Category Archives: Evangelism

What is your position on the recent movement in churches to become mission focus and market place oriented?

As suggested in the question, there has bben a recent movement to direct evangelism and other Christian activities toward the secular marketplace (I understand ‘market place’ as somewhere in the secular domain, outside of ‘walls’ of the church). In Australia, for instance, the number of non-churched is growing and people are no longer willing to step into the church. Hence, the push is to create gospel opportunities wherever we are in the market place (workplace, schools, gym, sporting club,etc), rather than relying on the attracting people into our regular church ministries for evangelism.

My view is that churches should become more mission focussed and market placed oriented, however, not at the expense of traditional church ministries. Evangelism at church and regular ministries (e.g. men’s, women’s, children, youth, marriage, parenting, etc) form an important platform for gospel proclamation. Moreover, the church building is an extremely valuable resource for evangelistic events and ministries.

At St Paul’s, by way of example, we try to encourage and support evangelism in any form and anywhere. We’ve set up evangelistic enterprises that have mainly been involved in market-place evangelism (e.g. cocktail party in business district, coffee club at cafes, community carols, etc). However, I am in full support of all our existing attractional structures at church (e.g. youth group, play groups, children’s holiday clubs, high teas, musical events, etc) and I am always seeking to better utilize our church buildings to further evangelistic ministries.

Comments on incarnational and attractional ministry

The last few months, I have spent time sorting out the principles of my church’s evangelistic strategy.  The short of it is that we must move towards being heavily weighted towards incarnational evangelism in intent and action.  This will enable greater engagement with greater numbers of non-churched people in our community, and in turn this will drive our existing attractional structures. Hence, the relationship between incarnational ministry and attractional ministry can be seen as a virtuous circle:

Virtuous Circle of Attractional and Incarnational

Hence, although the church is always still going to run attractional services (like evangelistic rallies, youth group, children’s holiday clubs), this is not the bread and butter of evangelism.  For the real core must be in personal, one-on-one (or small group) situations where friendships are made, life is shared and gospel-speaking-in-relationship opportunities are taken.

In fact, as Chester helpful suggests, it is best to avoid the false polarisation between incarnational (Chester calls this missional) and attractional. He goes on to say “[t]he problem is in fact that both sides view church as a meeting you attend. Even those who reject attractional church implicitly view church as a meeting. But everything changes if you view church as a community or a network of relationships. Then attractional church is not about putting on a good show, but about a community life that attracts people to God.”[1]

This means that our evangelistic plan will be a four-fold strategy:

  1. Individual Incarnational: this is the primary movement of evangelism which we are focussed upon. We are sending our people into the community (into their workplaces, places of study, homes) to make relationships and disciples by being with people as Christ was.  Keller helpfully outlines the basic form of this ministry as:[2]
    1. Organic – it happens spontaneously outside of the church’s organised programs;
    2. Relational – done in the context of informal personal relationships;
    3. Word deploying – prayerfully bringing the Bible and gospel into connection with people’s lives;
    4. Active (not passive) – each person assumes personal responsibility of being a produce of ministry.
  2. Group engagement with community: this is an incarnational movement (either in a large group or in a series of smaller groups) which looks to bring the church into the community. In one sense, it is being a good citizen in the community with no other motive than to be a loving and dutiful servant of all.  This adds to and builds upon the “#1 Individual Incarnational” strategy, as well as flows into the third strategy.
  3. Group attractional to existing structures: this is an attractional movement of people from the community into our existing physical and/or ministry structures. This would only be possible if #1 and #2 are done well and that our existing structures adequately service the need that the community may have.  In this attractional engagement, it is envisaged that the gospel is preached and people are called to repentance.
  4. Staff lead and modelled for #1-#3. Moreover, ministry staff are tasked to raise, train leaders, and provide infrastructure to make this happen.

[1] Tim Chester, Online at “http://timchester.wordpress.com/2008/09/21/attractional-church-verses-missional-church/

[2] Timothy Keller, Center Church, 280.

Understanding Belief Blockers

Belief blockers are issues or ideas that stop people from considering the Christian gospel and changing their worldview in acceptance of it – ie become and stay a Christian.
As a ministry staff team we have been doing some thinking about this in our most recent professional in-service. Now the most recent study of Belief Blockers in Australian society can be found in the Australian Communities Report. It is worth buying a copy! Or you could always download the summary at Report Summary

When it comes to understanding Belief Blockers, it is worth keeping the following formula in mind:

Size of Belief Blocker = Intellectual objection + Outrage

To understand both components:
the intellectual objection is a rational, often fact based component to belief block, and outrage is an irrational, often emotional component.

Christians and churches, in general, tend to attack belief blocks from the intellectual objection angle and have left the outrage alone. However, we are finding that outrage will often be the main component to the Belief Block. For example, church abuse is a significant (# 1) belief blocker primarily because it has both an intellectual objection and a significant moral and emotional outrage component. In fact, the emotional response to the thought “what if this abuse happened to me or to someone I love?” may well be a far stronger source of blockage than the intellectual objection emotions alone.

dislike of Christians = dislike of Jesus + dislike of Christian hypocrisy

Sometimes it is easy for Christians to roll their eyes and ignore the criticism and general dislike that others have of them.  Just reading the opinion letters in the SMH can give you the idea that there is nothing more distasteful or abhorrent than being governed by a government leaders who on the record declare themselves to be followers of Jesus (http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-letters/god-help-us-if-these-are-the-politicians-leading-us-20140427-zr0c0.html)

I’ve been thinking about this issue for a while and I wonder if the general dislike of Christians can be described in the following formula:

dislike of Christians = dislike of Jesus + dislike of perceived (and actual) Christian hypocrisy

Jesus said that people would always hate him and his followers, but the longer I’m around, I see that often his followers don’t always make it easy to be liked either!

Jerry Seinfeld gets why its hard to do relational evangelism!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Seinfeld_actors_montage.jpgWhen you’re in your thirties it’s very hard to make a new friend. Whatever the group is that you’ve got now that’s who you’re going with, you’re not interviewing, you’re not looking at any new people, you’re not interested in seeing any applications. They don’t know the places … They don’t know the activities. If I meet a guy in a club or the gym, I’ll tell him, “I’m sure you’re a very nice person, you seem to have a lot of potential, but we’re just not hiring right now.”

Seinfeld, “The Boyfriend (1),” Directed by Tom Cherones, Season 3, Episode 17, Broadcast date: February 12, 1992 – sourced from http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2014/april/6042114.html

I was just looking up Jerry Seinfeld quotes and I came across one of his that explains why it is so hard to do personal, relational evangelism.  Basically the premise of personal evangelism is making friends and through those friendships, sharing your life and the gospel.  If at the heart of it, in our western culture, people over 30 don’t seem to want to make new friends, then that kind of kills any chance for relational evangelism!

Thankfully God is bigger than our cultural tendencies….

Preaching like an elder statesman

Ken AllenOur latest addition to our preaching staff, the Emeritus Archdeacon Ken Allen, has been a tremendous encouragement for our church.  I remember hearing him in 2011 and thinking, this man is truly “old school” in his preaching style.  And as I’ve been maturing as a Christian and as I see preaching fads come and go, I thank God that He has spent the last 50 years training and equipping this man to proclaim the word of God to our modern generations.

I have noticed that as Ken has settled into the staff and church here, he has adopted a new style, that is preaching as the elder statesman. Many of us in Sydney are familiar with this style of preaching in we’ve particularly seen it in the last few years of Archbishop Peter Jensen’s preaching.

For me, elder statesman preaching comes from decades of being shaped by God’s word and preaching it.  It’s characterised by clear, concise and faithful exposition, illustrated with 50 years of hardened ministry experience.  Ken and my offices are across the hall from each other and after many conversations about preaching, ministry strategy, what’s happening in the diocese, etc, I can confirm that this man truly is a man of God, a straight shooter and one who says and does what is right, regardless of what others think.  And all this gives him the right and the ability to preach as an elder statesman.

I’ve uploaded an example of this preaching from our recent May Mission Series.  Let me know if you agree..

An evening with Jackie Stoneman

Mission Month Events

Along with four weeks of special Sunday Church services where we aim to present Jesus clearly and call people to respond to him, during May our church is putting on 3 other special events for your unchurched friends and family.  The last of which is our evening with Jackie Stoneman.

Tuesday 21st May in the SPCH CEC — from 7:30pm till 9:30pm

“Who do you think you are” – is an evening with Jackie Stoneman. An opportunity to invite friends and family to hear Jackie speak about “who we are in Christ”.

This event is for women of all ages.

This event would be great to bring your unchurched friends and family to.

For catering purposes please RSVP to cameo@spch.org.au

« Older Entries