Preach // 28th May 2017 // 6.30 TRINITY Church // Witness

6.30 service at TRINITY // 28/5/17

Witness and Mission // Acts 1:8

 

 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 

 

…o0O0o…

Before I get into this preach tonight, I just want to say, I first sat down to write this sermon on Tuesday morning. I had just woken up and seen the terrible news from Manchester. A lot of thoughts and emotions went through my mind. And I have to be honest I just completely floundered, where was God is in this?

During the day I read an article which highlighted the good that was bring done in the wake of the tragedy but did so my suggesting Jesus came to Manchester after the bombing.

 

 

And I’ve got to be honest it just made me really angry.

 

I mean, ‘And then Jesus came?’

What was he not there before? Did Jesus not grace the doorstep of Manchester before this terrible thing? Does goodness only come out in response to terror and fear? What nonsense.

Look I think it’s almost impossible to come up with an answer to the why? in situations like this. We can talk theology or politics but it actually doesn’t really help us to understand why someone would do something so awful, to cause so much pain deliberately and equate that with an all powerful loving God.

But what I do say to people with those sorts of questions is that we need to hold the truth of who God is alongside the things we don’t understand. And I expect that is what the writer of that piece was trying to do.

Questions are ok, I’m not saying don’t question, don’t ask, because actually I think our faith grows through that, but we have to hold them in tension with the truth.

Now I know some people think that is a cop out, they want to explore and argue and come up with answers to everything and I know because as a Christian I’ve been accused of being foolish, thick, naiive, brainwashed.

They think faith without proof is mumbo jumbo, a crux for the weak. But I say the opposite, wow I mean how much strength and courage and boldness does it take to believe in Jesus? It’s rarely easy!

The thing is he is God, He’s God! If we could fathom him out and answer all our questions then we’d have no need of him in the first place!

We have to get to a place where we can be comfortable with an element of mystery. Or of not understanding.

 

So whilst what I say tonight I believe, it’s something I am passionate about and I believe it is what God has for us right now, I also recognise that sometimes it’s hard to hold that truth in tension with what we don’t understand. Perhaps what I say tonight will sound crass in the light of what’s happened, though I hope not, that is not my intention, or maybe you’d rather hear me say something about God and suffering, but I just encourage you just to try and hold what you hear tonight together with what you don’t understand if that’s ok.

 

…o0O0o…

And the truth of our passage tonight is that we are called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. And I don’t suppose the disciples when they heard this fully understood what they were to do but they trusted in him.

 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

Jesus is speaking here to his disciples, literally seconds before he ascended and returned into heaven – and its very appropriate for this week, because did you know it was Ascension day this week?

Now, there are many times in the bible when Jesus sends out his disciples, but I think it’s hugely significant that these are, his very last words to them.

You will receive power

The Holy Spirit will come upon you

You will be my witnesses

In all the earth

 

And before I go on I want us all to understand that this is as much for us now as it was for them then – how do we know that?

 

Matthew 28 The Great Commission, another passage like this one, sending them out:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and (now here’s the key) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age…

And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. So the disciples are told to teach others to do what Jesus has taught them, so then the next generation of believers has the same commission, to continue to teach what they have been taught, and so on… right up to us in this day.

Whatever Jesus commanded the disciples to do, we can therefore say is for us too.

Does that make sense?

 

So for example. Matthew 10:7-8 one of my fave passages, Jesus sends out the 12 with these instructions:

 

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

 

Yes? Come on!

That’s what I want to see, the sick healed, the dead raised, lives transformed…

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Remember…

 

So just as the disciples were, WE are Jesus’ witnesses – anyone who is a Christian who has been made a disciple is called to be a witness for Jesus to all nations, to the ends of the earth.

That’s us.

So, are you a witness for Jesus? Are we as a church a witness for Christ?

 

And what does that even mean anyway?

…o0O0o…

Well 2 words that strike fear into the hearts of many:

Mission and evangelism… that is what witness means.

But why is that we hear words like them and break out in a cold sweat?

Well maybe it’s because we have seen really bad evangelism and want nothing to do with it? Maybe we’re worried people will think us weird if we talk about you know, (hushed) Jesus.

Or because the church often has a bad reputation, and we don’t want to have to deal with difficult questions about suffering or evil or homosexuality or women in the church…? Goodness whatever next!

Or maybe it’s just that we don’t really know what it means or what we’re supposed to do?!

Because we’ve already established that this is for everyone, right – we’re all supposed to be doing this, because we are supposed to be following what Jesus taught his disciples, yes?

 

…o0O0o…

Now look, some of us ARE called to be out and out evangelists. We are called to be project starters, to be pioneering new ideas out there… And that is great, we need pioneers to have ideas to get things going, to be out there among the people. And some of us aren’t called to that specifically as a calling or gifting, but we must not be people who sit back and think, well that’s ok – they, them over there are the missional types, they are the evangelists – I’ll let them get on with it…

But equally I’m not saying we all need to be out there on a street corner with a soap box and a loud haler telling people they are going to hell,

but we should be doing something.

So what can we do? And I’m going to focus on us as individuals though it’s as much a call for the church together as it is for us.

So we’re going to use Forrest Gump as an example.

Now I love Forrest Gump – how many of you have seen the film?

If you haven’t it’s the story is of a guy who, well I guess today he’d be classed as having learning difficulties, and it’s his journey through life. And he gets into all sorts of amazing situations mostly by accident.

And the reason I wanted to show it to you today is because I think Forrest is a great example of someone who is missional and evangelistic.

So here’s 3 things we can learn from FG about being a good witness, about being evangelistic and missional.

 

We can be incarnational

We can tell our story

We can go wider

 

 

1) We can be incarnational

 

Had to get that clip in, the most iconic line!
So, being incarnational – literally means in this context – just being who you are, a Christian – being a light for Jesus wherever you are. Jesus was the ultimate incarnation – he came to earth and took on human form in order to fulfil God’s mission. So for us that might mean intentionally seeking to be a shining light wherever we are. We can bring a Christian presence in any given situation, bring a different viewpoint, a bringer of peace and light.

So for example, Forrest makes the most of wherever he is, or wherever he is sent, or wherever he finds himself. He is just himself and takes everything in his stride. No matter what the situation – at war, in business, siting on a park bench – he embraces the place where he is. I am sure sometimes people think him weird but he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

So great example here – he’s just waiting for a bus and he doesn’t just sit there and ignore everyone, he is the same as he always is and so he just chats to people who come and sit next to him, or offers them a chocolate!

Jeremiah 29:4-7 says this:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

 

These are people who were sent to exile, sent away from homes and family and all that they knew, but God tells them to embrace where they are, to bless where they are, where he’s placed them.

We have to own where God has put us! I don’t think any of us are where we are by accident!

So, where has God put you? What’s your mission field? College, work, home, football club… where do you hang out with people?

Wherever you are, you are bringing the presence of God, because we carry that within us anyway. You don’t necessarily have to be talking about Jesus. sometimes just people knowing you are a Christian or that you go to church, is enough. It means that when they have questions or they need support they might just come to you.

John 13:35 tell us:

 

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples- if you love one another”

 

that’s how people will know about God, if we love people and love one another. That’s quite simple isn’t it?

And I always tell the story of my husband who had a work colleague who was a Christian, she didn’t go on about it a lot, he just knew because she’d said occasionally, that she went to church. So when he started having questions about faith, he knew exactly who to ask!

 

Be incarnational and embrace where God has put you.

 

OK so what else can we learn from Forrest Gump?

 

2.We can tell our story – we can talk about what God has done for us.

FG, talks about his faith quite openly and without shame or being embarrassed, he just talks matter of factly about it. And because he does that, people respond – so here you see Lieutenant Dan saying ‘where’s this God of yours’ but actually there is more to it that just teasing, he is on a journey, and later on FG says that he thinks Lt Dan made his peace with God.

But because he is open about his faith it’s easy for God to move! Here we see an amazing miracle but it’s the same in our lives too wherever we are open and seeking God, it just creates ways for him to move and for us to reach into peoples lives.

Your story is one of the best tools for evangelism that you have. Testimony is so powerful, we are a people who love stories, we especially love personal stories and stories of people going from sad to happy, from a bad place to a good one. Some of the stories we see in Alpha, like the guy who had been in prison and the became a Christian and his life was turned around. How many of you watch movies on Facebook or Social Media of heart warming stories? It makes you feel good right!? Your story could do that for someone else.

In Mark 5, where Jesus healed a demon possessed man and when the man asks to go with him, Jesus says no – just go and tell people what the Lord has done for you.

Mark 5:18-20

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

 

This man had been healed by the Lord. And what did Jesus tell him to do – just go and tell people what had happened to him. And that is key. Our story, our testimony.

You know someone close to me who is not a Christian, we’ve had so many conversations about faith and God and the bible, and he is very antagonistic and the only thing that gets him to really listen is when I talk about what God has done and is doing in my life. My story.

I’m not trying to be a theological expert or answer all his questions and get out of the traps he lays for me! I’m just telling him what’s going on in my life.

He even once said, ‘I wish I had what you have’. I’m still praying for him, he hasn’t recognised Jesus yet but I have faith that he will!

…o0O0o…

And you don’t have to have some amazing healing or dramatic conversion, it might just be that because of your faith you are able to feel peaceful in a stressful situation. Or are the one who can be a peacemaker between arguing friends, or the one who encourages people to help someone worse off than them. That’s your cue, your opportunity when people notice those things, that’s just as much you story…

And, we don’t see in this clip but the man sat next to FG on the bench doesn’t believe him and goes off laughing. But FG just carries on talking to the woman next to him. Just like in the parable where the seed falls on rocky ground, in weeds and in good soil, we still need to sow it! That man might never have believed but the woman next to him certainly does!

1 Peter 3:15

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…

Use your story you know it well!

…o0O0o…

And finally. FG shows us that we might go further, go the extra mile.

 

3.We can go wider/further

FG ends up in all kinds of situations that as a child no one thought him capable of, they didn’t even want him in school because they thought he couldn’t cope with it.

The truth is we just don’t know where God might take us. And that might be a one off situation where he calls you in that moment to do something radical or bold or courageous for him. Or it might be wider calling to go somewhere like Lisa from our congregation here who God has called to Uganda for example. Or I have friends that moved to a particular estate locally because that’s where God led them to.

We might end up in places we never thought we could go or doing things we never thought we could do. We need to be open to the leading of God. In our passage it says that the Holy Spirit will come on them. We need to be aware of the HS in our lives, to listen, to hear and be led by him.

I think this is one of the most inspiring scenes in the movie. FG is fighting in Vietnam and despite the danger, despite the fear, he is completely focussed on rescuing people, saving his fellow soldiers.

Isn’t that what we’re about at the end of the day? Seeing people saved? Rescued?

Where might God send you? Who might he be calling you to see saved or rescued?

And more than that, FG did in that moment more than he could have done without the adrenaline and fear and desperation to find his friend. It’s just like that when the HS comes on us, we can achieve so much more than in our own strength!

 

…o0O0o…

 

and one more thing I want to pick up on..

 

Mark 16:15 says

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation

 

And in our passage from Acts:

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 

 

To the ends of the earth…

Did you know that According to Finishing the Task, (evangelistic organization) there are 506 unengaged, unreached people groups with populations over 10,000, together numbering over 51 million souls that are still beyond the reach of the Gospel.

Most of which lay in what’s often referred to as the 10/40 window – a band which lies across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator.

But what if we’re not called to actually go to somewhere across the world, does that mean we can’t share the gospel across the world?

No – in our technological era, with the internet and social media, I can put something online that can be seen across the world in seconds. Even in remote places. Of course there are people without access to the internet but it is still a very useful tool.

So for example, I went on my blog stats and looked at where people were viewing my blog from.

There was a huge list of countries. But some had just 1 or 2 views. So if I wanted it would be very easy to write stuff to reach a particular country, or to set my profile and settings to reach a different area. All without leaving the comfort of my sofa!

Social media – we can contact people all over the world. I have friend who runs a school and orphanage in rural Haiti and they keep in touch via Facebook because its the easiest way to get the news out to lots of people and quickly (and it’s free!).

 

Going into all the world might not necessarily mean actually physically going there…

 

…o0O0o…

So.

 

We are ALL called to be witnesses for Jesus. There can be no excuses!

 

We could be incarnational

We can share our story and

We might just be able to go a bit further…

 

…o0O0o…

Lead into prayer….

 

 

 

#Write31Days Round Up

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#Write31Days Round Up // Day 31

Phew! made it to the last day, so I hope you’ve enjoyed this series or found it useful. To finish I’m just posting a list of all the posts so they are all in one place. 

1. Intro – 31 days of out there, loving one another with purpose.

2. Why be ‘Out There’?

3.Being Incarnational

4. Bless Where you are

5. Foundations: Prayer

6. Foundations: Love LoveOneAnotherJPG

7. Foundations: Relationships

8. Foundations: Team

9. Clearing our rubbish

10. Radical Transformation of life?

11. Sabbath

12. Church Live – reaching the nations with Social Media

13. A transforming presence

14. Being transformed

15. What’s your vision?

16. Really getting ‘Out There

17. Loving People

18. Sabbath

19. What is Mission Not?

20.‘Out There’

21. Church in a Pub

22. Working Ecumenically – a necessary challenge!

23. Resources for Mission & Outreach

24. Dave Walker cartoon ‘ Where is the church’?

25. Sabbath

26. Out There Video

27. Moving from Prayer to Something

28. Funding for Mission

29. To Jesus or not to

30. Social Media & Mission

31. this one!

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Social Media & Mission

Social Media & Mission // #Write31Days // Day 30

Ok So I’m a blogger, of course I’m going to rave about Social media. It is a passion of mine. I’ve written about it before here and here and here, here on a Christian Practice of Internet use and here on a short guide to soc med in the church, and plenty of other places too! But listen up people, the church needs to embrace social media – it was referred to as new media but it’s not new anymore! the world has embraced it and we need to as well if we want to reach people.

So whatever you are doing, whether you are a church, starting a new initiative, planning an event, get a Facebook page, post some tweets, it will get the word out there and feed into that all important communication which I mentioned a few days ago. It’s not difficult and if you don’t know where to start ask someone who does.

SOcMedStats1

One of my fave people right now is Pope Francis (@pontifex). On the World Day of Communications last year, he said felt the internet was a gift from God, when referring to its benefits and possibilities! He asked also:

How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter? What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel? 

So then there’s a challenge to us, and in my essay that I wrote about here I asked myself how does a christian use Social Media any different to anyone else? How can we enable others to meet with Jesus through our online use? Of course being authentic, not hiding our faith, being open to talking (or writing!) about it is key but more than that, I think need to be intentional about it.

So in mission, are we using soc med to share what we are doing? are we being overt about our faith? I mean it’s not just getting out into the community, what about our own friends and family too? Are they seeing us giving glory to God online and with boldness?

And here’s another question, how many people have you ‘friended’ or ‘followed’ online who you’ve met through a missional outreach? Are you actually forming friendships as you would with others?Actually soc med is a great way to interact with new friends in mission as it’s pretty non threatening. They don’t have to give you a phone number and also have the option to unfollow/block you if they are worried! That can actually be a real concern for some people, especially the most vulnerable.

dannyQuote3JPGAnd more than that how about a soc med campaign? For 2 years we have run ‘Share the Hope’ through Advent, an evangelistic campaign run solely online to encourage people to think about hope in a very busy time of year. This (left) was a quote from last year. Jesus is for everyone, exactly that! and if we want our social media use to be missional we must remember that and meet people where they are at. And for many where they are at is online! 

A few weeks ago I wrote this:

One of the biggest reasons to reach ‘out there’ – to outside our church walls – is that so many people just wouldn’t step foot over the threshold of a church. So how will we share the Gospel if we don’t get ‘out there’? And of course for some, coming to church is more than a mental barrier it’s a physical one.

and this:

 Isn’t our mission to reach ‘all nations’ with the message of Jesus? Well here’s a very 21st century way of doing just that…

Do we need any other reason to use social media now?

To Jesus or not to…


To Jesus or not to…. // #Write31Days // Day 29

shutterstock_321668363So a couple of days ago I wrote about how to move from praying about mission to moving on to something practical. Today I want to think about how to move from that practical thing to real discipling (this doesn’t necessarily apply if you are planting a church or similar as you are probably doing it anyway!).

This is a challenge it’s true. You’ve formed a relationship with someone, or a group of people maybe and then the question is, how, or do you, start telling them about Jesus? To Jesus or not to, now that is the question! A friend told me recently of an experience where she found herself bound by regulations and unable to speak about her faith. She told me she would never allow herself to be in that position again. And I am so with her. This is a free country, we do have the right to talk about our faith, where so many others cannot so we shouldn’t feel constrained. But that said, if you befriend people and then launch into being too full on with the gospel at the wrong time, well that’s one way to annoy people I’m sure!

Actually I think it should start well before that anyway. Be open and honest about being ‘from the church’. Talk to people about ‘prayer’ or ‘the spiritual’ right from the off. Ask God for opportunities to share those things. I’ve had conversations with people where they have been ill or had an issue going on and I’ve just said, I find praying helpful and can I pray for you? Most people are open to being prayed for, even atheists I’ve found! Then you are being far more open about who you are.

You can also make the most of opportunities like Easter and Christmas which many people will understand and want to celebrate. We did an informal carol service last year at one of our projects, followed by a free lunch which worked really well. Who doesn’t love carol singing?! (or a free lunch for that matter!). If you are doing something like that you can then lead into something else, use it as an opportunity. ‘If you’ve enjoyed this morning we will be meeting on Wednesday to talk about what Easter means for us now’ for example…

IMG_20130623_141634If people then start to open up and ask questions you might find a core of people who want to know more, or who are ready for something more concrete but might not be up for ‘church’. I used to host a ‘coffee and questions’ group in which people could come and just ask any question of faith. It was very informal and worked well for a while. Of course there are standard things you can do like an Alpha course too, but remember to think about what would work in your context or with the people you are reaching out to.

One thing I have mentioned previously but I think is really important is that we don’t just think that we have to feed people into a church. Our aim is not to get them to a Sunday morning service, but to get them to know Jesus! So whatever we do we need to keep that at the forefront of our minds….

 

Funding for Mission

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Funding for Mission // #Write31Days // Day 28

I mentioned funding in yesterday’s post, so here’s a few places you might be able to apply for funding for mission projects. There are of course many others but this should give you a starting point. If you apply, do your homework well, find out exactly what they will fund and how you apply, then do a thorough and well put together application.
All Churches Trust

Grants will be considered for Churches, Church establishments, religious charities, charities preserving UK heritage, theological colleges, schools promoting Christian religion, charities sponsored or recommended by the Church in the United Kingdom. Grants tend to be made for general works, repairs, refurbishment and

Children in Need

The BBC Children in Need Main Grants programme distributes grants of over £10,000 to not for profit organisations such as Registered charities; Voluntary organisations; Schools ; Churches; and Community groups, etc that work with disadvantaged children below the age of 18 living in the UK

Burden Trust

The Trust makes grants of up to £5,000 to voluntary and community organisations benefitting the young or people in need. The scheme is intended to support organisations undertaking projects to benefit those in need, including schools and training institutions

The Church Central Fund

The Church and Community Fund (CCF) assists the Church of England to develop its capacity to engage with the whole community through supporting innovative use of resources, help transform areas of greatest need and opportunity and grow spiritually and numerically

Church Urban Fund

The Church Urban Fund is a not-for-profit organisation supporting social action in the poorest parts of England.

CREATE

CREATE provides small grants to projects throughout the country via the administration of two funds: The Christian Fund and The Community Fund

Esmee Fairburn Foundation

The Main Fund is open to applications for support from across our sectors, which are:

  • Arts
  • Education and Learning
  • Environment
  • Social Change

Hilden Charitable Fund

The aim of the fund is to address disadvantages, notably by supporting causes which are less likely to raise funds from public subscriptions.

Jerusalem Trust

The objectives of the Jerusalem Trust Grant are to advance the Christian religion and to promote Christian organisations and the charitable purposes and institutions they support and to advance Christian education and learning.

Moto in the Community Trust

The Moto in the Community Trust looks to support a wide variety of local charity and community projects with a 25 miles radius of its 48 service stations. There are three types of grants under the Moto in the Community Trust umbrella. Community Grant; ‘Making a difference’ Grant (employee volunteering scheme); and Moto Benevolent Fund Grant. The Community Grant Scheme is the most appropriate scheme for outside bodies wishing to approach the Moto in the Community Trust.

O2 Think Big Community Programme

The O2 programme supports projects by young people (13 – 25) that have a positive impact upon their community.

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation

is one of the larger independent grant-making foundations in the UK. The Foundation makes grants to organisations which aim to maximise opportunities for individuals to experience a full quality of life, both now and in the future.

The Greggs Foundation

The Greggs Foundation prioritises local organisations that help people in need in their local area. Many charitable causes can be supported through the programme. Most of the grants are to support an identifiable cause such as trips, activities and equipment.

The Woodward Charitable Trust

is one of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. Applications will only be considered if they fall within the following areas; Children and young people who are isolated, at risk of exclusion or involved in anti-social behaviour; Minority groups including refugees, gypsies and travellers; Prisoners and ex-offenders; Disability projects which can include rehabilitation and training for people who are either physically disabled or learning disabled, as well as help to improve employment prospects; Homelessness, especially affecting young people and women, and covering facilities such as women’s refuges; Arts outreach work by local groups for the benefit of disadvantaged people; Environmental projects, especially with a strong educational element.

 

 

Just came across this article, so I’m linking it here. if you’re a church receiving money from people in your congregation, it’s so relevant. You have to take people with you in your vision, otherwise they will just think you are spending all their money on ‘repaving the parking lot’…

Moving from Prayer to Something

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Moving from Prayer to Something // #Write31Days // Day 27

So at the beginning of this series I talked about building a foundation of prayer before anything else. And the challenge then is how you move from that into something practical, and then how you move from that to something more spiritual, (assuming you aren’t just planting a church that is) and of course the key is to be guided by God in that.

A few things I’ve learned along the way are:

  1. Listen to God  – If you are on a mission from God you have to be guided by him! simple :) I had a bit of an eye opener on this, as I’m a planner and organiser, I’m often thinking of the practical things. In one particular prayer meeting I was feeling stressed that we were taking up all the planning time. One member of the group just said to me, listen to God, and all of a sudden it was like a download, answers to questions, lists of things to do. I just started scribbling it all down and that was all I needed in that moment. That isn’t to say you can’t plan at all, we need both of course, but never forget that God is the manager in whatever you are planning, not you!
  2. Listen to the peopleThe Mission Shaped church report  (which although a bit dated now is well worth a read) had a section on ‘double listening’ – listen to God, but also listen to context. And it’s so true, we need to also focus on the area God has put us in, what is needed, what is missing, what do people actually want. The idea for our community cafe came from locals, Church in a Pub came when the Landlord suggested doing just that, our skip day began as a result of seeing what was needed in the area. Look around, ask around and move forward from that.
  3. Working with others – I’ve found it key to work with other churches and other agencies. It doesn’t always work and sometimes people don’t want to, but at least trying this is a good start. It also means you are keeping people in the loop on what you are planning. You don’t want to start something to find there is already a local group doing the same, or planning to do something similar. It can save a lot of time and energy to do a bit of homework first! And it may just work out well, as it did with our cafe, which has volunteers from 4 local churches.  Also, as I’ve written before, it’s so important to at least consult with other churches, we are all in the same game, worshiping the same God and there is nothing worse than churches being annoyed at each other. You might find working together won’t work but still talk to each other!
  4. Which brings me on to communication – important on so many levels!! As I’ve said, with other churches and agencies but also with the context – keeping people informed on what you’re doing, and not least with your church. People want to know where there money is going, where time is being spent and what’s more, what God is doing! So tell them. We’re starting a new thing where each outreach project gets a slot on a Sunday morning once a year to tell the church how it is going which also means people get to see the leaders and to know who they are. Not only that but we have regular updates on our Facebook page too so people can see how things are developing. And one thing that I repeat time and again is – ‘you can put on the most amazing event, but if no one knows about it no one will come’! Whatever you are planning, make sure people know. Leaflet drops, posters, word of mouth, school assemblies, Social media – use it all. I don’t think you can ever over-communicate so go for it!
  5. Finances – a tricky one and again depends on your context, but you might just have a fab idea and no money. God often provides and opens up avenues of funding you may never have thought of, incurring the miraculous! But it’s worth looking into funding bodies of which there are many. Try those linked to the church or those are Christian but also if you’re doing something specific look at those that cover that area, for example we’re looking at running a homework club, so we could look to educational charities for computers or other equipment.  If you are in the CofE your diocese may have a mission fund you can apply to and if not still ask them, if they think it’s worthwhile they might just find you the money anyway. And talk to people in the know, or in relevant positions of authority who might give support to your project, with the church/ diocese but also try your local council. You may find your church has funds to put behind your project too, but make sure you think about set up costs and ongoing costs, you don’t want to get a few months in and find there is no money.

So there’s just a few things to consider, feel free to get in touch if you have questions or would like to know more…

 

 

Out There

‘Out There’ // #Write31Days //  Day 26 

So the whole title of this series is ‘Out There’ because that’s what I feel as the church we need to do more of! It’s also the title of a new series of events we’re doing at church to encourage people to get out in their communities. Here’s a little video of the first one….

Where is ‘the church’ ?

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#Write31Days // Day 24

A little pictorial interlude today. Came across this cartoon from Dave Walker today and thought it perfect for this series of posts. You can see more of his work at Cartoon Church...

 

Resources for Mission & Outreach

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Resources for Mission & Outreach // #Write31Days // Day 23

So, as part of my job I’ve been putting together a list of resources for mission and outreach, and in fact this post is simply an update of a previous one but I thought it might be useful for anyone looking at this area. At the mo this is mostly links but I will be adding books in the future.

I’ve posted things under headings and with links where there are some. If anyone can suggest other things to add do let me know!

 

Getting started

Church Army Resources for Mission

Church Army Tips for Evangelism Sheets: (downloadable) – Basic tips and ideas, a good starting point. 

CPO – Christian Publishing & Outreach: CPO creates, publishes and distributes resources and media to promote the Christian faith. Masses of resources, posters. Invitations, etc that can be used for your own events. Also tracts, booklets and so on to order. Some more modern and contemporary than others – have a search around.

Fresh Expressions  resources for building new forms of Christian community and church planting.

Getting started with a FxC.

 

Evangelism

Church Army – Stepping into Evangelism

Intro video

Natural Evangelism Course

Grove Books – whole section on evangelism.

 

Working ecumenically (with other churches)

Churches Together in England – Working ecumenically

Also has some other papers on similar issues

 

Hope – resources for those wanting to reach their local communities. Encouraging churches to work together. Focused on key dates in the church year.

 

 

Other Resources

Reaching Muslims

Mission Theologian

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church Mission Society and Durham University have become partners in creating an innovative seven year post: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion. The site which is quite new, is growing but has some useful info on it.

 

LICC

In the workplace

Fruitfulness on the Frontline

 

Disciple Kit  list of more resources

 

Inclusivity 

Disability and Jesus   Twitter: ‏‪@DisabilityJ 

 

 

Working ecumenically – a necessary challenge!

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Members of 4 churches working together!

Working Ecumenically – a necessary challenge! // #Write31Days // Day 22

Earlier this week an article I wrote for Fresh Expressions was published, relating to working with other churches and particularly to Fresh Expressions. Some of what follows is from that article, but I wanted to expand on why I think it’s important for churches to work together…

 

Eighteen months ago, I found myself in the perhaps somewhat unenviable position of chairing a meeting of several local churches. It was the first time that all of them had agreed to meet with a common goal, and I’ve got to admit I was more than a tad nervous. I was aware that, working as I do, for the only Fresh Expression in the area, that people were a bit suspicious of us. But I knew God was calling us to do this, so I went with confidence in him if not in myself! My hope was that we could find a way to work together; a way of working built on the essential foundation of prayer.

Let’s face it; churches are notorious about not wanting to work together. They can so often be like kids in a playground, name calling and whispering, sharing half-truths about each other, instead of recognising that at the heart of all that we do; in whatever form; with whichever words, props or attire; we all worship the one true God. In Philippians 2, Paul speaks of unity saying:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Working ecumenically this has to be our goal, to share that same love that we all experience with those around us. Moving forward from that initial meeting, I am delighted that we have managed to do this, having just celebrated the first birthday of ‘The Melting Pot’ – a community café which the churches now run together. Our combined interest was to reach an area of a nearby village which had long been overlooked, sneered at and ignored, and it was about time we changed that.

So why is it so important for us to work together as churches? After all so often we are suspicious of others and the way they do things. We criticise the differences and overlook our own inadequacies. Well, I truly believe that there is great power in unity. After all we all worship one God, and even though we often choose to do that in different ways, we are still brothers and sisters in Christ.

Look at Acts and Paul’s letters and you can see just how hard they found it to be united. Disagreements over what we might call doctrine were clearly not uncommon! But still the church grew and Paul himself, talked of unity in Galatians 26-29:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

We are the body of Christ. Each of us play a part in that, whether that is in our own church or the wider church.

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As I prayer walked the area near our community cafe recently, I stopped and looked around. On two sides, rolling fields stretched away from me; on another was a view past a playground to the beautiful South Downs, and in front of me stood the social club in which we have made something of a home. This is truly a beautiful and blessed place. I was struck by how so often we only see things from one viewpoint, but just turn to one side or another and the view is transformed. It’s the same in the church too; we tend to view things through the lens of our own brand of Christianity, rather than through the eyes of Jesus.

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The media loves to show us at each others throats, arguing over this issue or that, so what a joy when churches can come together and really show the love of Christ in such unity! I think it helps on a more local level too with people seeing their local churches working in agreement, it just gives off such a positive message. And above all I think there is great spiritual power in us working together. I bet the devil hates it when Christians come together in agreement, after all Jesus said, when 2 or 3 are gather in my name, I am there with them. Imagine then if whole churches are together! 

Of course it isn’t always easy, and certainly running the café hasn’t been completely plain sailing! Making relationships is key to the heart of any missional outreach, not only with those we are reaching but also with each other. We’ve needed to work within and yet also stretch each of our boundaries and barriers. We recognised that careful conversations and planning behind the scenes would be the backbone of what we were aiming to achieve but in acknowledging that knowledge and desire, we knew that misunderstandings could still happen because – even within the same denomination – we sometimes speak different ‘languages’!

Another part of the learning curve is that we must be realistic; knowing that we are unlikely to be united in all things but being clear that the purpose of the project has to be something which we are most certainly in agreement about. There’s no doubt that having complete clarity on this can help avoid challenging conversations later down the line.

Like any relationship, a degree of compromise is required. We have had to learn to work together, pray together, and find a unity that we can focus on. 18 months into our cafe project and we are really only just developing those key relationships with each other and with local residents, so time will tell where and how the café develops but, for now, we are just taking it one step at a time. I really believe that the future of the Church as a whole relies on us uniting and reaching out: united in that love we share. Jesus’ ‘new’ command to love one another is just as relevant now as it was then: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Loving each other doesn’t mean we get it right all the time, but it means we are trying to be with each other, to pray with each other and to work with each other, united in the love of Christ. Now that doesn’t sound too hard does it…?!