CHICAGO, IL (July 20, 2017) – More than one-third of all Covenant churches have participated in BLESS, the evangelism initiative from Make and Deepen Disciples, since it was launched in February. And more resources are being developed, says Beth Seversen, director of evangelism for the Covenant.
“We are overwhelmed by how popular the initiative has been in just six months,” Seversen says. So far, some 350 churches have ordered materials, including more than 185,000 bulletin inserts.
The initiative is meant to help congregations develop a “culture of evangelism” and guide individuals as they “practice a rhythm of evangelism.” BLESS is an acronym for five missional practices: begin with prayer, listen with care, eat together, serve in love, and share your story. Churches are encouraged to focus on one practice a week for five weeks.
“When Jesus first called his disciples, he said, ‘Come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of people,’” notes Michelle Sanchez, executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples. “That is the goal—to see Covenant disciples effectively fishing for people. Our hope is to raise the temperature for evangelism in every Covenant church.”
BLESS builds on past evangelism initiatives such as Bringing My World to Christ, One Step Closer, and Ask the Lord of the Harvest.
At the end of the five-week series people are encouraged to bring forward a list of names they commit to pray for and share the gospel with. In turn churches commit to pray for the names on those lists and then bring the lists to regional and denominational Annual Meetings for more prayer.
The materials have inspired churches to engage in creative outreaches. Arlington United Church, an ECC congregation in Arlington, Washington, is holding a series of block parties in the neighborhoods of church members. At the first party, the church supplied much of the food and activities. “People were able to make new connections with the neighborhood,” said pastor Deena Jones, who noted that karaoke was a great way to bring residents together.
Bulletin inserts can be ordered for free at the BLESS website. The site contains ideas for implementing each of the five practices as well.
New resources also are being created to be released at Midwinter 2018. In the works are a small-group guide, a BLESS study guide, and a six-week sermon series with outlines and illustrations that pastors are creating.