Category : Evangelism and Church Growth

(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

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

[CT] Is Church Growth a Solution Looking for a Problem?

Everyone wants to be like the first century church, but from what I can tell, it wasn’t much different from today’s church.

They had large and small churches. Healthy, sick and dead churches. Churches with strong leaders, weak leaders and sinful leaders. They worshiped God imperfectly and fought over theology.

They also had a great deal of variety. The congregations in Jerusalem, Corinth, Laodicea and Ephesus had little in common outside of following scripture and practicing communion and water baptism.

In short, the first century church was not the ideal template for Christian life, theology and worship that many people think it was.

But they did do one thing. They turned the world upside-down. (Acts 17:6 ASV)

Read it all

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

[Movement Dio Wellington] Prepared to share

.. perhaps the most unexpected and surprising opportunity to follow God’s leading came as a gang-affiliated youth walked in off the street looking for a place to get drunk. The young man heard contemporary worship music and assumed it must be a Shihad gig ”“ but when Diocesan Youth Co-ordinator Luke Paynter and his co-leaders spotted that he didn’t have a New Wine wristband, they escorted him outside to question him.

That’s when his story began to unfold.

He had lost his job in the last few days, and his future wasn’t bright. His dad, a patched gang member, didn’t take too kindly to the news, and gave his son “the bash.” Reaching breaking point, the young man went looking for somewhere to drown his sorrows.

As the young man told his story, Luke and his co-leaders offered to pray with him..

Read it all [h/t Peter Carrell]

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Can the gospel reach digital natives?

Once upon a time, if you wanted to communicate with someone, you either spoke to them, sent them a letter (which could be delivered in either of the two postal deliveries every day!), or you phoned them. This could be from one of two places: either a phone box in the street, requiring loads of change, or the house phone in the hall””where everyone could hear you””and answered by the desired recipient’s parents, with whom you had to have an excruciatingly awkward conversation before being able to ask for the person you actually wanted to speak to. This probably sounds like the dark ages, but it was actually less than 35 years ago.’

So begins the latest Grove Youth booklet on Youth Ministry in a Digital Age by Liz Dumain, who works in the mission team in Birmingham Diocese. The booklet is a great exploration of the challenges and opportunities of reaching ”˜digital natives’, those who were born with the internet technology that many of us have been learning to adapt to. Liz begins by noting the growth of internet use, how it differs for those who have known nothing else, and why it matters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Christology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From Northern Nigeria to Northern Ireland; Third Anglican Leadership Institute Concludes

The Third Anglican Leadership Institute is now history. As I write some are still in the air, and some have landed and rejoined their families.

And what a great group they were. They spanned the full Anglican spectrum:

– From the Rector of a posh downtown parish in a mid-sized Australian city to the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Burundi;
– From a Rector in Brunei where Sharia Law prevents him from even having a Christmas tree outside the Church to a leader of young adults in a large Brazilian church who surfs in his spare time;
– From a bishop in northern Nigeria where unless a man “steals” another man’s wife his own wife might accuse him of “not really being a man” to the assistant Rector of a booming Northern Ireland church who finished off 6 books while he was with us;
– From a former “Lost Boy” of South Sudan who runs a diocese that cannot afford him any salary and whose family must live in exile to a Deacon who assists the former President of GAFCON…

And on it goes. 16 marvelous people — all Anglicans from 12 enormously different socio-economic situations living in cultures vastly different from each other. Yet all united in Jesus Christ and experiencing the joy of becoming a family. Our closing dinner was a time of deep prayer followed by hugs all around. Those Africans love to hug.

Read it all (Diocese of SC photo).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Paul Cartwright responds to the paper in the previous post, "”˜Setting God’s People Free’

Each congregation member has been encouraged to pray “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will”, and to further discern God’s call upon their lives, including those who are retired. This has resulted in some using their vocational skills as teachers to become School Governors, as well as an increase in outreach events in the Community.

St Peter’s has joined with other Catholic Parishes in the Barnsley area to deliver teaching and encouragement, through short courses designed to give those who attend a greater depth of understanding of the faith, as well as running a Fan the Flame mission to encourage personal development within the parishes, and the Clergy and People have studied together and been ministered to by one another during this time.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

The C of E needs to undergo a major "culture shift" to mobilise lay members to share their faith

The Church of England needs to undergo a major “culture shift” to mobilise lay members to spread the gospel in their everyday lives, a new report being presented to members of the General Synod argues.

The report, entitled “Setting God’s People Free”, calls for Christians to be equipped to live out their faith in every sphere – from the factory or office, to the gym or shop – to help increase numbers of Christians and their influence in all areas of life.

Laity and clergy should view themselves as equal partners in the task of evangelising the nation, it insists. The paper is a key element of the lay leadership strand of Renewal and Reform, an initiative from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, to help grow the Church.

Read it all and follow the link provded for more.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Commissioners’ funds boost Evangelical plants

A further £9 million has been distributed to dioceses by the Church Commissioners as part of the drive to achieve statistical growth.

Church-planting by Evangelical churches, and efforts to address the absence of children from the pews, are among the trends that will benefit from a financial boost.

The largest grant ”” £2.5 million ”” will go the diocese of Birmingham, for its work with younger people. The diocese, which has the lowest church attendance to population in the country, and the lowest level of stipendiary clergy per capita, has already received £1 million towards its “Growing Younger 2015-19” work. By 2022, it seeks to plant 15 new churches, “make over 1000 new disciples”, and train up to 1000 “missional leaders”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship