Saturday, 19 March 2011

The church and change Evangelism part 3

The Christian life is a journey.
It is a journey I have been travelling on for a few years
I have changed since that exciting day in 1973 when I became a Christian
I have changed since I first became a pastor in 1983
I have changed since I came back to Shropshire to pastor a church in 2004
It is for others to say whether the changes in me are improvements or not-Its possible some are and some are not. Who knows?
However when it comes to evangelism I am much more content and comfortable with my current position than I was in the past
In the past evangelism seemed to be tagged onto church life We were commanded to do it, we did it, we were not expected to enjoy it and on many occasions we didn't
I can remember the agony of thinking about who to ask to Mission 84 .The prayer the disappointment when my chosen "target " didn't come
As I wrote in my previous posts through the years I have increasingly seen the value of  deep relationships,of putting roots down in the local community I have seen that evangelism is not the task of the evangelist alone but of all the people of God...the whole church
What we have tried to do therefore is to give people the chance to make the easy invite and to get to know people in our community better and at the same time to bless them in Gods Name.We are nor unique in this in any way
To this end we have put on various curry night's Italian evenings,Harvest Brunches,afternoon teas unplugged evenings and Christmas brunches.
When we started these we worried not enough people would come ,now we worry too many will come which is a great problem to have.
What we still need to learn as a church is how to build on those relationships and to train and build confidence in our people so that in a natural ,unforced way they are encouraged to share their faith We need to learn that it is not our task so much to drag people to church but to be the church where we are.We are not called to do the church but to be the the church
My theolgy has been shaped by Alan Hirsch and above all Reggie McNeal who writes""the missional church is the people of God partnering with God in his redemptive mission in the world." The focus is on the world, not a full calendar of church activities that are exhausting, not equipping, God's people. " I do think there is a lot of truth in that!

This kind of evangelism is a natural sharing of Gods work in our lives that sees others not as targets for our next crusade or big event but as people made in Gods image who are loved by Him and who we should therefore love and seek to bless.

 As  John Wesley said

Do all the good you can, 
By all the means you can, 
In all the ways you can, 
In all the places you can, 
At all the times you can, 
To all the people you can, 
As long as ever you can. 

The Son of God became incarnate,he lived among us,he shared His life with us he brought us good news about God .Jesus is a great model for the church to follow!
Now there is nothing new in this
The question we as a church must wrestle prayerfully with is how can we bless the communities in which God has placed us?Of course that includes telling people Good News, but also being Good News for them.
It is a big challenge
I pray that both in the area  of our new  town centre building and in the Monkmoor area we and other Christians, will respond to Gods call and rise to that challenge

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