By Rev. Paul Sherwood
On Saturday, June 16, clergy and laity from the deaneries of Brant-Norfolk and Oxford gathered at Trinity Church Simcoe for a second Evangelism workshop.
Led by Shawn Branch, parish development officer for the diocese of Fredericton and licenced Evangelist, the focus of this workshop was understanding our own faith journeys in order that we are better equipped and more confident to share our personal stories with others.
The day began with participants looking back over our lives, from childhood to adulthood, to identify formational moments. We were then asked to consider whether we could identify encounters with God during these key moments and to identify particular people or groups that pointed us towards Jesus.
In formulating our stories we were encouraged to come up with condensed stories that we could share in a brief encounter rather than full biographies. In our encounters with enquirers, it was jocosely made clear to us that it is impossible to explain the meaning of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the Creeds, the Sacraments, the history of the Anglican church, and to have them signed up for vestry and envelopes over one cup of coffee! We are to sow seeds.
After lunch we reflected on the encounters Jesus had with people, the role of the Holy Spirit in witnessing, how we are called to be fishers not fixers of people, the importance of listening, and the difference between evangelicalism, evangelism and the specific vocation of an evangelist. The workshop was thought provoking and most helpful in seeing how personal testimony can be a powerful tool in sharing the Good News with others today.
Rev. Paul Sherwood is the regional dean of Brant-Norfolk