokémon gathering or offer a raffle of Pokémon accessories (and get visitor information at the same time!). Work within your local community to figure out the best offerings.

* Be joyful, not fearful. Be willing and ready to see Christ in all people—strangers, gamers, neighbors, and friends.

Richelle Thompson is deputy director and managing editor for Forward Movement.

Parishioners at Christ Church, Coronado, in the Diocese of San Diego play Pokemon at the church’s front gate. Photo: Christ Church [Episcopal News Service] Pokémon Go is a game, but Christie Tugend is ready to nominate it for a Nobel Peace Prize...
Tagged in: Evangelism

Download: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/one-to-ones_tec.pdf

The One-to-One relational meeting is an intentional, well-framed conversation between two people. It is the basic building block of all relational (or community) organizing, a potent tool for community formation and movement building. It connects head and heart, motivation (why we act) and strategy (how we act), and requires us to meet The Other with open ears and hearts, sharing and receiving stories of what matters most.

WHAT DOES A ONE-TO-ONE MEETING HELP US TO DO?

  • form relationships
  • welcome people from all ends of the spectrum
  • discern where the Spirit is moving
  • claim our own callings
  • identify our own and others’ gifts and wisdom 
  • discover common purpose and build power
  • heal brokenness and overcome resistance
  • stir up ideas and direction for a new ministry
  • get feedback for current or past ministries
  • build a culture of relationship and trust

HOW CAN WE BEGIN? Host One-to-Ones in a low-pressure environment within your church, using questions from Set 1:

  • During a sermon, invite people to talk to a partner around a question related to the topic
  • During coffee hour, “Round-Robin” style, in one- or two-minute blocks with a variety of people
  • At the start of church meetings, to get grounded and connected
  • During Christian Formation Hour, in five-minute blocks, to explore issues and community life
  • Be ambitious and organize a 1:1 campaign throughout church

Shift to in-depth meetings, using questions appropriate to the relationship (see Sets 1, 2 and 3)

  • After deepening community, set up One-to-Ones with neighbors and (potential) ministry partners.
  • Offer an honest invitation that expresses your desire to have a mutually enlightening conversation. For example, you might explain, “Our ministry is doing some listening in our neighborhood (or among our allies or with each other). I’d love to hear your story, passions and questions around [fill in blank] and share my own. Could we meet for about 45 minutes soon?”

Have a mutual and respectful conversation:

  • Two people meet for an agreed upon time – anywhere from 2 minutes to an hour.
  • This is not surface small talk, pastoral conversation or an interview, with one person speaking and the other listening. Rather, both share stories of the convictions and hopes that drive them.
  • The sharing is usually guided by a compelling concern and reflection on specific experiences.
  • You may have to go first, to model storytelling and hospitality. Paint a picture and recall specifics.
  • The host/initiator asks open questions to help the conversation to go deeper (“Why did you think that?” “How did it make you feel?” “Tell me more”). Move from when/who, into how/why.

Close well:

  • Be sure to close well and not allow the conversation to drag along.
  • Ask for follow-up opportunities: “Is there anyone you think would share this passion or concern?”
  • The initiator should also explore next steps: “What could we do together (for God)?”

HOW CAN MY CONGREGATION USE ONE-TO-ONES?

  1. Within the church community, One-to-Ones help you to … 
  • discover shared history, concerns, convictions and passion.
  • build trust and pathways for working together and trusting each other.
  • identify areas for community transformation, and celebrate what each contributes to that change

Sample questions within the church:

  • What brought you to this church? What keeps you here?
  • Tell me about a time that you felt God really alive in our church.
  • What have you loved in this church and in our traditions?
  • Tell me about a time that you shared your gifts (here or elsewhere). What did you do? What made that possible?
  • When have you laughed at church? What was happening?
  • When have you seen our church successfully and gracefully handle a challenge? What did you learn?
  • When have you seen us fail at something together? What did you learn?
  • What changes in our church would concern or even disturb you, and why?
  • How has our church shared God’s love with our neighborhood? What was good about it? What was hard?
  • How do you wish we could share God’s love with neighbors in the future? What do we need? What do we have?
  1. With neighbors and people who are not in your church, One-to-Ones help you to …
  • discover how your church has related to and been perceived by its neighborhood.
  • listen for what your neighbors and potential partners need in order to trust and partner with you.
  • discover others’ gifts, offer your own, and together imagine ministries that build on those gifts

Sample questions with neighbors and others:

  • What kind of community do you dream of being part of? Share a story of when you’ve seen it happen.
  • When have you experienced community? What was that like?
  • What issue keeps you up at night or grieves you? What do you wish you could do about it? Why do you care?
  • What hope makes your heart sing and moves you to act? Share the story of why you act.
  • What is your vision for a loving, good world? Who do you see making that happen?
  • Tell me about a time that you shared your gifts. What did you do? What made that possible?
  • What have your experiences of church been like?
  • What have your experiences of God been like?
  • What wisdom and practices in your daily life link you to God? How would you want to share them with others?
  • What kind of faith community do you dream of being part of? Would you describe it for me?
  • Have you ever interacted with our congregation? Share the story of your experience with our church.
  • What do you wish a church would do in this community?
  • What could we create or share, together, for the wider community (or for God)?
  1. With partner organizations in your area, One-to-Ones help you to …
  • engage group-to-group, leader-to-leader: local businesses, yoga studios, neighborhood churches, etc.
  • link with civic and religious groups representing communities with whom you seek to engage.
  • discover ground where you could meet, share commitments and ministry, and build relationship.
  • build your capacity to embrace and value the gifts of The Other and grow mutual partnership.

Sample questions with partner organizations (in addition to those in Section 2 above):

  • What passions or concerns motivate people in your group? What are you doing about that?
  • When have you seen groups coming together to act on shared values in a way that made a difference?
  • What do you wish a church would do in this community? When have you seen churches be partners and allies?
  • Has your group ever interacted with our church? Share the story of your experience with us.
  • What do you long to see happen in our community? What could our groups do together for the wider community (or for God)? 

Learn more about relational organizing at http://www.industrialareasfoundation.org or http://www.piconetwork.org.

Download: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/one-to-ones_tec.pdf The One-to-One relational meeting is an intentional, well-framed conversation between two people. It is the basic building block of all relational (or community)...