I’ve spent the past few days at a conference on programs of theological formation with youth, hosted by the Fund for Theological Education and the Lilly Endowment. (The conference took place in Indianapolis which, by the way, is a lovely city.)
One of the interesting things about conferences like that are the connections that you can make and the networking that happens. Case in point: I found myself in a small group setting with Dr. Timothy O’Malley, a professor at Notre Dame who directs that university’s Center for Liturgy.
Tim and I were members of a great peer group at the FTE conference that looked at the challenges and aims of youth theology programs with which we’ve been involved. Afterwards we spoke about a new journal that his center at Notre Dame has begun publishing — Church Life, which focuses on the “New Evangelization” in the Roman Catholic Church, emphasizing ministries of catechesis, discernment of vocation, and liturgical formation.
From the very little I’ve learned from Tim and from perusing Church Life over the past 24 hours, the connections between what he and his colleagues are doing (in a Catholic context) and what evangelism scholars like William Abraham and Scott Jones have advocated (in a Methodist context) is striking. In preparing and teaching a course in Wesleyan evangelism this semester at Memphis Theological Seminary, I’ve become convinced by Abraham’s arguments in particular — namely, that evangelism is really about practices of Christian initiation into the Kingdom of God and its temporal herald, holy church.
In a number of posts on my old website, I let readers know about a great new online journal called Methodist Review that is “open source” (meaning free-of-charge). Church Life is available in a similar way: all that is required is a harmless online registration and then the contents of the journal can be read online or downloaded for free. If you are a Methodist interested in ecumenical relationships — particularly that most important of ecumenical relationships that we have with our Catholic brethren — then I’d encourage you to sign up and check out Church Life today.
Added note: Anyone curious about William Abraham’s work on evangelism in the Wesleyan tradition should check out his book The Logic of Evangelism, which I think is still the best book on the subject in our tradition that has been written.