REvangelism Conference designed to help PC(USA) see evangelism holistically

Digital conference’s focus is on evangelism habits that take us deeper into God’s justice and reconciliation

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

The REvangelism Conference, to be held Nov. 1-3, is based on the 8 Habits of Evangelism. Registration is now available for the digital conference. (Screenshot)

LOUISVILLE — Registration for the digital REvangelism Conference at Montreat Conference Center to be held Nov. 1-3 is now open.

Based on the new 8 Habits of Evangelism resource from the Office of Theology, Formation & Evangelism, the REvangelism Conference is designed for people to go on a deeper journey into faith into the wonder of God’s justice and reconciliation for the world.

In the 8 Habits resource, a diverse group of PC(USA) church leaders provide lessons and details about how to practice each habit. Included are biblical references, illustrations and questions about each habit. The list of practices and authors includes:

  • Radical Welcome: Rev. Shanea D. Leonard
  • Worship: Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow
  • Sacraments: Rev. Aisha Brooks-Johnson
  • Prayer: Dr. Tom Bagley
  • Justice: Rev. Dr. Ralph C. Basui Watkins
  • Teaching: Dr. Tod Bolsinger
  • Fellowship: Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri & Rev. José Manuel Capella-Pratts
  • Generosity: Dr. Leanne Van Dyk

To help congregations and church leaders go deeper into each habit, TFE director the Rev. Dr. Ray Jones and associate director, the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill, interviewed the authors. Each video can be seen here by clicking on the blue tab bar for each habit.

Even before the conference begins, the videos offer the chance for church leaders and their congregations to go deeper into how each habit is practiced. This fall, Threadgill said, organizers will host webinar conversations with each of the authors.

The Rev. Dr. Ray Jones (seated) and the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill pray that the REvangelism Conference will help the PC(USA) live as Christ’s faithful and beloved people in their communities and their neighborhoods. (Photo by Rich Copley)

Both Jones and Threadgill said they are excited about the REvangelism conference and the 8 Habits resources, and for the ways they will help leaders see evangelism as a part of holistic understanding of the gospel.

“We’ve got to leave behind this idea that evangelism is about trying to get more people in our churches or people into heaven,” Jones said. “Of course, we want that, but it’s so limiting — and if we focus on that, we miss the gospel.”

Instead, Jones insists that evangelism is about believers looking more and more like Jesus. As we become the image of God in the world, like Jesus we join in God’s mission of justice and hope, according to Jones. And through the 8 Habits resource, Jones believes God will take us deeper into relationships with people within the body Christ and those in our neighborhoods and communities.

“In the video on worship, Bruce [Reyes-Chow] talks about its transformational power and how in the midst of all that he does preparing for worship, he has to be mindful that God is working on him too,” Jones said. “It’s all about the Holy Spirit transforming us, even as God is transforming the world. And we actually find ourselves living the gospel and doing ministry every day.”

For Threadgill, the 8 Habits resource provides the REvangelism team with the opportunity to create a conference experience that matches the lessons being taught as part of each habit. For example, she said, digital conference-goers will get to practice the sacraments together and to actually see what sacramental time and community look like.

“It’s a way to live out these practices in our daily lives together by developing and then embodying them,” she said.

The 8 Habits of Evangelism resource is available in English, Korean and Spanish. Congregations and church leaders can access practices for habits now in preparation for the November conference. (Screenshot)

Jones believes it’s the communal nature of these habits and practices that will take people deeper in their faith communities and neighborhoods in order to see what God is doing there. Participants will enter into the sacred and secular together — all that God created and ordained.

Too often, he said, we think of evangelism as personal. But that isn’t the complete picture.

“We’ve got to start seeing it as part of a holistic understanding of the gospel — this is more corporate, or communal evangelism,” Jones said. “REvangelism really is about a way of life. We are to show up for justice, to show up in dealing with hopelessness.”

Both Jones and Threadgill hope those using the resource will have a prayerful attitude as they take time to immerse themselves in these habits, giving the Holy Spirit the opportunity to move in people and throughout the church.

“We were just talking about this, about a community of faith walking together trying to experience them. That’s when the transformation of the Holy Spirit will occur,” Threadgill said. “This journey through these 8 Habits has to be communal. We want our PC(USA) communities to take time to engage this resource deeply and to take advantage of the journey we’re asking them to take with us.”

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