Category : Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(MC) Martyn Percy–The Church of England: Mission and Ministry after the Decade of Evangelism

The problem – the legacy of this Decade, in effect – can be simply expressed. The Church of England – or at least its hierarchy – is stuck in broadcast mode. Like the proverbial Englishman abroad, they cannot make themselves understood in a world that increasingly finds the Church incomprehensible, especially in spheres such as sexuality, gender, equality, safeguarding, the
exercise of power, the holding of authority and being open to accountability. But does the Church perceive this? No. It just talks louder, hoping, somehow, it will be heard. It won’t.

In all this, the Church only seeks to make itself more appealing, and attractive to those who might join. Yet it rarely asks the same public why they don’t join. It is like a business doing even more hard selling, with increasing desperation, but unwilling to ask the consumers why they aren’t buying. What is strange about this situation is that the drivers of the agenda are deeply concerned about mission and evangelism. So, they act out of the best of intentions.

But the problem is that the underlying theology of mission and of the Holy Spirit – missiology and pneumatology – is deeply deficient. Expressive evangelistic campaigns tend to achieve very little. Even the Evangelical Alliance admitted in 1994 that the main achievement of the Decade was to establish ‘new levels of co-operation between the Churches’. Hardly a great result but, as other writers in the field of missiology had known for years, what was compelling and credible was an authentic and humble Church. One that listened deeply and lived its faith, faithfully and unassumingly, ratherthan brashly promoting its brand.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

Gafcon Chairman’s May 2018 Letter

My dear people of God,

Next month we are expecting almost 2,000 delegates to gather in Jerusalem for our third Global Anglican Future Conference. I know that those working so hard to organise this great undertaking are very much aware that ‘the time is short’, but as the Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian church, this should always be our perspective. Jerusalem is the place where Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, events which make the promise of his return sure and certain, and we shall gather as those who always live in the expectation of our Lord’s second appearing as King, Judge and Saviour.

To know that ‘the time is short’ helps to keep us from being distracted and to concentrate on what really matters.

Firstly, it means that the gospel is at the heart of all that we do. Our conference theme is ‘Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations’ and we shall celebrate the gospel in all its richness as the demonstration of the love and saving power of God in Jesus Christ. We shall be reminding one another that the gospel is not a message of merely human wisdom but the ‘gospel of God’ (Romans 1:1) which we have received. It is the work of God’s grace from beginning to end, but he has entrusted that task to us and we must press on to fulfil the apostolic mandate of the risen Christ to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).

Secondly, knowing that the time is short keeps us focused on the purpose of the Church. Ecclesiastical institutions must serve the gospel. The gospel is not a brand to be adapted to serve institutions. We will therefore continue to endorse new missionary initiatives and jurisdictions where necessary to take forward the work of the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Ecclesiology, GAFCON, Soteriology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Scripture

(TGC) Jared Wilson–Preaching Your People Toward Mission

How do we preach toward good evangelistic engagement? If, as many younger evangelicals of the gospel-centered persuasion believe, we aren’t to turn our Sunday service into a seeker-targeted evangelistic event, in what sense might the sermon time fuel the missional impulse in our churches to reach and serve the lost? Here are some practical ways to serve this end:

1. Put the text in the context of God’s mission.

There is a mega-narrative to the Bible, a grand story of God’s redeeming purposes and spiritual mission in the earth, and many times we miss this in our preaching and teaching. Helping your hearers make the connection between the narrative you are preaching and the big story of God’s mission can help them begin to see their own story in the context of the big story of God’s mission. Making regular, explicit application of biblical texts to their missional contexts or missional implications helps influence hearers, over time, to see and think in missional ways.

2. Make application mission-oriented.

Rather than turning the application time in your preaching into only (or even mostly) individualistic steps to address personal “felt needs,” make the practical admonitions others-directed. Help people see that applying the Scriptures to their everyday life is not mostly about living their best life now but about loving and serving others, especially those they encounter at work, school, and neighborhood “third places.”

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(SA) Ruth Lukabyo–Youth Revival: The impact of the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade on young people

Dad was not the only young person whose life was transformed that day. In fact, a statistical analysis of the Sydney Crusade demonstrates that 60% of those who signed the decision card were under the age of 21. The age most highly represented was 12-15 years at 28%, followed by 16-21 years at 19%. Many call the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade a revival, but it was not only a revival, it was a youth revival.

Apart from the work of the Spirit, why did the Crusade have such a marked impact upon youth? Graham’s message was a traditional gospel message of the sinfulness of people and their need for forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This was not new.

What was new was the way it was communicated and Graham’s focus on young people. Youth nights were organised which were full of energy and infectious enthusiasm and were perhaps the most fruitful of the Crusade meetings. Associate evangelists spent hours at secondary schools, speaking at assemblies and lunch hour meetings. Graham spoke at Sydney University outside the Great Hall to a crowd of 4,000 students. Even at the main Crusade meetings, Graham would address young people separately and call them to dedicate themselves to Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(Atlantic) A New Generation Redefines What It Means to Be a Missionary

Christianity is shrinking and aging in the West, but it’s growing in the Global South, where most Christians are now located. With this demographic shift has come the beginning of another shift, in a practice some Christians from various denominations embrace as a theological requirement. There are hundreds of thousands of missionaries around the world, who believe scripture compels them to spread Christianity to others, but what’s changing is where they’re coming from, where they’re going, and why.

The model of an earlier era more typically involved Christian groups in Western countries sending people to evangelize in Africa or Asia. In the colonial era of the 19th and early 20th centuries in particular, missionaries from numerous countries in Europe, for example, traveled to countries like Congo and India and started to build religious infrastructures of churches, schools, and hospitals. And while many presented their work in humanitarian terms of educating local populations or assisting with disaster relief, in practice it often meant leading people away from their indigenous spiritual practices and facilitating colonial regimes in their takeover of land. Kenya’s first post-colonial president Jomo Kenyatta described the activities of British missionaries in his country this way: “When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

Yet as many states achieved independence from colonial powers following World War II, the numbers of Christian missionaries kept increasing. In 1970, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there were 240,000 foreign Christian missionaries worldwide. In 2000, that number had grown to 440,000. And by 2013, the center was discussing in a report the trend of “reverse mission, where younger churches in the Global South are sending missionaries to Europe,” even as the numbers being sent from the Global North were “declining significantly.” The report noted that nearly half of the top 20 mission-sending countries in 2010 were in the Global South, including Brazil, India, the Philippines, and Mexico.

As the center of gravity of mission work shifts, the profile of a typical Christian missionary is changing—and so is the definition of their mission workwhich historically tended to center on the explicit goal of converting people to Christianity.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Globalization, History, Missions, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(CT) A Billy Graham Sermon–The Sin of Tolerance

One of the pet words of this age is “tolerance.” It is a good word, but we have tried to stretch it over too great an area of life. We have applied it too often where it does not belong. The word “tolerant” means “liberal,” “broad-minded,” “willing to put up with beliefs opposed to one’s convictions,” and “the allowance of something not wholly approved.”

Tolerance, in one sense, implies the compromise of one’s convictions, a yielding of ground upon important issues. Hence, over-tolerance in moral issues has made us soft, flabby and devoid of conviction.

We have become tolerant about divorce; we have become tolerant about the use of alcohol; we have become tolerant about delinquency; we have become tolerant about wickedness in high places; we have become tolerant about immorality; we have become tolerant about crime and we have become tolerant about godlessness. We have become tolerant of unbelief.

In a book recently published on what prominent people believe, 60 out of 100 did not even mention God, and only 11 out of 100 mentioned Jesus. There was a manifest tolerance toward soft character and a broadmindedness about morals, characteristic of our day. We have been sapped of conviction, drained of our beliefs and bereft of our faith.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, Evangelicals, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) We can reach millennials and this is how, says Church Army

The Church Army is releasing guidance on how to evangelise millennials in an attempt to reverse a worrying lack of young people in the pews.

Just 0.5 per cent of 18-24 year olds attend an Anglican church, its figures reveal, but research based on 12 case studies is aiming to persuade vicars working with young adults is not as difficult as it seems.

‘The findings are really encouraging in that they suggest that mission with young adults, while challenging, is not as difficult as one might think,’ said Dr Tim Ling, the Church Army’s director of research who headed the project.

The nine-month long scheme was based on 12 different approaches to mission and evangelism around the UK and from a variety of church traditions. Across the projects at least 60 people had become Christians through the churches studied, with a further 48 reporting the case study church had helped them rediscover a lost faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Young Adults

(CT) God, Guns, and Oil A Los Angeles church seeks the good of its neighborhood by confronting crime and environmental distress

For [Richard] Parks, shutting down the oil well is part of a bigger story of how the gospel is transforming the Exposition Park neighborhood. Members of Church of the Redeemer have tied their fate to the fate of the community. They want to see their neighbors flourish.

Shutting down oil wells or nuisance liquor stores, planting trees, tutoring kids, holding neighborhood Bible studies, and making friends with neighbors during a community service project are all part of how a neighborhood is reached with the gospel, Parks says.

“In the context of friendship—there are normal, natural opportunities to talk about our love for Jesus,” he said. “Our church is made up of people that our kids go to school with, our kids play soccer with, neighbors that we clean up trees with. That is how the gospel is going out in our community.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CT) Ravi Zacharias Remembers His Young Protégé, Nabeel Qureshi, RIP

The first time I saw Nabeel Qureshi, he sat at a table across from me, his one leg constantly moving almost subconsciously, warming up for a run. It was a habit of his restless disposition.

That was Nabeel in true expression; he hated sitting still. He was a man with a mission, ready to run. Sadly, for us, he finished his race all too soon and our hearts are broken at the loss of one who ran with spectacular passion to do what filled his soul.

He was a thorough-going evangelical. He held dear the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and carried the message of salvation. Jesus’ grace for a transformed heart was his message.

For years as a young man, he labored and struggled to gain “righteousness before God” only to find out that righteousness was already met in the cross through Jesus Christ. That was his message in his best-selling book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

Qureshi was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic….
Read it all.

“Qureshi was not just an evangelical; he was passionately evangelistic…”
Reflecting on @NAQureshi in @CTmagazine: https://t.co/yAhP0ZzDNn

— Ravi Zacharias (@RaviZacharias) September 20, 2017

Posted in America/U.S.A., Apologetics, Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(CT) Holly Ordway–Why Evangelism Requires Both Logic and Loveliness

As an apologist, I appreciate the value of the imagination in no small part because of the role it played in helping me come to Christian faith. I was once an atheist, and a hostile one, who agreed with the New Atheists that Christianity was not just false but irrational and harmful.

Although I was not interested in apologetic arguments at the time, I had, without knowing it, been experiencing the work of grace through my imagination. As a child, I fell in love with the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. At the time, of course, I didn’t know that I was encountering God’s grace through those books. Years later, as an atheist and graduate student, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on fantasy novels and had J. R. R. Tolkien’s great essay “On Fairy-stories”—with its powerful statement of the evangelium, the Good News—at the heart of it. When I became a college professor, I was deeply moved and intrigued by the writings of Christian poets. In time I realized that the faith of these writers was more complex and more interesting than I had thought, and I decided to learn more.

Like C. S. Lewis, I had a two-step conversion. I came to belief in God but then struggled with the idea of the Incarnation. All the evidence pointed toward the Crucifixion and the Resurrection as historical facts, but I found that I was unable to accept the idea of Jesus as God incarnate. At that point, I turned very deliberately to the Chronicles of Narnia: I went looking for Aslan, the lion who is the great Christ-figure of the Chronicles. Through my experience of those stories, my imagination was able to connect with what my reason already knew, and I was able to grasp as a whole person that God could become incarnate. That imaginative experience removed the last stumbling block for my acceptance of Christ.

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Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(CBN) Thousands Attend the Largest UK Evangelism Event Since Billy Graham

The UK’s largest evangelism event since Billy Graham’s crusade decades ago hit the heart of Britain today and thousands responded to the Gospel message, putting their faith in Jesus Christ.

“Literally, thousands of people have just come forward to give their lives to Jesus,” said Peter Wooding, London Bureau Chief of the Global News Alliance.

The event should encourage Christians across the United Kingdom to pick up the banner of evangelism and begin sharing the Gospel, one national prayer leader said.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

Al Zadiq's recent Sermon at St. Michael's, Charleston–the call to Followship (Matthew 4:18-23)

But notice how Jesus launches:Ӣ Not by big rallies
Ӣ No big Inauguration
Ӣ No bands
Ӣ No fireworks
Ӣ and no protestors..

Jesus begins by calling just a few”¦.into something I never want you to forget.

He calls them into FOLLOW-SHIP.

Read it all or you can listen or download it there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Scripture

[First Things] Stott Bowdlerized

By Barton Swain
Recently I bought a copy of John Stott’s brief and famous exposition of the Christian gospel, Basic Christianity, which I intended to give to a friend. The book was first published in 1958 and has sold several million copies. It is at once simple and refined, gentle and uncompromising, and many people in the Anglophone world can trace their conversions to reading Stott’s little masterpiece. If any “spiritual classics” were published during the second half of the twentieth century, Basic Christianity surely is one.
…..
Clearly the editor wanted to introduce a new generation to Stott’s beautiful book; his intentions were noble. But the project was a mistake. The Basic Christianity people are buying and reading today is a bad imitation of the original. The editor and publisher had no right to transform Stott’s book as they did, whether or not the author granted his permission. Good books are precious things that belong as much to their readers as they do to their publishers and even their authors. That is doubly so in the case of Basic Christianity, a work that has engaged its readers at the most intimate levels.

One discerns, too, a basic failure to understand the nature of a book. Except in bizarre circumstances, no book on any subject can come close to its original popularity a half century after it was published. Meddling with its text in an effort to make it popular again””dumbing its language down, making its pronouns gender-neutral””can only rob the book of what power it might still have. Anyone who picks up Basic Christianity today will do so because he wants something altogether different from the products available in his own age. He wants something from the past. What he gets instead sounds almost as if it were composed yesterday: chatty, choppy, bereft of much difficulty, with an improbable hint of political correctness.

In a sense, then, the updated book is a metaphor for the modernizing urge so typical of contemporary religiosity. Nothing achieves irrelevance quite so consistently as the feverish attempt to stay relevant.

Read it all

Posted in Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

[Justin Taylor] Stott on the essence of Evangelicalism

[from 2009 but may be helpful in the current debates]
What is an Evangelical?

For a thoughtful answer””a masterful example of clear thinking and concise expression””I’d recommend listening to this lecture by John Stott. (It’s 47 minutes long; I’m not sure what year it was delivered. If you know the provenance, please let us know in the coments below.)

A few years ago, when Stott was 85, he gave an interview to CT where he was asked to define the essence of evangelicalism. It’s a good summary of his classic lecture:

An evangelical is a plain, ordinary Christian. We stand in the mainstream of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity. So we can recite the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed without crossing our fingers. We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.

Having said that, there are two particular things we like to emphasize: the concern for authority on the one hand and salvation on the other.

For evangelical people, our authority is the God who has spoken supremely in Jesus Christ. And that is equally true of redemption or salvation. God has acted in and through Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners.

. . . [W]hat God has said in Christ and in the biblical witness to Christ, and what God has done in and through Christ, are both, to use the Greek word, hapax””meaning once and for all. There is a finality about God’s word in Christ, and there is a finality about God’s work in Christ. To imagine that we could add a word to his word, or add a work to his work, is extremely derogatory to the unique glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the lecture Stott operates with four main headings:

1.The claim of evangelicalism
2.The distinctives of evangelicalism
3.The concern of evangelicalism
4.The essence of evangelicalism

What follows is a brief summary of what Stott said in his important talk:

Read it all and listen to Stott’s talk if you wish

Posted in Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(Living Church) George Sumner–Cape Town’s ”˜Yes’ and ”˜No’

What might Anglicans make of these conclusions? Cape Town is in the main consistent with a serious, plain-sense reading of The Catechism of the 1979 prayer book. Our evangelical neighbors show us not the face of “the Other” but rather that of our own forgotten selves. If to some readers Cape Town seems distant, it will be because of our own estrangement or amnesia. Traditional believers within Anglicanism, be they Catholic or evangelical, are not some outdated rump but rather the enfleshed memory of normative, ecumenical, global Christianity.

Here the question of what Cape Town is saying “No” to returns. What makes Cape Town appealing is its address of Christian practice as well as belief. It consciously compares itself to Pauline epistles, which move from proclamation (kerygma) to moral exhortation (paraenesis). Talking the talk must move on quickly to walking the walk. And on this score Cape Town does not let evangelicals off the hook. They have not always proclaimed the whole gospel, nor have they reined in their own leaders, nor consistently addressed the pressing social issues of their day. While the doctrinal part of Cape Town aims at the perennial, the ethical section seeks after pertinence to today’s context.

Here too is a message crucial for Anglicans to hear. Cape Town’s call to action asks: How are we addressing dramatic urbanization and constant migration on the global scene? How are we catechizing our young? How can be minister with honesty and charity to the postmodern era’s commodified and disordered sexuality? Has our theological education retained a heart for evangelism?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Scripture