Category : Evangelism and Church Growth

(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) Go Where The Humans Are: What One Movement’s Small Town Task Force Has Learned about Church Planting So Far

“Is Vineyard committed to planting churches in small town America?” Five years later, I still can’t believe I asked the question. It was directed to Michael Gatlin, national coordinator of Multiply Vineyard, Vineyard’s church planting arm. The occasion was the Q&A session at our first Small Town USA conference. We had only met once before this conference. I braced for his answer and he answered in classic Gatlin style: “I thought we were supposed to go where the humans are. If there are humans in small towns, then they need churches. And if there are humans in metro areas, then we need to plant there.”

Go where the humans are. That answer has propelled us these past five years. So what have we learned?

Planters are hungry for someone to talk about small town planting.

Over the past five years, the Small Town USA team has written scores of blog articlesproduced 4-6 webinars annually, and led seminars in places as diverse as Mechanic Falls, Maine; Tomahawk, Wisconsin; and San Luis Obispo, California. We’ve hosted two national conferences. While attendance has been modest (75-100), we’ve been amazed that people flew from places like Colorado and drove from places like Minnesota and Missouri just to attend a conference in Ohio dedicated to planting in small towns. We’ve had at least 11 states represented at these events.

The conversation around small town planting took off enough in our movement that one concerned leader asked if Vineyard still cared about planting in large cities. Of course we do! Remember we “go where the humans are.” But so much of the church multiplication discussion has been from the large church and large city perspective (we’re talking to you, Atlanta, NYC, Chicago, and San Diego) that our small town planters have been left out.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Rural/Town Life, Theology

(Premier) Star from hit Television show ‘Gladiators’ joins Archbishop Sentamu’s evangelism drive

A former star of the hit television show Gladiators-turned evangelist is joining a major evangelism event being led by the Archbishop of York in Merseyside.

Warren Furman, known as ‘Ace’ on the 1990s programme Gladiator, is sharing with primary and secondary school pupils his journey to faith as part of the Believe in Birkenhead initiative.

Speaking with Premier, Bishop of Birkenhead Rt Rev Keith Sinclair said his prayer for the four-day campaign was that “people who might have thought God wouldn’t give them a second thought realise God’s love for them and God’s work in their lives, and they start to begin a journey to come back and engage with that reality.”

Mr Furman’s being joined during the question and answer session on Thursday by the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu and several local Anglican bishops.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Movies & Television

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Prayer Manual

Almighty God, Whose Son Jesus Christ came to cast fire upon the earth: grant that by the prayers of Thy faithful people a fire of burning zeal may be kindled and pass from heart to heart, that the light of Thy Church may shine forth bright and clear to all mankind; through the same Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Spirituality/Prayer

(SA) Sydney Archbishop’s New Churches for New Communities unveils a 3-year fundraising plan for the construction of ministry facilities in growing areas

The Archbishop’s New Churches for New Communities (NCNC) has held a series of regional dinners, unveiling a three-year fundraising plan for the construction of ministry facilities in growing areas.

In partnership with the Mission Property Committee, which buys land, NCNC’s role is to raise funds to provide emerging congregations across the Diocese with dual-purpose facilities for community and church use.

“We are on a mission to preserve the future of Christianity in these growth areas and these facilities will enable emerging congregations to connect with the communities around them and grow together,” said the executive director of NCNC, the Rev Glenn Gardner.

There was an appeal at the dinners for parish councils to consider including NCNC in their mission allocations budget, and an appeal for ambassadors for this task. “Ours is the only Protestant denomination addressing this vital challenge,” Mr Gardner said.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(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.

Read it all.

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

(TLC) David Goodhew–Facing Decline in TEC (the Episcopal Church)

[Jeremy] Bonner’s analysis shows how TEC has dramatically declined in recent years. There is a sense that the wider Anglican Communion has not awakened to how far and fast that decline has happened. In significant parts of the United States, TEC has ceased or will soon cease to have a meaningful presence. That said, those who write TEC off are overstating their case. Despite severe decline, it remains a substantial presence in parts of the nation, especially in some major cities.

Estimating the size of TEC’s decline and understanding its causes is complex. Suggesting remedies is beyond the scope of this short article. But a few things can be said.

First, churches need to face demographic realities. If, for example, a city’s or town’s ethnic make-up shifts, wise dioceses and congregations will adapt, not pretend everything is the same.

Second, denominations have to learn to value the local church theologically. If the local church is seen only as an adjunct to some higher good, often called the kingdom, it is not surprising that little effort is made to multiply such congregations or seek their growth. Seeing kingdom as different from, and better than, church is against the grain of the New Testament, in which local churches are integral to the kingdom. The things that we value are the things that tend to flourish. If we want to see growing local churches, we need a theology that values the local church more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Data, TEC Departing Parishes

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Latest News, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(CT) Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most

Many Americans are more worried about their reputation than their conscience.

They worry less about guilt and fear and more about avoiding shame, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

Shame has become particularly powerful in American culture in the internet age, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. A single mistake or embarrassing moment posted on social media can ruin a person’s life.

“What’s our biggest cultural fear? Shame,” he said. “What’s surprising is not that personal freedom, ambition, and doing the right thing are valued by Americans. It’s that risk to our reputation is what matters most.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(Premiere) Only half of young people believe Jesus was a real person

One third of Christian teenagers don’t know how to talk about Jesus according to a recent poll.

The ComRes survey of 2000 eleven to 18 year olds in England also found that despite this, 56 per cent of non-Christian teenagers said they’d be comfortable with a friend talking to them about faith.

Jimmy Dale who is the Church of England’s Youth Evangelism Officer told Premier’s News Hour the research leaves a big challenge.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(ACNS) Worldwide preparations ahead of Thy Kingdom Come global prayer campaign

Hundreds of thousands of Christians of all denominations are preparing to take part in the international prayer initiative “Thy Kingdom Come” which starts next week. What began as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England last year has quickly grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

Between 25th May and 4th June, communities and churches around the world are gathering together to pray that their friends, families and neighbours come to know Jesus Christ. Prayer events of all shapes and sizes will take place across the 10 days, including 24-7 prayer rooms, prayer days, prayer walks and half nights of prayer. Cathedrals, churches and other venues will host Beacon Events, gathering people across towns and cities to worship and to pray for the empowering of the Holy Spirit for effective witness. The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a global challenge to Christian people to take the #Pledge2Pray for #ThyKingdomCome, an online prayer initiative.

Archbishop Justin said: “Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that we, those who follow him, might ‘be one that the world might believe.’ We are invited to make a lasting difference in our nations and in our world, by responding to his call to find a deep unity of purpose in prayer. It’s not a Church of England thing, it’s not an Anglican thing, it’s a Christian thing.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Sunday Bobai Agang–The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us

I appreciate our Christian patriotic interest in guarding the Christian faith from being supplanted by Islam. However, the church should not allow that concern to distract it from keeping its house in order. God does not call us to compete with Islam. Rather, he calls us to holy living. “It is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1 Pet. 1:16). As it is, the Christian faith in Nigeria is suffering public disgrace and disrepute because of our lack of self-control, ungodly living, and compromised integrity.

Jesus declared that he is the truth, the way to eternal life (John 14:6). Christians can be confident in our salvation by faith in our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ; we have nothing to fear. Our source of power and authority is God, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:18–20). We are given power and authority to combat satanic and demonic oppression, to destroy the works of the flesh, to heal obsession with material things, and to create just structures and systems that guarantee human flourishing. By the power and authority God has vested in us, we have nothing to fear and no excuse for failure. We have in us what we need to create fertile environments for social and spiritual transformation, in Nigeria and around the world.

The fear of an Islamization agenda is very real, but it must not be allowed to distract us from our primary concern: Christlikeness, holy living, hard work, and moral integrity. If we are concerned about the spread of Islam, let us be equally concerned about the lack of Christian public integrity and witness in our society. We must not allow fearmongering or conspiracy theories to prevent us from recognizing the true threat.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

The Very Revd Pete Wilcox’s Announcement Speech

I want to share with you, to start with, the time when, as a 13 year old, I was first conscious of the call of Jesus. I grew up in a Christian home, but the defining experience of my life came when I was a young teenager and sensed that God was inviting me to commit to the adventure of following Jesus. I chose to respond with my whole self and it was the best decision I have ever made. I share that with you because I am here this morning not primarily as your Bishop-designate, but as a disciple of Jesus, seeking to live out, day by day, a life worthy of my baptism.

But I also refer to that experience because such a high proportion of those who make a lasting commitments to Jesus do so as I did – as teenagers. Of course, the Church of God is called to proclaim the good news to all people at all times and in all places, but I am encouraged to see in the current priorities of the Diocese of Sheffield a commitment to reach out to that age group in particular and you can be sure I will do everything I can to make that outreach fruitful. And that is just one part of the Diocesan Strategy which excites me: so much of it expresses what I firmly believe. So the direction of travel for the Diocese will remain unchanged; there will be no sudden lurch to new priorities.

The second thing I want to mention is the publication of the Faith in the City report in 1985. Some of you will remember it: it rang out like an alarm bell at the height of Thatcherism, calling church and nation back to what, for shorthand, became known as God’s bias to the poor. It came out while I was training for the ordained ministry and it’s a document which has profoundly shaped me. It is no coincidence that I come to you from a northern, urban cathedral; a cathedral with a food bank and an employability programme; a cathedral which seeks to give a voice to the disadvantaged. And it’s no coincidence that we are meeting here, in a place where the church has engaged to such good effect with the local community, proclaiming the kingdom of God by directly addressing the challenges and celebrating the opportunities of this place, liberating its neglected assets and blessing its unfulfilled potential. The Gospel of Jesus Christ confronts social and economic inequalities, and we see here a great example of how transformative a local church can be; and I’m looking forward to visiting other examples of confident Christian witness in Rotherham and Doncaster later today.

Read it all. For those interested, there is a video of the announcement in the diocese there.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained

Wilson Carlile, the ‘Archbishop of the Gutter’

Throughout his life, Wilson suffered from spinal weakness. “God threw me on my back so that I could look up to him more,” he quipped. It was during one of these bouts of poor
health that the 26-year old Wilson began to read a book entitled Grace and Truth by Dr WP Mackay. He later described how he came to faith: “At the beginning of the chapter I was
a rank outsider. Before I got to the end, I had thrown myself at the feet of Christ and cried ‘My Lord and my God!’”

In 1870, Wilson married Flora Vickers, with whom he had five sons. He was ordained a deacon in 1880. Shortly after, he became curate at St Mary Abbots in Kensington, where he preached to one of the most fashionable congregations of Victorian London. By an ironic twist of fate, he would shortly become, as nicknamed by the then Bishop of London, the ‘Archbishop of the Gutter’. Church services were considered by the working people of the time as the exclusive preserve of the privileged. Since the working class refused to step foot inside a church, the enthusiastic young preacher began holding small, open air services at the time of day when coachmen, valets and grooms would be taking their evening stroll…

Wilson regularly suffered brutal physical assaults and even stonings during his open air missions. His outdoor work drew such huge crowds – and complaints – that he was
ordered to stop….

Read it all from the Church Army Magazine ShareIt (begins on page 4).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) David Goodhew examines growth and decline in parts of the Anglican Communion

…numerical growth and decline do matter. They matter theologically. Scripture, doctrine, and church tradition place a high value on growing congregations and starting new ones. They matter experientially: there is much evid¬ence that congregations enhance individual and community well-being.

And they matter also because churches, like individuals, live out of the narratives that they tell about themselves ”” and narratives of numerical growth or decline mould how churches understand themselves. Churches and provinces see themselves as “major” or “minor” players, are fearful or confident, because of whether they see themselves as growing or shrinking. Often, the stories that churches tell of themselves are not wholly based on reality, or they are based on past realities, ignoring what is happening now. So it matters that narratives of growth and decline tell the truth.

Besides, the Church of England (like many other Anglicans in the global North) has hardly been guilty of excessive concern for numerical growth in recent decades. There is much inverse snobbery about numerical growth, as something “just not done” in polite ecclesial circles. This feeds into a widespread “decline theology”. Decline theology sees church decline as unproblem¬atic, or even to be accepted as “inevitable”. Decline theology is an internalisation of the secularisation thesis. It creates an ecclesiology of fatalism. Perhaps God has other ideas.

Read it all from the long list of should-have-already-been-posted material.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology