Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Engaging a changing world with
an enduring faith in Jesus Christ

Neighborhood Evangelism: Beyond Ashes-to-Go

March 09, 2017

By the Rev. Elizabeth Gardner

I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this, all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

Episcopalians have mastered Ashes-to-Go. By taking church to the streets, many of you have made brief but meaningful connections to people who don’t have regular church attendance on their radar. They are the majority in society today--people who don’t feel right going into church but who crave a deeper connection with God.

As life-changing as Ashes-to-Go can be, it is only one of many opportunities for evangelism and neighborhood engagement. Below are some ways you can continue to take your church outdoors to meet folks where they are.

Go to the same spot where you distributed ashes (Metro stop, coffee shop, parking lot, etc.), put up a folding sign and offer the following:

  • Palms on the Monday following Palm Sunday

  • Hand Washing on Maundy Thursday

  • Flowers on Easter Monday or throughout Easter Week

  • Alleluias-to-Go during the Season of Easter until Pentecost

  • Prayers for the dead on All Saints Day

  • Caroling after the last Sunday of Advent and before your Christmas Eve services 

  • Healing prayers and anointing outside your church throughout the year

And as you do these things, remember to resist the temptation to look at them as recruiting opportunities. The goal of evangelism is to share God’s love, not to get more people in the pews on Sunday morning.

If you would like me or someone from the diocesan staff to join you, give me a call. I’d love to stand on the street corner and share the love of God in Christ through these and other methods. Have an idea to share, send me an email. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.