Posts

Sharing What’s Important

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Andrew Kukla is curating reflections on being evangelical in the church. Have we connected our congregations to resurrection life? Have we taught them how to talk about it?  How to live it? How to connect others to that life-giving, life-abundant power? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

by Amy Miracle

Sharing that which is important to me with the people who are important to me is a big part of my life. That’s why I am always talking about my favorite podcasts. That’s why I gave so many of my friends the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast CD for Christmas. 

broad street ohioFor me that is what evangelism is all about. Sharing the most important thing in my life with anyone who will listen. Except that’s not quite true. Like the congregation I serve, I am reserved, worried about looking foolish and uninterested in being the center of attention. And yet I wake up every day with a burning passion to invite people into conversations about God and invite them to become a part of the life of the church of Jesus Christ. 

At Broad Street, the church where I am very, very fortunate to serve, I handle this tension in the following way. I talk about evangelism a lot. I encourage others to talk about it. We have periodic “Seasons of Invitation” when we encourage our folks to invite their people to church. Most importantly, we challenge people to articulate what it has meant for them to be a part of the life of the church and then share that understanding with others. 

Here is one Broad Street-er’s thoughts on the subject. He’s a husband, father of two young kids, who spoke to the congregation during one of our seasons of invitation.  This is how he concluded his words. 

“Broad Street Presbyterian is a gift. It is a gift to its community, to those it serves, and maybe most of all, to its congregation. It thoughtfully puts faith into action, faces up to the challenges of spirituality and Christianity without fear, and is a great place to spend Sunday morning. This church is a gift that deserves to be given to others who don’t yet know it is here.

It is an uncomfortable thing, inviting someone to church. I’m still working up the nerve myself. As I do, when I have doubts, I think about my own story, about what my life would have been had I not received that gift of an invitation. About all that has happened to me and in me and how much the poorer I’d be if I’d never set foot in this building. And that there are others in our community, amongst my friends and family, who deserve this gift, who may not yet know it, but belong in – and will thrive in – this church.

So please join us in these coming weeks and invite someone – or better still someones – you care about. They will be grateful for it. They will thank you for it.”

What he said.

 


Amy Miracle Head ShotAmy Miracle earned a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She served as associate pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado, and senior pastor and head of staff at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Iowa before coming to Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, in 2008 as  pastor and head of staff.

I Love to Tell the Story

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Andrew Kukla is curating reflections on being evangelical in the church. Have we connected our congregations to resurrection life? Have we taught them how to talk about it?  How to live it? How to connect others to that life-giving, life-abundant power? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

by Hope Italiano Lee

I couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11 years when I heard my first “Jack Tale.”  Jack tales are a tradition in Appalachian folklore. I’m not from Appalachia, but the director of the summer camp that I grew up in was from the hills of Kentucky and he could tell one mean Jack Tale after another with passion and energy and imagination. These stories were so engaging, so compelling, that week after week, summer after summer, hundreds of kids would quiet themselves down, sit still as stones, and listen to Jack’s latest adventure. It’s been a good 20 years since I last heard one of those Jack Tales,  but I know them so well that even today I could recite one after another by heart. And I do just that, for my children, the next generation, all the time.  

story kirkwoodCompelling stories take residence in the heart and soul and, after a period of time, become very much part of a living, breathing body. Evangelism is simply telling the greatest story ever told. Evangelism is telling the story of how God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall never die but have everlasting life. Evangelism is telling how God’s story met up with your story and changed your world en route to transforming the whole world. Evangelism is helping others to know and to share their story and to help them see where their story intersects with God’s story.

Down here at the beach, we love to tell the story of The Well. The Well is a place where each week the story of God is faithfully proclaimed to all generations with hospitality, community, and joy. We started The Well about a year and a half ago, looking to the scriptures to guide us to create a place where all, but especially those who didn’t think they were included in the “all,” would find welcome and hope. It’s a place of teaching as we go – teaching grace by demonstration, teaching sacraments by active engagement,  teaching scripture by asking difficult questions, and being honest about the hard places.  An amazing thing happens when you make Jesus the main focus – people come closer. They want to hear the story, not just any story, but the story of a God who loves them to the ends of the earth, even when the rest of the world has told them that they are unlovable.

Recently, we held a small memorial service within a regular Sunday service at The Well. Dennis, the precious man who died was one of the first people to be a part of this special place. He had epilepsy and we were within walking distance of his home. Every Sunday he would come early, greet people and remind them how much Christ loves them, and how glad he was that they were there to celebrate that love together. He embodied a Christ-like grace that was reflective of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well – the encounter which drives our ministry. When Dennis died, we were looking at his emergency contact information and we discovered that The Well family was his emergency contact. So it seemed obvious to all of The Well family that we should give witness to the resurrection right there at our weekly gathering spot and celebrate Dennis’ home-going with the same joy he gave to us as he made The Well a home for so many.

The Well is a place filled with stories just like that. Every person who comes in those doors carries with them stories of pain, hurt, frustration, disillusionment, and sometimes betrayal. And what they find is not a program, not a strategy, not the latest and greatest in fog machines, drum pits, or laser light shows. They find God’s old story of love, sacrifice, grace, and life, told with passion, imagination, and energy to a new generation looking to find a story that will forever change their story. The storytellers are people who speak from a place of authentic transformation of the heart, the place where the best stories come from.

Followers of Christ are called to be winsome story tellers, who will tell God’s story through their story wherever they go because to do otherwise would betray their heart.  We trust in the work of the Holy Spirit and so we tell our story to open doors, to share a living faith, and to allow drops of grace to cover the people whom God so deeply loves.

“I love to tell the story. ‘Twill be my theme in glory. To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love!”   


hope leeHope Lee is the Lead Pastor of the Kirkwood Church and The Well in Bradenton, Florida. She is a highly sought after speaker for evangelism and church growth conferences all over the United States and serves as an Evangelism Coach for the national offices of the PC(USA).  You can find her on the web at www.biggreenchurch.org or @PastorHope  or at the beach with her husband and 3 amazing kids!