When UUs hear the word evangelism we often grow quite nervous. We associate it with manipulation, guilt, damnation, and conservativism. And I am not so much attached to the word — honestly, outreach is just as good, in my opinion — but I really believe in engaging with the local community in inventive ways that invite people to explore what might be possible for them spiritually.
So when I talk about outreach, I am not talking about church growth. I am talking about you going out into the world and taking a stand for people’s spiritual conditions, for their spiritual hunger. I don’t want to make it sound like outreach is easy. It is not easy, at least initially, because the voices in our heads are so loud and they are telling us not to do it. I know this because I talked about this type of outreach for two years before I actually found the courage to get out on the street. But once I came to believe in what I was doing not only did it become easy, not only did it become fun, I actually began to think about the people I was letting down when I didn’t go out to meet them and to be with them in their spiritual questions.
In the RESOURCES section you can hear a whole presentation I offer on Prophetic UU Evangelism, but the following meditation summarizes some of the spiritual beliefs I hold that support these actions.
Ian is passionate about community connections. He’s skilled at creating spaces and facilitating experiences that bring people together on a deeper level, engaging people with an open, honest, and fun spirit.
For me, this means truly being present and connected with those around me, my community and my neighbors. This opportunity for pure mutual connection is so rare in the world now a days; I cherish every opportunity for it and find myself coming back.
If I was to describe Ian’s outreach, I’d use the word unconditional. He always engages his community with a honest heart and an open mind, ready to serve for the joy of the experience and value of mutual connection.
Everyone is made to feel comfortable and connected. His outreach events are like celebrating a best friend’s birthday — and those of us who organized the events experience just as much joy and fulfillment as those we connect with.
Attending Ian’s outreach events — whether hiking silently in a state park or hosting an inspiration booth for the local community — always feels fulfilling. For me, it provides an opportunity to unconditionally connect with and serve those around me, my neighbors. Service for the joy of it and for the value of mutual connection.