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Sharing My Faith – Outline for Evangelism Workshop at Vermont Diocesan Convention

Sharing My Faith

Outline for Evangelism Workshop at Vermont Diocesan Convention
Friday, 26 October 2018, at Hilton Hotel, Burlington, Vermont
Leaders: Lindsey Huddle and Titus Presler


Workshop Description

What is the gospel for me?  What do I believe God has done in the human story?  How can I go about articulating my own faith with those not in the church?  In this workshop we’ll discuss how gospel understandings vary and how we can highlight what’s important to us – not the “right” summary of the gospel, but your understanding of the gospel.  You may find yourself offering different summaries with different people and in different situations – and that is fine!  The key is to practice expressing something! 

Introductions: 5 minutes

Everyone self-introduces by name and congregation.

Opening Remarks: total 15 minutes

We’ve got lots of summaries of ‘the Faith’:

Apostles & Nicene Creeds, Eucharistic Prayers, for instance Prayer A

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all. / He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.

Catechism; ‘Systematic Theologies’ by professional theologians

Such summaries are helpful guides for the overall territory of ‘the Faith’ & ‘the Gospel’ but in specific situations we need to be able to summon our own view & express our own understanding of what God has been up to in the Christian story

any particular person is not likely to be looking for the whole Creed

we need to listen for what a person is asking

we need to perceive the deep need or yearning or question

then we need to be able to express something that addresses that question

Example for Session 1: totally agnostic brother-in-law at father-in-law’s deathbed:

‘amid all the swirling cosmos, what makes you think there’s a being out there?’

that pushed me to my own religious experience:

he surveys from our terrace: no God;

I the same, but inner resonance

for me, a personal being out there is incontrovertible

‘the world is suffering – just look at Syria –

so where’s your God in all that?’

God’s image = we have free will & we make bad choices

God entered it in Jesus; God in Christ weeps more than we!

Christ Jesus absorbed the pain & sin & was done in by it!

Example for Session 2: agnostic sometime young mother parishioner in Enosburg:

‘I grew up Catholic & it just doesn’t make sense to me anymore’

‘I respect Jesus, but 2nd person of the Trinity?’

incarnation: God entered human story, becoming subject to sin

Jesus the human face of God: entering us & raising us up

Questions & Discussion: 5-8 minutes

open discussion of people’s questions & concerns

Exercise: 30 minutes

Part I:

(1) Form two concentric circles of people facing each other.

Listen to the following situation:

You’re a churchgoer and you have a friend who has nothing to do with the church.  Instead, he or she enjoys golfing on Sunday mornings.  One day over a beer, a coffee or a glass of wine he/she says: “We’ve been friends for a long time, and there’s always been this church/no church difference in our lives.  I love the beauty of Vermont, and I really get off on that on the golf course.  I sense something spiritual in nature’s beauty.  But you’re really into the church stuff: God, Jesus, the Bible, praying, baptism – the works!  What’s it all mean, and what’s the value of it to you?  Can you boil it down for me?”   

Take 20 seconds to think about that.

Now take two minutes to say what it all boils down to for you.

(2) Okay, how was that?  Anyone want to share how that went for you?

Was it easy?  Hard?

What did you focus on?

Were you surprised by anything you heard yourself saying?

(3) Now let’s repeat the exercise, but with the other person in your pair doing the talking.

(4) Okay, how was that?  Anyone want to share how that went for you?

Was it easy?  Hard?

What did you focus on?

Were you surprised by anything you heard yourself saying?

(5) Now both of you: How did you like/not like what you heard from the other?

Part II:

Everyone rotate one person to your left.

Same steps now, but with a different situation:

You’re a churchgoer and you’re on a bus, train or plane going somewhere and you and your seatmate begin talking.  It turns out she/he is going home for the funeral for a 12-year-old niece who was killed by a drunk driver as she was walking down the street.  Your conversation partner says, “My sister and her husband are completely devastated by this.  I’m grieving, for sure, but I’m also really angry.  How can this kind of thing happen?  You know, I grew up in church, but I kind of fell away a few years ago.  With this thing, I don’t think I’ll ever go back.  What kind of God can allow this kind of thing to happen?  It’s so evil!  What do you think?”

Summary Remarks: 5 minutes

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