This is the fourth in a series on evangelism by Charles LaFond. The links to earlier posts are below.
The word “campaign” comes from the late Middle Ages. It was a military term from the days of villages, village greens and castles. The word comes from the reality that – to organize an effort like a battle– lots of people have to leave the safety of their individual huts and hovels. They gather on a field and while out in the open field, they get organized into lines and columns in order to move forward together, under strong leadership. This is the way towns and villages have worked for hundreds of years – gather, organize, let a leader lead.
The power of lots of people being organized is an ancient and effective reality in getting a job done. This is hard for Episcopalians and for Americans because of the way we have fetishized doing things alone and doing it “my way,” as the old Frank Sinatra song goes. We consider our churches to be pathologically unique, wincing at anything which works elsewhere.
Some will say about evangelism what they say about prayer – “we are doing it all the time – why organize it?” Recommended programs from ivory tower executives is not in our ethos. But as the society in which we live becomes further and further distracted and dispersed by over-stimulation, over-work, and exhaustion, we must work harder and in new and effective ways to get the good news out to a culture which craves what our church has to offer.
That we are always engaged in and open to God’s Eros and that we are telling people our story of how Jesus has changed our lives – may be the case. Or we may be engaged in conscious or sub-conscious spiritual maneuvering to get out of doing what we have been commanded to do – to preach the good news. Who am I to judge? But since we gather together and follow a program to do our worship, I am wondering why we can’t gather together and follow a program to do our evangelism. And if the term “evangelism” freaks us out, then we might try using the term “membership growth.”
We do a Come and See Campaign together because it provides support in an activity which is emotionally, psychically and culturally challenging. We do it together for support, for encouragement and for accountability of leadership. It is the same reason we gather to say the creed – being together supports those for whom – from time to time – believing can be hard to do. And if you think it is hard to sign a pledge card saying you will speak to a few people about Jesus and the church in which you find Jesus doing things – then try being the clergy person or warden asking you to use those pledge cards. It can be hard – alone – to stay the course – to do the job – to engage in accomplishing measurable objectives. We all need to do hard work together. That is what Come and See Campaigns and this encouragement are all about.
The Rev. Canon Charles LaFond is the Canon for Congregational Life in the Diocese of New Hampshire. The Come and See Membership Growth Campaign Manual is online and the 7 minute video summary can be found here.
This is the third in a series on evangelism by Charles LaFond. Click for earlier installments: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3. Check out Charles’ blog for the full text. And check out the Diocese of New Hampshire’s Evangelism Toolkit, on its website.