Evangelism is a word that has sent fear into many hearts. Pictures of aggressive American TV evangelists shouting out of your TV screen trying to coerce people into faith, or worse, into parting with sums of money have blighted the name 'evangelist'. And yet, evangelsim is one of the ministries to which we are all called. We may not see ourselves as a 'professional' but every Christian can play their part in the process of evangelism, whether it be making tea at Messy Church, praying for those on the fringe of church or sitting in a coffee shop with friends.
My role as District Evangelism Enabler is wide-reaching but is mainly aimed at equipping people to gain more confidence in sharing their faith with those who do not come to church. As you will see from the list below, evangelism is multi-faceted and there may be something for you or your church which you may not have considered before.
As part of my evangelistic enterprise, I send out regular Evangelism Bulletins. These cover all aspects of life and church and help people ponder the theological implications of what's happening around us. These bulletins go to hundreds of people across the district and beyond, and to those of other denominations and to some with no recognised faith.
View the Evangelism Bulletins
Methodism is a 'connexional' church and some of the connexional initaives have impacted on evangelism. I was privileged to be part of the team which developed the 'Talking of God' faith-sharing course (see below). Also I was part of the team which developed the Compass course - an introduction into Christian Faith and Discipleship with a specific emphasis on Methodism. For more information on these please contact me.
Fresh Expressions of Church
Over the past decade churches have realised the need to do church in a way which is culturally relevant. This is not to decry traditional forms of church and worship but simply to recognise that we live in a country which has 'stopped coming to church'. Therefore the demands on Sunday nade by alternative activities like shopping, sport, leisure activities and family visits mean that for many, church can be seen as an intrusion into their normal life. On the other hand, people are finding that this new, relaxed attitude to life leaves a void within them. They are still 'spiritual seekers' and miss the family bonding which used to take place in society.
This is why we are doing church on days other than Sunday and why Messy Church is so popular. It;s great to see the whole family worshipping together for the whole time rather than watching as the children are trooped off to Sunday School after the second hymn.
The quest for spirituality is explored using different styles of worship. Taize and Celtic worship are more prevelant and new monastic styles of being church are emerging.
I co-chair the Fresh Expressions Area Strategy Team (FEAST) with Rev. Canon Michael Mitton. The FEAST is there to advise, equip and resource people involved with Fresh Expressions of Church and thosse who would like to get involved. From time to time we organise regional events and forums with guest speakers on different aspects of the Fresh Expressions movement. One of the primary concerns of people involved with Fresh Expressions of Church is discipleship.
From time to time we organise and run courses or events specifically aimed at those wishing to advance their knowledge and understanding of Fresh Expressions of Church. These are:-
Vision Days - normally a Saturday, these days are led by the national Fresh Expressions Core Team - this is a taster into what Fresh Expressions is all about
Mission Shaped INTRO (MSI) - 6 week course which looks deeper into the thinking behind Fresh Expressions with lots of examples of creative ways of engaging with those outside of church in a contemporary manner
Mission Shaped Ministry (MSM) - a year log course for those intentional about starting or supporting Fresh Expressions of Church
Regional Forums - evening or day events which look at a specific aspect of Fresh Expressions, usually with a guest speaker
People outside of church today often say 'I'm not religious but I am spiritual'. One of the best ways of engaging with such people is to talk about spirituality in a way that they understand. Liz Babbs has, over the years, become a 'friend' of Methodism. Her award winning book 'Into God's Presence' and her series of audio books on Celtic Spirituality have inspired many across the connexion. Liz has worked with the musician, Simeon Wood. As well as inviting Liz and Simeon to various events around the district I worked with her to produce visuals for use in services and functions. The music used on these visuals is by Simeon Wood (with permission). Here are a couple...
Liz Babbs can be contacted on http://www.lizbabbs.com
Simeon Wood can be contacted on http://simeonwood.com
Over the years I have been involved in the organisation of a number of district-wide and ecumenical initiatives. These include:-
Pray Without Ceasing
Abolition of Slavery
Evangelistic Music Concerts
District Discipleship Forum
Celtic Spirituality Evenings
Church in a Spiritual Age
Various Fresh Expressions events
Here are a couple of video clips of some of the outworkings of these initiatives...
Welcoming Churches Course
We all think our churches are welcoming places. And yet there are a number of quite simple things to make them more so. This course brings together some excellent ideas for making your church the kind of place that people would not only like to come to but would like to be part of.
I lead seminars in contemporary worship with a particular emphasis on how to make the Christian Message understandable to people who are not familiar with our faith. I give insights into how to use multi-media effectively at different stages in a worship event and how to bring the Bible alive.
The Alpha Course
Few outreach courses have enjoyed the success of Alpha. First appearing in 1992 through Holy Trinity Brompton, this course has been run in most denominations across the globe. It also runs in prisons, universities, work places, coffee shops - you name it. I not only lead the course but train people on how to run the course in a way which is sensitive to a Methodist gathering.
Circuit and Church Mission Reviews and Audits
From time to time we all need to take stock of how we are doing and where we are going in terms of mission. If you need help in this process, then contact me for advice. I regularly sit with leadership teams and stewards helping them to focus upon the essentials of mission, evangelism and church growth.
Some people value having someone to sit with them to help them focus on the work they are undertaking in mission and evangelism. It helps people to focus, to shed those things which are unproductive, and to gain the confidence they need that they are heading in the right direction. If this is you, please contact me.