Wednesday, January 23, 2008

#6: Historic Anglicanism is Evangelistic and Pastoral

If you've just joined us, read the introductory posts HERE.

This one is interesting: Dr. Barnett makes a his proposal brief, but I can't help feeling that he is speaking to the rise of the 'seeker' service and to the Mega-church phenomena. And yet he calls us to be evangelistic like we are supposed to be! Dr. Barnett says:
'Sixth, the Ordinal, Catechism and Occasional Services commit Anglican ministers to a ministry which is evangelistic and pastoral, expressed in terms which are biblical and theologically orthodox. However, the evangelism envisaged in not of the 'hit and run' kind, independent of the continuing life of the local church. It is settled, routine and reoccurring, within the parochial setting.'
Re Pastoral:
I can see how Anglican churches are set up to be pastoral. When an Anglican Church is not pastoral, something is usually wrong. For whatever (good or bad) reasons, Anglicans don't do Mega-church. The largest US Episcopal churches are 2000 or so. But they are rare. The largest Anglican churches in Australia are about 1300 or so (but even then, they are broken into smaller gatherings with their own preachers and pastoral oversight). Anglicans, if they are growing, grow by multiplying congregations (not growing larger).

So unlike a Mega church, most people in an Anglican church can immediately call (or call on) a minister whom they actually know. They know their pastors, and their pastors know them. They are able to keep a stronger level of accountability going, as well as discipline and encouragement. Their ministers will often go to homes to see the people they pastor.

I know a young guy who was going to a large Mega church in the States. He was going simply because of the giftedness of the preacher. While there, he decided that he wanted to go into 'professional' ministry and be trained for it, but he knew no pastors or elders at the Mega church he was attending (classic problem). So he sent an email to the church office asking for oversight and got an automated reply! So he left the Mega-church that week. No one with oversight at the Mega-church knew he was not there anymore; because basically no one knew him (expect for a few peers in his Home Group Bible Study). He began attending an functioning evangelical Anglican Church (not in NY). He got involved, and has real - and not imagined - weekly pastoral oversight.

I can see how that comes straight out of the Bible:
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Re Evangelistic:
I would have liked more exploration of this one from Dr. Barnett. It seems to me that to keep a church evangelistic is one of the most difficult tasks that a pastor faces. It requires constant refocusing. It requires ministers to keep saying unpopular things. It requires a re-ordering of one's calender, and saying 'No' to some things so that we can say 'Yes' to the preaching of the Gospel. It is very difficult, and requires a level of leadership that many in pastoral ministry do not have. And yet, Dr. Barnett is suggesting here that if ministers really do what we are supposed to do (in ordination, in teaching and in occasional church), then evangelism will be at the front and center of our life as a church.

I might go and read again the words said at my ordination. That will help me to refocus for evangelism.

One more thing: I'd be interested to know what Dr. Barnett is contrasting here. What is the 'hit and run' kind that he speaks about? And how is it different from Historic Anglicanism? Is that the kind of tract-based evangelism? Or something else?


Pic on Flickr by tadj.


livethelifetoday said...

Hey, Justin, I'm Josh, the Anglican from SC/CA with ties to churches in the AMiA under Rwanda and to the diocese of Uganda. We met after your talk at a multi-ethnic Intervarsity meeting at NYU. To answer your question in this post, I will speak from my own experience to try to interpret what Dr. Barnett was saying. I learned how to do evangelism via the "hit and run" method. It can take on a number of forms. It can be going door-to-door in a neighborhood and trying to witness to people the way Jehovah's Witnesses do (though evangelical and fundamentalist Christians were doing it first, I think) but doing only minor to no follow-up on any "decisions" that were made. It can be doing the typical Campus Crusade for Christ style of beach evangelism, where you host a creative event in a public area (such as a beach) and try to strike up conversations so that you can whip out the Four Laws (now known as Knowing God Personally booklets) and try to get them to "make a decision for Christ," meaning that they should pray the "sinner's prayer." It can also be like you mentioned, about passing out tracts in a public area such as a football game. It could also be the Billy Graham style evangelism that he hosts at his big crusades (or any evangelistic crusade or "revival" meeting at a church, for that matter). All of these tend to be more focused on an individual undergoing a conversionary event and less on drawing and nurturing a seeker into the life of the local church through relationships that are formed.

Organizations and churches that follow such models have grown to find a place in the American Church, primarily functioning as places that church the unchurched and disciple the undiscipled ("infant" believers) into a basic understanding of the faith. Most non-seeker oriented churches are less "gifted" in such areas and tend to focus more on the continual growth of individuals in their churches. As you hinted, it is difficult for a church to be evangelistically focused without losing sight of the other important things in the Church.

I think Tim Keller actually talked about this in a talk entitled "Doing Justice" at the Reform and Resurge conference at Mars Hill Church in Seattle a few years ago.

Justin said...

Hi Josh! Great to hear from you. I looked up your church. You know Chip Edgar The Third. I met him once in Glen Ellyn, IL, and spoke at the youth group of St Marks when he was there.

Good explanation of Hit and Run. I know this ministry well. I know its strengths, but also its weaknesses.

Looking forward to more contact with you, brother Josh!