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Posh Church?

Is it me or is Church a bit posh?

I know muesli eaters need Jesus as much as the rest of us!

we are very respectable gatherings normally in our Churches, and yet Jesus was constantly being criticised for hanging out with out-casts and sinners, it is in all the gospels.

Jesus talked of the “prostitutes and the tax collectors entering the Kingdom of heaven before you”, he said “those who are well do not need a Doctor but only those who are sick”.

Yet, I am aware that our Churches seem to have very few ‘sick people’ in them, or we are very cautious of letting people know about our ‘sickness’ or brokenness.

The adage that Church is not a show-room of saints but a hospital for sinners might be theologically true, but often not how it feels.

One of our Churches, All Souls (called that because everyone is welcome) does have a number of people who have problems, and I am very conscious of how unusual this is for a Church, when I think this should be normal.

Yet as I have reflected on this, their honesty and authenticity and refusal to ‘play the game’ and say that everything is fine whilst wearing their Sunday best, is actually a wonderful and refreshing gift, a blessing from God that teaches us so much.

As I have repeatedly blogged about, my greatest and most profound moment of understand what Church is/should be was whilst doing a placement in a Rehab centre, with people carrying one another’s burdens, serving and being served, the power of wounded healers sharing healing and their journey with others, a place of hope and transformation. I remember thinking “this is what Church should be like!” and yet not like any Church I have ever been in, but one I long to see break out.

The first of the beatitudes is “blessed are those who know their need of God”, Jesus mocks this “I’m sorted” mentality that the religious people had when he says “the angels rejoice over one sinner who repents than 99 who need no repentance”… later on in the same passage we realise that those who think they are sorted “the respectable” older brother, actually is MORE lost than the younger brother from the pig sty.

I worry that sometimes in our Churches people don’t really believe they are sinners, and so offer a sort of pseudo repentance which leads to an unleaded, graceless, legalistic and slightly superior-mind-set Christianity that flies in the face of the gospel of grace.

My friend Fane Conant says “we are all beggars, just one beggar tell another beggar where to find bread”.

I know Churches will reflect their neighbourhoods, and yet even in deprived and multi-cultural areas with a younger demographic still too often our Churches still look “white, middle class and older”. when a Church is properly indigenous it will look like the people it serves, because it has become a Church in, of, and for the community.

There is a famous saying that says “If you want revival plant your Church in the gutter”, yet when we lived in Poole (one of the most expensive areas in the country) everyone wanted to plant a Church in its nice leafy expensive centre (and I know there is an irony in us feeling called back to there).

Interestingly, when I was out on the Streets on Saturday the upwardly mobile seemed uninterested to stop and chat, and yet the first two people to pray a prayer of commitment with us were both homeless guys.

Neil Cole in his book organic Church challenges everyone to look for good soil around abortion centres, rehab clinics, young offender institutes, red-light districts and needle exchanges… in other words go where there is hurt and despair with the message of healing and hope. where people are at the end of themselves often the place they discover the grace of God.

Jesus prioritised the disenfranchised, ostracised and the marginalised and sent the rich young ruler away, and yet it seems as the Church in the UK has turned this on its head.

why in the Church of England will a Church in Southampton receive more responses to an advert for a new vicar than a Church in South-Shields?

where-ever you are based there will be pain and poverty of some sort, Mother Teresa used to talk about “finding your Calcutta”, so let’s not become a cosy clique for the sorted and respectable, but an opened hearted feast with room for all -including and maybe even especially- for unrespectable, the unremarkable, undesirable and the unwanted.

Let’s see the Church in this nation looking like the people of this nation, all ages, cultures, class, socio-economic standings, races, sizes and shapes.

Sadly the broken and the hurting run from our Churches because they feel their sin makes them feel unwelcome. Philip Yancey writes in the start of his Book “what’s so amazing about Grace” about a woman who messes up her life and when suggests she goes to Church, she says “Church? I feel bad enough already, they’ll make me feel worse”. Yet the gospel should cause them to run too Christ who brings healing, restoration, forgiveness and grace.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about two fellowships “the fellowship of the righteous” -where we are all very nice and respectable, and maybe even a tad Pharisee-like- or the “fellowship of sinners” where we are real and authentic and share deeply the reality of our life and struggles seeking to follow Jesus.

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word on the street 3.

Over Easter we had a mission across the city “The Turning” where we went out and talked with people on the street about Jesus(using a simple script).

Yet we now have the new challenge, rather than just putting a load of effort into a short term event, we are trying to be missional people doing this as a normal part of our usual, normal life together.

we are being ‘intentional’ about keeping on going out together regularly onto the streets to tell people about Jesus, this months there have been three Friday worship sessions followed by three Saturday mornings in different parts of the city.

At the beginning of the month a load of us met up and worshipped, soaked in God’s presence, as someone that is an activist normally with multiple diary clashes prioritising God’s presence was a wonderful thing to do, although I must admit that just turning up for the Saturday outreach did creep into my mind. So glad I didn’t.

Today however I just came to the outreach on the street, we were in South Bristol and I felt convicted if I wanted people to come and share their faith in Kingswood area, then I ought to be prepared to bless other parts of the city too.

Both times on the Street were very different, lots of busy people in a hurry that wouldn’t stop. Yet on both days some people did stop and listen and have conversations with us, on both days we got opportunities to pray for people, and this morning we saw three people pray a prayer of commitment.

All things that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t gone out.

Today we prayed for a woman who said he life had been “ruined by God” as she suffered a stroke, but prayed for her and she prayed a prayer of commitment. Last time a lady we spoke to couldn’t pray that prayer of commitment as she was so angry with God for the way her mum had suffered before she had died.

Realise that in sharing our faith people are giving us privileged access to their hearts.

I wonder how many opportunities I miss by doing something “important” that actually from an eternal perspective might not have been that important at all!

Yet, I believe the Turning Mission is bigger than just the events with the label “The Turning” on it, just as “healing on the streets” and other initiatives should be bigger than just the teams going out, mission and evangelism should filter through to our Churches, our homes and work places.

The Turning has increased our expectancy for God to be at work, helped us see those potential Kingdom encounters. Recently an older gentleman shared about he was at Lidl and the lady at the front of the queue didn’t have enough money and was getting worried, he gently asked how much she was short by (32p) and paid the cashier. The lady asked him why he did this and he said “God loves you” and se began to well-up with tears.

Little things can make a big difference.

This last month, I have been reminded afresh of the pain of so many peoples’ lives.

This month of June I have had a student Dan with me, learning about being a Vicar. The first week he was here we wandered around the local shops giving out mini chocolates just as a gentle blessing from the local Church. The first shop we went into -a sweet shop- the woman declined the sweet but ended up talking about shutting her shop as it was loosing money. we were able to pray with and for her, and as we prayed she began to cry, just felt as though God had somehow touched her in that moment. Ironic as I toyed with the idea of not going into the sweet shop to give out some sweets as it seemed a bit cheeky. I am glad now we did.

Last Friday with the street pastors ended up spending a big chunk of the evening with a homeless couple, the girl of the couple just seemed really vulnerable.

On Thursday I had to help out for a couple of hours in the young peoples secure unit, seeing these young people who look both incredibly vulnerable and incredibly hard at the same time, one can only imagine what they have been through even though they are so young.

Recently as we do our weekly Pints of View (Church in a pub) I have seen us as a team becoming gradually more emboldened, one guy asking if he could pray for Annie (a regular) with her knees, next week she came in and said they were healed, and then began to complain about ankles. we prayed for her ankles, when I saw her a couple of days ago she said “you wont believe it but since you prayed they are ever so much better!”

One guy Jason, the week before heard one guy share most of his life story, but every now and then chipped in something really wise and Godly. People want to share their stories and want to hear what Christians have to say, we have fallen for the lie that people aren’t interested.

Also in our prayer time, we have been joined by a couple of guests, neither sure about what they believe, but both wanted to be there and came back next week, and we made the choice to carry on praying and worshipping in exactly the same way as we did when it was just Christians

Last week too tough lads smirking almost squared up to me and asked me if I could do “one of them gay weddings right there in the pub”… One of those things they didn’t teach me at theological college! It had the potential to be interesting (and by “interesting” I mean I could get punched in the face!). Yet with a bit of chatting and warmth the ice-melted and they admitted they both had girlfriends but thought it’d be funny to see how I reacted! From that my friend Harry began asking one of them if he had a faith, and ended up praying for him that he’d come to know Jesus -I thought Harry was pushing his luck and again expected him to be told to “**** off!” but instead the guy seemed genuinely moved shaking Harry’s and my hands warmly and thumping his chest in a “love you guys kinda way”.

It would be easy to read these stories and feel like we are sorted, but we are not, far from it, I still find even after the umpteenth time going out on the street that I feel nervous, and often wandering away I think of “what I should have said” -not what I did say!, but I believe we are gradually learning what it means to be a missional people living their lives everyday.

I know I and my friends still are far from sorted, but I know too that God is helping us be bolder and riskier in sharing him and seeing people respond.

I remember the line the overseer of The Turning Pastor Yenka says “the fields are white to the harvest and the workers are YOU” -what can we do?

Then we realise that God has gone before us and prepared the way ahead, opened doors and been tapping on lives already.

what an awesome privilege to partner this fantastic God.

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…It’s not sexy (A blog about Theological Method).

when you talk about theological method, you can hear the yawns break out across the room, but actually it is vitally important about how think and make decisions theologically, and yet no one talks about it, because they think it’s boring.

Hopefully this blog will prove them wrong.

It is a vital problem. I have sat in groups where people have called “discipleship” and yet scripture is misquoted and passages are thrown around and tagged onto issues like misplaced jigsaw puzzles.

Or have heard people saying “God told me to do this” only to discover God has done a “U-turn” and said the opposite a couple of days later. I believe in a God that speaks, but I also believe that prophesy needs to be tested and weighed.

Or maybe you’ve had a Catholic friend (for an example) that talks about purgatory, praying to Mary or some other traditional Catholic doctrines and you’re left asking “where is that is the Bible?”

Or perhaps you have been in a Church meeting where a carefully thought out vision is presented, with mountains of statics and graphs and it all makes a lot of sense, but you have a question nagging at the back of your head and that is “it seems sensible, but is this what God is saying?”

Some might have noticed that Wesley’s quadrant has crept in here, that we make our spiritual decisions on the basis of “Scripture”, “experience”, “tradition” and “reason”… and yet as you probably have noticed our fallen humanity can creep into all of these and distort our view of Christ and what it means to follow him.

So, not only is the process of theological method complicated, it is made more complicated by other factors.

Culture. we take our cultural lenses and baggage into our walk with God often we notice the failures, flaws and foibles with other cultures that we don’t see in our own, in the Southern states of the USA at the turn of the last century many Christians considered themselves being very holy, whilst treating black people like second class citizens, probably justifying their behaviour because that what everyone did and it was “normal”.

Ourselves and our stories. we also bring our own baggage and issues to scripture because we as human-beings don’t come at anything from a neutral position.

Others. I worry sometimes that Pastors create clones, rather than people with the tools to think and discern stuff for themselves. Hearing what “Pastor ZYZ says” is interesting, but regurgitating someone else’s sermon doesn’t make it right, interestingly as human beings we normally believe what we first hear and accept and are very cynical after that.

At this point people normally hold their heads in their hands and think, I’ll give up now shall I?

Yet theology is nothing to fear, in fact God wants us to know him and know him better, Theo -Latin for God- logos -word- the idea of studying God. My former principal Christina Baxter used to talk about Theology was “thinking God’s thoughts after him” -which I think is pretty exciting.

Rowan Williams said “theology was trying to say the least silly thing we can about God”.

Both of these thoughts actually lead me to want to worship, which I think is a good litmus test of whether theology is true or heretical.

As an evangelical, I look first through the primacy of scripture:

-But, if we are seeking God in scripture, we need to read our Bibles, and reading them with prayerful expectation, but also reading them in context, what comes before, what comes after, who is it written too, why was it written. Also, think translation is an issue, now thing the gizmos on our phone we can check out challenging passages from different translations, and even the original Greek, and look it up in a Biblical Greek dictionary all at a touch of a button whilst drinking your latte! Another what does the Bible actually say, rather than what we think it says!

As a charismatic, I do take our experience of God seriously.

Experience is good, Peter changed his viewpoint on the Gentiles because of a vision, and the other disciples changed their viewpoint on seeing the Holy Spirit poured out. Experiences and encounters are really important, but we need to remember that we as people are fickle and God calls us to test and weigh guidance, this is not lacking in faith, but rather it is in prayerfully weighing stuff that we allow our faith to flourish and grow.

The Catholics and Anglo Catholics often take our Christian heritage much more seriously than we in the evangelical camp, but as I have travelled onwards I have discovered that there is much wisdom and blessing within our Christian heritage..

Tradition, is so much to say than just because “we’ve always done it this way” when tradition is at its best we are standing on the shoulders of giants of amazing people of God whose journeys can bring so much blessing and benefit to us, and yet sometimes we are caught up in someone else’s baggage. whatever we are facing, probably somewhere throughout the world and history another follower of Jesus has faced it, and shared their experiences. what most of us think of as “normal” Christianity, has been wrestled out by faithful people (many who gave their lives).

The liberals get a bad press, but reason is important, asking hard questions and not being fobbed off with clichés or pat answers is important.

Reason. God has given us a brain of our own to use, discernment is a spiritual gift, and I believe God wants us to think and pray and use our minds in our faith. One of my key phrases I use when taking Alpha is “Christianity is not a faith which asks your to leave your brain at the door”, yet our reason will never be fully sufficient because “A God I can fully understand probably isn’t God”.

So, a good question to ask ourselves is “why do I think what I think?” and to be open to God challenging our thinking, a great phrase used at a theological college I looked at was “roots down walls down” -if we have our roots down deeply into God we have nothing to fear from other people with different ideas, as the spirit of all truth protects and guides us, if we let him.

I’ll close with two bits of testimony.

A friend of mine was at a theological college and someone spoke of their fear of loosing their faith (they actually meant not being a proper evangelical any more). My friend said something interesting, he said “ultimately I am interested in truth, and if it’s not true I don’t want to believe it”. So often we want to stay ‘safe’ in our theology and opinions, but actually the Spirit of all truth is both wonderful and dangerous.

when I was in my early 20’s I began to think about ordination, and one of the questions was about women vicars and Bishops, and lots of people tried telling me that it was all cultural, or about an experience they’d had (experience and reason) but for me my heart was saying “yeah but is the Bible okay with it” -I think it is- but what I wanted was someone to sit down and read the Bible with me and help me make sense of some difficult bits.

So, as we journey on, lets keep on chasing after God, hungry to hear from him, but doing so with prayerful wisdom and discernment in the context of community, and see where he leads us, it’s an adventure.

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You Are Most Welcome…

This is probably going to come out as a bit of a jumble.

I’m on holiday, but really struggling to switch off.

Read Paul Merton from “Have I Got News For You” fame, he writes movingly in his autobiography “Only when I laugh” about his partner Sarah’s breast cancer (which ultimately took her life).

“I walked to St Augustine’s Church, which was only a few minutes away . It was the Church in Fulham that I used to be taken to as a child. The Church was empty inside, I sat down three rows from the back. I relaxed my shoulders, and let out a deep breath. A moment of quiet solitude. Within moments, the mood was broken by a bustling woman rattling keys. “The Church is closed, there is nothing for you here, the church is closed. She was right about that, I left without a murmur”.

Deep within his subconscious he was seeking for God and yet the Church threw him out, thinking of how the rest of the book could have looked of a loving supporting community caring for Paul and Sarah through the last days of her life and comfort in the pain of bereavement.

So often we see so many missed opportunities within the Church and maybe missed opportunities in each one of us with our daily walk.

As I thought about this some more, it made me think of the amazing gift that is our time, and I think if I had a time machine I would be more generous with giving it away, and somehow need to translate this into practice into the present and the future.

Thinking today about welcome and acceptance, whilst seeing the horrors of the terrorist attack on London bridge across the TV screen, Allana texted back home to ask how Kings Krew (our All Age Congregation) went, and it turned out that some Muslims as the start of their Ramadan visited the Church and gave us cake. I wonder would we as Christians do something like this for them, at Christmas or Easter? -Sadly I doubt it.

These guys also give regularly to the foodbank, and allowed us to come to their mosque as a visit.

It also made me think afresh that sometimes accepting someone’s generosity is part of hospitality and welcome, allowing someone to serve us can be a really humbling experience to be a blessing to them.

As I was challenged by their warmth and hospitality.

As I scrolled down Facebook and saw posts from a Christian suggesting we put Muslims in interment camps.

I’ve been at Churchy events with the homeless and disenfranchised and been told loudly (in front of the people) to not leave your coat lying about as “they’ll nick it”, struck again by our suspicion of those not like us, and how fear shuts down our welcome and hospitality.

Also stereotyping and suspicion will spoil relationships if we ‘tar everyone with the same brush’ “all muslims are murders” or “all homeless steal” cause us to build walls between us, seeing people as groupings rather than individuals.

Then when we think of welcome and hospitality I realise afresh that we reflect our God who welcomed us when we were his enemies, dead in our sin, and yet welcomed us like the loving Father in the story of the prodigal son who runs to meet us, embracing us when we smelt of the pig sty were penniless and destitute, and whose welcome was extravagant throwing a party and causing the fatted calf to be slaughtered, cooked and shared.

Too often however our relationships are never formed as we don’t realise the potential they have o grow. If we go to the Paul Merton story, the lady was focused on the task -locking up- and missed the person. I wonder how many relationships are there all around us but never allowed to flourish, I’ve discovered the great network of little relationships when walking the dog or dropping my daughter Hope off at school or Rainbows. I believe that every opportunity for human interaction can be also be a catalyst for an advancement of the Kingdom of God.

I remember hearing many years ago now from a tutor at Moorlands college about how she did some coaching on relationships and she shared this idea that every human encounter can be an opportunity for Kingdom advancement with some guys on a short weeks course at a Methodist Bible College. The students took this idea and ran with it as they went off to lunch, they chatted to the people serving the food, and at the end of the week they got the catering and house-keeping staff a box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers. The head house-keeper cried and said she had worked at this college for 14 years and had never even had so much as a card to say “thank you” for all their efforts.

So, let’s knock the walls down, lets take the risk on meeting people, let’s see the Kingdom advance and welcome everyone with the love and extravagance that God has shown (and continues to show) each one of us.

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Yesterday was a funny old day 2.

A second blog looking at the rest of our mission with Fane Conant.

Whilst Fane and Harry went off to the town centre to chat and share their faith, I was busy taking a wedding service.

Unusually it was a Christian wedding with the couple regular members of Bristol Vineyard Church. The wedding was a wonderful celebration where through the worship, sermon, prayers and the conversation the Christians there were unashamed of their faith and thought how attractive it looked, as they chatted to old friends and made new ones over tea and cake.

The couple had asked if we could help them by serving the tea, which just required a couple of volunteers to help us, to make people welcome… and yet to get people to help required me to have to beg on facebook.

Yet if we are to welcome people as we should, it will require sacrifice, and will be more costly that staying in our churchy cliques and bubbles, but in being this open and welcoming community we are “treating other people as we want to be treated” and we are forgetting that “a stranger is a friend we haven’t met yet!”.

It made me think for a moment about how much welcome and hospitality is such key part of mission and evangelism, making people feel wanted, appreciated and valued all resonate with the heart-beat of God himself, the God who runs to meet his wayward child with an embrace and a party.

As we came back I heard a great story of Fane and Harry and heard of a guy I know a little bit, who drops in occasionally to our very formal evening service. Harry told me (in his own unique style) to “make sure he gets followed up well!”

I wonder how much follow up fails because Churches aren’t as welcoming as they should be.

Interestingly a friend once said “I don’t want a “friendly” Church but rather a Church I can make friends in”.

The next day Fane was speaking at three Churchy services.

It made me think that how often do people wander into our Churches and yet not ever hear the gospel presented clearly? I remembered several instances where people who were yet to make a commitment (or had drifted away) came with me to Church and sadly it was a missed opportunity (and on some occasions a bit of an own goal).

Yet here three services got a clear gospel presentation, it made think that we talk so much of getting people “in Church”, but we forget that being “in Church” is not the same as being “in Christ”.

People who had been in Church for years took one of Fane’s books and seemed really interested in what he had to say, hungry for more of us talking straight about the cross, and the message that matters the most.

It made me think, do I preach the cross and the good news often enough? Am I clear enough?

If we want our Churches to grow and flourish, are we seeking the lost and welcoming them in? And maybe that welcome is wider than just a Church service? when was the last time you had someone around for a meal or invited someone for a coffee or to the pub?

As I thought further I realised that both of these components need to work together in becoming fruitful and effective for the Kingdom of God…

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Some reflections on evangelism.

Many years ago I was given a picture by a lady called Brenda Thompson of being a person banging away at the wall of a great big damn with a toffee hammer and feeling frustrated that I was making little progress, and then she said “but in reality the hammer is really a sledge-hammer” and the hole in the wall will result in breakthrough.

It is a picture I often remember, as often over the last decade of parish ministry I have felt like a little guy swinging a toffee hammer and feeling frustrated and disappointed at the progress.

The more I have pondered on this picture the more I have thought of the calling of God which is to simply “be faithful”.

This weekend we had a mission with a great guy called Fane Conant, and have been thinking about all that had happened, and more than that, about the importance of evangelism and evangelists.

Firstly I think this weekend helped “demystify” evangelism -as Fane was very humble he didn’t ‘big himself up’, rather he ‘bigged up Christ’ as he simply told his story and how he had met Jesus.

His phrase “just one beggar telling another beggar to find bread” is a good principal to have.

He wasn’t scared of speaking overtly about Christ, in a clear and unashamed way, too often as Christians we beat around the bush, sometimes even struggling to say the name Jesus often instead referring to him/the Father as “the big man” or “him upstairs”.

He explained it clearly without making people feel stupid, he owned his struggles -“and although I became a Christian it took me a while to be free of my gambling addiction” and shared some of his post-conversion struggles life with Christ is wonderful but it isn’t always a bed of roses. I think often we are afraid of being real, thinking it will put people often, when in fact honesty and authenticity actually increase rather than decrease its appeal.

I was reminded on Sunday Morning by our readings about God calling us to be “witnesses”, -giving testimony-, sharing our story and then began to think “we over-came by the blood of the lamb (Jesus’ death) and the word of our testimony. Interestingly our testimony is what connects what happened 2000 years ago on a hill 2000 miles away with the here and the now, good news for our time and our context.

As we chatted one of my friends shared a little more of his story, one I’ve not heard him share before, but one which would be great if he would.

For me, I used to think my testimony was a bit dull, largely despite my best efforts of being a bit of a wally I owe my faith primarily to amazingly Godly and prayerful parents and a colleague at work who had the bottle to consistently keep inviting me along to her Church (and of course to the relentless loving pursuit of the wonderful Holy Spirit of God). -I didn’t used to share my story because I didn’t think it was much of a story, until I was doing schools work and my boss Danny, Danny Brown helped me see that every story of God at work in us is worth-telling, but also will connect with other peoples stories too.

For my friend with the more dramatic testimony I’ve heard him say “I’m not that person anymore” and often the devil hides some wonderful redemptive stories of salvation beneath a blanket of shame. Don’t let our embarrassment of past failures rob Christ of a wonderful trophy of grace that can bring hope to other people.

People are interested in other people, people are often much more interested in spiritual things than we think they are. Too often we think “they wouldn’t be interested”, but as Bishop Lee Rayfield says “give them the opportunity to make their choice of whether they hear or not, don’t make the choice for them”.

Evangelism creates a culture of expectancy, and a culture of intentionality, we expect God to be at work with the preaching of his word, and we are intentionally do all we can to share this message with as many people as we can.

Evangelism ought to be about partnership, very rarely does someone come to Christ purely by the work of one person, the colleague at work who shared a little of their faith, a Neighbour who invited them along to something, a family member praying faithfully. For a person to come to faith I believe often requires multiple Christians to be acting in obedience.

When we see these Billy Graham style crusades everyone says how amazing he is at speaking (and he is), but yet rarely does any credit go to the army of faithful anonymous saints that have got the person to the stadium in the first place.

Evangelism is like worship insomuch as it reminds and realigns our priorities, if we are focusing on “ordinary people meeting the extraordinary Jesus” then some of the squabbles we have cease to have the same weight or importance.

Reminding us that Jesus is the pearl of great price, wonderful and good news to share. Evangelism challenges us to explore our own faith and to see it as something worth sharing.

Lack of evangelism I believe leads to Churches becoming inward-looking and dying. We need to hear those stories that remind us that God has not abandoned his world, he is at work in us and through us, and is drawing people to himself. Again testimony of God at works keeps us expectant for him to be moving amongst us, and this gives us courage and boldness to take those golden Kingdom opportunities the Lord lovingly scatters in our path.

In Fane’s testimony he talked about Christians having something he didn’t, our lives speak louder than our words, our lives should make people thirsty for Christ. Yet too often we seek to blend in with everyone else. In order for people to realise their thirst for Christ his followers need to be “salty” perhaps when evangelism is a tough struggle it is call for us all collectively and as individuals personally to “increase the salt”.

This weekend we saw a young guy pray a prayer of commitment, Harry -one of my friends- warned me not to just let him flounder in a Church that doesn’t take discipleship seriously, we are called to make more than converts but disciples, not just getting people to pray the prayer but to live for Christ for the rest of our lives. I remember hearing at the Mission Shaped Ministry course a lady say she’d been converted about 20 years, and had just started to realise that Christ’s calling on her life was more than being on the tea rota at Church.

Seeing people move from “milk to meat” is at the heart of the Kingdom of God, and this is the other thing I learned from our weekend with Fane, it was great to talk to someone who had been doing evangelism for a lot longer than me.

I have learned what little I know mainly by picking stuff up along the way, in the field of mission and evangelism there seem to be few mentors, and maybe to we who have a heart for mission often are so keen to investigate the new things that we don’t sit with the older and more experienced and learn from them.

I long to have a school of mission where we have plenty of mentors to nurture and invest in young evangelists, and equip Churches to be bold, intentional and faithful in obedience to the missional and evangelistic heart-beat of God.

So, at the end of a mission as I curl up on the sofa, despite any progress made the fields are white to the harvest but the workers are few (or to quote Pastor Yinka) “…the workers are YOU”, the question is about getting up tomorrow as we continue the partnership with Christ in his glorious mission to his world.

A job that is never done, but remains the most wonderful privilege we can have.

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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.

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