Park End Church, Cardiff
Jesus-centred churches are the Lord’s rescue plan for planet Earth. In church we learn to live the life of Jesus on earth. We get to serve the Father and each other as Jesus served. When the Lord Jesus is worshipped and obeyed by churches, local areas are transformed. Therefore, every event that a church runs should be connected to Jesus Christ because we have nothing else or better to offer. Churches have to present Jesus to the world.
Like many churches in Wales, Park End Church has a long way to go in reaching all of our local people with Jesus. I arrived at Park End a year ago and discovered some sobering statistics. It’s probably worth you doing some research into your local area as well. The total population in the catchment of our church is 25,700. Our Sunday morning population is about 70 and decreasing unless the current trend is changed. In one evening service before lockdown, I counted 8 people present. Therefore, we reach 0.27% of our local area for Jesus. So, our current framework and structure of church is not being as blessed as we would like, and we need to be better at the ‘go and get people’ command of the Lord.
Now, throw lockdown into the mix. Growing churches just got harder. What can we do to keep lifting up Jesus to our area? I hope some of the ways we have managed will be of some use. It may seem like it requires a lot of money or people but it doesn’t. It only took creating a few teams who were willing to work hard.
An online window
First, get your church visible online if you can. At the moment the internet is arguably the most populated area that we have. Buy the necessary equipment if possible. We revamped our website, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages and we try to add content daily. Open these windows for locals to see what you do.
Clear audio and visuals are important, as are your logos and art-work. It shows that you believe church is important and worth effort. Try to advertise each meeting well otherwise a lot of our hard work goes unseen and unheard by people. That’s a sure way to get tired and see our churches shrink.
Second, show the world that we still have cause to sing. Upload hopeful songs and hymns into the current depressing climate. Park End has a playlist on our YouTube channel you can share if you don’t have musicians.
Dig deep into the Bible
Third, try to fire up your congregation for the Bible. In the light of so many evil habits being developed in lockdown, from alcoholism to porn addiction, the Bible is absolutely necessary in the battle for holiness. We read the Bible for an hour a day on YouTube from 9 until 10pm. Each day people checked in from across the world to ask after each other, pray for each other and to be fed from the Word of the Lord. We finished the whole Bible in 169 days. I set off fireworks on day 100 at 10:30pm which got me in trouble with my wife!
Find ways to meet together
Fourth, we subscribed to Zoom and transferred our weekly prayer there. Seeking the Lord’s face is essential so that church grows in the right way and walks in step with the Spirit. It’s also a helpful platform for me to teach my three theology classes a week and hold coffee mornings.
Fifth, for those not online, a few of us contribute to a weekly newsletter which is a mix of devotional material, announcements, prayer points and crosswords. Making phone calls and shopping for people not online is important too. We are discussing buying a handful of tablets with only one or two apps on for our less technically able members to borrow in case they can’t join us physically for some time.
Use your indoor and outdoor space
Sixth, make use of any space you have and can use. We opened a hall up for people to come and pray with us and we opened our car park each Saturday for Holy Communion. While we don’t offer communion to a non-Christian this was a glorious evangelistic opportunity. At the table we could share with lost, anxious, lonely, sinful, broken and afraid people that they can call out to the Lord and he will save them. They can cast all of their burdens on him and he can rescue them from sin, death and decay.
Make the most of every opportunity
Finally, here are some ideas for you to keep people’s minds fixed on the kingdom of Heaven. Could you run an evangelistic course? Maybe the 3-2-1 (three-two-one.org) course? Or Christianity Explored (christianityexplored.org)? Could your church pray and fast one day each week – to really help you to draw near to Jesus? A book club? A Zoom dinner and Bible Study? Can we find ways to support the marriages and homes in our church family?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that lifting Jesus up isn’t easy. You’ll never feel like doing it, you’ll never have the energy. It costs your life. You’ll become a target for attack from outside and inside the church. You’ll have to navigate differences of opinion, clashes and cleverly articulated reasons as to why it’s more spiritual to not do anything at all. Keep going. When Jesus is lifted high he will draw people, and the ‘curse of the White Witch’ upon Wales will be melted. That’s worth dying for.