Video Content: The Final Session of our 2016 AFFN Convocation was a regularly-recurring feature of our annual gatherings: a focused discussion of one of Robert Webber’s books or another author’s work related to ancient-future faith, or of some aspect of ancient-future orthopraxy. Again this year, Dr. Ellen Koehler chaired and commented on the panel discussion, this time on Webber’s Ancient-Future Evangelism: Making Your Church a Faith-Forming Community. In this second book in the Ancient-Future Faith series (published in 2003), Bob addressed the question: How can our evangelism produce not only converts, but disciples who grow in faith and become active members of the church? In other words, how does mission look and function when the goal is not just breadth of numbers, but depth of maturity? Looking to the ancient church, Bob notes that evangelism and discipleship were not seen as separate activities or callings, but rather were integrally related, expressed and realized in a long-term, holistic process – a life-long journey that involved the whole Christian community. And he argues passionately that a recovery of the ancient ways provides the answers to the longings and conditions of the post-modern world.
Panelists for this lively and intriguing roundtable included Dr. James Hart (DWS, President of the Institute for Worship Studies), Dr. Nancy Nethercott (DWS, Co-Director of the IWS GROW Center, and TEAM missionary in Japan since 1987), Dr. Jonathan Nelms (DWS, pastor of Covenant Church in Cookeville, TN), and Ellen Koehler (Ph. D. in history, Director of Music and Liturgy at Epiclesis, Sacramento, and AFFN Board Member). Each of the panelists spoke to these questions from their own, diverse experiences and views. Jim spoke to the connection between mission and the growth of each of us in Christ-likeness, in essence godliness, as members of His body in the world. Nancy shared the implications and similarities of these responsibilities within the context of international evangelism. Jonathan encouraged and challenged us with experiences of his own congregation engaging in the needs of the Cookeville community in an ongoing way. And Ellen shared from the discipleship process at Epiclesis as an intentional implementation of the ancient understanding of evangelism and discipleship, what Webber calls a “Journey to Jesus.” The following discussion and comment period continued the exploration of these and other issues raised in Ancient-Future Evangelism.