Acts 6.7a – ‘The word of God continued to spread’
The Evangelism & Church Growth Initiative Newsletter
The October 2012 edition of Witness6.7 focuses on Prayer and Spiritual Formation. It features stories from Canada, Nigeria, West Malaysia, and Pakistan as well as some general articles.
PRAYER AND SPIRITUAL FORMATION
PRAYER is a central part of Christian life and ministry, and it is an important way we communicate with our Triune God. Archbishop Desmond Tutu states in his ‘an African Prayer Book’ that in prayer “We seek to give ourselves to the One who first gave himself to us, this eternally self-giving and self-empting kenotic* One” and he prays “that we all grow in that intimacy that enables us to know we are loved with a love that will never let us go.” Prayer also enables us to be in solidarity with others and in a significant way participate in their experience, be it a joyful or sad experience.
Evangelism and church growth work takes reliance on prayer very seriously. Although not every article in this edition is on prayer, you will see how spirituality is nourished by prayer and prayer life. There is also here a resource of Ten Ways to inspire prayer life.
I trust that you will be, nourished, inspired and challenged by what you find and read in this Witness6.7 edition, and I also invite you to send in articles for sharing with others in the Communion and beyond. Please note that the theme for next edition is Hospitality.
* Jesus’ voluntary renunciation of certain of his divine attributes in order to identify himself fully with mankind and suffer death on the Cross
John Kafwanka K (Revd)Director for Mission
WHEREVER you are in your prayer life, we’d like to inspire you with 10 Ways to liven things up! Feel free to pick one or two, try them out, and let us know what the Lord does in response:
1 Watch an inspiring video: http://vimeo.com/8467883 Prayer doesn’t have to be a laundry list for sick people or for my perceived needs. Sundar Krishnan tells some compelling stories of how the Lord responded to his prayers in surprising ways (25 mins).
2 Go on a Prayer Journey: Join a team, or organize one yourself, for a unique prayer opportunity to a part of the world where there is little, if any, Christian presence. Learn first-hand how to pray for minority groups that have not yet been reached for the gospel. Take the plunge. http://www.waymakers.org/practical-prayerwalking.html
3 Talk less pray more: The Nigerian Christian leader, Bishop Nathan Inyom, tells me Christians talk more than they spend time praying. In his personal experience of planting churches among ethnic groups in Nigeria, prayer has been an effective tool. As he notes, “When a man works, a man works, but when he/she prays God works”. Prayer moves mountains and it also changes situations. It has worked for him and will for us, too.
4 Pray in circles: Dan Bacon, a veteran missionary to Japan, informs me that we all have a tendency to pray for people close to us, those we can see and touch. To combat this, he finds it helpful to start with an outer ring where he can’t see or feel the impact of needs, opportunities or demands, and then gradually work towards the center of his life. Getting to circles beyond our often busy and self-centered lives isn’t easy, but reflects God’s heart for the wider world (John 17:20-21).
5 Google “Prayer in Bible”: Check out the diverse ways the Bible describes people in prayer. For example, they negotiate (Gen 18:17-33), wrestle (Gen 32:22-30), sing (Ex 15:1-18), intercede (Ex 17:8-13), bless (Num 6:22-27), blurt out (Neh 2:4), confess (Dan 9:3-19), etc. No one size fits all.
6 Use A Prayer Card: Paul Miller recommends using a 3" x 5" card, writing a person’s name on it, dating it, adding a relevant Bible verse, and a few areas/ needs that you are praying for in that person’s life such as their character, relationships, career, relationship to Christ. He suggests a sample. For more ideas check his book A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (NavPress).
7 Take a walk: One prayer supporter of mine while I was in China told me he’d pray for me while he took his dog for a walk each day. If you walk around your neighborhood, you could pray for the individuals, families, businesses, schools, churches that you walk past and for missionaries your church supports.
8 Strengthen your back: One Chinese house church pastor observed that western Christians tend to pray “Bless me, Lord, that I might be a blessing to others”. We want to avoid suffering and persecution at all costs. In contrast, this pastor’s prayer was simple: “Please don’t pray against persecution. Don’t pray for our loads to be lightened. Pray for our backs to be strengthened”.
9 Pray at set times each day: Haphazard patterns of prayer may be true for us, but developing regular times to pray, without becoming legalistic, could be transformational. For example, as a first step you could try the Book of Common Prayer’s mini-devotional prayers for morning, noon, early evening, and night (pages 136-140). Quick and easy, but regular. http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/formatted_1979.htm
10 Get smart phone App or Email: Receive prayer updates for minority groups each day from http://www.joshuaproject.net/jp-mobile.php
We hope the Lord will use some of these ideas to inspire your prayer life. Several months’ ago, I was struck by Martin Luther’s observation that we shouldn’t necessarily expect prayer to be easy: “ Our Savior Christ as excellently as briefly comprehends in the Lord’s prayer all things needful and necessary. Except under troubles, trials, and vexations, prayer cannot rightly be made. God says, Call on me in the time of trouble; without trouble it is only a bald prattling, and not from the heart.” (The Table Talk of Martin Luther, edited by T.S. Kepler, Baker House Books p.280.). We can spur each other on in this endeavor. Pray on.
Julian Linnell, Anglican Frontier Missions www.anglicanfrontiers.com
EVANGELISM, spiritual formation and prayer – all big words, deep and rich in meaning.
Evangelism has a range of associations, from the total depravity of mankind to the generous graciousness of God’s mercy and all the places in between. Spiritual formation is our surrender to the Spirit’s work within us. As a potter works clay on the wheel, the Spirit draws out from our souls the indwelling presence of Christ. The Spirit will use the world around us, the happenings of our life, spiritual disciplines and practices, all that we will allow, shaping us as Christ’s light bearers in the world.
Consider two spiritual formation practices – prayer and discernment. Contemplative prayer is grounded in love. Within the tradition there are many ways to pray, using scripture, images, sounds, words and stillness. The commonality of all the ways and types of prayer is the development of the practice of a regular time resting in the presence of God within us. As people learn to rest in love, they learn to recognize love. They come to know themselves intuitively as branches in Jesus’ vine. Each moment spent as a branch shapes them to bear the fruit of love into the world. They begin to grow more deeply in loving all around them – brothers and sisters, outcasts and sinners, the lines dissolve, the awareness of humanity increases and the desire to speak of love to the ones you love grows into an instinctive evangelism.
A second practice is the intentional focus on discernment. People learn to slow down, to develop interior spaciousness so they can learn to listen in and to silence, to discern the movement of the Spirit within them, and then learn to follow the Spirit’s lead. Again this leads to a more instinctive form of evangelism where it is by the Spirit’s openness, not a person’s agenda, or hidden motivations or group expectations. A contemplative practice teaches people to discern the movement of the old nature or false self within us, to distinguish between it and the new life of Christ that is emerging so their lives are based in spiritual freedom and love for all. They begin to speak of love to the ones they love – an instinctive evangelism that rises from within.
Through spiritual formation, particularly within the contemplative tradition, I have discovered a different approach to evangelism. I suggest there is a difference between instructive and instinctive evangelism. For years I was instructed in the need for and how to evangelize, but it is through the spiritual formation practices of the contemplative tradition that I discovered an instinctive approach.
In Contemplative Fire the goal is not ‘saving souls’ but on being transformed by the Spirit so our lives will be responsive to whatever the Spirit wants done. Contemplative Fire teaches people historic Christian contemplative theology and prayer practices. Our members set their intention to live a rhythm of life – Travelling Light and Dwelling Deep. It is expressed through – prayer, study and action: a contemplative practice, a creative practice, a compassionate practice. We teach people prayer forms that will slow them down, help them listen to the Spirit of God within them, and that will bring spaciousness and spiritual discernment into their lives. We offer learning opportunities to study the Jesus story from a reflective position, to learn of the mystical tradition, and current contemplative writings. We intentionally learn a compassionate approach in life towards ourselves, others and the world, seeking to find the way to bring kingdom kindness to all around us, and being ready to take the necessary action for justice.
One day on a Pilgrimage to Now/Here a group of Contemplative Fire folk were on Toronto Island. As part of our day apart we did a slow walk – painfully, slowly walking to slow ourselves down, to see, to feel the grass beneath our feet, the sky overhead, the people around us – to Snake Island. We spent time cleaning up the beach, restoring its beauty. Standing on the beach with a beautiful yet sobering view of the city, we gathered to pray for our city. A Muslim family was picnicking – they were so pleased to have us pray around them. Did we make a difference in their lives, in our city, in the world? From a contemplative perspective evangelism is about following the Spirit of God, wherever, whenever we are led, using words as necessary, knowing that as we surrender to the movement of the Spirit within, God’s will, will be done on earth.
Contemplative Fire: Creating a community of Christ at the edge. Growing people in love so they will instinctively reach out making a difference in the world, sharing who they love with those they love. It is a different kind of evangelism - instinctive evangelism.
The Revd Anne Crosthwait, Community Leader (Canada) for Contemplative Fire
CHRISTENDOM began when the Roman Empire became Christian; the term Christendom is used to describe the close relationship between Church and State that existed in Europe until recently. Generally that close relationship has become a distant one, or ceased to exist at all; fewer and fewer people, in the countries that were once considered Christendom, know the Christian story and the traditions and culture of society has become detached from the Christian heritage.
The terms used to reflect this change in society are late Christendom or post Christendom. Much Christian thought and practice, particularly in Europe, was shaped by Christendom, including answers to the following questions:
The three wordsbelieving, belonging and behaving are explored in the book Church after Christendom (Stuart Murray, Paternoster Press 2005). An understanding of the different categories mentioned below might illustrate possible spiritual formation requirements, particularly in late or post Christendom society.
Believing and belonging: For the first three centuries of Christian history, Christians were a deviant minority in an alien environment. Christianity was illegal and Christians subject to persecution; only believers would belong. In the pre-Christendom era churches met behind closed doors and feared spies. Those expressing interest in belonging underwent a lengthy process of catechesis, learning about Christian beliefs and behaviour, which assumed little or no prior knowledge of Christianity. Neither belonging before believing, nor believing before belonging, was feasible. Today this might compare with some societies where Christians form a small and vulnerable minority within another worldview.
Required to believe, belong and behave: For much of the Christendom era everyone was required to believe, belong and behave as a Christian; non-attendance at Sunday worship perhaps being illegal, as well as offending social convention. Belonging was considered essential and belief was assumed. Infant baptism meant the process of belonging began long before belief was possible. Because everyone was considered to be a Christian, and Christian behaviour was considered the norm, there wasn’t the emphasis upon the rigorous spiritual formation of the catechesis; the spiritual formation offered emphasised doctrinal and liturgical issues, rather than biblical and ethical teaching.
Belonging but no longer believing: Throughout the Christendom era, there will have been those who belonged but had no belief. The impact of the Enlightenment, modernity and post modernity has increased questioning and doubt and affirmed the right to ‘not belong’ making this more obvious in recent decades. For some, church attendance is a response to social convention rather than real belief, leading to biblical illiteracy and an increased distance between church attendance and the rest of life and behaviour.
Belonging but only partly believing: Post modernity has introduced a pick-and-mix attitude to life and belief, where people feel free to choose what they assent to and dismiss the rest. Some churches insist that to belong then the whole Christian belief systemmust be accepted, but others welcome the challenge and opportunity presented in the process of re-interpreting the Christian message within the cultural context of post modernity; re-exploring biblical understandings and clarifying appropriate Christian behaviour.
Belonging but not yet believing: Those without Christian belief or background can be attracted to the values, lifestyle or fellowship of Christians and want to join; this is the usual way in which Christendom churches have functioned. With little knowledge of the Christian narrative, it can take longer for belief to follow than in the past. Process evangelism courses are very helpful but the need for conversion, and recognising conversion as a process rather than instantaneous, is important.
Believing but not belonging: Statistical surveys regularly show a far higher percentage of the population as Christian, and expressing belief in God, than belonging to churches. In reality, with those who have never belonged, there so is so little Christian awareness or background that it often takes a sense of personal or communal crisis to be able to build upon this.
Believing but no longer belonging: Includes those who still believe, but have been hurt by the church or found it unwelcoming or irrelevant, so that belonging is not conducive to their Christian discipleship.
Believing but belonging less intensely: Post modernity has impacted upon the concept of belonging, and loyalty and commitment to organisations and institutions, including church; ‘regular’ attendance might mean fortnightly or monthly.
Believing and belonging intermittently: As well as people moving in and out of churches, we might find a looser relationship with different expressions of church. Attending services near the workplace, or sampling other types of worship in different churches, might replace the more regular commitment to a single congregation.
Understanding which of these categories people belong to should help in understanding the spiritual formation needs, and how these might best be addressed.
THE APPROACH to church planting in our experience differs in the rural and urban context according to the holistic needs of the local community. However there are some principles and strategies which have brought great impetus. One such strategy is to work as teams (a combination of churches or individuals) by praying and surveying new areas for mission work and this usually requires the active participation of clergy and lay leaders, with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Once an area is identified we would then proceed to identify the needs of the local community in order to cater for their needs. We surveyed a rural area known as Batang Berjuntai where the major need was education, which led us to start Tuition Ministry in that place. Thus we also undertake various efforts to reach out through personal evangelism, evangelistic meetings, community based projects (Free Medical Camp, Tuition Classes), Christian tract distribution and etc.
Church planting has been an ongoing endeavour in West Malaysia especially since 1970, after the creation of the Diocese of West Malaysia. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18) for it is “…God who gives growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6). In the context of Church Planting someone once said; "…if you want to plant something to last eternity, plant a church." The Diocese of West Malaysia is actively pursuing church planting efforts in line with the Great Commission. Church planting is a Gospel centred process that results in a new church being planted and established.
Personal evangelism is usually done by the local believers to their family members and friends, meanwhile evangelistic meetings would usually target the community at large. Generally, membership in the new church plants consists of new converts and these require pastoral care and nurturing.
Once a new church plant has been initiated, usually as small cell meetings, locally based lay leaders are identified and trained as Lay Pastors to equip them to pastor and establish the new church plants. Church planting requires a lot of effort and finances especially in the early stages to ensure growth in this area. However these church plants eventually become financially stronger as we teach and encourage the practice of tithing and offering to bless the work of the Kingdom of God. God has also been evidently provident in providing for these needs through the Diocese, donations and well wishers.
Above all human endeavours, God’s almighty hands have been truly evident in the many new churches which have been planted. As we have brought the Gospel to the many mission areas we have seen the work of the Holy Spirit performing miracles and wonders. We once organized a Evangelistic Meeting which saw a lady healed of breast cancer and through her (like the Samaritan Woman) and her family God led us to plant a church in a town called ‘Jawi’. This family was suffering from a curse which caused death after death in their family and they live in daily fear of death. They tried finding remedy by spending more than RM 100,000.00, through various mediums, spiritists, witchcraft and divination but to no avail. They finally attended free Gospel classes and were convicted by the Holy Spirit and accepted the Lord. This family have been very influential to establish a new church plant in Subang.
There have been many cases of deliverance from demon possession which has paved the way for Church planting. A lady who was possessed by a serpent spirit for more than seven years was delivered. After seeing this miracle seven of the family members accepted Jesus. We have learnt to rely upon the Holy Spirit in the mission work of God as He leads and guides us and brings miraculous breakthroughs.
God’s almighty hands have been truly evident in the mission work in West Malaysia and may He receive all glory due to His name. Church planting has been a fulfilling journey in our experience as we see God’s hands in building and establishing His Church in West Malaysia. We seek your prayers to pray for us as Paul requested the Colossians when he wrote, “and pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…” May the Kingdom of God be established on this earth and may we, the Church, be His ever visible presence.
The Rev Canon John Ganapathy, Diocesan Missioner, Diocese of West Malaysia
SOMETIME during 1998, while serving as a member of the PCC in my local parish, I observed the restlessness of the youth in the church. When the singing and the beating of the drum with dancing was going on, most of them were inside the church building participating in the worship, but when the prayers and homily were in progress they moved outside, to sit on the bonnets of the cars and start chatting. I felt that this was not the right way to bring up, and develop, the next generation of church leaders. This was brought to the notice of the church leaders; after this I was asked to do a survey of the community for another place of worship.
It was resolved that the new place of worship was to be English speaking, to avoid the relocation of some serving members of the sending church. Secondly, it was resolved that, in order to give recognition to everyone, church societies should be replaced with groups for men, women, youth and children. Along the way, the supposed survey ‘team’ became a ‘one man team’, and I was guided by some considerations:
To the glory of God, one of the elders of the sending church, whose children had all left home, volunteered the basement of his mansion; his house was about 3km from the home church.
On the first Sunday in February, 1998, the first service commenced with five couples in attendance. A clergy friend, who at that time was working with the Scripture Union in the same city of Ibadan, gave the church 100 copies of hymn books.
For three Sundays, a member’s car was used to move chairs to and from the worship venue until another member gave money with which to purchase permanent chairs for the new place of worship. About 3 months after the commencement of worship, the growing congregation formerly requested a priest to shepherd God's flock. Before then the members were responsible for the worship programs, with the occasional invitation for visiting guest ministers. The hour before Sunday matins, as well as midweek meetings, were devoted to prayers and to the study of the Word by the founding members. About 5 years later, a landed property was purchased about 300 metres away from the temporary place of worship. Another temporary auditorium was erected while the permanent structure was built. The new church building was dedicated for use about 10 years after the new church, Anglican Church of The Redeemer, Ibadan, Nigeria, commenced. To God be the glory, great things He has done.
About 12 years after the ‘Anglican Church of The Redeemer’ was born, the serving priest, a product of the activities of Scripture Union of Nigeria before he was licensed, introduced about 5 home cells so that members living further away from the place of worship could meet in the evenings on two Sundays each month. The cell meetings were essentially for welfare purposes, so that the elderly members could provide discipleship for the young members that were in the weekly worship. This writer was one of the cell leaders.
About one year after the commencement of the cell meetings, this writer got wind of a property suitable as a place of worship, about two and a half kilometres from the place of meeting, and encouraged the leaders to upgrade the home cell to a place of worship. On Advent Sunday, November, 2010, ‘The Anglican Church of Advent, Ibadan, Nigeria’ was born, with the members of the home cells as founding members. Until a licensed priest is sent, the elders of the Anglican Church of the Redeemer, under the supervision of their serving priest, schedule one another for the weekly meetings, while the founding members meet on one weekday for prayers. To God be the glory.
Oludotun Kumapayi, Church of Nigeria Missionary Society
A COMMON factor amongst many religions is praying for those who are suffering, ill or distressed and Christians, Muslims and those of other faiths will readily pray for healing. Many Muslims know about Jesus as a healer (Qu’ran - Surah V 110), and some Muslims will look to Jesus for healing. The Church of Pakistan runs a number of hospitals and these are widely used by Christians and those belonging to other faiths. From 15-17 August, 2012, the Peshawar Diocesan Healing Ministry organized a healing event at the Mission Hospital lawns, Peshawar. The Revd Samson Anwar, the Healing Ministry Chaplain hosted the event and the Diocesan bishop, the Rt Revd Humphrey Peters attended the opening ceremony and prayed for its success.
A large number of people from Peshawar, and the surrounding area, and a few from the Punjab Province also attended this event and received blessings. Many were prayed for and healed from various diseases and illnesses in the holy name of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t just Christians who were healed but also people from other faiths who attended were healed as well. Thus it was a great witness of the Christian faith in this part of the world.
Based on an article from Frontier News,– August 2012 (The Peshawar Diocesan newsletter)
DID Saul have a Damascus Road conversion experience? Certainly we know from Acts 9 that it occurred on the road to Damascus, but the term is now used to describe a sudden conversion. Was it really that sudden? From Acts 7, we know that Saul had witnessed, and approved of, the martyring of Stephen. Who knows what impact this had had upon Saul, and what processes were going on in his mind after that? Increasingly for those who are not familiar with the story of the good news of Jesus Christ, conversion can be a process where the Holy Spirit takes time to bring someone to faith. This process can be helped with process evangelism courses. Alpha http://www.htb.org.uk/alpha has been used widely around the world Emmaus http://www.chpublishing.co.uk/section.asp?id=2395252&cachefixer=cf143251026296766 is one example of a resource produced and used in England.
MANY of the stories in this issue tell of exciting things happening when Christians pray. Give thanks to God for the exciting ways in which he has honoured his people’s prayer, and pray that the initiatives mentioned here will continue to grow and bear fruit Pray, too, that we will be inspired by these stories and faithfully bring our own mission concerns to God in prayer.
From 26 October until 7 November ACC (Anglican Consultative Council) 15 will be meeting in Auckland, New Zealand. The ECGI report will be discussed on Monday 5 November, pray for this, its impact upon the provinces of the Anglican Communion, and the outcomes of the meeting.
Give thanks for the 25th anniversary of Bishop Bill Godfrey’s (Bishop of Peru, Southern Cone) consecration as Bishop and for the enthronement of Bishop Irfan Jamil (Lahore, Pakistan).
Pray for the Anglicans Ablaze Conference: 3—6 October 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa; for the speakers and participants and for the impact and the outcomes from this conference.
The Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative now has more than 340 registered participants based in at least forty different countries. We also have over five hundred friends in our Facebook group. The majority of the facebook friends are not registered, so we are confident that we are in touch with between 650 and 700 different participants around the Anglican Communion; 650 - 700 people with different stories to tell from being involved in evangelism and church growth within their different contexts; 650 - 700 participants that we can learn from and share with.
The Initiative is you, the participants, so we encourage you to use the Initiative as a way of keeping in touch, supporting and encouraging each other. You can:
Participate 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 arrive a month before the publication date to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send articles for the December 2012 edition, on Hospitality, by 1 November 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
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London W11 1AP, UK