Acts 6.7a – ‘The word of God continued to spread’
The Evangelism & Church Growth Initiative Newsletter
Much of the April 2012 edition of Witness6.7 comes out of the ECGI core group meeting that took place in Kenya in March 2012, including two stories and two personal reflections, as well as some information about the outcomes of the meeting.
This edition of Witness6.7 includes news of a helpful resource from the UK, an encouraging story of evangelism in the USA and two models of evangelism from Burundi; the rest of the material comes out of from the ECGI core group meeting that took place from 7—10 March 2012 at St Julian’s, Limuru, Kenya.
The ACNS of the meeting is described on http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/3/12/ACNS5062 but we include two personal reflections from the meeting as well as an account of the visit to Kibera and a report on the workshop at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi that the core group were involved in. Concluding that ECGI is far from self-explanatory as the name of the group, it was agreed to recommend that the name is changed to the one used for the Facebook group Anglican Witness. Some articles reflect the move towards this new name.
Looking towards the future, the core group agreed upon its priorities, these are to further develop: regional collaboration; gathering, collecting, categorising, and highlighting evangelism and church growth resources; support conferences; encourage prayer; establish stable representation on the core group; advocate for the language of evangelism to become owned and understood by the whole church; promote a closer relationship between evangelism and discipleship.
Future editions of Witness6.7 will all be thematic. Themes planned are:
We will also try to keep a page for general stories so do continue to send these.
Some out-of-the box thinking about how to get people around a table talking about things that matter.
Wouldn't it be great to have meaningful conversations with our family and friends about the stuff that really matters in life?
Wouldn’t it be great to get together around a table to talk, laugh, be understood and get to know the views held by other people?
Some of us will be better at this than others but often the problem is knowing how to start!
As Martin Robinson has commented, "The life and ministry of Jesus reveals what we already know - something happens around tables. What Table Talk - the game - does is help us create that simple scenario to connect with our friends around the issues that matter to ordinary people."
The missional exegesis behind Table Talk resources is explained in a diagram (in the pdf version on the website http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi/newsletters/index.cfm). This charts the spiritual journey that people are on today. Most current evangelistic courses cater for people who are somewhere between -7 and +2. However, research suggests that most people in our population are somewhere from -7 to -10. Also, acknowledging the cultural shift that is occurring today most courses not only struggle to connect with where people are in their knowledge and questions, but also attempt to engage with them through formats that are difficult for our post-modern generation. What Table Talk does is provide a mechanism that deals with issues that people are wrestling with in a format that is far more accessible. As Alan Roxburgh notes, “Table Talk is one of the easiest and most creative ways of having simple conversations with friends and neighbours about the meaning of life.”
Table Talk is a series of six sessions with each session taking one topic with a set range of questions open for discussion. The game is often played in a neutral location such as a local cafe or pub. There is no leader as such as the game is designed to be relational with dialogue at the centre, a place where people can share their views on life.
Ruth Rice, a church leader in Nottingham, describes the Table Talk experience as follows:
“We began running a Table Talk group at a local cafe in the suburb of Nottingham where our church meets. The area is fairly affluent and there is a strong cafe culture. We started as a response to people wanting to ask different questions in a different time scale to the ones offered in other, more structured, courses. We invited a few friends who were interested in discussing big issues of life or who just wanted a drink with friends and to get to know some new people. Although we advertised with handouts, posters and invites, all the folk who came were in a relationship with someone who brought them.
Marketing is largely, in our experience, unnecessary. Relationships are essential... starting at around 7.30 discussions begin as people select a card and start talking! Its very natural, and not at all forced or preachy... sometimes multiple cards are used and at other times only one card. Table Talk is now a regular feature every Tuesday evening of between 6 – 12 people, many in their 20s and 30s... a mixture of atheists, agnostics, Christians and others on a journey from belonging to believing.
A regular atheist now calls himself an agnostic, has begun reading the Bible from cover to cover on his own and is writing his own questions! Three people have realised they have changed sides somewhere in the process of discussions, like crossing a mountain border on a long hike yet not being quite sure where the border was. For those of us who are Christians, the questions, some basic like 'what makes an attractive life' and some much more searching like 'how do I experience God?' are helping us think and search more deeply for truth and to be able to listen as well as talk about what we believe.
We love Table Talk as a simple concept... and can see many possibilities for the easy to use, well produced little cards in homes, cafes, pubs, and youth venues. We have recently used them as a warm-up in our pub church Sundays – as folk arrive they are on the tables and keep the discussion focussed on the big story. Small groups have used them at meals when they have invited friends and there has been great feedback as the cards seem more like a game than a religious activity and yet they generate better honesty and searching than many a Bible Study or evangelistic programme. We are looking to develop the idea of questions-based groups and discipling as those coming to faith through Table Talk have much to teach the Church.
As a church the table talk concept is changing the way we view evangelism and helping us talk normally with our friends about what we believe.”
Each pack explores six big questions. For each big question there is a postcard size introduction to be read and a set of 16 question cards that are used to open up conversation.
A group of six to eight people gather around a table (it can be any table) - they enjoy some food or a drink together - someone reads the two minute introduction for that session’s big question - the 16 smaller question cards are placed upwards on the table - someone picks up one of the cards and poses the question to the group - away they go for between 30 and 45 minutes.
Paul Griffiths is a member of the Archbishops’ College of Evangelists and leader of the Ugly Duckling Company. More information about Table Talk can be found at www.table-talk.org
IN 2000 the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas established a Strategic Plan for the expansion of mission for the new millennium. Undergirded by concentrated prayer, the Diocese sought the Lord’s guidance for the future of mission, unleashing diocesan wide efforts in evangelism, church planting, foreign missions, and outreach caring for those in need.
In 2004, Bishop James Stanton brought on a full time Diocesan Missioner for Evangelism, Carrie Boren, with the hopes of keeping personal and parish evangelism at the forefront of congregational life, with a group of motivated lay leaders and clergy, the Evangelism, Good News Initiative commenced. Boren taught, Evangelism 101:Tools for Sharing Our Faith to equip congregations to share the Gospel message, to share their personal testimonies, and to lead others to Christ. From this practical personal evangelism teaching tour, 84 lay people were commissioned to participate in an Evangelism Leadership Network establishing an evangelism catalyst in every congregation; additionally offering workshops in practical Christian Apologetics and Mission Vision Days, every congregation establishes an intentional evangelism plan for the calendar year to sharing the good news in Word and Deed.
From Bible Studies in coffee shops, to dinners in homes for seekers, to concerts where a Gospel message is heard, to Theology Live at local pubs where people can ask a priest any question about the Christian faith, to Alpha, to offering Seeker Bible Studies, to worship services in public spaces, to phone calling and walking door to door to every home in a town asking for their prayer requests and inviting them to church, the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas is engaging in proclaiming the Gospel. Dabney Dywer, Missioner for Outreach, and her team have encouraged 30 of our churches to adopt schools and our entire Diocese is focused on efforts to eradicate hunger and homelessness in our area. God is on the move and the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas is seeking to be His hands, feet and mouthpiece in any way it can. For more information visit: www.edod.org
We began the ECGI meeting with a visit to Kibera. As the young priest led us into the centre of the largest informal settlement in Africa, I asked, “how do children survive here”? “Many don’t” he said. “But many more do because of our work and the work of many other groups like Medecins Sans Frontieres for example”. Small rickety shacks, crammed together, are homes to about one million people; filth of every description lay strewn around. The terrain is hilly with occasional murky streams - natural or from a collection of washing and cooking water thrown out of the front doors of these homes, giving rise to caustic smells of the worst kind. A sign read, “St Jerome’s Parish”. And a little further on, “Tafakari Centre for Urban Mission” (CUM). After visiting the fairly large wood and iron church we went to Tafakari Centre to hear about the ministry of CUM, a school of Carlile College, founded in 2003 as a response to the challenge of equipping the church for mission in the growing cities of Africa. CUM in the heart of Kibera, particularly focuses informal settlements.
CUM began as an experiment in developing a contextual model of theological education which would particularly meet the needs of pastors and church leaders working in Nairobi’s informal settlements. Its origins arose from two earlier attempts to build the capacity of pastors living and working in urban mission. Student responses to the benefits of that training, whilst positive, prompted the search for a programme contextually relevant to the challenges. The response, launched in September 2002 demonstrated the value that could be gained from developing a course for a very specific context of ministry. It began in a small way to address the marginalisation of settlement communities within the church, and it showed the benefits of working with pastors from a wide cross section of denominations.
The inherent weakness of the course seemed to lie in the contradiction of seeking to be contextual while training out of context. This led to the decision to develop and deliver training from within the heart of Kibera; chosen for its size and relative stability so in May 2003 CUM was born through renting 7 rooms. Starting with two teaching staff and a dozen students, from its inception the Centre also included an informal programme. A needs assessment process identified HIV as the most pressing concern for those ministering in the community so a HIV and AIDS programme, now focuses on addressing household vulnerability through advocacy and economic empowerment initiatives. Developments since then have seen the introduction of discipleship training, micro enterprise training, non-formal theological education and children’s and youth ministry programmes. The youth ministry programme focuses particularly on establishing homework clubs based in local churches which allow students the opportunity to study in the evenings. Around these clubs have been added sports, drama, life skills and discipleship training.
The Centre has raised awareness of issues regarding urban mission more widely within Africa including the Re-imagining the City (2006) a pan-African conference on urban mission, followed by Seeking the Shalom of the City (2009) and Building Just Communities (2011). In 2008 it instigated and coordinated the urban mission track for the All Africa Conference of Churches General Assembly in Maputo and in 2010 provided input on urban mission to the All Africa Bishop’s Conference.
In 2009 CUM began running workshops for dioceses assisting in strategic planning for mission in the city. These have been conducted both within and outside Kenya. CUM currently works with approximately 150 churches in Nairobi, has 48 full time students on a diploma programme in urban mission and is partnering with St Paul’s University Limuru in running an MA in Transformational Urban Leadership.
It was with a sense of trepidation and even fear that we entered Kibera. If the police fear to enter this political hotbed, who were we to be at ease? But we were warmly welcomed by friendly people and offered a snack and hot tea. When we left it was with a picture indelibly printed on our hearts and minds of a “dark spot” into which God’s light was shining - a community loved by God and served by Gods human angels. This was the local church at its best and the fact that St Jerome’s has now planted a further five congregations shows that the people of Kibera believe this as well!
The Revd Trevor Pearce, Growing the Church Southern Africa
Evangelism In Schools - The Diocese of Bujumbura found this model of evangelism very important, it is applied from a young age when children join pre-unit school. For children whose parents are Christians, this coincides with children starting to join Sunday School. At the church we start to consolidate teachings of Sunday School children at various ages. Those who do not come to church, meet those children who undergo Sunday school teachings at school and start to encounter Christian teachings as well.
We develop church based schools where the Church provides teaching staff paid by the government. When selecting the staff, the church considers teachers that are saved and who can provide basic Christian notions to their pupils and students. The church provides teachers of religion in primary and secondary schools to continue emphasizing Christian teachings. Primary school children develop into secondary schools students with good foundations in the basics of Christian faith. We continue to follow them up at schools and during holidays, providing platforms where we develop Christian teachings appropriate for them. These students join universities later with such Christian background and develop Christian Unions providing teaching to strengthen and encourage them.
Anglicans join the Cathedral and the different urban parishes whereby they have developed church based university groups participating in church mission. Through bible study, we provide them with further Christian education initiating them to church activities. We work with and empower them to encourage, and follow up, Christian students of secondary schools.
Therefore, our main activity is to hold workshop trainings for Sunday School teachers, teachers of religion in primary schools, identified leaders of Christian Unions especially in secondary schools and in Universities. We also visit parishes and facilitate bible studies whenever needed.
We value this model of evangelism since it helps us equip the young generation with Christian education and the basics in Christian faith that will make them good leaders for both the church and nation. Unfortunately, we lack support for these useful trainings. Please pray with us that the Lord Jesus may direct His people to this open door so that they work with us through funding this useful Ministry.
Evangelism - We are much concerned with reaching out to unbelievers and sharing our faith with people of other religions. This model is about sharing the good news with unbelievers in love. We realized the need of sharing the gospel with unbelievers as we believe that Jesus remains the only way, truth and life that leads us to God the father (John 14: 6).
We then realised the need for the Church to be pro-active, instead of being silent and just abide by the status quo, so we have started to train evangelists and share with them the strategies to reach out in dialogue and love. As we continue with this training, the first products have started to evangelise and we have some new converts . We continue the training and follow- up these new converts, through teaching them the basics in Christian faith and about some income generating activities to sustain them physically.
Revd Thierry Bahizi , Coordinator of Missions and Evangelism
On Sunday 4th March, after travelling for almost 30 hours, I arrived on the other side of my world in Nairobi to be part of my first ECGI core group meeting.
Within a day I had met most members of the ECGI core group; a passionate, experienced, enthusiastic and faithful group of Anglican leaders representing the wide cultural variety of the Anglican Communion across the world.
With our shared Anglican heritage we had much worship, theology and ecclesiology in common and yet our church life, our mission fields, political and cultural situations vary so greatly. I was especially impacted hearing how many people in Africa and Asia are turning to Christ. A different situation from my own country Australian where mission can be difficult and much sowing is to be done amongst hardened unbelievers.
Throughout our meeting we continued to return to one vital question. How do we encourage Anglicans all over the world to continue prioritising evangelism and church growth and to take seriously the Great Commission above all else?
We were able to celebrate the fact that all over the world, every day, there are Anglican ministries reaching out and impacting communities. With many different approaches and methods we have the one goal of witnessing to Jesus. As we share our stories through Witness6.7 we can be encouraged in our work and learn from each other about how to be increasingly effective.
We were reminded during our meeting that this is never as simple as just repeating someone else’s successful strategy. Our contexts are radically different, so we must always be reading our culture and increasing our understanding of the people with whom we work. We need to be prayerful and thoughtful as we adapt resources and strategies so that they can be effective in each unique context.
One of the greatest advantages of our worldwide ECGI network is that we find that we have friends all over the world who share our passion and conviction about Jesus and His Gospel. We can inspire each other and our churches to even greater and more effective witness to Jesus and find deep strength and power in our worship and prayer for each other.
Now back in Australia I head out to share my faith and disciple young adults encouraged and with a greater understanding of how my small efforts contribute to how God is growing His church through all the world. We are never alone.
Judy Douglas , Church Army - Australia
"Kenya has sent a military force into Somalia, but sadly the Church missed an opportunity to send military chaplains along with the troops", The Rev Peter Nzimbi confided to me over a cup of tea at St Luke's Anglican Church, Nairobi. I'd just preached at two lively morning services. The Rev Nzimbi, a young priest in his early 30s, smiled afterwards as he added, "But the workshop organized by the Anglican Witness at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi a couple days ago reawakened us for mission. I met with diocesan youth leaders after the workshop and realized we were in maintenance mode, rather than focussing on mission."
Reawakening dioceses for mission and evangelism is what Anglican Witness is all about. Archbishop Eliud Wakabula, Primate of Kenya, urged us to make Jesus central in all we do: "Speak about about Jesus as loudly as you can!" Our meeting at St Julian's Retreat Centre, Limuru, Kenya this March reminded me of the potential that Anglicans have worldwide to intensify evangelism and church growth. There is no room for complacency.
Approximately 1.7 billion people in the world today have no personal relationship with a Christian. Thousands of ethnic groups still have no viable church or resources to start churches. Even in areas where the Anglican Church is strong, like Kenya, new efforts are needed to re-evangelize the increasing numbers of people who have left the church and to reach out to youth (about 78% of Kenya is under 35 years old). The approximately 84 million Anglicans around the world today are strategically positioned to engage in evangelism. What excites me about serving on Anglican Witness is the potential for Anglican church planters in places like Peru to strengthen church planters in places like Europe or Asia.
Nigerians are another example of the type of vibrant Anglican witness our Communion has. Surely, I ask myself, aren't there ways for Nigerian evangelists to assist in church planting in other contexts in Africa and beyond? Titus Kumapayi, Director of the Church of Nigeria Missionary Society, told me at the Anglican Witness meeting about several Nigerian Anglicans planting churches in Togo, Cote d'Ivoire, and Madagascar. How can we encourage one part of the body of Christ to share its fruitful practices in evangelism with other parts?
In the body of Christ "God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having the gift of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different types of tongues" 1 Corinthians 12:28. As a member of Anglican Witness, I feel it is a privilege to serve on an international ministry team that the Lord may use both to reawaken churches like Kenya and to send out labourers into the harvest of the unreached.
The Rev Julian D. Linnell PhD, Executive Director, Anglican Frontier Missions
Finding Perfect Balance in Mission and Ministry - A clergy workshop held at All Saints' Cathedral, Nairobi on 9th March 2012
The Evangelism & Church Growth Initiative (ECGI) clergy workshop was held at All Saints’ Cathedral Church Nairobi on 9th March 2012 with a total of 13 ECGI members drawn from various parts of the Communion present. The team was led by Bishop Patrick Yu, the Bishop of Scarborough – York, in Toronto in the Church of Canada. The workshop was convened by the Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), the Rev’d Canon Rosemary Mbogo, who is a member of the ECGI. A total of 75 participants from both Nairobi and All Saints’ Cathedral Dioceses attended the workshop. Also in attendance were a number of international partners working with various dioceses and institutions in the Anglican Church of Kenya. The workshop’s theme was “Finding Perfect Balance in Mission and Ministry”.
The mission coordinator of All Saints’ Cathedral Dioceses presented an overview of mission work in the Diocese. He reported that the Diocese carries out its mission primarily through evangelistic outreach and discipleship programs as well as church planting that has become a key aspect of mission in the informal urban settlement of Kibera. The contemporary methods that are being used to reach out to the youth include sports evangelism. He noted that alongside such spiritual programs, All Saints’ Diocese, through its initiatives in the settlements, is equally involved in advocacy and social transformation programs like running Church owned schools, dispensaries and other health care units, economic empowerment programs, etc.
The Provost of All Saints’ Cathedral Church, Nairobi highlighted the Cathedral’s broad involvement in mission. This involvement includes thorough in-reach programs for members of the Cathedral that have seen incredible spiritual growth and social involvement over the last three years. The Cathedral also participates in mission by financially supporting some of the trained evangelists working in the churches in the Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi. The Cathedral also supports a number of clergy and evangelists serving in the remote parts of Northern Kenya such as Turkana area that is referred to as Lodwar Missionary Area.
In sharing about mission in the ACK, the Provincial Mission Director informed the participants that ACK mission objectives include stirring up the Church for mission by building the capacity of Lay and Ordained ministers and all the sector groups to enhance effective and improved participation in Christian ministry. He noted that the ACK carries out its missionary mandate primarily through its six departments namely, Children’s Ministry, Kenya Anglican Youth Organization, Mothers’ Union, Kenya Anglican Men’s Association, Chaplaincy and DMA & Evangelism. Specific areas of ministry include empowering Christians for involvement in evangelism, discipleship, peace initiatives, school/hospital ministry, counseling and mentorship that are carried out through various strategies and fora.
Bishop Patrick Yu led the participants to reflect on the need to prioritize evangelism and discipleship capturing the metaphors of “fishing for people” and “feeding the sheep” drawn from Jesus’ conversation with the apostle Peter in Matthew 4:19 and John 21: 15-17. The participants extensively discussed these two aspects of mission looking at the Kenyan diverse context seeking to discern how to both “fish” creatively and “feed the sheep” effectively. In leading the discussions, Bishop Yu reiterated that for the Anglican Church to grow in any part of the Communion, these two aspects of the Great Commission (fishing and feeding) must go hand in hand in a manner that resonates with our diverse contexts.
The Rev’d Evans Omollo, Provincial Mission Director, ANGLICAN CHURCH OF KENYA
The Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative now has more than 300 registered members based in at least forty different countries. We also have over two hundred friends in our Facebook group. The majority of the facebook friends are not registered members, so we are confident that we are in touch with more than 400 different people around the Anglican Communion; 400 people with different stories to tell from being involved in evangelism and church growth within their different contexts; 400 people that we can learn from and share with.
The Initiative is you, the members and friends, so we encourage you to use the Initiative as a way of keeping in touch, supporting and encouraging each other. You can:
Join by registering - if you have not already done so, the online form is available on http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi — we will inform the core group person responsible for your region about you and make sure you are sent this newsletter six times a year
Become a facebook friend – once you have joined facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/anglicanwitness/ the facebook page provides an interactive forum so that you can share stories, prayer requests, resources and questions with each other
Explore the website – at www.aco.org/ministry/mission/ecgi you will find back copies of the newsletter, lists of evangelism resources and various resources that others have produced to help with their work;
Encourage others – who are involved in evangelism and church growth to register, join the facebook page and explore the website
Share your stories – so that we can include these within the newsletter; stories of how God is working through your church or organisation to grow his church; stories to encourage others; stories so that we can learn from your experience. Stories (300—700 words) and photos to be arrive by 1 March for the April edition; articles for the thematic June edition on children and young people, by 1 May 2012
Tell us - about resources: books; websites; courses, good practice; prayers, forthcoming events etc that we can include in future newsletters or on the website
Post – stories, helpful web-links, resources, prayer requests, questions, information etc on the Facebook page
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
Pray - for the work featured in the newsletters and Facebook page and give thanks for God’s faithfulness
The Mission Department
Anglican Communion Office
St Andrew’s House
16 Tavistock Crescent
London W11 1AP, UK