Reflections on being involved in ‘A Passion For Life‘
Highfields Church, Cardiff
Aiming for a lifetime of evangelism
We have had mission weeks before, but this one felt different. The tagline for A Passion for Life was ‘a month of evangelism for a lifetime of evangelism’ and we supported that wholeheartedly. We didn’t just want a well organised and supported week of events. We were praying for every individual in the church family to take steps forward in their own personal evangelism and looking back we feel that those prayers have been answered. Two things helped us in this.
The value of evangelism training
A Passion for Life made video resources with discussion questions available from the previous autumn and every Bible study group used at least some of them. I especially loved the one that encouraged us to think about using stories Jesus told to answer difficult questions about Christianity. It was so encouraging to see group members realise that this was not too hard for them as we talked about it together. Completing this training early on not only gave us confidence in evangelism, it also got us praying for non-Christian friends and meant that the week of mission didn’t take us by surprise since we had been preparing for many months.
Different groups taking ownership of events
We had guest services on the Sundays at either end of the week, but in between we had many different events. A craft night arranged by Jo, who loves craft; a Tapas and Tunes event run by the student team; a quiz night arranged by the twenties group; a coffee, cake and classical music event run by the team who serve some of our older folk; and it all culminated in two performances of Handel’s Messiah. All of the events had gospel content, most of them in the form of personal testimony. As many people were actually involved in planning the midweek events, lots of people came and brought their non-Christian friends.
It was hard work, but so enjoyable. We believe that the gospel was proclaimed to many people who didn’t know Jesus. Of course, there is a long way to go and we must keep working at our witness, but we praise God for answered prayer.
What would it look like for everyone in Bridgend to hear the good news of Jesus within two years? Someone posed this question at a meeting of Bridgend pastors last year, prompted by the description of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus: ‘This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord’ (Acts 19:10).
This conversation became the catalyst for our involvement in A Passion for Life. Working together as a group of seven churches, we planned a series of evangelistic events in the run-up to Easter 2022, supported by evangelists on the Wales Leadership Forum’s training programme.
Many people heard the word of the Lord through these events, and we also learned some important lessons for the future.
The joy of working together
The seven churches have numerous differences, but we are united in our love of Jesus and our desire to make him known. Through our joint efforts, we were able to attempt things that we couldn’t have done separately and our unity was a positive witness to the town. It was also an encouraging reminder that we’re not alone in our gospel work.
The value of personal testimonies
Guests were particularly drawn to the life stories of ex-Mafia member, Slavko Hadžić, and former rugby player, Chris Jones, who both spoke movingly of God’s work in their lives. Some churches used A Passion for Life’s training resources to think about how we can share our own stories too.
The value of thinking outside of the box
Our main events were held in church buildings, but at Litchard Mission, we ran activities in our church car park for families on the school run and gave out 50 Christian books. We also organised an Easter story trail, with various stops in the neighbourhood, ending at our church building. Wonderfully, two families from this event came to our Easter Sunday service and other services since!
The urgent need for prayer
Although many Christians faithfully prayed for the events, our main prayer meetings were poorly attended. We know that ‘unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain’ (Ps. 127:1). How might the Lord bless our area if we take this vital work of prayer more seriously?
South East Wales
Primarily because of the distance between the four churches involved, organising joint events was impractical and likely to be less successful. We therefore decided to organise our own local events to which we would invite the other three churches.
The benefit of doing your own thing
Crickhowell is different from Cwmbran, and Abergavenny is different from Monmouth. All four of our churches have members of diverse ages and backgrounds, with different ongoing programmes and future plans. Tailoring events to our churches and localities meant they were more suited to our individual context.
In Cwmbran, we spaced our events out holding events roughly once a week in the build up to Easter Sunday. In Abergavenny, not having their own large meeting space, they relied on hiring a premises and packed everything into a week. Crickhowell church wanted to use the mission as a launchpad for more frequent evangelism with further events planned after Easter and Monmouth church fitted their events around a pre-existing ongoing evangelism programme.
Should events have food or musical performances? Ought they be geared towards men, women, families or children? Should they use a local Christian author, a rugby player with a fascinating story or a well-known Christian speaker able to answer tough topics? As we planned our own events it gave us a greater sense of local focus.
The benefit of cooperating with others
We didn’t, however, do all this in isolation. We very deliberately coordinated our plans and shared resources as four churches. That wasn’t because it’s nice to work together and demonstrates unity, but because of the added value in working together. This sense of cooperation was especially sweet in our joint Zoom prayer meeting held before the events got underway.
For many of our events, we used the same speakers. We were generously helped by the Wales Leadership Forum who arranged some of our speakers, including Slavko Hadžić and Andy Mayo, and provided us with their team of evangelists.
Some who live in Crickhowell might work in Abergavenny. Members in Cwmbran might have family and friends local to Monmouth and another benefit of cooperating was being able to invite contacts from other places to their local events.
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