When is full full? I heard for years that once a church is 80% full in terms of people sitting in seats on a Sunday – it’s full. Anyone else coming in won’t be able to chose a seat, they will feel packed in and uncomfortable. Now many churches would love to be considering that problem with attendance such an issue generally (see for example http://(http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/03/church-attendance-propped-immigrants-study). But again as I have heard for years, is it about seating capacity – or sending capacity? Is it about how many people can sit in a building on a Sunday or how many people can be reached during the other six days of the week?
Taking the principle of 80% is full, thinking about the time I have on average for doing evangelism consultancy work a week, I worked out that before Christmas I was pretty much full and from Christmas to Easter it looks over full. Please pray for this, giving thanks for the opportunities and asking for wisdom for the way forward to increase the sending capacity.
Been and gone included…
4th January Fox and Hounds pub night with South Chelmsford churches – some great opportunities to chat with the regulars about God’s acceptance, fear, the world and marriage.
6th January – Spirit of life festival meeting – encouraged the organising group to keep focused on seeking the spiritual seekers to encourage them to come along in May.
11th January Visited CGC Basildon on a Sunday to get to know the church more and to experience it as a visitor to inform future work together.
18th Feb Visited a different pub (in case you were concerned not enough pub work this month) with a local vicar to see if opportunities could be open there in the future.
21st January Facilitated with St Luke’s PCC a review of their evangelism and to discuss future plans.
24th January Led sessions at St Michael’s church leadership away day to review current groups and activities, identify gaps in reaching and discipling people and identify an annual strategic plan.
31st January Discussed with Tile Kiln church leadership team at their away day about mission statements, strategy and culture change to start to address the questions they had identified.
Coming up includes…
1st February Regular Fox and Hounds pub night with South Chelmsford churches.
5th February Evangelism training evening at Broomfield Road Evangelical church featuring balloons, Marmite and a very important story.
7th February Visiting CGC Basildon’s youth outreach event.
9th February Discussing with Broomfield Road Evangelical church’s leadership team a proposed long term evangelism strategy.
10th February Meeting about a possible mentoring for mission initiative for young people in Chelmsford with SYM schools ministry.
14th February St Luke’s outreach to community morning.
17th February Meeting with K180, an organisation in Ealing involved in evangelism training and supporting churches.
28th February First week of leading Church of England Chelmsford diocese training for local church evangelists.
It has been my absolute privilege to sit down with some church leadership teams recently as they have considered where they are with evangelism. It can be a sensitive subject, many people have different and strong opinions and many of us struggle to do it. So to invite someone from outside the church to be there is a good thing in reviewing it perhaps from a different perspective and to suggest different ideas but it also takes strong leadership to do it. Here are some of the questions I have asked and have been asked in recent meetings that might help you as a church leader or your church’s leadership team to consider where they are with evangelism:
- Do people know why the church is here?
- What are the different people groups in the area – have we contacts with some of them? All of them?
- Our church is so busy / we only have limited resources, how do we decide what are the priorities?
- What is stopping the changing of the culture of the church to be more outward looking?
- Why do people come to our church events from outside the church when we don’t advertise? What would we do if they stopped coming?
- There is a lot of ploughing and sowing – how can we ‘move people on’ more?
Resources review: The Unbelievable gospel (Jonathan Dodson)
Black cover, sound bytes highlighted in red inside and some shape diagrams summarising the chapters might make it look ‘modern’ but there is a good biblical basis that Dodson uses to suggest ways to communicate the gospel in today’s world. Taking 5 key biblical metaphors for explaining the gospel, he gives examples of putting them into current situations in peoples’ lives. He says we should work at doing the same, so not just using the one way of explaining the gospel that we often get stuck at but using the rich array of biblical metaphors applied to the many people we meet in their situations. Some good reminders about how good evangelism takes time and how it should be a community activity, as Jesus sent us (John 17 v 18) not just me – that’s good news.
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