27 March, 2014 Peter Froggatt
I am Vicar of a semi-rural/suburban parish on Wirral. We are working together with other churches in the area for Passion for Life, at the centre of which will be a week of meetings where Roger Carswell will interview local Christians and explain the Gospel. As a church we are also putting on three evangelistic events, and we will be having evangelistic talks, of one sort or another, at all of our regular church activities that week. This is quite new for many at our church – it has been over ten years since anything like this has taken place. So here are a few of the issues that we have tried to address.
Communication. We have had to work hard to say clearly what we are aiming to do. Having events both centrally and locally has complicated the message, as has our follow-up with Uncover (see below). What we are constantly repeating is that our aim is “to encourage our friends to consider Christ”. That explains what church members are to do, and what we will be doing at the events.
Invitations. One of the aims of Passion for Life 2014 is to encourage churches to look out for unreached people. I’m afraid we haven’t gone that way: we’re trying to reconnect with the large number of people who’ve attended the church but have lost touch. It’s more within the reach of our church members, this first time round. Maybe next time...
Talks. We have a big team of clergy and readers. All of them are going to do an evangelistic talk at some point in the week. Some will be pretty short, essentially extended adverts for Roger Carswell, others will be longer (full-blown evangelistic sermons on the second Sunday). It is a great opportunity to give them a go, to sharpen their appetite for evangelism, to do some training, and to let them know that their preaching matters.
Follow-up. We are using Uncover, the UCCF-produced studies in Luke’s Gospel. House groups are using this at the moment and we are preaching through the passages that it uses in our main services. When people see that they need to consider Christ, the way they will do this will be through Uncover, either in one of our “Uncover Groups” (Christianity Explored structure with Uncover content) or one to one with their Christian friend. The latter is the biggest challenge for us and I must admit that I’ve been fairly pessimistic about it. Will anyone be willing to follow up one to one with a friend? We are running three Uncover training evenings and there has been some pretty honest hesitancy. But there has also been encouraging movement. On Sunday an older woman (OK, she’s 82) told me she had identified the two people she wants to invite to do Uncover with her. Others have said similar things. Little shifts like this are showing that Passion for Life is already doing good things for us – three weeks before it starts.