Acts 6.7a – ‘The word of God continued to spread'
The Evangelism & Church Growth Initiative Newsletter
'On Thursday 8th May the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion approved a proposal by the Anglican Witness Core Group for a seven year period to focus on discipleship starting at the next Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Lusaka, Zambia in 2016.'
At the same meeting:
'The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion has approved a proposal to start an Award in the Anglican Communion that will stimulate and encourage ministry for, by and with youth and children. This follows the request by the 15th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) for the Anglican Witness to "investigate further ways of stimulating Provinces towards more effective, culturally-relevant ministry amongst children and young people, and to prioritize the sharing of learning and resources among Provinces." '
You can read more about both of these exciting decisions on the Anglican Witness website at http://www.anglicanwitness.org/news/ It does mean that in taking this work forward we want to continue to put an emphasis on both of these themes within Witness6.7.
In this edition we have an article from West Malaysia on Intentional Discipleship, from DR Congo on discipling the rich and from South Asia on the plans to equip pastors and laity to become responsible leaders and stewards in their churches, communities and society at a new Institute in Colombo.
There are three stories about exciting initiatives with children and young people from England and one from Southern Africa. Very much these stories are about reaching out to those who don't have real contact with traditional church, but a theme that runs through them is how whole families are being reached through the work with young people.
We hope that you are excited by these stories and the focus on discipleship, children and young people and that you can share your stories to inform, inspire and encourage others around the Anglican Communion.
In the midst of turmoil, imbalance and uncertainty in this world, generally speaking, the trust in political, religious and economic leaders has dropped to a very low level. People may still believe and trust in God much more than in religious leaders and institutions. This may be one of the many reasons that the phenomenon of seeing regular worshippers in religious places often have dwindled considerably, especially in many developed nations. In the developing nations, the picture may be completely different where the numbers of regular worshippers as well as those wanting to become religious leaders are considerably higher. The real truth does not lie in the number game rather in the quality of life and faith.
Both in the developed and developing worlds, the key factor lacking in today's churches is Intentional Discipleship. True Discipleship can and should bring to this world a good and sound contribution. Unfortunately, the word and concept of 'Discipleship' has grossly been misunderstood and misrepresented by individuals and churches alike. The way forward for our present churches is Intentional Discipleship. Here are 10 reasons of what Intentional Discipleship is and is not.
1. Intentional Discipleship will not challenge the Church's existing structure or order but will transform and strengthen them to serve God's mission and bring glory to Christ rather than to individual person(s). (My comment: in essence discipleship can / does / should in fact challenge structures that are self-serving, but I understand the point you are making is to make leaders not to fear feel or be scared of discipleship, thus I have talked about transforming and strengthening structures as opposed to 'challenge')
2. Intentional Discipleship will not increase clergy-laity tension, instead it will reduce it. For years, the church is seen as having inherited an implosive clergy-laity tension and struggle. Many have attempted to release the 'frozen' laity or to awaken the 'sleeping' laity or activating the 'indifferent' laity. Few have succeeded. An Intentional Discipleship lifestyle breaks down the clergy-laity divide by redefining its ministry philosophy and ecclesiology. Intentional Discipleship releases the clergy to its original intention of vision casting, teaching, equipping, training and mentoring and releasing the laity to do the ministry of the church. Today we have in our churches, the clergy doing the vision casting, equipping, training, mentoring and do all the ministries of the church, including preaching good quality sermons, always out on visitations, ever-ready in administration and letter writing and reporting, 24 hours on call for emergencies - jack of all trades but with meagre stipend.
3. Intentional Discipleship will lead to shared ministry between the clergy and the laity, and therefore strengthen the ministry of the clergy as they tap into and release the skills and gifts of the laity for service in the community and in building up the Church. Therefore Intentional Discipleship will not omit or make church leadership obsolete instead will strengthen it.
4. Intentional Discipleship will lead to collaboration and mutual support among members and the clergy as they serve a common mission, God's mission. This will lead to the sense of common purpose and therefore growth and unity in the Church.
5. Intentional Discipleship is a lifelong relationship with Jesus in which people are called to live out their faith in God in their everyday life. It is therefore not a course or module or a certificate, but a formation and lifestyle.
6. Intentional Discipleship is a character formation and transformation process in which the followers of Jesus experience and share Christ's love with those they meet and live with, in homes, neighbourhood, work places, and business areas. It is not a set of rules and regulations!
7. Intentional Discipleship is for social and community building, not another activity or programme of the church.
8. Intentional Discipleship is for evangelism and leads to church growth not church maintenance.
9. Intentional Discipleship is life transforming and serious mission encounter and engagement and not a conscience satisfying programme.
10. Intentional Discipleship will grow more workers for God's harvest fields and who will share the burdens and work of the existing church leaders instead of creating more burdens and work for them.
The Diocese of West Malaysia has embarked in Intentional Discipleship four years ago. First, it was done with the clergy through vision casting and attending seminars organized by other churches. Second, it was done in our own churches with the church leaders and training them to be disciples themselves. Third, we are now training Disciple Makers. In August 2014, we are organizing a Seminar for Disciple Makers for those who have been through the first stage of becoming Disciples themselves. We are excited. Glory to God in the Highest!
Bishop Moon Hing Ng - Diocese of West Malaysia
Mention is made above of the Anglican Witness website, this has been officially launched since the last edition of Witness6.7 and can be found at http://www.anglicanwitness.org/
You will see that the menu buttons include: news, prayer, discipleship, youth and children, unreached, resources and newsletter. Do explore the articles and resources that are shown here and also send material that we can post here to be a resource to others within the Anglican Communion. Contact email@example.com
There are a number of people who were powerful and rich in the Bible, these include: Abraham, Jacob, Solomon, Job, Joseph, David, Lydia, Joseph of Arimathea, Paul and Dorcas.
There can be some common traits amongst rich people. These can include:
As with all people, there is the need to help them find God's purpose for them.
In developing strategies for reaching out to, and discipling, rich people, there is the need for prayer for and with the rich people. We should be attentive to identifying the 'thrones' that disturb such people, like Paul when he was sick. By helping them address their problems, we can bring glory to God and lead the rich person to know God's power in his or her situation.
We need to create a conducive environment so that we can gain access to rich people. To do this, we might need to create a system whereby, the church initiates training for those church members who, by grace of God, might have contact through their work with the rich; perhaps maids, or others, who go to work in their houses or those who go to their offices. Such church members can be helped to witness to their faith them through faithful actions, testimonies or attitudes as well as through opportunities for evangelizing or preaching.
Church members such as school teachers, might have contact with parents or sometimes get an opportunity to go and teach the children of rich people for evening classes, and at some point, these teachers can disciple either the wives of rich people or their children. To take advantage of such opportunities, we need to train our faithful church workers with so that they have something to give that is meaningful; teachings or sermons that can attract and interest rich people to attend church services and activities. To disciple those rich people who ahve been attracted to Jesus, we need to create a conducive context that the rich people feel familiar with, perhaps holding meetings in a hotel.
Those who disciple the rich, should not be money-centred, but soul-centred. This means that we should not focus on their pockets, but see how the rich people can grow spiritually.
It is important that we don't rush to put the new rich people into church leadership position before they have been properly discipled. We also need to avoiding favouritism among rich and poor people..
In conclusion, we need to provide good spiritual friendship to fill in the gap their life and respect confidentiality with our pastoral care, prayer and deliverance etc. This needs humility and wisdom on our part, and the recognition that this ministry is very challenging and that we need to trust in God when discipling rich people.
Desire Mukanirwa, National Mission and Evangelism and Christian Formation Co-ordinator DR Congo
An Asian institute has been set up to equip pastors and laity to become responsible leaders and stewards in their churches, communities and society. It was launched May 8 at the end of a two-day consultation by the Anglican Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey of Colombo.
The consultation, organized in Colombo to discuss and plan setting up the Asian Academy, was attended by some 30 presbyters, laity and theologians from the Church of Ceylon, Church of Pakistan, Church of Bangladesh, Church of North India, Church of South India, Us (the new name for USPG) and other churches in the region. Dr Rienzie Perera, Anglican archdeacon of the Colombo diocese, was chosen as the new director of the Academy, which will have its secretariat in Colombo. A nine-member governing council was also chosen with representatives from different churches.
Launching the academy, Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey said that the Academy has the potential to stimulate theologically the young and old. He expressed the hope that the new initiative will work toward spreading the kingdom values.
Rachel Parry, director for Global Relations of Us, termed the Asian Academy as an institute without walls, where one could live, express and worship together. She noted that it will be a place for theological reflections on contemporary challenges, and a place for one's own transformation. Dr Rienzi Perera said that the Academy is a new way of formation for being a church in a community.
The participants of the consultation recommended the Asian Academy to offer critical space for the construction of Asian contextual theologies, and to train pastors and ecumenical leaders with new social awareness, in order to equip them to address the contextual challenges facing different Asian countries. The Asian Academy is being set up to be a forum for socially relevant study, research and training for churches and communities, and for a meaningful confrontation of social realities in Asia.
Among the objectives of the Academy is to "shape an ecumenical thought through inter-cultural and inter-contextual encounters in a multi-cultural and multi-religious traditions, and to appreciate one's own tradition, and other's tradition through new eyes."
Developing new spirituality that is rooted in prayer and creative worship forms to live the Gospel in different contexts and traditions is another objective of the Academy. The initiative for the Asian Academy emerged in the absence of a critical space for young leaders of churches to learn and dialogue on relevant issues relating to Church and society, said Dr M P Joseph, a theologian and one of the founders of the Academy.
The Academy's courses will include a one year certificate program for individuals, external programs for pastors, one month refresher programs for presbyters and laity, and occasional week-long seminars on relevant topics. The curriculum will comprise, among others, the task of pastoral ministry today, critical evaluation of the context of pastoral work, reconstructing the concept of Church and its theology, church in pluralistic communities, new spirituality, new communication practices, and re-visioning church and pastoral ministry.
Philip Mathew of Matters India
Every Sunday on a vacant site in Ext.44, Polokwane, about 70 people meet for an Anglican church service. It is not difficult for these people to understand that the Church is not made of bricks and mortar but of living stones, because at Ext.44, the Mission Parish of the Church of the Good Shepherd meets in a tent. And every Sunday, as it has been for the past 5 years, the tent gets dismantled when the last chorus is sung and it only appears again the next Sunday.
But in the meantime, the Church of the Good Shepherd does not disappear, because the Church is made up of people and they don't disappear. And the interesting thing about these people is they are nearly all children!
Church pops up when some of the young teenage children meet at Margaret's house, nearly every day, for choir practice and just because they are friends. Margaret is an anchor in this church community and her house a safe place. It is here where the Friday afternoon soup-kitchen operates and between 100 to 200 children come carrying their plates. This is where the Bible-study group, and the Rooted-in-Jesus group, meets. And it is in Margaret's yard that the new Homework Club meets on a Wednesday afternoon.
Yes, but it's adults that run the church, isn't it? NO. Church of the Good Shepherd has three part-time priests and there are a handful of adults who are regulars, but of the two Church Wardens and three Council members, four are children - with the Bishop's approval! Probationary lay ministers' licences have been granted to five young people, all aged 18 or under. A typical Sunday morning service incorporates the children in leading the service, worship leading, playing the key-board, reading the Scripture lessons, leading the two children's choirs and helping with the little children, leaving the three priests to manage the sermon and the announcements and to preside at the monthly Eucharist!
Events, celebrations and missions are part of the church's character - Palm Sunday walks through the neighbourhood, baptismal and confirmation services, missions with speakers from afar, Youth Day gatherings, choir competitions and hosting Sunday Schools from other parishes and in all of these, food. In everything, the Mothers' Union ladies from Seshego have been such a blessing, supporting this fledgling church with prayer, food and their presence.
But, while meeting in a tent may sound very New Testament, we really want to have a church building on the vacant site we call home. It is currently owned by the Municipality and we are hoping that the site will soon be advertised for sale and then, if it is God's will, we will have a roof to shelter us from the hot Polokwane summer sun and from the summer thunderstorms, walls to shelter us from the wind, a floor instead of dust and mud, a kitchen with electricity, and a place to develop ministries - every day of the week.
And of The Church of the Good Shepherd has three visions for the future:
1. to build a sister church community in the extremely impoverished [cont.]informal settlement called New Pietersburg - and this has already begun with a weekly soup-kitchen;
2. to develop the Church of the Good Shepherd as a hub church for small neighbourhood groups;
3. to get a handful of volunteer young people to spend 6 months in a small community reaching out to the thousands of children in the RDP housing schemes.
Building a church with living stones. At the Church of the Good Shepherd the stones are mostly children, but the Holy Spirit doesn't come in half measures.
Ext.44 is an area of RDP housing on the sloping hills just to the west of Polokwane. It is a poor place where there are no formal play-spaces, no formal shopping, where there is only one tarred road and where there are no medical facilities. There are some 30 000 people in Ext.44 and the adjoining RDP township extensions and half of those are children.
About 12 years ago some people at Christ Church in Polokwane saw a need and began a soup-kitchen in the informal settlement that later was redeveloped into RDP housing and became Ext.44. That faithful ministry begun by a handful of people was the planting of the seeds that have now taken root and are growing. Five years ago, in response to some local people's expressed desire to have a church and in response to a sense that God was saying just start a church and stop talking about it, the first steps were taken. With the Bishop's blessing and the support of the two neighbouring parishes of Christ Church, Polokwane and St. Matthew's, Seshego, on the first Sunday of Advent, 2008 a tent was erected with the Municipality's permission and there has been a tent there every Sunday since.
Pat Lennox (Priest and Department Head of Development, Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, Southern Africa)
First published in Southern Anglican in 2013
Over the last eleven years I have stood in the doorway to our church building on many Saturday mornings and shaken hands with countless fathers and father figures. I've welcomed hundreds of toddlers by commenting on their shoes - it seems to work particularly well with the girls - and admired lots of cartoon characters on t-shirts - the boys seem to appreciate this most. I would like to tell you the story of how I found myself in this rather unusual position.
If you drop into a church hall anywhere in the UK during the week you will have a good chance of finding the place filled with the noise of young children playing, while their mothers, grandmothers and child minders drink coffee and chat about the sleeping routines and feeding habits of their youngsters. There may be a few dads scattered around, but the atmosphere in the vast majority of church parent and toddler groups is overwhelmingly feminine. If, on a Saturday morning, you visit one of the 130-plus Who Let The Dads Out? groups running throughout the UK (and there are two in New Zealand) you will find a similar thing going on but with one significant difference. The room will be filled with men. Who Let The Dads Out? is a movement of parent and toddler groups specifically for fathers, father figures and their children, and it is what gets me out of bed and shaking hands, commenting on shoes and admiring t-shirts at the weekend!
In 2003, we decided to start Who Let The Dads Out? at our church - Hoole Baptist Church, Chester - because the mothers who attended our parent and toddler group had expressed serious concerns about how little the fathers of their children did with the children, and in some cases it was causing severe family tension. When we opened the doors for the first Who Let The Dads Out? session on 29th March 2003, I welcomed 20 dads - each accompanied by at least one child - into our building. I knew something significant had happened that morning, but to be honest at that moment I didn't fully understand what we had begun. I now know that we had been blessed with the privilege of initiating a new movement of outreach to men throughout the UK and beyond.
Our vision is for Who Let The Dads Out? to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers (Malachi 4: 6) to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1: 17). A Saturday morning group is a catalyst for enabling effective missional outreach to fathers, father figures and their children. At Hoole Baptist Church we followed up our Saturday morning sessions with a five session parenting programme called Daddy Cool! and then a Soul Man? group for the dads to explore basic questions of faith and spirituality. We also launched an after-school group for dads and their older children called School's Out, Dad's About (SODA) Club. We encourage other churches to use these resources to deepen the relationships they form with the dads in their groups, and ultimately to be able to invite them to become Christians.
Who Let The Dads Out? is now a core ministry of BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship), the charity behind Messy Church. All churches - anywhere in the world - are invited to join the growing movement. Please do get in touch with us. We would love to support you in setting up a group.
From 4 - 14th July as many as 12 giant puppets around 9 - 11ft tall will be on board a canal boat on the Leeds Liverpool Canal! This is the initiative of Liverpool based charity "In Another Place" who first made the characterful giants for the Olympic torch relay in 2012. They have now appeared in many community events, Christmas light switch-ons and even the National Geographic Magazine as they try to get out to where people are. They have been designed to perform entertaining 15min plays sometimes with a community choir or other actors, and always with an underlying Christian message.
Annie Spiers, Creative Director, says "The giant puppets have been made almost entirely from recycled materials, each one by up to 15 or 20 people from different community groups helping with the papermachee / woodwork/ costumes which make them so characterful. Crowds seem to love them and with the quality sound recordings and humorous lively scripts they are a simple way of Christians having a positive entertaining presence in all sorts of community events. They are big so we don't need a stage, and portable enough to fit in a large car, or in July on a large narrow boat !!"
The idea of taking them on tour to lots of schools and community groups along the canal between Wigan and Liverpool is fairly mad, but "In Another Place" specialize in crazy ideas! Their first event in 2005 was a nativity play on Crosby beach alongside Antony Gormley's iron men and including a real camel in the cast; 5000 people came along to see it! More recently they have become best known in Liverpool for their huge walk through Narnia Experience with 17,000 visitors over the 2 week run. Underlying all their activities is the desire to take the Good News outside church walls. "In Another Place" is a small charity with a big vision and a bank of over 500 volunteers from 50 churches and community groups who get involved on different productions. This includes over 150 adults and children with additional needs who have become very much part of the team whether acting or creating props and scenery.
The vision over the next few years is to inspire Christians in other cities to use creative ideas to take the Good News outside their church walls. They aim to encourage churches to work together and with community groups, inspired by their love for God and the people around them. "In Another Place" are delighted to help others make their own giant puppets, as has happened in Bangor and Leicester, or put on a Narnia Experience as in Leeds and soon in Newport. They hope to see more assembly teams start in primary schools and Gospel choirs start and grow as their own has done, now with over 80 members. They have songs, DVDs and many ideas which could help encourage all sorts of creative talent in other places across the UK. They believe that since most people have little or no connection with church, the urgent need is for us to get outside our churches, to work together and take the Good News to THEM.
That may be in schools or in community events. It may be through acts of kindness or service, or it may be through theatrical performances. We believe Jesus demonstrated a radically different way to live our lives, he showed us how to love different people around us, and how to use our own potential to bring fulfillment for ourselves and to help those around us. We want to spread that Good News using as many creative imaginative means as we can!
In the past year children and families at Emmanuel Church in Guildford have been in a Jungle Adventure with Chip the Giant Chipmunk, trained the children to rescue their friends for Jesus in Rescue Rangers and been Under the Sea looking for deep deep questions with Terry the Turtle. Church Army Evangelist, John Marrow, tell us more about the Kids Alive 325 service which he leads.
Since 2006, I have been based in Guildford with Church Army working with children and families in schools and through the local church. Part of my role includes leading Kids Alive 325, a weekly after school church gathering for families who don't connect with the church on Sundays. It's a fast moving, action-packed children's church programme, full of energy and fun and very much Jesus focused. We use drama, songs, puppets and storytelling to creatively explain the truths of the Bible. Our aim is to build Christian community, make church accessible and provide children and their parents with the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.
Who comes along to Kids Alive 325?
Emma lives with epilepsy and has a very lively and energetic child. She once declared that she wasn't religious. She is now a Kids Alive 325 regular and helps on the welcome desk. We have been able to help tidy her child's bedroom and remove rubbish from her home. Her husband now attends due to the support they've received as a family.
John and Debbie live on the Shepherd's Hill Estate where John manages a fish and chip shop. He brings his whole family to Kids Alive 325 and recently his youngest daughter was baptised at Emmanuel Church. Debbie and the children now come along to church on a Sunday morning. Jo lives with disabilities and is mum to nine kids, five of whom are in care. She regularly attends Kids Alive 325 and values the love and support she doesn't get elsewhere in the community.
What the parents say
"Kids Alive 325 is great, lively, silly and just what the children need to let off steam after a day at school. It's a place to make friends. It's made fun, not like the church I went to when I was young - much better! We don't do many church things because my husband doesn't believe. We can't go to church on a Sunday so Kids Alive 325 is my way of going to church for myself and the kids."
"Molly and Francesca love coming to Kids Alive 325. You are always made to feel welcome and the kids love the puppets and the songs. It's a fun way to learn about God and about stories from the Bible. They also enjoy seeing their friends and really love the prayer time at the end."
"We've been coming for four years now; my children have grown up with John and Kids Alive 325. They have such a great time with the songs and the stories. It's a fantastic way for the children to learn about God and the Bible. Kids Alive 325 is an important part of our Christian lives."
What the children say
"Kids Alive is a friendly place where I can learn about Jesus and God with cool songs and great stories."
Alexandra, age six
"Kids Alive is fun. I like the praying and doing the actions to the songs. I like answering questions. I like the puppets doing a song."
Daniel, age five
To find out more about Church Army's work visit www.churcharmy.org.uk
Anglican Witness: Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative now has nearly 500 registered participants based in at least forty different countries. We also have well over 1300 friends in our Facebook group. The majority of the Facebook friends are not yet registered, so we're pretty sure we're directly in touch with over 1,500 different participants around the Anglican Communion! That's 1,500 people with different stories to tell about how they're involved in evangelism and church growth in their own contexts; 1,500 people we can all learn from and share with.
Friends, YOU are the Initiative; its participants. So use the Initiative as a way of keeping in touch,
and to support and encourage and pray for each other. You can do this in the following ways:
Register if you haven't already done so. Encourage others to register too! 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;
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. Stuart Buchanan retires on 10 July 2014, so please send stories, preferably of between 300 and 700 words, with photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Material for the October 2014 newsletter is needed by 1 September; we welcome all relevant material but would particularly like to hear more stories about church planting, as well as material on discipleship and initiatives that involve children and young people;
Explore the Anglican Witness website - at http://www.anglicanwitness.org/ you will find back copies of the newsletter, lists of evangelism resources and various resources that others have produced to help with their work.
Send us information about the resources that you find helpful, including web links, so that we can add these to the resources and encourage others to use them.
Become a Facebook friend, we passed the 1300 mark in early June - 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. Then tell your friends;
Encourage others - who are involved in evangelism and church growth to register, join the Facebook group and explore our website. A first step is to forward copies of this newsletter;
Tell us - about resources: books; websites; courses, good practice; prayers, forthcoming events etc that we can include in future newsletters or on the website;
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, the Anglican Witness website and Facebook page and give thanks for God's faithfulness. In particular, we seek prayer as we prepare to take forward the focus on discipleship.