Relational Evangelism — Also called Friendship Evangelism
Clergy Support Memorial Church has chosen Relational Evangelism as a method of outreach.
Our theological foundation for this project includes (a) the Gospel in the New Testament, and the definition of ‘Good News’; (b) the New Testament impetus for evangelism which incorporates The Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 ; (c) Christ’s evangelistic methodology.
Every church has many tools for growth in its tool box. When it comes to Relational Evangelism, you may think of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses for their door knocking campaigns. But our approach is different. We practice Relational Evangelism in the spirit of service and encouragement to everyone we encounter, without imposing our beliefs on anyone,
Where they focus on door knocking, we emphasize pastoral care in our communities which includes life celebrations.
We borrowed the idea from the very successful outreach program of the Unitarian Church and adapted it to our situation. The Unitarian Lay Chaplaincy Program was implemented in 1970 in response to specific needs for Unitarian rites of passage to be used for church growth.
The primary purpose of this outreach program in our church closely resembles the Unitarian program. It is to provide quality rites of passage in a manner consistent with Clergy Support Memorial Church endorsed principles for members of the general public. The program also serves the following secondary purposes:
- to assist non-churched couples & families to connect with us.
- to promote or showcase Clergy Support Memorial Church values.
- to enhance the spiritual growth and development of clergy themselves.
To implement this program of outreach, Clergy Support Memorial Church calls upon its Appointed Clergy and Ordained Clergy.
We believe our prospects for growth are the people beyond the reach of traditional churches. Pastoral care and life celebrations are great opportunities to start a positive relationship.
Filling the need for pastoral care in our communities creates relationship. After that relationship is built, we hope people will call upon us for other pastoral care, such as a wedding, baptism, a funeral, visitation of relatives in hospital, seeking guidance or a personal conversation with an on-staff minister, etc. And they do.
We realize that many of the people who call upon us we will never see again. Even so, connecting with them and helping them navigate the sacred events in their lives is a pastoral service that hopefully will impact their lives in a positive way. In other words, through our pastoral care and example, we are planting a spiritual seed which may grow to benefit our church or another church down the road.
Our focus is on people and families who do not have a connection with a local church and are looking for support and guidance — whether they would call themselves religious or simply spiritual.
We take great pride in training our clergy to deliver thoughtful and humble life celebrations that allow the couple or family at the center of the event to feel supported, cared for, and lifted up. We accept a wide range of clergy with a variety of educational backgrounds and life experience. These are people who lead moral and ethical lives and are called to serve their communities. This diversity allows us to connect with many sectors of the population in our communities in different ways. By leading with service and by example, our clergy grow themselves as well as our church. All one needs to do is to read some of our individual clergy pastoral reports to clearly see the impact our clergy are making in their communities.
Many of our clergy support their ministries with “day jobs” while serving as ministers. This concept of self-support for ministers is called ‘tentmaking’ after the example of the apostle Paul, who was a tentmaker who changed the world (Acts 18:1-3; 20:33-35).