People say the church is in decline but whilst our numbers, for the moment, may be diminishing the message we share remains the same, the question is how do we share the message of God’s love?  Jesus spoke of oneness, of living for the other, of compassion and he changed people’s lives.  The key thing in that is ‘he spoke of’, we believe in what Jesus spoke of, as Christians we call ourselves followers of Jesus and yet all to often we forget that key component, we don’t speak about what we believe, we don’t follow Jesus’ example.  The way we live our lives is important, it sets an example, but we need to talk about the difference it makes to experience the wonderful, transforming love of God in our own lives?

Evangelism!  Perhaps for you, the word conjures up memories of street corner evangelists declaring the end of the world, perhaps it is of a seaside mission converting children, perhaps a Billy Graham rally, most of us have some memory linked with the word.  Very few will picture a pleasant conversation with a friend about God, love and the meaning of life and yet that is the perhaps the most common evangelism that happens, and also the easiest to partake in.  Jesus reminds us that we are called to be storytellers, the great bible stories but just as importantly our own story.

Once upon a time, long, long ago…. people came to church!  Children came to Sunday School and heard wonderful Bible stories and that God loves them.  That was three or four generations ago at least and for the majority of those under forty in Britain, there is little knowledge of Bible stories and God is irrelevant in their lives, at least that is their understanding, and yet there is still a longing and a searching for ‘something else’.  Understandably these people, having rejected the church, if not God, as irrelevant, don’t often come searching in church and so we have to find other places to tell our story, or change the way we do church.  However, telling our story takes practice and some thought as our story is intricately woven with what we believe and many of us have not given much thought to what we believe.  Personal experience and wrestling can affect what we actually believe, so we need the opportunity to think about our own personal belief, before we can answer questions or tell our story confidently.

Does our experience of church give us that opportunity?  Probably not as often as we might think!  It may need a change of emphasis and style in how we practice church.  Café style worship offers an opportunity to share and practice our story among friends, which leads to greater confidence sharing our story with and answering the questions of acquaintances.  Book club and film clubs offer the opportunity to reflect upon contemporary issues from a Christian perspective.  Contemporary bible studies offer the opportunity to approach scripture in a different way.  There are plenty of tools to help us prepare to tell our story and show God’s love, to tell the good news that every human being is loved by God, to evangelise.

If you would like to know more about about any of these things or to simply explore other possible opportunities in your location then contact Michelle Howard the Synod Church Development Worker, who will be happy to come and talk with you or run workshops on various topics to help you explore where God may be challenging you as a church in the 21st Century.