Disappointment, Discouragement, encounter, Eternity, Evangelism, expectations, Fane Conant, Gospel, Message, obidience, Opportunity, Organic, Pioneer, pperseverence, Repentance, spontaneity, word -speaking/preaching/teaching.

Yesterday was a funny old day…

We have been doing a mission this weekend.

An evangelist friend of my Dad’s, Fane Conant, had come up to help us, following a brief chat I had at a evangelism/evangelist conference.

We started the mission with a small group of us gathered together on Hanham Mount -where John Wesley had preached to the Kingswood Miners-. The Kingswood Miners were considered to be the toughest and roughest of people, normally people fled from them, yet here we see a small group of Christians choosing to make them the priority. Following the actions of Christ that prioritised the marginalised, disenfranchised and ostracised. Yet here had been an incredible harvest that transformed not only Kingswood but also our nation, and the world.

“Lord we have heard of your fame, we stand in awe of your deeds renew them in our day” (Hab.3.) We prayed bold and audacious prayers nervously and worshipped, there were only 12 of us, and the city looked vast on the horizon as we sung in faith “greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city”.

The next day we had a Men’s breakfast, sadly a few of the not yet Christian days didn’t show up, and 3 out of my 5 Churches weren’t represented, there was about 13 of us, and we’d reserved 30 places, so Fane’s presentation happened to rows of empty seats, although lots of people in the pub must have over heard the presentation too.

The next event was meant to be a coffee morning, but as I arrived no one else was there, not a single person had turned up. I felt bitterly disappointed. There were some guys in the hall painting. These guys were on Community Payback (the new name for probation).

Then an idea hit me, although God had probably been shouting it for a while, why didn’t I get Fane to talk to the Community Payback guys?

Swallowing hard and trying to appear chilled, I asked if Fane might be allowed to speak to the guys, talking about how his life had been turned around, message of hope and inspiration and I carried on in this vein.

The supervisor said “yeah, I’ll bring them all in”.

Fane (being wise) stopped him and said “you do realise I’ll be explicitly Christian?” (At this point I was expecting the guy to change his mind, and had already in a faithless way prepared my “well at least we tried” speech). The guy grinned and said “I don’t mind, I’m a Sikh by the way”.

So, here we were 8 guys sat around listening to Fane speaking about how Jesus turned around his life.

The last two talks Fane had done had been amazing, but here there was an even greater sense of God’s anointing, as Fane preached the Gospel in a wonderful and faithful way.

At the end Fane prayed a prayer and asked others to say it in their hearts, and then wandered around chatting to the guys, it turned out that two lads prayed the prayer giving their lives to Christ and are keen to be followed up.

Others were asking really deep, real hungry questions to Fane, Paddy and myself, the conversation fizzles and crack with God’s hand upon it.

As I left to take a wedding and Fane and a guy Harry from our Church went to chat to people on the High Street (and saw another guy come to faith)…

I smiled as I thought God is on the move, he is turning up in unexpected places, but he’s drawing people to himself, and what a privilege to join in with that.

love, Opportunity, Risk and Change

Lessons from Love…

I must admit I’m a bit shy and awkward at times.

When I was younger and dating, or rather trying to date(!), I used to find this whole asking someone out, to dance, for a coffee etc a bit uncomfortable.
It was so much easier to stay huddled in the corner of your school disco with your mates than take the walk of fear accross the dance floor to ask the girl to dance. Yet if you walk across the floor, you maybe changing your life forever, I’ve taken funerals of people who have had wonderful 50ish year marriage, which all started by that step from the comfort zone.
I remember hearing how often girls sat in their huddle really wanting the boy to walk accross the hall, and yet guys used to think “they’d never be interested in me” so they never moved…
Or perhaps we have seen, or been, people who have thought that it is so much easier to ‘just stay as friends’, just stay in a safe zone of pleasantness rather than risk exchanging a good friendship for a great relationship, settling for ‘being liked’ rather than ‘being loved’ (and vice versa).
Yet for millions, probably even billions, we have had to move through that awkwardness or pain barrier in order to have that life changing relationship.
I remember having a conversation with Allana once in the early days where I was, so nervous, insecure, that I remember dancing around the subject of really liking her for about half an hour.
Again, many guys reading this will remember the heart in your mouth moment when you propose and ask your girl friend to marry you…
It’s a scary moment risking asking your girl friend to be your wife, offering someone else an exclusive and a rest of your life commitment…
Interestingly too we all know people (mainly women) who are desperate for their boyfriend to propose.
Others appear to have it all sorted, constantly flirting, and as a teenager seem to only be single for a few minutes before appearing with some new “love of their life”..,
Does any of this sound familiar?
In many ways I think the world of dating can teach us a lot about the world of evangelism and mission.
Firstly it does often require us to take a step out of the comfort zone of familiar safety into a new and hitherto unknown territory…
We need to see the vision of people coming into relationship with Christ, the Angels dancing in celebration, as and empowering and compelling reason to leave the comfort, familiarity and safe security of the Holy Huddle, a prize that is worth so much more than the cost.
Too often we make the decision for people, mistakenly often thinking “they wouldn’t be interested” when in actually fact they are willing you to allow them the opportunity to hear about Jesus.
Too often we are scared that our friendships by be jepodized through evangelism, and so we never risk the possibility of offence or friction, but in doing so miss out on them and us sharing in awesome blessing of them coming know Christ and us having the pleasure and privildge of leading them to him.
Often in those conversations we a fearful to ‘seize the day’ for a moment to talk about our faith, often not realising that the person themselves was hinting at knowing more and going deeper?
The fear of rejection so often debilitates us from talking about Jesus… yet we often forget that we are loved and expressing an opinion on a faith matter is not going to be the social suicide we think it will be.
Often the hang ups and paranoia are actually to do with us, and our projections that to do with the people we are talking too.
This often results in us dancing around the gospel, just as the dating guy needs sometimes to say the words, sometimes we need to “push through the pain barrier” and actually say it, and like many things in life it is actually not as bad as we first thought. Nerves and fear often cause us to pull back from saying the truths of the gospel to people, and yet often the fear was either misplaced or blown out of all preportion.
Also we often compare ourselves unfavourably with everyone else who appears to be doing so much better at evangelism than us knocking our confidence still further.
As we think about the flirts, it made me think of those people who gently push boundaries, and wonder if we can do that with evangelism, gently pushing and challenging people to think a bit more about faith, moving preconcieved ideas out of the way of Christ.
So let’s be people prepared to see the worthwhile nature of sharing our faith, prepared to take the risk on Christ in our relationships.
I feel as CHristians we need to be emboldened, but we also need to remain wise, respectful and gentle.
I am keen for people to be courageous and seize the moment, but that is not a green light for recklessness or tactlessness.
Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi tells us we hold out the word that gives life, Paul urges the Church in Rome not to be ashamed of the gospel, and the (often tactless) Peter tells us to “always be prepared to give an account for the hope that we have but to do so with gentleness and respect”.
So, let’s leave our mates in the corner of the school disco and talk the walk to the unknown with courage.