How healthy is your mission culture?
Whether you’re running events and courses like there’s no tomorrow, focusing on small group resources or expectantly waiting for unbelievers to show up at church, every church has a mission culture, but is it as effective as it can be? You might find it helpful to frame your thinking about evangelism around two spheres: Go and Tell, and Come and See.
Go and Tell is about making sure that church members are equipped and resourced to go and tell the gospel to friends, neighbours, colleagues, whether that’s through a door-step conversation as part of a door-knocking team, or tips on how to begin a conversation with a colleague about Jesus, or sharing a film or resource with a friend online.
Come and See is a centrally run mission-programme, providing a place for church members to easily invite friends in to come and see Jesus for themselves. This could be a special event, an evangelistic church gathering, or follow-on sessions for those wanting to explore more. We see both of these approaches emphasised in the pages of the New Testament.
The early church didn’t just see conversion growth because there were a lot of well-organised, centrally run events and courses. No, the church was full of people who were doing the work of going and telling, in all sorts of places. When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip a question about the Bible passage he was reading, Philip didn’t respond with: ‘Well, we’ve got this great event coming up in a few weeks, and there’s a course you might be interested in where you can ask your questions…’. No, Philip just got on and ‘told him the good news about Jesus’ (Acts 8:35).
Equally, there are countless examples of ‘Come and See’ moments. In Acts 17, a large crowd had been invited to hear Paul speak in the Areopagus, where he taught them the truth about the Creator, the resurrection and the judgment to come. Some responded in scorn, and others wanted to hear more, perhaps coming back for the follow-up course (Acts 17:32).
If a church only runs a lot of Come and See events, it might give the impression that they are doing lots of evangelism, when actually not much is going on under the surface. J Mack Stiles, in his excellent little book Evangelism, puts it like this:
We seem to have an insatiable hunger for programmes to accomplish evangelism. Why? Programmes are like sugar. It’s tasty, even addictive… [But] a strict diet of evangelistic programmes produces malnourished evangelism… Programmes can often make us feel as if we’ve done evangelism when we haven’t. So…we should use them strategically but in moderation.
Consequently, if your mission culture is heavily-weighted towards programmes and events, you may soon find that your guest attendance starts to drop off, as people aren’t being equipped to invest in the relationships to get people to the event or course in the first place.
Equally, you will have a problem if you spend all your time resourcing people to go and tell, but never provide any touchpoints for people to invite friends to come and see.
The reality is, for many church members, having something to invite their friends along to will still be the easiest means by which they can get them to hear the gospel, and that’s ok! Centrally run events and courses can serve to impress upon the guest the plausibility of the Christian faith, as they sit in a room full of diverse people who believe this news about Jesus to be true and they realise it’s not just their mate who’s a Christian.
A balanced diet
A church family well-equipped to go and tell will likely mean more people being brought to come and see, as relationships have been nurtured and people are ready to find out more.
Equally, a church with a well-run, carefully considered come and see programme will likely be an encouragement for church members to go and tell, as the church family have confidence that there is always a ‘next step’ for people they are talking with, and so they feel more comfortable beginning conversations.
Strategy isn’t the silver bullet
It’s not rocket science by any means, and of course, a strategy like this isn’t the silver-bullet to revival. Only as this is saturated in prayer, and as the Word of God goes out, either in personal conversation or at an organised event, can we hope to see people won to Christ. This framework of Go and Tell alongside Come and See may help to give your church some structure to what you are doing and why you are doing it, all with the aim that many people in our community who are currently dead in their sin might hear God’s Word, see Jesus, and live.
A version of this article first appeared on apassionforlife.org.uk and is used with permission
A Passion For Life
A Passion for Life is a banner, raised in service of evangelical churches across the United Kingdom and Ireland, to rally us all towards a more proactive proclamation of this simple invitation to find life. Churches are invited to join in a month of mission, a focused period of corporate and personal evangelism, starting in March 2022 and running until Easter. It is a national mission, but also a local church mission, with each local church leader deciding how best to serve their community. There is no template or expectation to ‘do stuff’, just a wealth of resources available to equip and encourage each local church or group of churches in their own context.
As we do so we pray it will also help thousands of Christians in hundreds of churches make progress towards a ‘lifetime of evangelism’.
Training for evangelism
There are 21 interactive video-based sessions about making Jesus known. Designed to work easily with small groups, they encourage prayer, discussion and reflection on biblical truths and principles, including practical exercises and specific take-home points.
There are also shorter testimony videos, clips of diverse Christians sharing honestly their encouragements and disappointments in making Jesus known. It’s real, it’s grounded, and it’s inspiring. Work is also underway to produce six Welsh language sessions along these same lines.
Planning a mission
Collated from Christians across the country, these ideas will help you and your church think through principles for reaching particular people groups and give you specific ‘how to’ articles for a host of evangelistic events, activities and ministries.
We aim to help you plan your month of mission in a way that serves the long-term health of the witness of your church. Soon to be released will be a list of evangelistic speakers and interviewees for you to book.
Promote your mission
We have a variety of resources to help you promote your mission on the theme Find Life that lasts (it’s closer than you think). These will include banners and posters, a library of images and guides for creating printed and social media invitations. There are some branded evangelistic resources including a give-away booklet by Rico Tice, a branded gospel and a tract all linking to other evangelistic resources and courses for follow-up.
How to get involved?
Connect with A Passion for Life by signing up at apassionforlife.org.uk – we will keep you informed as resources are released. Find out who in your area is already connected, you can use the map on our homepage as a starting point, and speak to them. You may be able to join together with other churches in your area.