New skin needed
Jesus talked about a new skin being needed for new wine in Matthew 9 v 16, 17: you can’t just keep putting new things into the old and expect things to keep working. Recently I was involved in the Spirit of life festival at Chelmsford Cathedral. The aim was to reach people who are spiritual seekers, who have spiritual beliefs which are not necessarily ‘God’ as is usually thought of, which some surveys say are more than the people who do believe in God as is usually thought of. So the Cathedral was full of examples of Christian spirituality: potters, poets, puppets; pray-ers, dancers, charities, card makers, card readers (not tarot or debit cards) and we did have some people walk in who’s beliefs were not clear.
But clearly it also challenged Christians. I had conversations during the day with Christians about why we had called it Spirit of life – wasn’t that a bit new agey? Wasn’t some of this stuff dodgy? Yes it was not the usual side of Christianity we often think of. But to engage people who we are not currently engaged with, and there are many of them whichever survey you look at and from looking around ourselves, we cannot keep doing what we have always done. It will probably be out of our comfort zones, but we need new skins for the new wine.
What’s been happening:
Visited a pub church with Ascension church: a different approach to the Fox and Hounds evenings I have been involved with. Good to meet a church going around the 4 pubs in the parish to meet people where they are (not all 4 in one night….).
Led a meeting at Tile Kiln Church with their group leaders about building a strategic vision and culture of evangelism in their groups. Got some great input for the church to build an evangelism action plan to grow the new vision. Had a meeting to start to put this together.
Met with St Luke’s evangelism team meeting to help prepare them for their next event in July. Visited a family service there in preparation for some training there in June.
Spirit of life festival in Chelmsford Cathedral – see above. I had a chaplain role on the day, giving the pre-opening focus for the day, being available to pray and talk with stall holders and visitors. One good conversation with a Hindu lady about Jesus and culture.
What’s going to be happening:
9th June Meeting with CGC Basildon to help prepare for their Mission week in July.
14th June Preaching at Broomfield Road Evangelical church about the virgin birth (no It is not Christmas).
15th June Meeting at St Luke’s to prepare for training about giving talks at family services.
18th June Evangelism consultancy support team meeting / meal (food and evangelism always go together).
27th June St Luke’s training re giving talks at family services.
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Mission and / or Maintenance
Recently on Twitter I read this:
“94% vicars maintain what is relevant
to 6% of the population.”
Think about that for a moment.
Even if that is only partly true, that is startling.
But doesn’t it ring true?
Think of all we do as churches for those of us already in the church, in terms of the number of programs we run in-house, how many church people are serving people in the church and how much time that takes, the balance of finance between mission work and church based work, what we pray for as a church and what we emphasise in meetings and sermon applications.
It’s not just about churches of course. What about us? Do we prioritise sharing our faith with others at work, in our leisure time or only when everything else is done?
It is not mission or maintenance. We need both. But the balance for many of us needs to change.
So why not try:
- Praying daily for opportunities to talk to people you will meet who don’t know Jesus.
- Think about what issues are relevant to people who don’t go to church – what does the gospel have to say about them?
- Putting mission on the agenda of every church meeting, regardless of what meeting it is.
- Valuing people publicly for what they do in the week not just for what they do for the church on a Sunday.
Nice short summary video of the 6 different evangelism styles from Becoming a contagious Christian that could be shown in church / in a small group / emailed to individuals:
I think there are more styles than 6 though!
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