A good question: What is evangelism?

by Cheon Young Cheol

This is an extract from the November 2015 edition of Reform Magazine.

There can be no denying that evangelism, or the proclamation of the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is central to the lives of the disciples of Christ. It is unfortunate however that the idea of the evangelism has been high jacked by the Christian right and has further been tamed and coopted into the rhetoric of Christian imperialism. As a result Evangelism has come to be seen as means of Christian expansionism and is locked into individualistic notions of being born again and personal salvation.

It is necessary then that Evangelism be reclaimed by the community of disciples as being the core of the life of faith. It is therefore upto us to relocate the idea of Evangelism from the narrow confines of a tamed individual faith into being radically subversive and transformative of the world as it is today.

For us at CWM, who have been speaking about resistance to empire as being the direction that mission should take, it is important that we also look at Evangelism as being the prophetic proclamation that seeks to turn the world upside down. Therefore we seek to re-signify the idea of Evangelism by reclaiming its Biblical roots.

It is important for us to recognize that the Good News of our Lord was first proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds out in the fields. . It is important for us to note that the good news about Jesus is not proclaimed in the city centre, from the town squares or even in the midst of the temple or synagogues, rather the chorus of angels speak of the good news in the fields among shepherds. The good news of salvation is not proclaimed at the centres of political and economic power but rather it is sung on the outskirts, on the margins of society so to speak.

Another significant point is that the good news is always anti-imperial, it resists the notions of Empire. Therefore evangelism is, as the Nazareth Manifesto suggests, good news to the poor. What would good news to the poor look like? It would mean that all of life’s necessities would be freely available, it would mean the cancelling of debt, it would mean the redistribution of wealth and resources, it would mean justice! Surely then this is bad news to the rich, it means that they would have to give up wealth, power and control. Or as the song of Mary reminds us, He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

Lastly we find that evangelism happens when the Holy Spirit anoints and we are directed towards proclaiming the good news to the poor. The anointing of the Spirit is not a matter of personal ecstasy but instead directs us towards the poor!

In this regard, our proclamation of good news, euangellion, a Greek word originally reserved for the good news of Empire with violent peace and victories in wars, we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ by undertaking to:

  • Critique and deepen our understanding of evangelism through in depth study
  • Enable members to develop missional congregations that proclaim the good news that scandalizes the life killing news of Empire
  • Energizing our solidarity and prophetic witness by deepening partnership with communities that communicate the good news of alternative forms of life
  • Develop theologies of mission and evangelism for comprehensive liberation of humanity and creation


Sudipta Singh,  Programme Secretary for Empowerment and Training

Read 3 more answers to the What is Evangelism here

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