On Sunday, September 18, Deacon Stephen began a discussion about developing visions for our congregations. As a starting point, he referenced a chart that contained a list of churches in the Diocese of Montana and the percentage of their annual income for 2014 that was used on Outreach and Development. Here is that chart:
|St Paul’s of the Stillwater Episcopal||Absarokee||57.72%|
|St Marks-Pintler Cluster||Anaconda||3.92%|
|All Saints in Big Sky||Big Sky||15.27%|
|St Mark’s Episcopal Church||Big Timber||4.76%|
|St Patrick’s Episcopal Church||Bigfork||24.79%|
|St Luke’s Episcopal Church||Billings||3.58%|
|St Stephens Church||Billings||4.39%|
|St James Episcopal Church||Bozeman||20.38%|
|St John’s Episcopal Church||Butte||2.75%|
|All Saints Episcopal Church||Columbia Falls||18.20%|
|St James-Pintler Cluster||Deer Lodge||0.99%|
|St James Episcopal Church||Dillon||17.12%|
|St John’s Episcopal Church||Emigrant||8.75%|
|Trinity Episcopal Church||Ennis||218.58%|
|St Michael & All Angels Church||Eureka||0.59%|
|Church of the Ascension||Forsyth||4.62%|
|St Paul Episcopal Church||Fort Benton||0.00%|
|St Matthew Episcopal Church||Glasgow||0.11%|
|Church of the Incarnation||Great Falls||2.40%|
|St Paul’s Episcopal Church||Hamilton||44.68%|
|St Mark Episcopal Church||Havre||2.59%|
|St Peters Cathedral||Helena||12.88%|
|Christ Episcopal Church||Kalispell||14.29%|
|St James Episcopal Church||Lewistown||10.68%|
|St Andrews Episcopal Church||Livingston||0.37%|
|Gethsemane Episcopal Church||Manhattan||9.05%|
|Emmanuel Episcopal Church||Miles City||1.51%|
|Church of the Holy Spirit||Missoula||2.08%|
|St Andrews-Pintler Cluster||Philipsburg||0.00%|
|St Andrews Episcopal Church||Polson||2.93%|
|Calvary Episcopal Church||Red Lodge||2.75%|
|Christ Episcopal Church||Sheridan||49.85%|
|St Stephens Episcopal Church||Stevensville||4.61%|
|Holy Trinity Episcopal Church||Troy||30.67%|
|St Paul Episcopal Church||Virginia City||3.06%|
So what is Outreach and Development? It is made up of three categories of expenditures:
- Outreach from Operating Budget
- Major Improvements and Capital Expenditures
- Congregational Outreach and Mission
So that is one place to start thinking about developing a vision. Next, we should consider what we believe and say we will do as members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement (as our new Presiding Bishop has called us). For that we can turn to the five statements that come at the end of the Baptismal Covenant as found in the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.
- We will, with God’s help, continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers.
- We will, with God’s help, persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.
- We will, with God’s help, proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.
- We will, with God’s help, seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves.
- We will, with God’s help, strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.
Finally, another way to look at this is by looking at the definitions of two key words.
Mission. From the Latin “to send.” Christian mission is the sending forth to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. The authority for Christian mission is based in Christ and known through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christian mission is understood to be a response to Jesus’ command for his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28: 19) and to St. Paul’s question, how are people to proclaim Jesus “unless they are sent?” (Rom 10: 15). The Catechism notes that the mission of the church is “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” The church pursues its mission “as it prays and worships, proclaims the gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.” This mission is carried out through all members of the church (BCP, p. 855). In 1835 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church recognized that all members of the church are called to be missionaries, although this identity has not yet been fulfilled in practice.
Evangelism, Evangelist. From the Greek euangelion, “good news.” An evangelist is one who tells the story of Jesus. The epistle to the Ephesians (4: 11) names evangelists after apostles and prophets in the list of ministers in the NT church. Little else is said about evangelists or evangelism except that Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21: 8), and Paul urged Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tm 4: 5). Later, in the early church, the word “evangelist” was used to describe the writer of a gospel and eventually considered an office. An evangelist is primarily someone who presents God’s message to make known the good news of the life, suffering, and death of Jesus. The evangelist presents the importance and significance of the good news for the people of the evangelist’s own time and cultural situation. Therefore, the message of specific evangelists can differ from what others have said, even though they are all presenting the good news. The term “evangelist” is now often used to refer to someone who is dedicated to evangelism or missionary work. The 1988 Lambeth Conference summarized evangelism simply as “the making of new Christians.” The General Convention of 1991 designated the 1990s a “‘Decade of Evangelism,’ during which we will reclaim and affirm our baptismal call to evangelism and will endeavor, with other Christian denominations, to reach every unchurched person in the nine Provinces of the Episcopal Church with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Evangelism is virtually synonymous with mission.
Definitions adapted from Don S. Armentrout’s An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians Church Publishing Inc., 2000.