TH: A Passion for Life 2010 was hard work!
Mission is hard work and it costs us to do it. It means that we stick our heads up and make some noise in our communities; it means inviting people to events and therefore introducing the risk of being known not only as Christians but as Christians who believe some serious things and want other people to believe the same.
During 100s of events around the country the gospel of the Lord Jesus was clearly spoken and some people responded by trusting the Lord Jesus for the first time. Many others heard and walked away without making any obvious response (except rejection?). We continue to pray for them.
As well as all of these opportunities there was much that was a great encouragement.
When was the last time that a large group of churches across the country got together to verbally proclaim the lordship of Christ as seen in his death and resurrection? This was an encouragement nationally, but also locally.
New relationships between churches have been formed and these are continuing to bear fruit for the gospel in all kinds of ways.
And it seems to me that, as I consider our own fellowship in Cheshire and talk with other church leaders around the country, mission to our communities is higher on our agenda. This can only be an encouragement!
EN: What is the difference in format of A Passion For Life 2014?
TH: The main things are still the main things. It is local initiatives between local churches. As in 2010, there is no great central organisation. There is a small planning group that has been meeting to prepare resources and encourage other people to get going. We hope that this publicity and the resources that we are producing will be a catalyst to help churches be involved.
The main change has been in encouraging churches to push the boundaries. ‘Pushing the Boundaries’ is a challenge to the whole church. We are asking local churches to identify people groups that they do not reach, or groups that are under-represented in the local church, it might be men or teenagers or a particular ethnic group.
We want to encourage churches to start asking questions such as:
* Why don’t we reach this group?
* What do we need to change, if anything, to make us more accessible to them?
* What resources do we need to help us reach this group?
The website will have helpful hints from people with experience of reaching various people groups with the gospel.
Passion for Life 2014 may not mean that revival takes place among these identified groups (it may!!) but it at least gives us stimulus and reason to start the conversation among ourselves.
‘Pushing the Boundaries’ is also a challenge to every individual Christian. Some have identified that the trend among evangelicals is not to talk to people about Jesus, but simply to invite people to an event where they can then be told about Jesus by someone else.
Wouldn’t it be great if another legacy of Passion for Life 2014 was for a great number of Christians to be confident and enabled to talk about Jesus.
We are encouraging churches to use the Passion to Witness DVD course, a short course to help Christians talk about Jesus and his work.
We are asking every Christian to work hard to form real relationships with non-Christians and then risk those relationships by asking people if they would like to read through a Gospel with them.
In this way we hope that Passion for Life 2014 won’t just be a short moment of evangelism but a time of equipping us all for a lifetime of evangelism.
EN: What methods of evangelism would you most like to see churches engaged in?
TH: We are expecting that churches will be committed to verbally proclaiming the person of Christ and explaining his work on the cross. We are expecting that churches will call people to repent and believe the good news. We want to encourage personal evangelism, especially the idea that Christians can do one-to-one Bible study with friends, colleagues, family.
We hope that churches will not just turn to the few well-known evangelists, but will seek to use local/regional people who God has gifted for this work. These may not be full-time evangelists, but church workers whom God has gifted to speak evangelistically.
We are grateful that some of the full-time evangelists will be available around Easter 2014 but we hope that one of the legacies of 2014 will be the encouragement of a greater number of people with confidence to speak evangelistically.
The website (http://www.apassionforlife.org.uk) will have contact details for people who are willing to come and speak at events.
As people around the whole of the country reflect on what worked or didn’t work in 2010, I am sure that changes will be made where necessary. For instance, in mid-Cheshire in 2010, we tried the big set piece evenings at the local leisure centre. They worked in some ways but not in others, so this time the same group of churches have decided to host a number of smaller events aimed at different people groups.
EN: What is the point of churches engaging in their evangelism under the banner of Passion For Life?
TH: There’s always a point to doing evangelism. Acts 1.8 tells us that the church’s work is to witness to Christ. As the rest of the book of Acts bears out, this is more than just work for the apostles, it is work for every generation. I am sure that all of the churches that are planning involvement in A Passion for Life will be doing lots of evangelism.
This is one opportunity among a lifetime of opportunities. But this is an opportunity to be involved in something more than our own local church’s initiatives and activities.
* It’s good to pray for other churches around the country.
* It’s good to be aware of other churches around the country praying for us.
* It’s good to work together with other local churches.
* It’s good to remind the Gospel Partnerships around the country that evangelism is our business.
* It’s good to work together for a lasting legacy; a legacy of evangelicals working together, a legacy of gifted evangelists being identified and encouraged.
I would turn the question around and say that because of all of this, what’s the point in not engaging in Passion for Life 2014?
EN: What are the greatest needs at present in facilitating the PFL vision?
TH: The key is to find key people in each region who will work to get people to work together in smaller, local areas.
If people know that their region is not represented then we would love to hear from someone who would be willing to do that work. The regional co-ordinators will be meeting on a number of occasions during 2013.
The regional representative job is to encourage people to get involved and to be an advocate for the Passion for Life vision and the resources that we are producing.
These resources will include a Passion for Life Gospel, an evangelistic talk on DVD and a Gospel tract. We plan to launch the 2014 version of the website at the Evangelical Ministers’ Assembly in June. The website will be the main place for news and other resources. We do need people to support the central planning costs and the website will help people give to support A Passion for Life. It is a registered charity, so people can give tax efficiently (no. 1125822).
For further information about A Passion for Life, please email email@example.com
This article was first published in the June 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
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