LOUISVILLE, KY (February 1, 2017) — A new intentional evangelism initiative, BLESS, was announced at the Midwinter Conference.
BLESS builds on past evangelism initiatives such as Bringing My World to Christ, One Step Closer, and Ask the Lord of the Harvest, said Beth Seversen, the ECC director of evangelism.
The Covenant will mark Prayer and Evangelism Sunday on March 19 (some congregations may choose to celebrate on a different Sunday). On that day individuals bring forward a list of people they commit to pray for and share the gospel with. In turn churches commit to pray for the people on those lists and then bring the names to regional and denominational Annual Meetings for more prayer.
Seversen emphasized, however, that the initiative is meant to help congregations develop a “culture of evangelism” and guide individuals as they “practice a rhythm of evangelism.”
BLESS stands for Begin with prayer, Listen with care, Eat Together, Serve in Love, and Share your story. Each practice represents the development of relationships through which evangelism can more naturally occur, Seversen said.
The materials include specific suggestions for how to engage each practice. Variations of BLESS have been used with great success in other denominations, said Seversen, who noted that it has been adapted for the ECC context.
The initiative is part of the Make and Deepen Disciples mission “to mobilize a multiethnic movement of disciples who make disciples across all ages and all populations,” Seversen said.
Evangelism and discipleship are integrated and cannot be separated, she said, explaining, “We are not fully formed disciples—our spiritual formation is incomplete unless we are bearing witness in word and deed.”
For example, she said, “one-on-one meetings at Starbucks or our favorite coffee shop talking about the Bible is not enough. It’s important, but it needs to be tied to God’s mission to the world to reach the lost, restore all that’s broken, reproduce disciples, and release them into mission.”
Michelle Sanchez, executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples, said, “I could not be more excited about BLESS. It’s an outstanding opportunity for us to approach evangelism as a lifestyle—organically and intentionally. I look forward to seeing BLESS unite the Covenant as we pray together for our loved ones who are far from God.”
Resources are available online at covchurch.org/bless