Archives For evangelism

After spending a numbers of years working in evangelism and training around the world I returned to my home country in 2009. I returned in part because Carl Beech, leader of Christian Vision for Men (CVM), asked me to come back and work for the organisation.

Having seen a little of evangelism in overseas countries I was keen to stuck in on the ‘home front’. Through my 19 months at CVM I saw much of the country, much of the desire for people to share their faith with their friends, and the enormity of the task at hand.

During my time overseas I came to see the need for effective apologetics in evangelism. Apologetics, put simply, is dealing with people’s objections that stop them seeing Jesus. I grew to enjoy the discipline, find I had a gifting in the area and the desire to grow in it.

Every culture has its own challenges and obstacles. My time with CVM helped me to understand some of the current problems men face in the UK in their faith today.

In 2011 I was released from my position in CVM to study at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. My time in Oxford boosted my foundation in Christian Apologetics and opened up new areas of engagement to me.

Now I get to put all of this together!

It’s with real excitement that I can announce that Andy Kind and I will be heading up the Demolition Squad, the new apologetics arm of CVM. Through this new initiative we will be bringing apologetics training to the hundreds of men’s groups up and down the country that are fighting hard to see their families, friends, colleagues etc. come to know Jesus.

There is lots more to come, but for now read all about it here.

Is Alpha Backwards?

January 20, 2012 — 7 Comments

The Alpha CourseAnd so I found myself on one typically damp and overcast English afternoon, standing on a busy street in southeast Oxford inviting people to come to an ‘Alpha Launch Party’ – step one on the Alpha Course. Aside from the internal moral deliberation/dilemma – is it wrong to invite people to a “free meal” and then hit them sideways with the gospel? – I enthusiastically and creatively tried to grab people’s attention and, with a smile, invite them to the meal.

I was brand new to the city. I was brand new to these people. The experience was actually fairly fun, probably in no small part because everything was so new to me.

Some people came to that launch party. Some even came because I handed them a flyer (much to my astonishment – yeah, that led to repentance). And after our meal and chit-chat a few left and a few signed up for the forthcoming Alpha course. We had our beginning.

Over the next few weeks we did the Alpha thing: food, talk, questions. As a basic format it’s great. It’s informal (helped because we held it in a home – not an awkward church hall), it’s relaxed, and it’s inviting. Alpha has known tremendous success as a programme and is continuing to work well in many places. But it didn’t work stonkingly well for us this time.

For a start, we had students. Now, I’m a student currently so I’d like to think I can see it both ways. The reality is students aren’t like normal people. We don’t hold normal schedules and working out how we prioritise tasks is as perplexing as wondering why the number 1 ranked test cricket side in the world suddenly forgot how to play cricket. So asking students to turn up at 7:30pm every Thursday was never going to work; let alone get them away for an entire weekend.

But one big question about my Alpha experience emerged after a period of reflection and contrast. As you may know, I started rowing last term and have had an absolute blast so far. I’m a bit gutted I came to love this sport so late in life (yeah – I’m only 28, but that feels ancient compared to these freshers). The group of lads I row with are great. Highly committed, motivated and a lot of fun.

There are four of us from good old Wycliffe that currently row for Queen’s. Inspired by Mr. Gwyn-Thomas (remember that name) – who made quite a splash with Queen’s Rowing last year (no pun intended) – we have got stuck in and had a blast. We’re making friends and looking to tell people about Jesus. Naturally a rowing movie, pizza and beer are on the agenda here.

And here is the contrast with Alpha. With Alpha I spent one day getting trying to get to know some people and then 3 months talking about Jesus. With my rowing buddies I’ve spent 3 months getting to know them and we’re going to put on just one day to talk about Jesus. Sure, Jesus comes up in conversation at the boathouse sometimes – but He isn’t introduced through a topic for the evening with bullet points to direct the conversation.

Getting Alongside

My friend Carl Beech has a few good things to say about running an outreach course (be it Alpha, Christianity Explored etc.). One of the key tips – noted especially so for men – is to do stuff that you’re good at. Get alongside people. Keep it real. Carl rides bikes up and down stupidly large mountains in foreign lands. But it works. People talk, they open up.

Now I’m far from a competent rower. But I’m learning all the time and giving it my all in every training session. That builds trust, friendship and opportunities.

It’s well worth asking the question: what are we inviting people to? A friendship with Jesus that manifests itself in programmes without friendship? Or do we seek to build real relationships, genuine friendships and then invite our friends to know our best friend? Life is relationships. We reflect God be being made for relationships. Let’s keep this in mind as we build our programmes.

Alpha is a fantastic course but for God’s sake, make it work for your friends rather than stuffing your friends into your programme. Let’s make sure our evangelistic efforts mirror the relationship that’s transformed our lives in the first place.

And finally, please pray that we have an opportunity over the beer and pizza coming up to show Jesus to our rowing friends well. It’s part of the wider Oxford University Mission Week coming up. Thanks! For more see thisisjesus.org

Danny Lehman shares his thoughts on the future of YWAM and how movements born in the 50′s can transition well in the coming years to continue their spiritual cutting-edge. In his article Walking Backwards Into the Future of Evangelism Danny looks at how YWAM started and teaches us a few things from history:

Revival
 historians 
have
 pointed 
out
 that
 even 
the 
most 
genuine
 moves
 of
 the
 Holy 
Spirit
 to
 awaken
 God’s
 church
 are 
barely
 able 
to 
keep 
their 
vitality 
for 
2
 generations.

Advocating lesssons learnt by Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Evan Roberts (1st and 2nd Great Awakenings in America and the Welsh Revival respectively) we need to ensure that we remain Biblically based and Jesus focussed.

Can I highly recommend the entire article to you to read. It is a fantastic vision for authentic Christianity that my generation would do will to learn from.

Danny concludes with this declaration:

They 
will
 be 
free‐‐free
 from 
the
 religious
 legalism 
of 
the 
past, 
the
 cultural
 bondages
 of 
the 
present 
and
 the 
fear 
of the 
future.

 They
 will 
have 
no 
part
 of
 religious 
politics, 
elbowing 
for position, 
easy‐believism,
 dead
 orthodoxy,
 cheap
 grace
 or 
sleepy
 Sunday
 morning
 Christianity.
 They
 won’t
 seek 
to 
be
 cool, 
but 
to
 be
 holy.

 They
 will
 climb 
the
 spiritual 
ladder
 down, 
like their
 Lord. 

With 
shields
 raised,
 swords
 swinging 
and 
signs
 following 
they 
will
 storm 
the
 gates 
of
 hell 
and
 set
 the
 captives 
free
 in 
the 
name 
of 
the 
Lord.
 And 
when 
they
 turn 
around 
from
 their
 backwards
 walk 
they 
will
 see
 Jesus
 who
 will
 welcome 
them
 home:

 “Well
 done,
 good
 and
 faithful
 servants,
 enter 
in to 
the
 joy
 of 
the 
Lord.”