Evangelist Blessing for Groups
The sacrament of evangelist blessing is a powerful symbol and unique expression of God’s eternal love and concern for individuals as well as couples, families, households, or groups as a covenant community. Under guidelines for Evangelist Blessings, groups are disciples, seekers, or friends who meet for a specific purpose related to Christ’s mission and have a shared expectation to be in relationship while fulfilling their purpose. Examples of groups may include, but are not limited to, youth groups, campground boards, pastor leadership teams, Twelve Step groups, participants in mission trips, covenant groups, and many other possibilities. If you are unsure your group falls within the criteria above, contact your mission center leadership to explore the applicability of the sacrament of evangelist blessing for your group.
As with all other forms of the sacrament of evangelist blessing for a group includes the following elements:
- a time of spiritual preparation;
- a prayer offered by a member(s) of the Order of Evangelists;
- access to a written or digital copy of the prayer; and
- after the prayer, sharing by the evangelist(s) and participant(s) in ongoing reflection on God’s continuous blessings followed by active implementation of what the participant(s) discern as guidance for their lives.
Spiritual preparation by the evangelists as well as by the group is expected, and should be planned for through, among other practices, scripture reflection, conversation, fasting, and prayer. The evangelists provide your group with appropriate suggestions or materials from which to draw your preparation.
Questions that guide personal and group reflection and discussion with the evangelists and your group may include:
- What do you understand is the purpose of an evangelist blessing?
- How did your group form? Under what circumstances or needs? What is the stated purpose and expectations of the group?
- What prompted your group to ask for a blessing at this time? What do you hope to receive from the sacrament of evangelist blessing?
- What are your hopes and expectations for you as a group?
- What situations or questions are you facing together in your group right now?
- How is your group‘s call to the mission of Christ being lived out at this time?
- In what ways does your group find connection with God? What spiritual practices appeal to you? How does the church nurture you? Are there additional ways your group can serve in the life of the congregation, mission center world church and community?
Sacrament of Blessing
When a blessing is offered to you as a group, one or more evangelists may be involved. The evangelists may place hands on the head of each participant at an appropriate moment in the blessing, assuring that everyone receives the symbolic touch of hands of blessing at some point during the sacrament. Or the evangelists can speak the words of blessing first, followed by laying hands of blessing on each participant. Other appropriate symbolic action may be used with larger groups.
Where will the blessing take place? Through conversation and discernment with the group and the evangelists, the location for the blessing will be decided. The sacrament of evangelist blessing may be offered within a home, in the church, or at another location that is mutually agreed upon and important to the group.
After the Sacrament of Blessing
Members of the group will receive a written copy of the prayer offered, and a copy is filed in the archive at International Headquarters per guidelines. This blessing prayer and experience can be helpful in continuing discernment and discussion with the evangelists. Those receiving blessings often gain new insights and guidance as they dwell with the words and meaning of the blessing in their lives.
The process of the blessing does not end with the offering of the prayer but continues in the ongoing relationship between your group and the evangelists. Whenever possible, evangelists continue to provide spiritual companionship, presence, and blessing to both the individuals as well as groups involved.
Experiences with the Blessing
The uniqueness of each person or group seeking a blessing will lead to elements within the blessing that are special for them and their relationships. One model does not work for all blessings, yet the four elements listed above will be included in some way. The experience is enriched by your group’s participation in the planning of the sacrament, which may involve what scriptures to use, what music or poetry is desired, and a meaningful location.
As with all other forms of the sacrament of evangelist blessing, a blessing for a group is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but may be offered as a continuing life blessing as well. Contact evangelists if your group is interested in a continuing life blessing.
During the period of preparation, which can be several weeks, months, or even a year, depending upon those involved, the evangelists may meet with each person individually as well as together as a group. Questions such as those listed above may be used, as well as others specific to the circumstances. For many, meeting in the place where the group meets may feel most comfortable; meeting in public places may be most appropriate in other situations. The prayer offered may combine words to individuals as well as to the entire group depending upon the situation.
May your journey to the Sacrament of Evangelist Blessing bring your group a deepened awareness of God’s profound love for all and an invitation to transformative encounters in sacred community.