Alberta and Northwest Conference posted February 17 through March 7 2016, an online survey through the Conference e-newsletter. As well a survey link was part of the ANW Conference Face Book page.A majority of respondents believe faith should be shared with others.
The survey asked people to give a definition to evangelism. Lay people were more likely than ministry personnel to define evangelism negatively. Approximately 19 percent of lay respondents (a total of 132 had responded) defined evangelism in negative terms such as “fire and brimstone” or “attempting to influence others who do not share one’s religious beliefs”.
In contrast 95 out of 99 ministry personnel (104 responses were from ministry) who chose to define evangelism did so in positive terms. Out of the other four, three gave definitions that suggested evangelism could have a negative connotation as well as a positive one. For example, said one, evangelism is “sharing the Good News associated with Jesus, however, as you know, it also can mean rather negative, exclusive views.”
Approximately 88 per cent of lay people and 97 per cent of ministry personnel respondents said it was important to share faith. One person noted: “If you have something great, why would you not want to share it? How do we help grow the Kingdome into full flower without talking about it?”
The survey asked what areas or topics of Evangelism people would be interested in learning more about. The most frequent response from lay and ministry personnel was to learn to express their faith or beliefs in a non-judgemental, non-threatening way that is respectful. Approximately five lay respondents thought evangelism should be changed to mean social justice or outreach. Three said they weren’t interested in evangelism.
(Reported by Foothills Presbytery, edited by
Arlene Hepburn, St. Andrew’s Presbytery Representative)