How should the Methodist tradition continue to embody its evangelistic mission? Some believe effective evangelism requires ecclesial adaptation seeking relevance to attract outsiders. But does this strategy result in the church's embrace of consumer market practices, pandering to a world of church shoppers? Others suggest the most evangelistic thing the church can do is to be the church, displaying to the world the attractive beauty of a holy community. But could this ironically distance the church from its context and neglect the many ways the church is called to engage the world? The Wesleys formed a people called Methodist, embodying an evangelistic mission combining commitments to disciplined spiritual life and vital social engagement. In this book, Conklin-Miller suggests faithful (United) Methodist evangelism requires living in the tension between the church and the world, ""leaning both ways at once,"" emphasizing the holiness of the church as a particular people, but at the same time, being a people sent to intercede in the world as servants, advocates, and witnesses. This understanding constitutes not only a broader reframing of evangelistic mission but also a vision for the identity and agency of the church in the Wesleyan tradition: a Methodist missional ecclesiology.
Jeffrey Conklin-Miller is E. Stanley Jones Assistant Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Christian Formation and the director of the Methodist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.