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September update

Who are your people?

There was a pastor of a small church in a small village in Asia some years ago who one day had a visitor to stay.  The visitor asked to meet some of the pastor’s people.  They walked around the village, calling into homes where they were warmly welcomed.  The visitor noticed that the homes they visited were of different religions, but none of them were Christian.  The visitor politely said “I deeply appreciate the visits we are making, but I would still like to meet some of your people.”

With a warm smile on his face the pastor replied “Oh they are all my people, it is just that some of them don’t know it yet”. *

What difference would it make seeing people this way to your daily life, priorities and mission?
What difference would it make seeing people this way to your church’s life, priorities and mission?

(*Story from The Good Shepherd by the late great Kenneth E. Bailey)

Some things done:

Co-led a service to encourage prayer at North Ave URC – good to see some people take reminders to keep on praying for people they know to know Jesus.

Led a workshop for Chelmsford Diocese for some ministers and their new parish evangelism enablers – great to see people’s passion to work with their churches and communities.  Please pray that the Diocese will continue to support this work as it is having a staffing restructure.

Spoke at Broomfield Road Evangelical church’s The Edge service for people on the edge of the church or beyond about the God of encouragement.  An interesting chat with someone afterwards who told me clearly he did not believe but enjoyed the talk.  Please pray for him.

Part of a team putting on a community cream tea at North Ave URC – 80 ish people there.  Please pray for wisdom about how to build on the community links.

Met with Saffron Walden Deanery’s evangelism working group to discuss how I might help with their plan to encourage all the churches in the deanery to share their faith.  This will include delivering some training to preachers about how to preach an evangelistic sermon and being part of a team to preach the gospel in all the churches on one Sunday.

Some things to do:

3rd Sept – Preaching about Jesus: rubbish or a result? at an end of holiday club service at Great Wakering evangelical church using the story of Jonah and a donkey (the holiday club theme is animals….).

24th Sept – leading the service at North Ave URC about God’s grace: is it fair?

30th Sept – Taking workshops at UEC’s church day (a network of 15 churches) about bringing friends to church and Jesus.

10th Oct – Speaking at Saffron Walden’s Deanery synod about evangelism today.

What is Mission?

Mission used to be associated solely with going overseas, going where no man has gone before (thanks original Star Trek).  Now the term gets used in all sorts of ways – mission statements, local mission, missional churches, and to describe all sorts of things – Alpha courses, community car washes (make sure you have insurance), helping old ladies across the road (make sure they want to be helped first – my gran at 90 complained when someone offered to help her).

The Church Mission society is doing some work on this (no surprise) to help us discuss what is mission through an online survey plus a FREE set of cards that can be used in church leadership meetings (could liven some of them up?), home groups, life groups and youth groups to look at and talk about what mission is.  It is important to do – we are sent on mission by God, so we need to know what we are sent to do.

For more information and to order the cards see: http://www.churchmissionsociety.org/mission-cards

Book review: Towards a Theology of Church Growth

As this book acknowledges, church growth can be a sensitive subject with an undercurrent of is it just all about numbers, what about the Kingdom of God and spiritual depth?  I like what Bishop Stephen Cottrell once said – it is more than numbers, but is also not less than numbers.

A range of theologians look at the biblical, historical and theological issues around church growth with a good balance of theory and implications for practice.  It emphasises that the gospel should have an innate ability to grow – look at all the references to seeds and growth in the bible. History is not full of everyone going to church or everyone not – it has always been a mix and we have a choice whether to see our culture as a threat or an opportunity. We need confidence in communicating the gospel but also humility.

It is not a light read but is more of a ‘serious’ read than heavy.  It has lots of valuable points to take away and think about such as as God is missional by nature, if we are not, how can we bear a true witness to him in our lives?

Who you gonna call?

Does your church need help to equip people to share their faith? Do you need someone different to preach at this year’s Christmas service?  Would your church’s leadership team find it helpful for someone from the outside to come in and review its outreach?
If you think so, please call without obligation!

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