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Swords into plowshares

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Swords into Plowshares is the blog of the Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.

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Posts with tag: evangelism

August 15, 2013

Why Do We Need the Church Anyway?

Church reminds us of who we are and why we’re here.  Hopefully, it also connects us with the sense of the holy, transcendent Creator who loves us, as seen mostly clearly in Jesus the Christ. 

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January 31, 2013

Broken Hallelujahs or Naked Evangelism

In a recent review of a book that traces the life of  Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah,”  John J. Thompson questions whether the popularity of the song is a way for a secular world to have a religious feeling without any serious commitment—as in, we can mess life up all we want as long as we stand before God singing “Hallelujah!” at the end.

 That may be true enough, but I think that we may be missing something as preachers, teachers, and evangelists if we dismiss people’s connection to this song too quickly. 


Cohen’s theology of this ...

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October 9, 2012

Unity, Justice, and Witness

These were the questions of earlier generations, and they are also our questions today. In time, ecumenical Christians came to believe that “we belong together,” and that unity, justice, and witness are streams of the same river...

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August 7, 2012

Mission & Congregations: A Few Questions

Rev. Jonathan Evans, Associate Pastor and Alum of the Young Adult Volunteer Program, leaves us with important questions as we consider our motivations behind engaging in mission and outreach.

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June 13, 2012

Celebrate! Young Adult Leadership and Discipleship Experiences Starting ALL over the country!

A celebration is called for!  Summer is starting across the country and thousands of our passionate young adults are embarking on a life changing summer living in Christian community.  This opportunity to teach and share their faith with campers, as well as live intentionally with other committed Christian leaders will transform them in ways they can’t even imagine.

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April 17, 2012

Three Main Things

As I continue to grow as a follower of Jesus, I rethink much of the way in which I was trained for ministry. I’ve experienced training in sharing faith. But if I’m not in relationships with people outside the church, I have no context in which to share. I’ve learned the importance of casting a compelling vision, but I did not learn so much about developing a community in which the life we live in Jesus is the essence of our attraction. I learned the significance of a ministry bathed in justice and mercy, but that mission was not connected to a close walk with Jesus.

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March 15, 2012

A Jewel for the Church

“The goal is to send these younger people home, have them fired up and passionate about the scriptures and with strong prayer lives and a real sense of what they believe, so they can continue to do those kinds of things in the local setting,” says Tim McNeil.

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February 22, 2012

Ministry Widgets

I stopped selling ministry widgets years ago.  I know it’s a strange way to start a blog, but have you ever in your ministry felt like you were selling widgets?  Have you ever felt like a church or ministry of the church was selling you a widget?

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February 6, 2012

Sometimes, almost always when you least expect it

Submitted by:  Gina Yeager-Buckley

Sometimes, almost always when you least expect it (which, let’s face it, could be another blog in and of itself) you are the vessel for God’s voice.  For me, it’s generally when I’m the LEAST prepared or postured to do so.  This was the case last week.  While attending at a large annual conference for Christian Education, I spent many hours in a booth representing the ministries associated with my office.  Conversations were abundant. But late one evening when things were slowing down and folks were retiring for the evening, a woman ...

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January 30, 2012

A number of years ago

A number of years ago, I was leading a workshop on evangelism for a group of folks who mostly represented the liberal and middle of the road side of our tradition.  We were discussing the various reasons folks had for not sharing their faith.  Some spoke of their hesitation to share that grew out of their concern that Jesus might not be the only way to God.  How could they witness to their relationship with God through Jesus Christ when other ways might exist?


One pastor then said something like this in response to those concerns:

“Not sharing your faith ...

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January 23, 2012

I was standing in line

I was standing in line at a store after church when a woman in front of me began to verbally lay into the clerk who was helping her.  She was visibly upset and began what would be a profanity laced tirade that would have made tennis great  John McEnroe(am I showing my age) blush.  The manager came over to help her…bad idea.  This just seemed to provide more fuel for the fire.  I couldn’t help but think that this woman could have benefited from hearing the sermon from this morning.  After about round two of this interchange ...

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January 9, 2012

Jesus or Christ?

Jesus or Christ?


We love our titles.  Minister. Pastor. Preacher. Reverend.  For me, I’ve always been uncomfortable with titles.  Some aspire to them.  I run from them.  After I was ordained, I was asked often, “What should we call you?” “Pastor, Reverend, What?” I would reply, “Philip, that’s my name.”  I received many blank stares.  I’m not sure they like calling their Pastor by their first name with out any title attached.  I’m sure it was out of respect for the office and part of their tradition but it always rang a little hollow to me ...

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December 1, 2011

I am not a fan of the cross

I am not a fan of the cross, my cross that is.  I am overwhelmed with joy at the cross of Jesus, but as a church leader I am not a fan of taking up MY cross and following Jesus.  Don’t get me wrong I like the principle, not the implementation.   I teach that we are to follow Jesus all the time. I simply rarely apply the cross to my church leadership.  I follow Thomas Jefferson’s approach to the Bible, I eliminate passages that I cannot explain or that go against my agenda.

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October 4, 2011

1,001 New Worshiping Communities Initiative

Innovating ways for camp and conference ministry to support the 1,001 New Worshiping Communities initiative.

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July 21, 2011

A Transforming Life

I can tie a string in a knot with one hand.  Not a bad skill.  Sort of useless, but in it's own way, transforming.  Pete Rasmussen taught me that a few years ago.  Though it may not have changed my life, it was his calm presence and the heartfelt connection with everyone that made him special and filled his ministry.

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July 5, 2011

The Narrow Gate

A good friend of mine, Ray Jones (and the Coordinator for Evangelism, the Mission Area Camp and Conferences is housed in at GAMC), posted this prior to Easter and I enjoyed his reflections so thought you might as well!

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