Here is this month’s article for the Rayleigh Church Magazine………..
At synod we were presented with a number of seminars we could go to, and yet more programmes on how to try and attract people into our churches. I went to the seminar by Christian Vision for Men, and Pat Norman went to the seminar on attracting young people.
There are so many programmes available for bringing people to church, and some of you will also have seen “Back to Church Sunday” advertised around some of the churches in Rayleigh and wondered why we did not take part. There are Fresh Expressions of Church, there are activities such as Men’s Breakfasts, Café Church, “Who let the Dad’s out?”, Alpha Courses, Emmaus, Disciple…….I could fill up this whole article with programmes that are available, and wear us all out before we even thought of doing anything at all! One does have to raise the question, if there are all these programmes, and they all say they are successful, why are we not already doing them, and why are our churches not all full? One of the speakers did indeed suggest that, all we need to do is to make friends and bring them to church. Perhaps we’ve made ourselves too busy with church busyness that we haven’t got time to be in the real world and make friends anymore.
I’ve been reflecting, as part of my studies on the reluctance we have developed in our post-modern and post-christendom church to “give an account of the hope we have” (See 1 Peter 3:15). We seem somehow to be drowning in the rampant secularisation of the age, and have become too timid to tell people that they are loved. Reflect on this too, and let me know what you think.
How do we redress this, what do we as a church need to do? Well, that’s a good question, and something I want to address with the church in the next few months. I don’t want to launch into anything new, or suggest any changes, till we discern together where we as a church want and need to go. So folks, put on your thinking caps, and take a look at us as a church, let’s take our temperature, let’s do a health check, let’s look in the cupboards, in the dark spaces, behind the meetings, under our services, and see what we already do that is good, or what we can and need to do.
As we journey on towards the kingdom, there are things that need to stay the same, there will be things that need to be tweaked, but there may also be new things that we want to try (but not all at once, and not to stretch us beyond our capabilities and resources). Let me know what you find, let me know what you hear as together we discern what is the Lord’s plan for us.
For those of you who may not have read my article in Hockley & Hawkwell’s Link, I want to re-print one quote, from David Bosch – “”Evangelism is only possible when the community that evangelises…is a radiant manifestation of the Christian Faith and exhibits an attractive lifestyle….If the church is to impart to the world a message of hope and love, of faith, justice and peace, something of this should become visible, audible and tangible in the church itself.” Let’s keep that in mind when we take the temperature of our church.
The Methodist Church has itself realised that “Evangelism” is a word that increasingly Methodists are becoming uncomfortable with. It’s what it has come to mean, not it’s simple original meaning of “spreading the good news”. If you want to take part in the debate, have a look at …. http://www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases/consultation-seeks-to-boost-evangelism-in-the-methodist-church or just go to the Methodist Church website and enter the search phrase – evangelism survey. A recent video made by the Methodist Church is also available – http://www.tellshowbe.com/ . If you do not have access to the internet, let me know and we will try and run something in church to allow people to engage.
The photo I have sent in with this article was taken at Tabgha near Gallilee, and it reminds us that we wait upon the Lord for his command to us. So let us pray for discernment.