Young evangelistsBy David Eshleman Manheim, Pa.
Stephen Kriss’ column “Church’s Precarious Future” (On the Way, Feb. 2) was on target. We need to face reality. Unless God turns things around, Mennonite Church USA will become extinct — not in the next couple of decades, but we are headed in that direction. If anyone questions this, they need to read Conrad Kanagy’s book, Road Signs for the Journey. The upside is that we are doing very well in many countries of the world and doing fairly well in reaching minority groups here.
I have two suggestions:
- Where are our evangelists? Questionnaires indicate that 10 percent of Christians have the gift of evangelism. We affirm librarians, ushers, secretaries, administrative assistants, Sunday school teachers, small-group leaders, pastors, etc. Why don’t we call and affirm evangelists? The Ethiopian church calls evangelists before they call pastors. What would happen if we empowered 10 percent of our members as evangelists? This change alone could turn things from decline to growth.
You may say, “Shouldn’t everyone be a witness, not just a certain few?” Let me ask, “Shouldn’t everyone be a teacher, a giver, an intercessor?” Of course, but some have the gift of teaching, the gift of giving or the gift of intercession. To some God has given the gift of evangelism, though everyone is to be a witness.
- Don’t overlook our youth and young adults. How old were the disciples when Jesus called them? I believe Jesus called John when he was in his teens, and the other disciples probably were in their 20s.
Let’s call and empower our youth. They will do things differently. Jesus referred to James and John as “thunderbolts.” Empowered youth and young adults bring new life to our traditional congregations. Tap them on the shoulder. Bless and affirm them in their gifts. They will lead us to a revitalized church. Don’t be surprised if many evangelists will be found among our youth and young adults. It happened in Jesus’ day. It can happen in ours.
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