A year-long series of weekly essays re-imagining the Reforming Church commemorating the Reformation’s 500 years of service to the Gospel.
In the Reforming Church, all Followers of Jesus are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Still, there are some who are especially called to be present in the community as Evangelists. For some Followers of the Way, service as an Evangelist may be a life’s vocation. As it is an office in the Reforming Church, Evangelists are called and sent by a congregation.
The mission of Evangelists is to live in the community as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ. In this capacity, Evangelists have an interest in the community shaped by Jesus’ sense of the prophetic task. Evangelists work for the welfare of the community (Jeremiah 29:7). Their lives are invested in those who suffer hunger, in those who are poor, as well as in those whose lives flounder in sorrow and grief, illness and loneliness, oppression and alienation, sin and misdirection (Matthew 25:34-36). They are the friend of sinners. They serve for the unity of the Church in every expression (Luke 7:34). They seek and live in amicable relationship with those who do not believe, cannot believe, or believe in another way. They serve to organize communities of believers to gather together to form cohesive mission outposts.
It is in this sense that Evangelists bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Everyone who serves in this office organizes their congregation of Followers of the Way to serve in the community, but this is a particular focus of those who have made Evangelism their vocation.
The Reforming Church seeks to be involved in every aspect of its larger community, seeking its welfare. Followers of the Way of Jesus may be deployed in school board meetings, park district meetings, village council meetings. They may actually serve in some official capacity in the community. They visit those who are in the community’s jails as well as those who are hospitalized. Their service will take them to the firehouse as well as the police station and the city hall. They are essentially present as a community chaplain. But their service may also be as common and as simple as forging a relationship as a block ambassador in their neighborhood. Or they may be helpers in concert with others trying to alleviate hunger and homelessness.
The Evangelist’s message is forged in relationships. They learn that their message is persuasive only in the context of having first heard the story of the other. Evangelists bind themselves to the other in a lifelong relationship, especially if their message cannot be heard favorably. Evangelists nurture indelible relationships especially with those who cannot believe and do not want to be Followers of the Way.
Next week, I will describe the responsibilities of the fourth office of the Reforming Church – the Office of the Elder.