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New resource explores ‘8 Habits of Evangelism’

The 8 habits resource, the first evangelism tool developed by the PC(USA) in more than a decade, is designed for use in community

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Dr. Ray Jones III has a vision for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism (TFE) sees Presbyterians using the new resource 8 Habits of Evangelism together as they begin to share with one another weekly — and even daily — about how the gospel is transforming their lives.

“I can hear them talking about some of the habits that are suggested,” he said, “talking with each other about what it’s been like to pray, or engage in fellowship with one another, in a certain way.”

While “8 Habits” will be helpful for people at personal level, Jones believes the first evangelism resource produced by the PC(USA) in more than a decade must be shared. As he and the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill, associate director for TFE, began praying about this new evangelism resource in November 2019, they had no idea that in just a few months a COVID-19 pandemic would expose devastating racial and economic inequalities in the U.S.

But as they prayed and listened, they identified these “8 Habits of Evangelism”:

  • Worship
  • Generosity
  • Justice
  • Radical Welcome
  • Sacraments
  • Teaching
  • Prayer
  • Fellowship

the Rev. Dr. Ray Jones III

Once Jones and Threadgill were convinced about the habits of evangelism, they began to pray about the voices in the church that would write about each habit. As Threadgill approached each one, she found them intrigued by the identified habits and by what she and Jones felt they should write about.

Each person then worked on their section of the resource, providing structured lessons that include details and habits for each practice, along with Scripture references, illustrations and questions. Each lesson is designed to help the church live into the mission God has for it in the 21st century.

For Jones, these 8 Habits of Evangelism are connected to God’s mission of justice and righteousness — of Creation restored and reconciled. And it fits with the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 vision of building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty.

“This has to be in hearts and be connected to our mission priorities,” he said. “We’re making the world a better place to live as we work on racial and economic inequality in the U.S. and world.”

According to Jones, the resource places evangelism within a holistic understanding of the gospel. He says that over the years the church has slowly reduced evangelism to a committee, where it has been defined as simply getting more members, or souls into heaven, without caring much about what’s happening here on Earth.

the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill

“I believe this is a Holy Spirit-inspired resource that will take people more deeply into practicing our faith,” he said. “For those who of us who use it, two things will happen. We’ll wake up more and more to the gospel lifestyle — and we’ll be called to die and be raised up daily into our life in Christ.”

Jones and Threadgill are making plans now to form cohort groups to deeply study the 8 Habits together. They are also working on featuring a video conversation with each of the authors around the evangelism habit they wrote about. In the fall, in partnership with Montreat Conference Center, the PC(USA) Evangelism Conference will focus on these eight habits.

“The reality is we’ve got to reclaim the gospel narrative,” Threadgill said. “It’s each of one of our responsibilities to share the good news we have as we wrestle daily with ways to engage this resource.”

You can find a language specific translation for “8 Habits of Evangelism” in English, Spanish or Korean here.

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