is our tremendous pleasure and privilege today to be speaking with Dr. Priscilla Pope Levison, Dr. Pope Levison is Associate Dean for external programs and professor of ministerial studies at the Perkins School of Theology at at Southern Methodist University. She's also the author of the text that we're going to be discussing today, models of evangelism available from Baker academic 2021.
Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm delighted to be here and looking forward to our conversation.
Dr. Pope Levison, the first question that I should ask is, where did you come up with this amazing title for your text? Models of evangelism?
Well, as you know, there was a very famous book written by Avery Dulles in the 70s, called models of the church. And to me, it is just simple. It's straightforward. People know what it's all about. And, and when I was thinking about what to title, a book, sometimes people who teach in seminaries and universities tend to make long titles. And I just wanted it to be simple and people to know what they were getting when they opened the book. So that was, that was a good reason why I decided to give that its title.
Now, Dr. Pope Levison, I don't mean to surprise you by this, I should have prepped you for this in our earlier conversation. But I was in fact a student of Avery Cardinal Bellis. So I'm particular to your title. I love the title. I also love the topic of the book evangelism, which is separate from the models of the church book a bit. We'll talk about how they may might tie together. But I need to ask, Did you were you influenced by every Colonel Dulles his writings? Did you ever get a chance to meet him? What did his literature mean
to you? I did not get a chance to meet him. And I was thinking the other day, whether I actually read his book when I was in seminary, but I've certainly used it. In the years since particularly early on in my career, I did a lot of my dissertation was on Latin American liberation theology and evangelism in that theology, particularly as it was beginning to make an impact beyond Latin America. And so just his work. And I think the clarity with which he sets out those models was something that I was striving for in my own work. So I kind of channeled him though I've never met him that what a what a privilege that you had.
And that model is approach that every Douglas in fact, learn from each Richard Richard nuber allows one to think, sort of laterally about a theological topic non bound to a denominational tradition, but in a larger Christian tradition. In any you in your models, book of evangelism, you certainly bring together many streams of the Christian tradition about evangelism. Would you be willing to share briefly about your church background and your journey in ecumenical theology?
I would be happy to. I'm glad you pointed that out, because my intent was to be as friendly as possible to a wide range of theological perspectives. So I purposefully sought out, you know, both ends of the spectrum in a sense and those in between but I'm United Methodist, born and raised and was baptized in the high school gym because the the new church in our area in Cincinnati, Ohio was being was being built. So I'm kind of a baby boomer. In that sense, when the church was flourishing, and was raised in the youth group went to a United Methodist college went to United, excuse me, United Methodist seminary, and then I'm currently ordained in the United Methodist Church. So it has been the Wesleyan tradition is my my DNA.
Cool. Thanks. Dr. Pope Levison, in your, in your book, you eight of these models of evangelism. There really is something for everybody in this text. I really enjoyed reading it and I can very highly recommend it. The eight models of evangelism that you study are personal, small group evangelism, visitation, liturgical evangelism, church growth, prophetic revival and media evangelism. Were there some models of evangelism that you were maybe looking at tinkering with perhaps but didn't ultimately make the final cut?
There were there were actually two that I thought well, one I had in the original table of contents and that was apologetics and I thought really carefully about that. I made the decision not to put it in because apologetics in my opinion, assumes or builds on a particular kind of education or training in order to be able to do it. Well. That would be more philosophy and theology and argue, you know how to make an argument or to respond to another argument. And I wanted, I didn't want to choose any models that were not 100%, in a sense, viable for every one. And for the same reason, I thought a lot about what's called Family evangelism. But again, it assumes that you're a part of a family. And, you know, while that can be, the idea of family can be broadened beyond just, you know, to parents or one parent and children. And, and so I decided not to put that in, and it draws a lot from personal evangelism, some of those same strategies, in a sense, are operative as well in family evangelism. So, apologetics and family evangelism, I keep them in my course when I teach an intro course. But I decided, you know, plus, eight models seemed like a lot already. And it just seemed like a good number. I don't know why to stop there.
Well, there's room for a second book, perhaps?
No, I don't think so. Okay.
One of the things that I most appreciated as a reader of your book was your optimism and your your cheerfulness, if I can say that, about the practice of evangelism and you met me as a reader with my, you know, suspicions that I was afraid to bring out and perhaps articulate you met me with those pretty much at the beginning of each chapter. So here's the model of evangelism. Now I know what you're thinking reader. But, you know, this may conjure up in your mind the the white large toothy smile, salesman approach to evangelism. You met me with those suspicions each time. And so I walked away from the book saying, Oh, Dr. Pope Levison, evangelized, evangelism for me, and reignited a hope for evangelism. Now, how do you as an author maintain a healthy optimism about the practice of evangelism?
That's a good question. I think part of it is this book came out of several decades of teaching evangelism. And even though students can be terribly frustrating, sometimes, that new crop every year or every semester really does bring a sense of energy and enthusiasm. And when you see students who have left your classes with something that they are now implementing in their life and ministry, it does keep one optimistic, Jack and I actually have, we're both in our 60s and we moved into a college dorm here at SMU. So we're serving as faculty and residents to 200 students. In fact, they were at our apartment until 1030 Last night, and I finally, in the midst of my yawn said, I need to go to bed. So I think part of that is my personality, and Jack's as well. It also reflects my love for teaching this book, I wanted it to teach on its own, so that I didn't need to be a part of it or anyone else. And I think when you're given something that you want to, to hold it to, to carry on or to bring to someone else, there is a sense of optimism. I mean, I get it, I get it. years ago, they talked about exercising that ghosts of evangelism and now they call it the E word. But you know, that that's just what people feel. And so why not address it from the beginning, that there will be readers for whom evangelism is a bad word. Okay. i And it was a challenge. To be honest, it was a challenge to take that on and say, okay, that may be how you're feeling. But I think I want to bring you to a different place. So that's that was a challenge for me.
In if I'm hearing you rightly, I think one of the lessons might be that evangelism, in most cases probably has to be approached as a community project. Is that fair to say?
I wouldn't say I mean, that would be wonderful. That would be ideal, but I think in most contexts, my sense is that there are people who are raised up for this work. And would that the church would would gather around them to support them. I don't see that normally happening. So I think, generally this is happening as an individual endeavor. I hope if people read enough models, they will see that it's much more effective. And there's much more support and encouragement when we do it as a church body as the body of Christ.
Yeah. Thank you for that correction. Yep. Okay, that's, that's helpful. So, I'm going to take us into chapter four of your book. This is after you've given us already, personal evangelism, small group evangelism and visitation evangelism. So chapter four is on liturgical evangelism. And, simply in my humble opinion, this is this is what struck me is perhaps one of the most creative chapters in the book. It certainly spoke to me outside of my expectations more than other chapters did. And so what is liturgical evangelism? What is it that you're speaking of in this chapter? I'll just read a brief paragraph from page 70. You right, proponents of liturgical evangelism, find biblical grounding for this model in Jesus upbringing, as Jesus himself was immersed in Jewish liturgical practices and places, Jesus parents brought him up, excuse me, brought him as a newborn to the temple to fulfill the prescribed Jewish rites of passage, including the offering for a firstborn son, Luke to at Jesus dedication, Simeon blesses the baby, when Jesus turns 12, he accompanies his parents to the temple for the Passover festival and remains behind to engage there with Jewish scholars. So you cite these examples from Jesus, that he himself was evangelized, if you will, within this liturgical tradition of Judaism, as I was reading that paragraph, I was, I was surprised and delighted and intrigued with with your thought there. But I also had a question that I need to ask you and that is, so how is it if Jesus Himself came to give us he so thoroughly read revised the Jewish religion, then then can we look at his own upbringing and and liturgical practice? Was that a successful form of evangelism given that he, for all intents and purposes exited the Jewish religion? Um,
well, maybe another time, we could talk about whether he exited the the Jewish tradition because it seems to me that it, it held him from birth to death, in a sense, but so just to help those who are hearing this, each chapter is set up the same way. So there's a biblical section, theological, historical and practical. And so what that's coming from is that is the biblical section to give the foundation of each of these models. So when people right on liturgical evangelism, they want to set Jesus in that tradition of a feast and, and reading the Torah and going to synagogue and all of that. And yes, he did receive the good news of God's interaction of God's salvation history with that with the the Jewish people. Now, that doesn't mean that he didn't see and want to cleanse it in a sense that he didn't, that doesn't mitigate his desire for reform. And then of course, you also have the conflict within Judaism. Here he is, having been steeped in a tradition in in a rural area away from Jerusalem, and it is in Jerusalem and the urban flavor in a sense of Judaism, that he really comes into conflict. So I think what's important in that is that he participated, as African theologians would say, in these rites of passage, and if he participated in them, how much more are we who follow after him and call him our Lord and Savior? And I think what liturgical evangelism does for me, is, it roots it's so deeply into the church into Christian tradition. And, you know, there's a lot of push against that. It's not again, nothing new. But I would say particularly today, and I think without that groundedness without that depth, that substance, we could fly off into all kinds of, I don't want to say heresies but just all kinds of I don't fly by night is the word that's coming to mind. And I think, seeing that Jesus himself kept with those that tradition even as he wanted to reform it to me He, as a Protestant is kind of what we do. So. Okay. I don't know if that's a sufficient answer or if that satisfies your question. But that's, that's how I would approach it.
I think that is helpful. And so I mean, perhaps it would be fair to say that liturgical evangelism is maybe the most settled of the forms of evangelism that you speak of it to too many in the congregation, they may not be aware that an evangelistic activity is even taking place. It's something that's received over a very long period of time, and there's not a conscious effort, we're going to make new converts through this practice, or at least that's not the first priority probably in the in the planning committees. Whereas it
could be No, and I think, I think being more upfront, even if it's not said, so, for instance, I, a colleague, and I received a million dollar grant from the Lilly Endowment to work on testimony. And it seems to me that one way to build that evangelistic more, more upfront, is, and I've done a lot of thinking about where testimonies could be, could be included into the liturgical life of the church. I mean, for instance, you could have someone before him talk about what this hymn has meant for them as a Christian, or how it maybe has been an encouragement or, you know, stewardship or have a five minute testimony. There are a lot of churches from many traditions who are experimenting. And a lot of this came from the COVID. You know, we were separated from each other. And a lot of online services began to include a testimony time I know our church did here in Dallas. And that's what kind of raise this thought to me of oh, you know, testimony, which, as a Methodist I've never seen, practiced, even though it's part of my my heritage is now coming to the fore. And I think there are some strategic ways to make the liturgy more evangelistic. And that's what I would like to see more churches, no matter whether they're, you know, high church or low church, I think, non denominational churches have a liturgy. And and that also could be more evangelistic. Well, that gets me excited. Sorry.
Yeah, no, that's an amazing idea. So is this project underway? Currently? Is it completed committee?
We are only in the second year of it. Yeah. Yeah. We just are having our first cohort of nine churches who launched their work in January. And we're calling it testimony as community engagement, thinking of community as both the church community and how testimony builds up believers, but then pivoting to how that spills out into the community, because a lot of mainline Protestants, like United Methodists will be very active and service, but they don't know how to speak the words of the good news. They'll do it gladly all day long. But how do they speak it? And actually, we have in this cohort, it's very ecumenical, from Assembly of God to United Methodists to Disciples of Christ to several nondenominational. And it's just, it's really exciting to see churches. Well, I mean, talk about turning back to our history, you know, and that tradition of testimony and bringing that into the 21st century. So if we, if we talk again, in two or three years, I'll let you know how it goes.
Amazing. And would you be willing to even maybe share a couple examples, as you gather these testimonies? What are some of your favorite examples of how testimony can be used and what some of the impact you've seen perhaps?
Well, as I said, during COVID, that was a way to connect. So the one that had the most impact on me was a young woman from our congregation, who was on the frontline in an ICU unit, just as COVID was, you know, was emerging. And you know, I'm sure you remember the people were dying alone. And we there was just so much about this disease that we didn't understand. And she, she was our daughter, sage, so late 20s. And she talked about being the hands of feet of God, and how at work, she's more than a nurse because she had to stand with these people in the gap and be their family. And when I saw that, I thought the church needs to hear how people are wrestling and struggling and triumphing, finding, you know, a not triumph thing is probably not the right word but but finding a way forward to be the hands and feet of God in this incredibly difficult global moment. So that was that was, as I said, what really gave life to this grant? During stewardship time, which is an incredible way to talk about testimony, there was another moving one about a man who's tied since he did his his newspaper route as a young boy and how that practice has undergirded his faith and how God has been faithful to him. You know, so there are just lots of, there's one actually, I know you're in Germany, we're involved with an English speaking Methodist Church in Munich, when we are over there. And one of the men in the congregation talked about seeing, seeing an older woman in a flower dress, and it's a long story, but he talked about he ended it by saying, I didn't know God sometimes wears a flower dress. So I think it's that those divine moments that that are all around us, if we have eyes to see. And then telling others those stories are just so powerful, because stories, stories, draw people in, you know, I know, evangelism, and that can be can be off putting, but and then maybe that's why I've turned to this because stories connect us with each other. And you can't say, well, that's not true. If it's my story, you know, that it's, it's, that's how I experienced it. So I'm going on too long. But that's, it's a fascinating area that I'm very excited about. And that's another way I stay optimistic is finding new ways to energize myself, and hopefully others in this work.
Wow. Well, yes, we will be calling you in a couple of years to follow up on that project. And as I'm hearing you describe it, you know, the the genius of it is not only are the truth claims that are presented via testimony, irresistible in our culture, they are received as true, because they are but it's a form of truth that makes sense in our culture. And I also rejoice to hear it's something that a small church can produce as well. It doesn't require an economy of scale or big television equipment to make happen. Any congregation size can produce testimony so that that's a Jim, if I if I can flip forward in your book. Sure. So in the church growth model, which is the fifth model that you present to us, you describe something called and this is on page, one of one of your texts, you describe something called the multiply or the homogenous unit principle. And that is a missiological principle that churches can replicate and expand fastest when when they're composed of a basically homogenous group. Now, as I was reading along in this book, I was scratching my head. Hmm. How is Dr. Pope Levison or what is she going to do with this one, because throughout the book, it's obvious, you're an advocate of diversity in churches, that churches, if I'm hearing your tone correctly, you seem to be communicating on a number of occasions that diversity is an important part of making a credible witness to the world and having the prerequisite a bit of ability to make a positive social impact. And, you know, one of the one of the ways that I was detecting that too, is the way you open up the book in the introduction with this monopoly of different evangelists that should be required reading in any course, the first three or four pages of your book, where you go through this list of probably 30 Different evangelists in the diversity within the church represented by that group.
So what do I do? And I just make a comment about that. So it's hard to know how to begin a any book. But evangelism books often begin with a success story, you know, and a lot of them take place in an airplane, you know, I sat next to someone I didn't want to talk and oh, you know, I brought this person to Christ. Well, I've never had that experience, first of all. And secondly, so my, my primary academic field is church history. And so I was talking with my spouse about this, who's also a writer. And he said, Priscilla, just do what you do, which is you have recovered the history of not just women evangelists, but a whole lot of evangelists. And so I'm glad you caught that. Because the whole purpose for my writing this book is to say to anyone, no matter who you are, no matter your, your gender, your race, your education, your class. All of us are called to be an evangelist, and we can do this and that's exactly why I started the book the way I did, so I appreciate that. So
it's it's a beautiful and intriguing and really unforgettable way to open the book. What do we do with this homogenous principle? Do we pursue homogenous churches in order to replicate fastest? Or do we pursue diverse churches in order to have the deepest social and religious impact? What's your view?
Yeah. And this, this is a really tough one. One that I still struggle over that because the reality is, most of our churches are already homogeneous. I mean, certainly mine is close to SMU, it is white, well educated middle class, upper middle class, traditional liturgy? I guess what I would say, I would say is both and I think, yes, churches grow more quickly, when it's people like you, but I don't think that's best, I'll just put it out there. It may be effective. It may be, you know, how church growth happens. What I will say is that McGavin and his school of church growth was really talking about churches, in other parts of the world where there wasn't a local church already established. And so I think, if we can keep the emphasis on those areas, like the 1040 window, and you know, those areas where it's very difficult to, to form one church, much less, you know, more than that, I would I completely understand how churches within a caste or within a tribe or a family are going to be more effective. In in places like where you are in in Germany, and where we are in Texas, I would like to see us moving beyond that. Because there are a lot of people who have become disenfranchised by the church, because they don't feel like they fit. They don't fit that church, because then they don't look like that church, or they don't believe like that church. And some of the most interesting churches, in my opinion, are those that are diverse, because not not so much because they aim for diversity, but because they are so open to so many different kinds of people. And that's the welcome and hospitality that I wish more churches exemplified. I mean, that could be done, you know, where I'm right across the parking lot from a 15,000 member church, Highland Park, United Methodist Church, and they've been planting smaller churches. And so our son who's a professional videographer and photographer, records, the Sunday morning service for a church that is much more progressive, theologically and socially, then so called Mother Church. They're not racially inclusive. But that to me is an is a is a way that a larger church can become more diverse. It just by virtue of those kinds of satellite congregations that I mean, to me, that's still not bringing people together, sitting in the pew and I just can't forget Jesus teachings, you know that people will come from north, south, east and west, I can't forget Ephesians two that he's broken down the dividing wall of hostility Galatians 328 our baptismal vows. So I struggle mightily with this question, and I'm not comfortable with the answer that I'm giving to you. But I'm, I see the effectiveness. I just can't get behind me wholeheartedly. So that's, that's the best I could do with that question.
Appreciate your your honesty and sharing with us. Dr. Pope. Levison, one of the parts of your book too, is that at the conclusion of every chapter, you offer a few review questions. And I was intrigued to discover that your concluding question is a repeating question. I enjoy repeating questions. And I think it's I think this repeating question opens up a window to the reader to understand at a pretty deep level, your broader purposes for the whole project, you're repeating question is Which other model of evangelism best complements this form of evangelism and why? And as I was trying to answer that question for myself as I was going through different chapters, I circled around what you meant by that word compliment and I would love for you to share with us what exactly are you asking there when you ask what model complements and other Are you perhaps saying which one of these models start Exercise most similar, or could be practiced by the same set of people? Or what are you digging at with
that question? Well, what I'm digging at is that in my opinion, no one model stands on its own as the end all and be all that I'm going to put this into practice and do this the rest of my life for the church or whatever. So I like to put things together that might not, at first glance, seem to go well together. I think that's there is a more holistic approach. I mean, to be honest, personal evangelism really does undergird most every model in the book, because small group of I mean, some, again, some of that same strategy. It often comes down to, you know, questions asked of us, or our testimony, or whatever it is. But for instance, I'm, I'm not a social media person, really, at all. But if that could be, I mean, I just think it's interesting if that could be paired with small group evangelism, or if that could be paired with, say, prophetic evangelism or something like that. I just, I think it gets us thinking creatively thinking outside the box. And I want to give people as many options as possible. I mean, to be honest, I want to take away everybody's excuses for why they can't do evangelism. And, you know, so if you say, well, and none of these models fit for me, well, what about if you paired one with another? What if you came, you know, you said before about community? What if you joined with someone else, who is a social media expert, and, you know, you, you could marry that with small group or personal or something like that, I just, I just want to give people options, because I this is the same way that I taught as well. You know, when you take on a controversial topic, no matter what it is, I think it's really important to give students options and to teach each option as if it's the best one. And that's how I taught and that way they can engage their brain. And so that's, that that's a lot of why I did it that way. Who knows whether it's very effective, but that's that's why I did it.
I think it was, because as I was reading through those questions, it did spark the type of thinking that you're describing there. And, boy, the book is just so friendly, and so winsome to draw us all past our hesitations into really role playing in our minds and imagining how can I become active and
evangelists pray? That's wonderful, isn't it?
And you sort of bring some of these things together on page 179. If I can just read a brief paragraph here. With this list of suggestions as toward the very end of the book, we revisit an insight which we have garnered time and again, in the in our study of the eight models of evangelism, these models are not distant islands in a sea of evangelism. They compose rather than archipelago. Effective media evangelism requires the relationship of personal evangelism. It can be well served by the portals of small group evangelism by the regular worship and education provided by liturgical evangelism. And by the opportunity to live out concretely the whole gospel for the whole world through prophetic evangelism. How is it that that all of these eight models link together for you?
So what I did is once once I wrote each model, so I was looking, you know, at them as a, you know, working through one at a time, then I took a clean couple of pieces of paper, and went back through each model and looked at what it was that I thought connected them, what were the words that I saw coming up, and each, more or less each model. And so at the end of the book, in the conclusion, I have identified what I think are five characteristics of anyone who wants to engage in evangelism, that these are basic. And so how I presented in the conclusion is, if you could start even make a step into evangelism by embodying these characteristics and you are already doing evangelism. And those five characteristics are hospitality, which for me is number one. I just think hospitality which in Greek means love of the stranger is so central, and it would go so far to debunking people's concerns about Christians in my opinion, but hospitality integrity that's in something that so many people who look at the church have felt like it has just fallen short on that. And again, if we, and our churches, our people and communities of integrity, that would go, I think, again, to mitigate the charge of hypocrisy, relationships goes along with that, that we care about people. And we want to do all we can to help them flourish. There is a time where it is time to present the message. And I call that message bearing that might be through action. I see it as incorporating words or witness. And then the fifth one is church rootedness. And that to me, I think as a daughter of the church is really important to me, that we are connected to, not only our local church, but again, to our tradition, and this is where I show myself as as a as a denominational person, but to something that's larger than ourselves, who can come alongside us and encourage and support and pray. So those five characteristics hospitality integrity, relationships, message bearing entered rootedness for me, go through more or less to some extent or another, all five models are all eight bottles.
Thank you so much, Dr. Pope Levison for sharing that that brings a lot of coherence to that question. Thank you. Dr. Pope Levison in, in your text, because of my past interest in every Cardinal Dallas and life experience, I was always very much listening whenever you've mentioned his name or footnote that text. And as I was reading through your book, I was wondering what you would say to this, do you see a at a deep theological level, an interrelation, between evangelism and ecclesiology. And one way to put those two things together would be to say that one might need to have an ecclesiology in order to understand how the church ought to evangelize since evangelism is reproducing the church and bringing new members into it. But that relationship can be articulated many different ways. Is there a relationship between ecclesiology and evangelism? And how would you set those things together?
I don't think there's a relationship with a specific kind of ecclesiology. You know, the Roman Catholic Church has done some of the most interesting work in New Evangelization. And I think they get it. And certainly Pope Francis has has breathed some new life into their ecclesiology and try to bring it down, down, but bring it out to the streets in a way and make it accessible for everyone, which I really appreciate. But what I say in the book, and I firmly believe is that the church is an evangelist. And by that what I mean is that people watch the church, their people, people observe us as we go about our business, as we meet to worship together as we make statements on Ukraine, or whatever the social issues are of the day, and they're watching us. And I I say that the church is an evangelist, because I think all that we do, either embodies the good news, or it doesn't. I mean, maybe it's not that that that one way or the other. But the more we can live into that, that we are evangelists, people are watching us, and how are we communicating the good news to them? I think is that's where I want to put the emphasis on ecclesiology. It's not just who we are as individuals, but people see, and notice, and that, yeah, they're watching. They're watching what the church is doing.
The church is an evangelist is the way you
I believe it's so helpful. Yeah.
Dr. Pope Levison, if I can ask one final question, and it happens to be a repeating question. It's a question we've asked everybody on this program, and that is this. What would it mean for the church to be united? Can you help us envision what a reunited Christian church might look like? What is it that what is it that we can do to pursue the Unity for which Jesus prayed and John 17?
So you're talking to someone who has been steeped in humanism, most of my life and I just actually stepped off at the Methodist international Methodist Roman Catholic dialogue, which has been going on for 50 years since the end of Vatican two and I made some really deep friendships in that work? I, I don't think the purpose of it well, let me say it like this, the church will never become one again, just one church, we have just it, that's just not going to happen. And so if, as I believe the world is watching us, how can we stand together in the public square? Or can we stand together in the public square, and say anything in common or do anything in common that we believe communicates the good news? I think the more that the church churches can do that, I think it would go a long way to, again, to mitigating some of the concerns that people have. I mean, I think about for instance, we're actually now that I've gone on and on about how United Methodist I am, we are actually worshiping in a cooperative Baptist church right now. So you have a cooperative Baptist Church that we're a part of, and then you have first Baptist Dallas, which has been aligned politically, with the Trump administration. And in a sense, you couldn't have two churches that are, even though they're the same family are diametrically opposed. I don't know if it would ever happen. But as you've said, I'm an optimist. I mean, what if wilsher Baptist and first Baptist Dallas stood together in a public square and made some kind of statement or came together to work at a food pantry, something like that? It's small, but again, in Dallas, that would send huge shockwaves? And what a witness that I mean, is there anything that we can come alongside even Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior? Is there anything that we can say together or do together? I know humanism is is is at an all time low, in a sense, I mean, the World Council of Churches is has, you know, diminished, its staff, and it just is financially not as robust. And when I first you know, 1948, when it was founded, some of the best theologians like Paul Tillich and Carl, Bart were involved in ecumenical discussions, I don't think we'll recover that hay day. But I so strongly believe it just, it makes God's heart weep, that we are so really mean to each other. Could we at least be civil to each other? My My hopes are small. Oh, wow. You say
the church will never be united again. And you cite a significant experience and an ecumenical dialogue. What about prayer? Are there bounds to the limits of what prayer can do for the the Christian communion? And I'd love to learn from you. Even if you even if maybe that was a discouraging experience in that dialogue? I'm not sure if I'm reading you quite rightly there. But
it was it was good. It was good. Okay.
What are some of the lessons you've gleaned from that significant experience what's helpful in pursuing Christian unity.
So what I saw was, in that experience, even though and it was hard at first, because we couldn't, we were not allowed to celebrate communion together, which for me, at first was was just hard and still remains hard. But there was so much that we could do together. We talk theology together, we read the Bible together, we did worship together, we prayed together, we, you know, visited important sites in so many different countries. I felt really privileged to be in this space. I know that just financially and logistically, that can't happen. But it can happen in cities and towns, you know, on that smaller on that smaller stage, so to speak, where where churches are rubbing shoulders with each other. So I'm not, I'm not pessimistic. I just think it's something we have to keep working on and keeping in front of the people in the pews. I mean, the reality of those kinds of dialogues is that they take place on sort of the higher level, and we worked so hard for it to trickle down. But the reality is, I'm not sure even how many people read these reports or, you know, enact the liturgy that we've produced, and that's, that's where I wish it's so much rich material, but it's not making its way into local churches.
It's been our pleasure today to be speaking with Dr. Priscilla Pope Levison, author of the text models of evangelism, available from Baker academic 2020. This book evangelizes evangelism, it would be perfect for church groups or study is on evangelism it, it will reignite your soul for the work of souls. So thank you so much for joining us today. Hope you have a wonderful day.