Today, I had a very inspiring meeting on the monthly All Pastors’ zoom call that I want to tell you all about. We did something a little different, launching a new theme-driven game plan that may serve as a fantastic way to bless our all of our cohort gatherings moving forward.
What are these cohorts? One of several online “drop-in as you can” cohort groups created at the start of the pandemic, zoom gatherings like the All Pastors zoom tend to offer solidarity, connection, and space to learn and dream together. Our standing online cohorts have been under the leadership of four different presbytery leaders, and the content has ranged from meeting to meeting, sometimes going with what the group wants to explore, other times generated by the presbytery leaders themselves. Now that we have made it to this point in the pandemic, our needs may have changed a little from when we first started them!
What did we do different? Today we tried a different approach. Instead of a kind of “topic of the week,” we visited with this year’s presbytery theme of evangelism, which we most closely examine at presbytery gatherings, led by key note speakers, authors, representatives from the national church, and passionate members of our own presbytery. While we still used the online space for check-ins and “seeing” one other (and being seen), we explored together how we were (or weren’t) engaging the theme of evangelism and what has been stirred up in us. I was so struck by the richness of the conversation!
Each of us shared a different perspective on the many facets of evangelism that were landing for us. I heard value for:
- Evangelism as authenticity
- Evangelism as friendships
- Evangelism as the need to reframe and reconceptualize evangelism
- Evangelism as a way to enjoy the goodness share with one another
- Evangelism as an alternative and counter to the rise of White Christian Nationalism
- Evangelism as clarifying who we are (and Whose we are) to those who would mislabel us
- Evangelism as a place of belonging for religious refugees and those who might identify as “dechurched”
- Evangelism as opportunity for renewed energy and enthusiasm
In a closing exercise, we lifted up some words that pastors felt embodied how they were leaving the space. We shared: “weary but happy”, “hopeful,” “excited,” “thankful,” touched,” “supported,” “grateful,” and “full.”
We are committed to invite space in all of our cohort groups to have some kind of component for reflection on how we are engaging our yearly presbytery themes, whether it’s to debrief a speaker or just catch up on what about it feels most real to us. For the All Pastors’ Zoom, we will continue together to discuss different lenses of looking at the topic of evangelism, all different parts of the same elephant: doing vs. being lens, the anti-colonialist lens, the theological lens, the Biblical lens, the system theory lens, etc. Be sure to be on the lookout for opportunities to be engaged!
Grateful to be in service with you,
Rev. Ryan J. Landino