Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Evangelism? 3 B's and formation

Just had an interesting conversation with a few colleagues about what works in evangelism. While we didn't come up with much that works we did a fair bit of discussion around the issues.
For my part I want to say that:
  • I think Evangelism has always got to be scene as part of the same continuum as discipleship
  • The churches understanding of Good News is often confused as Bad News, the idea that it is only good news because of God's judgment strikes me as stating the obvious. I think the majority of people are aware that there is something wrong - while they may not know what is they do no that they need a way out - Jesus - Good News.
  • Programs like Alpha work because they are about discipleship more than evangelism - in the fact that they help people who are fringe understand the faith.
  • Programs also work because they help the average Church person focus on others.
  • God is the supreme evangelist, too often we can run programs to evangelise and run them as if God does not exist. God is alive and well and at work in this world (hence my church sign, Jesus has left the building).
  • Too easily church people generationaly forget why the Church exists, and why we are there. We are the church of Acts and need to remind ourselves of that, We need to remember our story of why we exist and who for.

Another thing that has struck me late was how much our methods of evangelism do not reflect the current paradigm of the 3 B's (Belief, Behave and Belong). If as is suggested the old paradigm put Behave before Belief and Belong. then it stand to reason that we don't need to keep telling people the story of why we exist, why we do what we do in the church, because in taking part in it we will learn to understand it. But since we are living in an age where Belong and Belief will proceed Behave we need to look at ways in which we can help people to belong more, and to do something about this behave barrier since understanding a group is a key part of feeling as though you belong to the group. Of course in the last 15 years or so the Church has been doing that, seekers services being a prime example of making Church more comfortable - and easier place to belong too. But maybe rather than dumbing down we should be forming and shaping people more - a catechumanate type arrangement.

In terms of what we do in Church I think we need to 'educate' new people about why the Church is like it is, why we do what we do. Maybe Alpha needs a few Church culture sessions, that explain why a particular Church worships in this way.

Maybe Churches could offer programs (if we are to do programs) that unpack the mysteries of Church worship. It would have to be done with no strings attached but I suspect people are nosey about what goes on in the Church, I think that is one of the major reasons as to why the DaVinci Code was so popular, as it attempted to unpack the mystery.

A few years back I took a young adults group through a book I was reading "why bother with Church", by Simon Jones, over about 8 weeks we stripped the whole thing back to try and understand why we did, to recapture the Story - for me it was brilliant - i felt as though this was something I could more belong too and I suspect that the young people involved felt that too.


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