Report calls for Church to raise the profile of evangelists

A new Methodist Church report calls for greater distinction tobe given to those who are evangelists - those whose primary task isto teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ or who enable others todo likewise.

The newly published report - which, in a longer form, wasendorsed by the 2000 Methodist Conference in Huddersfield - talksof the arrival of a "new missionary era" which requires new ways totell people about the good news of Jesus Christ.

This new climate sees a need for churches to seek out from amongtheir members those with the skills or potential to take on newevangelistic roles.

This will result in the need for new training, recognition andlines of accountability for these new forms of ministry in the lifeof the Church. In some cases, this may require changing theopinions of those with "negative" ideas of "excessive" evangelistsof the past.

The report - which includes useful questions to help churchgroups to think about the issues - says that "the past ten yearshas put the evangelistic task firmly on church agendas".

The vital need for evangelism has been raised by the continuingdecline in Church membership across most of the majordenominations: "The predominant culture is now a secularized,post-modern and post-Christian one in which we can no longer assumethat people have any basic Christian knowledge orunderstanding."

The report says: "If the need in earlier years was to callpeople back to faith, the need today is for forms of primaryevangelism which start much further back and assume nothing. Wehave entered a new missionary era which makes the importance ofdiscovering, developing and deploying those within the church whohave evangelistic gifts a vital and urgent need."