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Autumn update

Up close

I have heard various ways over the years of understanding Jesus when he says that we are the salt of the earth in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5 v 13).  I have heard that it means we should be making what we say about Jesus interesting, ‘tasty’, linking it with Colossians 4 v 6.  I have heard that it means that we should be making sure our lives and the lives of those around us are how God created them to be, ‘preserved’.  I have heard that it means that we should consider ourselves valuable, linking it with the Latin word for salt where we get our word salary from.

Here’s another way of understanding it.  In the same passage in Matthew 5, Jesus says that we should be the light of the world.  He talks about the light of a town on a hill shining out and the light on a stand in a house shining out.  In other words, you can see and be seen from a distance.  There are times when we can have an impact in the lives of others from a distance, by praying, giving, e-communication and public communication.

But salt can only have impact – whether it is making something tasty or preserving it – up close.  Our lives can only have real impact on people up close, by our daily example, listening carefully, personal conversation and acts of love.  Distance relationships can only go so far.  This is true for romantic relationships, Christian relationships and relationships with people who are not Christians.

After 15 years in full time education work, I have recently started working for Oak Hill College, (http://www.oakhill.ac.uk) where I trained 23 years ago, doing their Marketing and Communication to enable more people to be trained for “ministry in the real world” (openly plugging it now…..). I have gone from spending all my time with most people who are not Christian to all my time with most people who are Christian.  So, I will intentionally be arranging to spend regular time with people who are not Christians, hopefully doing things like going out for a curry.  Who said evangelism should be painful?  This is not because they are some sort of a ‘project’ but if I am to be salty (both ‘tasty’ and ‘preserving’) I need to be up close to people or I will lose my saltiness.

What about you?  Do you spend all your time with Christian people?  Do you spend time with people who are not Christians, such as at work, but are always rushing off to spend time with Christians?  Yes, we are to love our church but also, we are to love our neighbours and enemies.

Be salty.  Get up close.  It might not mean things change immediately like when turning on a light.  It might take a longer time, like when salt keeps a path clear of ice.  Oh, that’s another way of understanding it…..

What’s been happening

6th June – Attended a meeting about possible cross Chelmsford initiatives with https://cityvision.life/.   It was great to see people from many different churches and denominations there.  I had a subsequent meeting with an old friend Dennis Pethers (see https://therooftop.org/) about how we might work together in this.  Please pray as leaders in the city consider the way forward.

15th June – Led a workshop at Church of England Chelmsford Diocese’s Lay ministry day with most of the Evangelism enablers I have been training this year and some of their Vicars to help them work out their new roles.  Roles vary depending on their church context and include for this group starting a community book shop, outreach to a new housing estate and developing a new youth group.

16th June – Led a service and preached at Great Leighs church invitation service for friends and family who don’t usually attend church.  There were only a few ‘fringe’ people there but it was the first time for a long time they had done a service like this so please pray there will be more and more guests to hear the gospel in the future.

30th June – Spoke at two churches in Henham and Elsenham in Saffron Walden Deanery as part of their Gospel Sunday.   They had been encouraged to invite friends and family who don’t usually attend but like Great Leighs above, there were few there.  But one positive faith conversation with some first timer visitors and one lady will be considering a future Christianity Explored course.

23rd July – Saffron Walden Deanery had a review of their Gospel Sunday, with the decision to repeat it next year, offer churches an evangelistic speaker for Christmas services and look at possible other evangelism initiatives for churches in due course. Please pray for the innovation of training and having evangelistic preachers in a Deanery and future evangelism training for churches.

What’s going to be happening

22nd September – Speaking at Chelmsford Street Pastors retreat day (http://www.chelmsfordstreetpastors.org/).  I will be talking about the importance of asking the question why for our motivation and looking at the example of Jesus’ incarnational mission.

12th October – Attending Chelmsford Church of England Diocese’s lay ministry commissioning service at Chelmsford Cathedral including for the Evangelism enablers I have been training this year.  It will be a privilege to see them ‘complete’ their training and start their recognised ministries in their churches.

16th November – Speaking at UEC Faith matters day (https://www.uec-churches.net/uec-faith-matters/) on Word ministry: words of witness, words of wonder and Word of God.

8th December – Preaching at Broomfield Road Evangelical Church’s Playgroup Nativity service.

Events to look out for

Advance Summit in Birmingham – 12th October
“We are looking to gather more than 1,500 committed and passionate evangelists at the Advance Summit as we encourage and equip each other to take the gospel to the nation on an unprecedented scale throughout 2020.”  (https://advance2020.org/)

City Vision Conference in Chelmsford2nd November
A day of teaching and learning about the importance of cities and examples of what God is doing in other cities in the UK.  (https://ctic.org.uk/city-vision-conference-chelmsford-sat-2nd-november-2019/)

Christmas – 25th December
Who could you start praying for, being salty with (see above) and then invite to a Christmas carol service?  People are more likely to say yes at Christmas.

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