Evangelism and Renewal is not a new thing to the Anglican Church of Melanesia. It is already an ongoing mission activity within ACOM that is geared towards renewing people’s Christian life in relation to God, neighbour and the church. Therefore, as the church continues to develop physically, mentally and spiritually, so too do we need to constantly re-evaluate and re-look into the life, growth and journey of the church thus far to see where it has fallen short of its mission mandate as outlined in its mission statement (see Annex 1), and see how we can then build upon those past experiences and lessons learnt, especially from the previous Decade of Evangelism and Renewal launched from 1991 – 2000, to enable the mission and ministry of ACOM to its members to become more alive and vibrant and help to move the church forward to greater growth and maturity in faith, mission, and discipleship in the years ahead.
It is from this backdrop that the initiative towards a relaunching of another Decade of Evangelism and Renewal programme to span the years from 2017 to 2027 was taken by the new Archbishop of ACOM. The decision to re-launch the Decade of Evangelism and Renewal was further inspired by the overall theme of a “Vision of an emerging church: building a new community of God’s people in the Anglican Church of Melanesia”, that was formulated and introduced by Archbishop George Takeli at his inaugural address during his enthronement as Archbishop in April 2016. This vision provides a theological premise and platform for reflection that will help towards the discernment of a prophetic description, as well as towards building, the “new and emerging church” which God wants us to set up in our Anglican Church of Melanesia today and during this decade of evangelism and renewal relaunch period.
As a consequence of the above events, the proposal to relaunch the Decade of Evangelism and Renewal in our church was submitted to the ACOM Board of Mission in its meeting in June 2016 and was unanimously approved. This decision was later endorsed by the Executive Council of ACOM during its meeting in November of the same year. Following these two endorsements, the Pre-launching of Decade of Evangelism and Renewal programme was officially launched on Pentecost Sunday June 4th, 2017.
Furthermore, this Decade of Evangelism and Renewal is ACOM’s response to the call by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC16) in its meeting held in April 2016, in Lusaka, Zambia, to bring healing, hope and renewal in the Church and towards “advancing discipleship in a broken world within the Anglican Communion”. It is a call for ACOM congregations to actively engage in the proclamation of the Good News of God’s Kingdom to the world, and to become more mature in their love of God through their faith in Jesus Christ.
Evangelism and Renewal is a core tenet of ACOM’s mission mandate and therefore all members of the church must not be spectators but rather, be active participators during this Decade of Evangelism and Renewal 2017 to 2027.
In terms of the aims and objectives of this awareness programme, our target is that by the end of the program:
1. What is Evangelism?
The term ‘Evangelism’ is drawn from the Greek word “euangelion” which means “good news”. The use of this term in the Gospels is two-fold. First, this “Good News” is a person, Jesus the Messiah and Son of the living God, and Our Lord and Saviour. Secondly, it is the Good News about our Salvation from God through the birth, life, ministry, teaching, crucifixion, death, resurrection, ascension and glorification of His Son, Jesus Christ.
In view of this, the task of the Anglican Church of Melanesia in this re-launching period of the Decade of Evangelism and Renewal from 2017 to 2028 is therefore to ensure that this “Good News” must be witnessed and shared to all its members so that they may be filled to overflowing with the love, joy, peace, comfort and hope of Christ in their lives and in turn become empowered and enabled to propagate the message of the good news to many other people. The Church must be the light and salt of the earth (Mk. 5:13, 14).
What then are some of the things we know and understand as “Evangelism”?
2. What is Renewal in the Context of ACOM?
Renewal is not as easy as merely talking about it and teaching it to others, and then expecting them to be renewed while we can sit back and relax and say we have done a good job. It is not something to be complacent or lazy about but is something that is so important and sensitive in the lives of God’s people. This is because how they will be renewed towards making a conscious change for God will make the difference to their salvation prospects in God’s eternal kingdom.
The kind of renewal that God wants is one that allows Christians to grow their roots deeply in Christ and bear much good fruit in their lives (John 15:5; Gal. 5:22-23). It is a renewal that is humble, penitent, faithful, prayerful, and is guided by the Holy Spirit into an experience of change that comes from a deep exploration of oneself before the Lord. It is a renewal that must be firmly grounded in scripture and theology in order for it to be a lasting renewal.
Entering into renewal involves a real personal commitment of oneself to God and is not a decision or step to be taken lightly. It would mean committing our time, money, manpower, knowledge, wisdom, courage, strength, understanding, patience, humility and our earthly possessions and properties for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Yet our faith is in the words of Jesus himself who said: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. (Matt. 6:33 KJV)
It is when members of the church experience true renewal in their lives that the mission and ministry of the church becomes truly alive and active, becomes stronger and more vibrant, and continues to make an impact in terms of church growth and development in the following areas:
It is through active renewal that these five church growth areas in ACOM can be enhanced. This means that ACOM’s Office of Evangelism and Renewal need to produce appropriate resource materials for the teaching and education of our church leaders (lay and clergy) and our congregations to take place as far and as widely as possible throughout all the dioceses of the church. The recommended kind of evangelism and renewal topics to be prepared for this teaching throughout the decade period would include the following:
These are the kinds of evangelism and renewal teaching topics that ACOM would like to carry out in its teaching program in all the dioceses both in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, that would help to renew all areas of church life and growth as well as renew individual Christian lives of ACOM members. This is the end result that this decade of evangelism and renewal program seeks to achieve in the next ten (10) years so that we may be able to discover the deeper meaning of our Anglican tradition and values which may in turn result in a deeper meaning for the life and growth of the Anglican Church of Melanesia.
3. How do we know that Renewal has taken place (a test for renewal)?
A student in school goes through a series of examinations in the education process in order to move up from one class or level to a higher one. To fail means one cannot go further but must do the test paper again or repeat the class again until he or she has passed the required test papers and examinations.
This same principle applies when we seek to enter into God’s Kingdom. The journey there is hard and tough. It requires everyone to renew their lives and to model it according to Christ’s pattern of life. It requires self-examination on the part of every member of the church, seeking the mind of God in prayer so that renewal takes place thus helping them to pass the test into God’s Kingdom.
As a leader in the church (both lay and clergy), you should ensure that you are first renewed before you can talk about or teach it to others. Renewal must take place in your own personal lives first before you can preach it to others. Then, being renewed you should carry out an assessment of your congregation to gauge the extent and reality of their faith, hope, love, knowledge, wisdom, prayer and worship life, giving, humility, holiness, and repentance. You need to do this by asking the following questions:
In terms of the local church or parish as a whole, you will know that it is a renewed church and is living the life and ministry it is supposed to be living and carrying out in the community and in the world if is truly engaging in the following activities:
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These and other ways of gauging the level of commitment of your local church and congregation will help you assess and determine whether true renewal has taken place or not and if not, what steps you need to take in order to change or remedy the situation for the better so that God’s blessing will continue to permeate and empower your church and community to be a blessing to others.
1. Why Do Evangelism and Renewal in Our Church?
This is an important question for all Christians and members of ACOM to think about. Answering and unpacking this question will help us to understand why we do evangelism in our church and why God established his church in the world.
Firstly, the Church is God’s divine institution which God Himself had already intended to create before He made the universe (Eph. 1: 4-6). God established His church in this world so that through its evangelism work (teaching and preaching Ministry), people may become strong and committed Christians and be able to attain salvation in Christ Jesus, the Son of God. Thus, this salvation life can only be received from God through the life, work, and ministry of his church here on earth.
In this regard, ACOM as a divine institution set up by God in this world must continue to fulfil His divine plan of love and goodness for humankind and the whole of creation through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord for His glory and honour. ACOM must play its part in helping God’s mission to spread the Good News to all the world and become the avenue for the extension of Christ’s ministry made possible through the gifts of the Holy Spirit to believers (Ephesians 4:7-13).
Secondly, the Mission Consultation of ACOM convened in June 2004, that brought together key mission leaders and strategists of ACOM, highlighted the need for the Church to engage in active evangelism in order to “Shift the Church from a maintenance mode to Mission orientation”. In particular the following has been identified as some of the root causes leading to a lukewarm situation in the Church:
As such the Church needs to explore in greater depth why it has not been able to effectively achieve, or fulfil, its mission mandate as set out in its Mission Statement (especially during the period from the last Decade of Evangelism from 1991 – 2000 and up until now), which states:
“ Our purpose is to be a faithful part of Christ’s Body through exercising our Baptismal Ministries of: ‘Spreading the Good News of God’s Love in Jesus Christ, being like Christ in thought, word and action, worshipping God in Spirit and Truth, and demonstrating God’s Love in responding to human needs in loving service’. ”
The church therefore needs to reengage in a new vision of an emerging church that will set new initiatives and direction for the wholistic growth of the Church into the future in this new Re-launching of the Decade of Evangelism and Renewal from 2017 to 2028. This is an evangelism task that seeks to shape, mould, develop and grow our Christian life and commitment in the following areas:
In all of this, the Mission Statement of the Church must always be the guiding road map or compass that will help the Church set clear goals and objectives, vision and hope for the future, and hence help to bring in spiritual renewal and transformation that will give birth to a ‘new and emerging church’ in all of the dioceses of ACOM.
2. Why the need to be evangelised and renewed in this re-launching program?
A decision to be born again or to be renewed in our Christian life needs to be made by Christians in Anglican Church of Melanesia during this re-launching programme because of the following five (5) forth coming problems which no one will avoid from happening in his/her life.
This is because they are part and parcel of the natural process that all of us will follow as a means of going back home either to God, or Satan, when we die. Where and who we will end up with depends entirely on own choice and decision. We can either choose life and blessing or death or curse (cf. Deut. 30:19), and one or the other will determine our final destination according to this process:
Human Journey: Birth, growth, deterioration, rebirth
This is to do with our human body for we cannot always stay young in our physical body.
There is already a set natural process that our human body go through in its life span:
How do we carry out Evangelism and Renewal in our Church?
The Church is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12: 27) in the world and is the seed of the living faith. The Church, like a seed, contains within itself the generative power to remain the body of Christ (Charles Van Engen “God’s Missionary people”). In its current state, it will not be rebirthed as a different Church but as the same Body of Christ, only with new strength and vigour.
In this regard, it is God who will give his Church new growth while our part is to carry out proper planting, watering and care. When we do our part faithfully and properly, the seed Church will grow to become a new ‘emerging Church’ in the dioceses of ACOM from 2017 and beyond.
The strategy for carrying out Evangelism and Renewal in this re-launching period is geared towards TRAINING of key leaders, both ordained and lay, in our all of dioceses, and these trainers will carry out further teachings in their dioceses, regions, districts, parishes, villages and homes (home mission groups). In this way, the programme reaches out to all Anglicans in their homes and villages throughout the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The ADMINISTRATION strategy for this programme requires the co-ordination of all evangelism programmes such as teachings, workshops, resource materials, planning, liaising, monitoring and evaluation and other tasks to be run by Evangelism Coordinators or Mission Secretaries in the Mission offices of all the dioceses of ACOM, in consultation with the Evangelism and Renewal Office at Provincial Headquarters in Honiara and Luganville.
The important thing in this strategy is that training must go together with effective coordination and administration of the programme for it to be successful in reaching out to as many of our Anglican congregations as is possible.
1. Who will carry out this Evangelism and Renewal in our Church?
The task of Evangelism and Renewal is not left to the clergy alone but involves everybody and all the ministries within the Anglican Church of Melanesia. We need to equip and utilise all our existing human resources and ministry agencies for this work, such as: Bishops, Diocesan Mission Staff, Priests and Wives, Mothers Union/Girls Friendly Society, Sunday School Teachers, Youth Leaders, Men’s Ministries, Catechists, Religious Orders, Companions and Associates of the Religious Orders, Melanesian Guild of Servers, School Teachers, Chaplains of Schools and Rural Training Centres, Chiefs, Parish Chairpersons and Council Members, Parents, Anglicans with teaching gifts, Politicians, and all members of the Anglican Church of Melanesia.
It is the Spirit who calls each one to the service of God in this world. The Church is responding by confirming that call, and we are the Church, the Body of Christ, with that mandate to “Go!”
Since this task belongs to everybody, we all need to be reminded that doing Evangelism and Renewal is not as easy as just talking and teaching it to others and then expecting them to be renewed, while we sit back and relax thinking that we have done a good job. No, it is not that simple but is in fact very challenging because it is a renewal that has to start with ourselves as individuals first, and in our own homes and among members of our families first, before moving out to others.
Again, since this task belongs to every member of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, we all need to be reminded that renewal must begin in our own minds and hearts first before good changes take place in our lives and in turn enable us to reach out and help others find renewal in their lives as well. Such renewal must also affect and challenge all other areas of our lives for the better and for God, including in our work places, our responsibilities and duties and roles as men, women or children, our leadership, our rest and play, our relating and relationships towards other people, thus making us children of God and disciples of Jesus.
All of these goes to make a church that is strong, healthy, robust, and is developing in a holistic manner both physically, mentally and spiritually.
2. The kind of person uses in Evangelism
To answer the question about “Who will do the work of evangelism in our church?”, we need to also consider the related question: “What kind of person does God want to use in the work of evangelism?
In answer to this latter question therefore, the kind of person that God wants to use in the work of evangelism must be:
It is hoped that with this awareness programme, members of ACOM throughout the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia would be rallied to take up the call to evangelise and renew their homes, families, tribes, communities, churches, suburbs, towns and cities, islands, provinces and nations. This is what the church calls upon all of its members to engage in during this Decade of Evangelism and Renewal Re-launching from 2017 to 2028.
We must ensure that the people in the pew become more adept at articulating what has been poorly understood in the past and develop new insights and are able to participate fully and effectively in the overall evangelism ministry in this Decade of Evangelism and Renewal.
The church is at a ‘crossroad’ today where it must make a conscious decision to adapt, change and become relevant, dynamic and alive, to make the church become an avenue for nurturing faith equipping and empowering people for mission work in Anglican Church today. This therefore requires that all members of ACOM must participate in order for this programme to be truly successful. None must be passive or be a spectator. Every one of us must undertake our calling and commission to be disciples and evangelists of Christ in the world to the honour and glory of God.
“Our purpose is to be a faithful part of Christ’s body through the exercising of our baptismal ministries of: ‘spreading the Good News of God’s Love in Jesus Christ, being like Christ in thought, word and action, worshipping God in spirit and truth; and demonstrating God’s Love in responding to human needs in loving service’.
Pidgin Version (Solomon Islands)
Aim blong iumi hemi fo stap olsem strong part blong Bodi blong Christ for iusim olgeta ministry blong Baptism: ‘olsem spredim Gud Nius blong lav blong God long Jesus Christ; fo stap olsem Christ long tingting, toktok, an akson; fo wosipim God long tru wei and wetem hol hat; an fo som aot lav blong God long waka fo helpim pipol.
Bislama Version (Vanuatu)
A Theological Reflection on the ‘Tepuke’: The Church as a means of transportation into God’s Kingdom.
This salvation life can only be received from God through the life, work, and ministry of Christ’s church here on earth.
And this is where the “TEPUKE” canoe transport into God’s Kingdom picture story comes in as follows:
Our great forefathers of the past could not travel to a faraway island or place without the following transport requirements:
The “TEPUKE” Canoe Transport – This reflects the Christian church here on earth which is our means of transport into Gods Kingdom when our call to rest in God comes (at our death bed).