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October update

Grape expectations

Jesus says that he has chosen us to go and bear fruit that will last in John 15 v 16, a missionary call if ever there was one. But what sort of fruit is he talking about?  Recently I had the privilege of being with St Luke’s church as they reviewed their evangelism strategy and progress.  The view was expressed and generally appeared to be agreed with that there had not been much fruit for a year’s worth of effort and activity.

It is important to identify what the fruit is that we are looking for before we start church initiatives so expectations for everyone and ‘success’ can be clear.  Don’t assume everyone involved in the organisation of evangelism and the church as a whole sees things the same way….

Success does not always, probably rarely, mean more people sitting in church on a Sunday.  Rick Warren from Saddleback church in America has said we should judge churches by their sending capacity not their seating capacity.  St Luke’s had good consistent numbers for outreach events, had built contacts with more families (the original aim of the events), had run an enquirers course including 2 people finding out about Christianity for the first time plus 2 families who were previously unknown to the church before the outreach events who had their children baptised in the summer.

Now that is fruit!  As an outsider I was able to see what perhaps those on the inside found hard to see.  So let’s be clear on our fruit. It will take work to cultivate fruit that will last.

Highlights of what’s been happening recently….

As mentioned above, meeting with St Luke’s church to review their evangelism strategy, progress and consider new ideas.  We went through what we have done, responses from people in and outside the church, our expectations and ideas for the future.  There were lots of small and big ideas to take forward with a determination to keep going and growing.

Preaching at Broomfield Road Evangelical church who’s theme that morning is Paul’s missionary journeys: a coincidence?

Being part of North Avenue URC as they have changed service times and format to move towards more interaction with the local community.  It is a small church but is already involved in a community cafe, youth club and food bank.

Attending service at Chelmsford cathedral for Evangelism enablers who have been through the certificate of evangelism training course that I have been involved with.

Recommended read: Evangelism and the sovereignty of God (J.I. Packer)

This book wrestles with the biblical teaching that God is in control of everything including who believes in Jesus as well as our responsibility to tell others about Jesus.  How do the 2 fit?  Spoiler alert:  The sovereignty of God does not affect our duty to tell people and the sovereignty of God is our only hope of people believing.  What method is recommended?  Any method that focuses on telling people the Word of God.  The message should begin with information and end with invitation.  A classic.

Prayer points:

St Michael’s, BREC and Tile Kiln as they continue to put their mission vision into action.
St Luke’s as they continue to reach families and consider more outreach to seniors.
Great Leighs free church with more room now to do more youth work.
North Ave URC as they aim to reach the local community more.
Evangelism consultancy as I look to work with more churches across a wider area. 

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