Friday, 14 January 2011

The church that doesn't 'do' evangelism....

The church that doesn't do evangelism - what does it look like? The short answer is probably - small & dying. However, that's not what I'm talking about here. This isn't another new year message to try harder at doing the stuff we feel guilty about not doing enough.

I've been looking at our own community here & allowing myself to wonder if there is another way, a simple, instinctive way of following Christ that doesn't involve any kind of 'doing' performance or targets.

The first step involves our lifting the lid on the prevailing culture in some of our churches. Out with the crowbars, out with the old school thinking of Pastors/experts/extroverts performing evangelistic work for the rest of the church, vicariously, on our behalf. Here there is no expectation of someone else helping a new believer to follow Christ, no sense that I have anything to offer in that process. No confidence or maturity in me which enables me to play my part.

The kind of culture we're looking for isn't written in the language of programmes & professionals. In an instinctively missional church we may not even 'do' evangelism or discipleship in the sense of running programmes – these become the natural fruit of a family that is growing in maturity & confidence. To put it another way - a healthy church just grows. Let's unpack the detail on this:

The job description which Jesus left for us is one which calls us to make disciples – to train other Christ followers in growing numbers. For so long our churches have been concerned with 'doing evangelism' when we are actually being equipped & released to be disciples who make disciples. To simply 'do evangelism' is to miss the whole point of the great commission!

What we believe in this begins to change the emphasis in what we do as a local church. Rather than putting on lot's of evangelism programmes, we would prefer to grow up into being a missional church which looks & sounds as much like Jesus as we are able to. Our job as church leaders becomes one of training ordinary believers to live extraordinary lives, full of the Holy Spirit – These are the kind of people who instinctively make Jesus attractive to the their generation, & authentically shape His likeness in other Christ followers around them.

As a consequence, any programmes we do have must lead our people to grow up into maturity as confident Christ followers who can naturally make disciples. We are not concerned with converts to the gospel, although this is a thrilling first step – We are more concerned with helping those who have been saved get thoroughly added into the Church family & growing up in the authentic reproducing culture of those around them.

If that is the foundation, the culture, then what are the processes that enable us to grow & reproduce? What are the programmes & structures which help & release? Which are the old structures which only perpetuate old thinking & must therefore be let go & undone? These are the subject for the next series of blogs.

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