Mission - ECGI - Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative

Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative – ECGI Newsletter – December 2010

Welcome to the 4th edition of the ECGI Newsletter. This newsletter includes an Advent message from our convenor, Bishop Patrick Yu and stories from Argentina, Australia, England and Madagascar as well as reports from conferences in Pakistan and South Africa; it also mentions some books and resources and includes the regular features of Prayer Board and how to get involved.

Share your good news

When you read this newsletter it will be close to Christmas. We will hear again the Angel’s  announcement, “Don’t be afraid, I am here with good news for you,  which will bring great joy to all people.” (Luke 2:10) The angel went on to tell about the birth of Jesus, the Saviour. The heavenly hosts echoed, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!” We can learn something from this heavenly evangelist about the structure of sharing good news: the objective aspect of what God has done in Jesus is set within the intention of the sharer to bring joy, peace, and abundant life to the hearer. The effect of evangelism is to enrich life by God’s action, no less than the “shalom” of the whole earth.

I became a Christian in the Anglican Church because someone shared good news with me. Many Anglicans that I have met, however, have the notion that evangelism involves learning a special formulation of the Gospel, such as the “four spiritual laws,” which they then have to “sell” to reluctant listeners. I believe a more natural way to share begins with remembering how Jesus is good news for our lives. As a bishop, I encourage people to get in touch with how God has blessed them in Jesus. I encourage them to write it down, share it with another believer, and then share it with a friend when the occasion presents itself. The act of  remembering good news for each of us makes the sharing of it a joy, much like the natural way we tell a friend about a favourite food.

But are we in touch with how Jesus is good news for our lives, and not ours only, but also our community, our church, our country? Canadian author Paul Scott Wilson read through many published sermons and found that words like “should, must, and ought to” appear many times more then references to the joy and blessings of God in Jesus. How easy it is to forget the blessings in Christ and fall into duty and fear. When following Jesus is no longer good news to people, they find it difficult to share faith. When the blessing is fresh, we share it with reality, with joy and conviction. The purpose of the Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative (ECGI) is to help people recover natural ways of sharing faith. When we do that, evangelism happens. The church grows when we invite people into communities which love and support each other in becoming disciples. In this newsletter you will read about these initiatives throughout the Communion. Would you practice telling how Jesus is good news in your life, how church is good news, the share it with other Christians, and those who are not yet?

Bishop Patrick Yu
Convenor of ECGI Core Group

Sorted is now officially a ‘church’

Sorted was started by Captain Andy Milne  a Church Army youth evangelist and keen skateboarder, who gets to know young people through some of the schools and housing estates in North Bradford.

Mark Russell, Church Army’s CEO, says: "Sorted is an amazing and exciting initiative which effectively reaches and disciples young people who are way beyond the reach of traditional church. Andy has pioneered a visionary youth fresh expression of church, and Church Army is thrilled the Sorted Centre of Mission has now been granted a Bishop’s Mission Order."

Sorted encounters around 130 young people each week via the three groups it has established. Andy says, “Fewer people than ever before have any meaningful links with the church and its culture so we're meeting people where they are at, rather than expecting them to come to church. Sorted helps break down some barriers and the young people can see that we are really concerned about them and the issues they face. We're building a Christian community and family for those who have difficult families at home.”

The Bishop's Mission Order means that Sorted's future is secure for at least the next five years. They will be given oversight by the Archdeacon of Bradford and they will have an electoral roll of members and a PCC.

Bishop David says: "I hope my successor has as much fun as I've had baptising their new members by immersion!" In May, the Bishop baptised six teenagers from Sorted in the River Wharfe at Ilkley - with an audience of hundreds of sunbathers. The six were then joined by five others to be confirmed and receive communion by the side of the river.

Story provided by Richard Chambers FRSA Communications Officer (Media and Events) Church Army UK

Alpha in Argentina

Shortly after I became suffragan bishop here in Northern Argentina, I was introduced to my local Roman Catholic counterpart. After chatting about issues of common concern he said: "There is something I have heard about in the Anglican church which I need you to tell me all about!" I must admit I was slightly worried until he went on to explain:  "The Alpha course". I was only too pleased, since not only had we run courses in the UK which contributed hugely to the growth of our parish church, but we had also recently started a Youth Alpha here in the diocese, which was set to challenge the assumption that lessons learnt in one context can't be adapted to another.

To explain our context a bit, I should say that it is a tribal area, in which churches are usually attended by most members of the village communities. Sadly church growth often occurs through the community splitting and each of the resulting groups opening its own church. Coupled with this evangelism is often carried out by enthusiastic new denominations in areas where the community has already been widely evangelised, causing confusion and rivalry (but often "church growth").

However, amidst much "nominalism" there are always those who need to be reached and renewed with the Good News. The main challenge for the churches, of course, is the next generation. As I have travelled throughout the diocese  (about the size of France, and mainly semi‑arid tropical forest, with often impassable roads), I have so often been encouraged by the huge numbers awaiting confirmation ‑ a sure sign that there is still evangelism and church growth of a healthier kind going on!

Many of these forest dwellers have now migrated to towns, where they struggle to integrate with local "criollo" settlers. The second generation now attend school with those of other racial and social groups, yet integration is limited. It is therefore fascinating that, whereas church services tend to be very segregated, the Alpha course provided the context not just for open discussion of the gospel message, but also for teenagers of three very different ethnic groups to mix freely.

So, how did it work here? The key ingredients tried and tested in a middle‑class professional Anglican context in London worked excellently in semi‑rural South America: a genuine atmosphere created by food, friendship and careful planning (including games in our case!), a clear presentation of Biblical truths accompanied by the dignity of being able to explore and be taken seriously/listened to, and the powerful spiritual experience of prayer and ministry in the Holy Spirit. Maybe this is globalisation, or maybe a creative adaptation of a good methodology.

An indication of how this contributes to church growth, is the fact that 30 young people turned up for the midweek prayer‑meeting (normally attended by a handful!), and that more than this continue to attend a weekly youth group now the course has ended. More importantly lives have been transformed. Three youngsters, two of whom had never been to church before, are now hosting a twice‑weekly programme on a Christian radio station.

And perhaps of equal importance for the future of this particular church, new leaders have been trained, and have seen God at work. This is only a handful out of over 120 churches, but it is a sign of encouragement as the diocese looks into the future.

Nicholas Drayson, Suffragan Bishop of Northern Argentina

Fishing for Men in Morombe

It is early morning in Morombe, a village of 9,000 on the west coast of Madagascar. Fishermen glide into the beach from the Indian Ocean in square-sailed wooden vessels called “Laka.” As they arrive, women and children gather to bring the catch to market. It is easy to imagine a New Testament scene, where Jesus calls his disciples: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Come to think of it, that is the plan. The Area Mission of Toliara in the Anglican Diocese of Antananariva hopes to see these fishermen transformed into fishers of men, who will reach Morombe and the surrounding region of 53,000 people with the good news of Jesus Christ.

The Rt. Rev. Todd McGregor, a Bishop in Antananariva who oversees Toliara, and his wife, the Rev. Patsy McGregor, a priest ordained in Kenya, have developed an evangelization strategy which involves living in Toliara in Christian community with trainee evangelists and deploying them to villages where the Gospel has not yet travelled.

In 2007, the Area Mission of Toliara, which is about the size of England and stretches over 1,000 miles of coastland in the poorest, southern section of Madagascar, launched a plan to plant 30 churches in 10 years. Called the 30/10 Initiative, it has birthed seven churches between Morondava in the central west coast and Fort Dauphin on the southeast coast.

Morombe is the newest church to join the flock. In April, the diocese sent two evangelists named Fideramana and Zefa for three weeks to the village to prepare for a week-long evangelistic mission in May. A total of 14 clergy, evangelists and student evangelists went door to door to share the Gospel, and held night rallies and  gatherings to teach and preach God’s Word. Each night they also showed either the Jesus film or another Christ film in an open air arena.

After the mission week, Fideremana stayed in Morombe for three more months to lead strengthen the community through worship and begin to disciple the fledgling church.

In mid-July, the Bishop and some visitors traveled the 8 hours by 4-wheel drive through spiny desert, rice fields, villages and beach from Toliara to visit Morombe. About 50 people packed into the primitive worship space on a weekday afternoon. They were cramped and hot but the joy was infectious. Mostly young women and young children, this group was coming together as a community and a family.

The purpose of the church is to reproduce – to make each member a fisher of men. The young Christians are already being viewed as a disciple and a minister.

Bishop Todd preached on Luke 10, the Sending of the 72. He encouraged the flock to follow Jesus’ command to go, “and to go, not in the name of the Anglican Church, but in the name of Jesus.”

After the evening prayer service, many people remained for fellowship, singing Christian songs, dancing and playing games long after dark. Some of the women had already clearly taken on leadership roles, and when Fideremana took a week’s leave for a clergy and evangelist’s retreat, a 17-yearold, single mother of two, named Dorothy, was commissioned to lead the group in prayer and praise in his absence.

There remains work to be done. The absence of men in the church highlights the need for strategies to get them to step out of their boats and follow Christ. Gambling is a major past-time in the area, which could be a barrier to the Gospel. There is also the need for further discipleship and leadership development. The church does not yet have its own priest, so it does not have regular communion services or baptisms. Plans to erect a church building in town are under way. On his visit, the bishop
scouted church properties and built relationships with ecumenical leaders.

The McGregor’s strategy is a holistic means of transformation, serving the poorest of the poor, by transforming lives and society through evangelization, but education and economic development.
(Account compiled by Paul Egeland, Lidia Vakili, Claudia Nalven)

Madagascar Mission Update Youth Conference

"My life will never be the same again". 'Now I understand what prayer is and why I need to pray." "How much will the next camp cost?" These are just some of the comments made by the partici­pants of the wry first youth conference to be organized in the Southwest Diocese of Madagascar, Toliara by the Anglican Church.

Notre Dame College hosted the conference and it was a one of a kind, life changing event. The vast majority of the youth had never attended a youth conference or Christian camp and were not sure what to expect On arrival, they adopted a wait and see attitude. By the end of the first meeting they didn't want to go home.

The camp was attended by around 85 young people from Toliara. There were members from the Anglican Church and other churches as well. The program was carefully designed to meet the needs of young people and the issues facing society at large. Some of the topics handled included preparation for marriage, relationships, academics, prayer, and spiritual warfare. Partici­pants learned how to let their value systems and viewpoints be shaped by God's word in the Bible.

Well seasoned speakers tackled the different topics, including the very first guest priest from Kenya, Rev. Capt. Apela who had come to visit and encourage Kenya's missionaries in Madagascar. The theme of the conference was drawn from Ephesians 5.15: "Be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise." The goal was to help the young people be able to make wise decisions from an informed position biblically. Participants learned how to apply God's word to their lives and how to deal with peer pressure and make mature and responsible decisions for Christ.

The exploration of the book of Ephesians by Bishop Todd McGregor was just marvellous. It was an eye-opener to the young people and gave them an opportunity to discuss key issues from scripture in their small bible study groups. The time for personal devotion was another learning experience and the Lord dealt with his people in an interesting way. Some achievements were:

  • Many young people committed themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ
  • Many young people were able to explore their tal­ents and grew in their areas of gifting especially during the evening talent shows and fun time.
  • Youths who were Christians already were strength­ened in their walk of faith and learned how to grow in their relationship with God.

International Conference on Mission & Evangelism (8th to 13th October 2010)

This was 3rd International conference on mission & evangelism organized by the Dioceses. We had nearly 130 participants from all over Pakistan and overseas (UK, Zambia, Australia)

Aim and Objectives

To challenge and encourage the church for evangelism and mission; To encourage and help people to face the persecutions; To motivate church leaders to lead in God's work in exemplary fashion; To learn from each other’s experiences and share talents and resources for church growth.

Main Papers and Workshops

Apologetic and Evangelism; Whole-life discipleship as practicing the priesthood of all believers; Challenge of secularism and approaches to Evangelism; Reaching the face book youth; Mobilizing the Female Force; Media & Evangelism; Force; Inter faith dialogue & Evangelism

Speakers

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Alexander John Malik, Bishop of Lahore; Rev. Irfan Jamil, Advisor to the Bishop of Lahore on Evangelism, Vicar St. Thomas Church, Islamabad; Mr. Anthony Aijaz Lamuel, General Secretary, Pakistan Bible Society; Rev. John Kafwanka (Zambia), Director for Mission, Anglican Communion London; Rev. Nigel Hopper, United  Kingdom; Rev. Peter Percy, Lahore; Miss Freda Carey, United Kingdom; Dr. Pervaiz Sultan, Principal St. Thomas Bible College Karachi.

Bible Studies

The Rev. Irfan Jamil lead Bible studies from 2- Timothy, highlighting how to develop in leaders the characteristics of Christian leaders. He related this to the situation prevailing in Pakistan and challenged the people to follow the examples of true leadership; fulfilling our responsibilities in homes, churches and society. The conference brought people together from various denominations and walks of life. The speaker challenged participants and motivated them for evangelism. Young people were able to discuss real life issues. For many this conference was eye opening and provided the motivation and encouragement to continue the work of evangelism.

Rev. Irfan Jamil, Advisor to the Bishop of Lahore on Evangelism,

Visionary risk takers called to freshen Church's mission - Australia

When her mother went into an aged care facility, Archdeacon Alison Taylor, who was vicar of St Dunstan's Camberwell at the time, had an idea for a new congregation.

Speaking at the Australian General Synod in September 2010 as part of a motion affirming Fresh Expressions of church, which was passed with minor amendments, Archdeacon Taylor said her mother "felt there was a pane of glass between her and normal community life," so she thought "Why not form people like her mother into a community in the church?"

So she invited the residents of two nearby nursing homes to a mid week informal Eucharist, followed by a celebratory meal, and a new weekly congregation was born.

Another speaker, the Revd Lyn Bullard, also described a fresh expression of church – 'Church in the Schoolyard' - she has initiated in Forbes North, in the Diocese of Bathurst.

Forbes North, she explained, is a town characterised by drug abuse, violence, unemployment and poverty. "'Church in the Schoolyard' meets in a local school and provides food, but also cooking classes and training in how to manage [the household] budget. In addition, church members accompany people to court and visit them in gaol. We also run seminars on suicide prevention, depression, grief and loss."

She said the non-church people coming to Church in the Schoolyard "had responded well to our love and honesty... to church members it's a fresh expression of church, but to them it's the only church they know – it's normal church... and we've seen many becoming givers rather than takers, some have been reconciled with former enemies, and there's been one baptism and a wedding."

The motion affirming Fresh Expressions of church also encouraged the training of ordained and lay pioneer ministers in all dioceses. In seconding the motion, Stuart Robinson, the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn explained the purpose of such pioneer leaders to be "visionary risk-takers from every generation who are capable of breaking new ground by forming church in places and communities where it has never been before or where it has been absent for some time."

The proposer of the motion, Trevor Edwards, the Assistant Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn and Chair of Fresh Expressions Australia, said that after years of looking inward and addressing internal matters, "the Spirit of God was prompting Anglicans to look outwards again to address the risen Christ's imperative to make new disciples to transform the world.".

Roland Ashby – Diocese of Melbourne

A meditation of thanks for over twenty centuries of mission

Robert Maclean, Australian Board of Mission

This prayerful reflection, focusing on the death and resurrection of Jesus, takes the reader through the key events of the history of the global spread of the gospel; allowing them to be inspired by, and give thanks for, those witnesses to the Good News whom went before us over the centuries. As well as being deeply prayerful, it gives a wonderful overview of mission history from the first disciples to the 21st century with mission shaped church, the Melanesian martyrs and the printing of 54 million bibles in China . In between you will find a rich tapestry of missionary initiatives inspired and led by the Holy Spirit. This meditation should appear in mid December on the ECGI Resource website.

http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi/resources/index.cfm

Touching Heaven, Changing Earth – Anglicans in Cape Town

It wasn’t just another conference, it felt as if the Lord was speaking to his beloved church’ said one participant at the Anglican conference on Mission, Evangelism and Church Growth, held in Cape Town on the eve of the Third Lausanne Congress. ‘He was instructing us, encouraging us, empowering us to action. It was all so joyful – he really does love the Anglican Church!’

Some 500 people from around the Anglican Communion gathered from 14 to16 October, for the Touching Heaven, Changing Earth meeting, sponsored by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative and ‘Growing the Church’ of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Welcoming participants, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said being ‘Anchored in Christ’ was the starting point of mission. Taking the day’s lectionary readings, he noted that mission is ultimately God’s work, and God can still use people on days when they feel more like Jonah than Paul. Revd Canon Rosemary Mbogo, Kenyan Provincial Secretary and former Provincial Missions Director surveyed the Scriptural basis for ‘Engaging in the Missio Dei for the 21st Century’.

Over the next 2 days, Anglicans from across Southern Africa and as far afield as Sudan, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda; Brunei, Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore; the US, UK, and New Zealand enjoyed a wide choice of workshops. Revd Robert Siakimotu, International President of Open Air Campaigners, not only taught about evangelism, but led participants into the streets – where some have since been putting the lessons learned into practice, introducing people to Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Revd Derek Hong of Singapore gave practical teaching on healing, dry wit peppering his inspiring and challenging insights. ‘He made our Prayer Book pages on healing come alive – it was stunning!’ was one reaction.

Grace Sampson of Nigeria and Revd Andy Shie of Brunei addressed ministry with young people, while other speakers included Tricia Neill, Executive Director of Alpha International, and Revd Canon Mark Oxbrow, International Director of Faith2Share, a network of Christian mission agencies. Bishop Mark and Revd Helen van Koevering, of the Diocese of Niassa in northern Mozambique gave a ‘thrilling’ account of church growth through holistic mission of compassionate care, sharing how they have seen the number of churches with over 50 members grow from 240 to around 500 over five years – and how they plan to plant another thousand in the next five years.

Dr Michael Cassidy rallied the closing session by asking ‘What is at stake? All are lost, and Jesus, only Jesus, saves.’ He called on participants to fulfil the great commission and obey the great commandments, of loving God, and loving our neighbours ‘with God’s love in action’. Bishop Martin Breytenbach encouraged everyone to return home as ‘Barnabas people’ – people ‘of goodness, full of faith and the Holy Spirit, who offer encouragement, form Christian communities, give generously and live by grace’. Speaking after the Conference, Trevor Pearce, Director of Growing the Church. said ‘It was an amazing time, which will leave a lasting impression on our work of mission and evangelism. I’ve even had positive feedback from people who weren’t there, but have heard about it from their friends!’ Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town.

One participant at the conference writes

" Getting five hundred people to a conference is one thing, getting those same people to really engage in mission is quite another. Many conference organisers are happy when the 'feed back' form says, "enjoyed it - very good". But were people changed? Will God's mission be advanced? In Cape Town I saw real hunger for mission tools, people itching to get on with mission, real engagement with the issues and lives changed by the Spirit. I don't think the question is going to "will we have another good conference next year?" - rather the question is now "is the church ready to be transformed in its mission by several hundred people who touched heaven in Cape Town and are longing to change earth?"


The next edition of the International Anglican Youth Network’s journal has a special emphasis on evangelism. It should be available from mid December on http://iayn.anglicancommunion.org/newsletters/index.cfm


Cross Cultural Christian—Published by St John’s Extension Studies

A workbook for Christians preparing to engage in mission in different cultures; it includes sections on Culture, Living, Faith, Church and Missionconcluding with a chapter that encourages reflection on these cross-cultural experiences. It is a workbook; there are plenty of questions and exercises that are intended to get you thinking about, and engaging with, the different issues covered within the book. Christians from South America, Africa and Asia have contributed to the book as well as insights from those working for a number of different mission agencies. The book, which replaces two previous workbooks, is written and compiled by Stuart Buchanan who works half-time as Projects Officer, Mission and Theological Studies for the Anglican Communion Office. Cost £14.95 Available from http://www.stjohns-nottm.ac.uk/the-cross-cultural-christian/

Also will be available in mid December from the Anglican Communion online bookshop on http://shop.anglicancommunion.org/index.cfm

Mission in a Post-Christendom Context

For those trying to make sense of mission in a post Christendom context there are a number of helpful books available:

In Mission After Christendom published by Darton Longman and Todd in 2003, David Smith uses his experience of working as a missionary in Nigeria, in the nineteen-seventies, to look afresh at mission in post Christendom Britain. He creatively uses a number of paintings and biblical insights to help explain some of the changes resulting from the end of Christendom and the impact that this makes upon the missionary task http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mission-After-Christendom-David-Smith/dp/0232524831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1290608855&sr=8-1

The Post Christendom website http://www.postchristendom.com/ includes a number of books, written from an Anabaptist perspective, that helpfully explore the impact and challenges of Post Christendom. These titles, published by Paternoster, include titles related to Mission, Church, Faith and Politics, Youthwork and Worship and Mission.

Prayerboard

Send your items for March, April & May for the next Prayer Board by 1 February 2011

DR Congo

  • Pray for displaced people Pray for the consecration Ven Isesomo, bishop elect of North Kivu Diocese

South East Asia

  • Pray for racial and religious tension to subside and give way to communication, dialogues, mutual understanding and working together Also, pray for the Provincial Gathering, taking place in Penang 22 – 24 February

PRAY FOR

  • For the new Decade 2011 - 2020, a fresh beginning and new vision for the Lord's harvest.
  • For the issues of the Anglican Communion to be handled appropriately and amicably.
  • For the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the 38 Provinces in evangelism and church planting.
  • For the sharing of resources and caring ministry with the disaster victims of tsunami, earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, cyclones, diseases, etc.
  • Pray for the next meeting of the ECGI Core Group in Malaysia 14—17 February

Get Involved

  • Register if you have not already done so, http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi - we will let the core group person responsible for your region know about you;
  • Tell others involved in evangelism and church growth about the Initiative and newsletter
  • Send us your stories, of how God is working through your church or organisation to grow his church, to include in future issues, (100—300 words) by 1 August for September edition. we are exploring how we can include more sensitive material on secure web pages;
  • Tell us about resources: books; websites; courses, good practice; prayers etc that we can include in future newsletters or on the website
  • Read the website  www.anglicancommunion.org/mission/ecgi to explore resources; we don’t have space in this issue to include all the material we have;
  • Translate this newsletter, and other material, into the languages of those who cannot read in English; at this stage we do not have the resources to do this ourselves.

I want to say that evangelism is not mission; evangelism rather is the sharpest point of mission. It is the cutting edge in the church’s encounter with the world ... And therefore without this cutting edge, without this evangelistic context our missionary encounter with the world cannot be complete.

I think that if we expect too much of evangelism, we will overload it, we will break its back,  domesticate it, and we destroy its power.


Quotes from Dr Raymond Fung from The Cutting Edge of Mission—a Report of the Mid-Point Review of the Decade of Evangelism published in 1996