A Passion to witness (DVD review)

A PASSION TO WITNESS A Passion to witness
Be encouraged and equipped to share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
Passion for Life DVD
£20.00 RRP from http://www.10ofthose.com

This nine-part, DVD-based course seeks to help ordinary Christians (and churches) reach out to unsaved people around them. Its aim is to help Christians grow from being people who simply bring friends to events, into personal witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be of benefit to any group of Christians who want to be encouraged and equipped to share their faith.

The major theme is the Lordship of Christ and how that motivates and directs our evangelism in today’s culture. There is biblical exposition of key passages. The DVD clearly explains the gospel (to help us share it confidently). It also stresses the reality of judgment and hell for those who refuse to repent and believe (to encourage us to be urgent in evangelism).

Each of the presentations is given by a different speaker, and normally involves two or three short sections (each about 7-10 minutes) interspersed with questions for group discussion. There are Bible studies as well as stimulating questions to provoke discussion. There is a lot of helpful practical advice for personal witness, which all Christians would benefit from hearing (or being reminded of!).

The nine study titles are: What is the gospel? Why should we share the gospel? Why don’t we share the gospel? How to pray when sharing the gospel How to tell my story. Using the Bible to share the gospel. How should we answer questions? Leading someone to Christ. How to push the boundaries of our church.

The first three studies are foundational, seeking to encourage and enthuse us to share the gospel. The final six have more emphasis on practical ways to equip us to share the gospel. Personally, I found studies 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 the strongest.

The only serious weakness is in study 8. Despite starting well, this study clearly implies that simply praying a ‘sinner’s prayer’ is near-conclusive proof that somebody has been saved. This simplistic approach could cause potentially devastating pastoral problems in the future. Churches may wish to think carefully about how they approach this study. With that one caveat, this DVD is to be recommended as a very useful resource for any church seeking to reach out to lost sinners.

Adam Laughton, Gateway Project, Kent

This article was first published in the November 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057

Rico’s Recommendation – a resource to help churches involved in ‘A Passion For Life 2014’

Ricos recommendationPod Bhogal talks to Rico Tice, author of the Christianity Explored course about the importance of one-to-one personal work in evangelism, Seeker Bible studies and Uncover, UCCF’s latest gospel project which is now being adopted by local churches.

PB: Rico, you’re a big advocate of personal one-to-one work in evangelism and seeker Bible studies; why is that?

RT: As we head into Passion for Life — or any church-based missional activity — we have to be aware of the significance of one-to-one evangelism. We can’t just put on events and guest services. It’s got to be that, when my friend comes along to an event, the moment the talk finishes we’re able to say: ‘Would you like to look at the Bible with me?’ or ‘Have you ever looked at the original source material for yourself?’ At this point in time people may often feel very intimidated, but something has happened to change things in the last two years and that’s the Uncover suite of resources from UCCF.

PB: Can you explain what Uncover is for those who are unfamiliar with it?

RT: Uncover is six Bible studies, written by Becky Manley Pippert, and a Gospel featuring QR codes that link to evangelistic and apologetic films. It has been developed by UCCF and is staggering in terms of its impact. I have nothing to do with this material.Christianity Explored are not publishing it [but], in the 20 years I’ve been doing evangelism, I’ve never seen anything like it. What is happening in the student world in terms of evangelistic one-to-ones is remarkable. Let me give you an example:

Oxford mission

Five years ago I led the mission in Oxford. It was a tough mission, Dawkins was at the fore and only a few people professed. It was a really hard mission run by a faithful OICCU.

In 2013 I had accepted an invitation to lead a mini-mission in Oxford and I kept thinking: ‘This is going to be brutal’. About three months before the mission they got in contact and said: ‘I know it’s a three-day mission, but we’d like you to come for five and we’re going to do lunch time talks as well’. I said: ‘That sounds like a major mission’, and they replied: ‘Oh yeah’.

I arrived for the mission and the numbers had rocketed [from the previous mission]. On the last night, they told me: ‘We’ve got 150 non-Christian students reading Uncoverwith Christian students in the university. Just please preach so that people will repent and believe’. We saw professions all week.

PB: Why was the second mission more successful?

RT: What was happening was that one-to-one work was going on alongside the guest events. You see this is what we’ve [the church] got to get in place. The events we organise for Passion for Life are just the tip of the iceberg. The key thing is what’s going on underneath and that’s the personal one-to-one work. There was a student when I was in Oxford and she was not just the wettest Christian student at Oxford, but was the wettest student. On the way back from the Wednesday night talk, she’d managed to get her friend to come along and she said: ‘Would you like to look at the Uncover materials with me?’ The friend said: ‘Fine’. What’s been staggering is that non-Christians are willing to look at the primary sources in their hundreds.

Earlier this year I went to Preston. There are 21 in the Christian Union and eight of them are reading Uncover with their friends. It’s a sea change in the culture that UCCF has managed. Praise God!

Preaching facilitated

PB: What difference does the one-to-one work make?

RT: Now the guest events and guest services are full of people whom you can really preach to because you know the moment it’s finished, they’re going to invite their friends to a one-to-one Bible study. Talking to Richard Cunningham, Director of UCCF, he just says: ‘I’ve not seen anything like this in 20 years. It has been quite remarkable — the non-Christians are hungry to do it.’

PB: How are you using Uncover in your church context?

RT: People at All Souls whose kids are at university are coming back and talking about reading a Gospel with their friends, and my brother is a case in point. His son, who’s at Bristol, is reading Uncover with three people, and my brother says: ‘If my son’s doing it, I’d better start doing it!’ And I’ll tell you what, in our family we’re thick idiots, so if we can do it, anyone can do it.

The UCCF motto is 5-5-5. Pray for five, give to five, read with five. And at All Souls we’ve been so struck by this that we’ve set a target of having 200 people in the church family reading Uncover. We’re going to run this because we’re so staggered at what God has done in the student world, and we really hope you’ll do it.

Pod Bhogal is head of communications for UCCF

OrderUncover resources for you and your church: thinkivp.com/uncover

Book for an Uncover Training Day at a venue near you with Rebecca Manley Pippert:http://www.uccf.org.uk/uncover-training/

This article was first published in the Oct 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
http://www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057

See you at six o’clock on Sunday?

2014_01 Jan Cover‘Why would you want to start an evening service? You’ve got your hands full as it is, haven’t you? Everyone else is closing down their Sunday evening works!’

That was the gist of the advice offered to the Christ Church Southampton elders from more than one source when they floated the idea of getting something going on a Sunday evening!

Despite that, as the ‘storm of the century’ gathered pace outside in October, with a local hotel in Portswood Southampton as its home, ‘The Six O’Clock’ was born.
A lot of work was needed to make it happen. There were all the logistical concerns of making a resource-hungry event happen in a rented venue every week. There was the operation of getting the word out and exciting the church and calling them to pray about the new meeting. There was the programming to address – there were already three church ministries going on during Sunday evenings. There was equipment to buy and store. The leaders also had to think through how to maintain the sense of a single church community when some of the church family would rarely see others. Also, another experienced minister needed to be recruited and supported.

The reason why
So why did Christ Church do it? Their Pastor, Orlando Saer, gave four reasons.
First, for gospel opportunity. More than anything else, the church was excited at the prospect of seeing another context where the Bible would be opened and the gospel would be preached in Southampton. ‘We felt it was a worthy prize to pursue’, said Orlando. ‘There are close to a quarter of a million people to reach here in Southampton. We realised we weren’t going to get very far if we weren’t prepared to get new congregations going.’
Second, for practical necessity. The morning service had grown from a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred or more since 2011. The school hall where the Sunday morning congregation meets had started to run out of space. ‘One option would be just to plant a new independent church’, said Orlando. ‘That’s certainly on the cards during the next few years, but we’re not there yet. For now, we just needed a bit of space to keep growing the core membership of the church. We felt a second service would give us that.’
Third, for evangelistic purposes. With a median age of around 21, the church is remarkably young. Regulars were certainly keen enough to get out of bed for a morning service. But many of their non-Christian friends have proved more resistant! ‘The Sunday service plays a key part in our church evangelism’, said Steve Wicks, the church’s student pastor. ‘So we try and remove any unnecessary barriers for unbelievers to hear the gospel in that context. And obviously it can be pretty hard to encourage your friends along when they’d not exactly got to bed early the evening before!’
Fourth, for spiritual nutrition. A number of the church are distracted during the morning meeting (eg tech team, musicians, etc.). Others, like the children’s workers, are absent from the room. Others still are away altogether (working shifts, taking a weekend away and so on). The leadership were keen to provide an alternative context to nourish and encourage those who miss out on it in the morning. ‘Yes, those of us running Treasure Seekers and Rooted could listen to the sermon we’ve missed online’, said children’s worker Amanda Lansdowne. ‘But it’s not the same as actually meeting together with your brothers and sisters and being part of all the prayer and praise and encouraging each other that goes on when you do’.

Early encouragements
It’s early days: at the time of going to print, ‘The Six O’Clock’ had only met six times. But each week, between 70 and 110 people have come out and had the opportunity to hear the Bible and respond to God in prayer and praise. Reports are that there are new people every week. Also, the numbers in the morning have barely reduced.
The strong start has posed a challenge in itself. The venue is insured for only 120, so the church leadership are already having to think and pray through what’s next. ‘It’s a nice problem to have’, said Orlando. ‘We’re just very grateful to God: there’s a real sense around the church that God is doing something quite extraordinary all around us.’

‘The Six O’Clock’ is the Sunday evening congregation of Christ Church Southampton and is held at Highfield House Hotel, Southampton.

This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057

Links worth a look!

Loads of free resources to encourage you and help us to draw closer to the Lord as we start out on a New Year! Enjoy the links.

Kevin DeYoung – What must you leave behind?

Justin Taylor – Free audio Bible in the month of January

Desiring God – Meet the new desiringGod.org (all the books on the site are free for downloading in PDF version)

Albert Mohler – Some thoughts on the reading of books

Geero.net – London City Mission encouraging prayer by sponsoring Prayermate app. Freely downloadable through March 2014.

If you come across something yourselves you think we’d like to share with our readers – let us know. We always love hearing from you.

Prayer fuel: News from around the world

Here are a handful of news-bites from around the world included in the January issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

USA: best seller
The best-selling book The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, has just sold its one millionth copy, it was reported in early December.
Born in the UK — not related to Martin Lloyd-Jones — and now living in the USA, Sally noted that this book can be given away to anyone from university presidents to car salesmen as anyone can understand it. It focuses on teaching the Bible’s own ongoing narrative, that of every story in the Bible breathing Jesus’ name. Crosswalk

EU: euthanasia coalition
A new coalition was launched in Brussels in mid-November to combat the growing threat of euthanasia across Europe.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe (EPC-Europe) brings together organisations and individuals from across the continent to campaign against the erosion of laws that protect people from euthanasia. It plans to act as a powerful voice against attempts to change laws across Europe that protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide. Christian Concern

Brunei: sharia law
The sultan of Brunei announced on October 22 that the country will be ruled according to sharia law, which will be introduced in phases from April 2014.
Penalties for hudud crimes will be in line with the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah (the deeds and sayings of Muhammed). Hudud crimes include theft, for which sharia requires the amputation of limbs, adultery, which is punished by stoning, and apostasy, which carries the death penalty. Muslims who insult, mock or deny Islamic teachings may face imprisonment for up to 30 years and 40 strokes of the cane. Barnabas Fund

Rwanda: mission
In a Rwandan mission held in October, 78,500 heard the gospel and around 8,900 made decisions for Christ. Hundreds of church leaders received training and there was a special programme for children.
Under the heading ‘Improved Literacy through Youth Education’, 50 teachers and 50 young people were trained in Musanze town. During the training, many were able to forgive and reconcile with those who had offended them. African Enterprise


For more news and prayer fuel from around the world, subscribe to EN for monthly updates.