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January update

Now that can The word pioneering tends to give me images of cowboys riding across the plains, exploring new worlds, going where no man has gone before.  Hold on that’s Star trek.  Similar idea though.  I have been reminded recently that if we always do what we have always done we will always get what we have always got.  Now that can be a good thing or it can be that we are still doing things that used to work, but now don’t.  Or things that have never worked and still don’t.

Paul in Romans 15 v 20 talks about his ambition to preach the gospel where Christ is not known, so he would not be building on someone else’s foundation.  That might be harder for us to literally do today as most people have preconceptions about Jesus, whatever they are based on.  But the principle of needing to start something new sometimes is still true.

Part of the work I am doing is to look at sharpening what churches are already doing in evangelism (see December’s update) and part of it is to pioneer new evangelism, whether that is in new ways or to new people.  This brings change and new challenges.  New does not automatically mean better it is just that sometimes we have to move to where God is working, and move with the times and people as they change if we are communicate with them effectively.  In a few years time the latest ways of doing things will be out of date e.g. mini discs, faxes, overhead projectors with acetates.  We are to hold onto God and His mission, for everything else change is here to stay.

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 Before Christmas:

1st December Met with Tile Kiln church elder to discuss church, identify key issues and plan for future working together.  This will involve strategy planning, team building, culture changing and people equipping.
4th December Met with CGC Basildon church’s pastor about the church, the area, evangelism currently done and desire to reach more people.  I will be getting to know the church and area in the first couple of months of 2015 and then we will work together to move things forward.
7th December Attended Fox and Hounds pub Christmas carols night with St Michael’s: lots of people from the church but not many customers.  Good job really as I was put on the spot for a solo – and did?!  Did better with a 1 min on the spot Gospel summary – lasagne / hosanna and Christmas.
21st December Spoke at The Compasses pub Christmas carols with Broomfield Road Evangelical church: great evening with lots of people from the church bringing friends and family plus 16 pub regulars. Couple of really good chats afterwards and booklets taken by guests.
28th December Attended Great Leighs Free church as leadership team led a service about sharing faith.  Encouraging to see and hear people open up re challenges and opportunities in small groups and leadership’s desire to keep this focus.

After Christmas:

4th January Fox and Hounds pub night with South Chelmsford churches

6th January – Spirit of life festival meeting: this is a festival on 30th May for spiritual seekers at the Cathedral.

8th January – Meeting with Sue Kitson who I will be doing some Church of England Chelmsford Diocese evangelists training with in February / March.

11th January Visiting CGC Basildon

12th January Meeting with Tile Kiln church re church strategy

14th January Meeting with St Luke’s evangelism team

21st January Meeting with St Luke’s PCC to review evangelism

24th January Attending St Michael’s church leadership away day to review and plan evangelism

31st January Attending part of Tile Kiln church’s leadership away day to review and plan evangelism

Prayer
In Acts 4 we have the details of an early church prayer meeting.  What do they pray for?  Boldness in speaking to people – Peter and John had just come out of prison for doing it, yet they wanted more!  Please pray for boldness for the churches I am working with collectively and as individuals, and for all of us.  I was challenged that if we are not praying for boldness regularly, is it because we are not putting ourselves in situations where we need it?

Dealing with Distraction

I was talking with a man over Christmas who does not go to church.  When we were talking about Christmas and the Christian beliefs connected to it, he said “You know many of us do believe it; it’s just that we don’t want to acknowledge it.”  That fitted with something I recently read about how there is a spirituality of distraction in the much of our world today.  It’s not that people don’t believe in God or are not interested in the big questions of life; they find it easier to be distracted by other things that are less thought provoking, time consuming and life changing.  Thinking about that man, thinking about other people I know, I think that’s true.  Do you?

So how can we deal with the spirituality of distraction?  Here are some thoughts:

Don’t assume people don’t believe in God or are not interested in the big questions of life.  We can be convinced by some of the media that no one believes or cares anymore.  Not true.  We might need to start in a different place though (see Paul in Athens in Acts 17 v 22,23).

Look out for times when people have to confront the big issues –a crisis in their life, peoples’ lives around them or the world.  Don’t then leap on them and say I told you so.  Be alongside them in their circumstances; ask about their world view in times of global crisis; be open to the Holy Spirit about what to say and when.

Talk about your experiences of dealing with life’s big questions in every day life rather than focusing on tackling someone’s feng shui beliefs, shopping obsession or Friday night habits.  The gospel will outshine anything else and comes first, lifestyle can come later.

Pray for the barriers to belief to come down for the people you know and that they will see the realities of life with and life without God.  Ecclesiastes is a brilliant book that does this and addresses all the distractions of work, pleasure and money.

Recommended read: Deep and wide (Creating churches unchurced people love to attend) by Andy Stanley.  Although this book is Sunday service focused and some things are of American culture (2,000 people in a month attending a new church would not be common in the UK), there are some key principles to apply anywhere.  For example does our church building say we are expecting guests who are not used to church?  Do our assumptions about our services say that?  If we assume everyone believes and knows what to do, we will end up with those people at church.  Also some good emphasis on the differences between models and mission – mission is forever, models can change.  So date models but marry mission!?!

 


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