This week we had an unexpected guest speaker – Rico Tice, an evangelist based at All Soul’s, Langham Place (John Stott’s church). He gave us a high-speed guide to equipping the church for evangelism, presenting in an hour-and-a-half what most normal people would spend half a day doing.
He asked a question which he said is key for evangelists: “do you love the local church?”. He’s noticed that very often, those with evangelistic gifts tend to do their own thing – but it is vital that new believers are linked in to the local church. Rico has a huge belief in the importance of the church: for him, the task is “not about me doing evangelism” but “me equipping the church to do evangelism”.
One of the main barriers to effective evangelism is that people are afraid to encourage people to read the Bible. There’s considerable resistance which is important to overcome, because the power is in the Word of God. So part of the purpose of the training he does is to teach people to ask the question “Would you like to look at the Bible with me?” – to which there are only two answers: ‘yes’ and ‘no’! This approach crosses the pain threshold for many people.
The session was as refreshing as it was energetic: I felt much better equipped for having been to it.
Just prior to this, my discipleship group took part in a creativity workshop, run by two of the group, Tim and Helen. One of the delights in leading this group has been discovering just how creative people are in this group. Helen, for example, is a gifted poet with unusual insight; Tim uses his artistic gifts prophetically, shown particularly in this pastel drawing that he did during a recent college service.
The purpose of having the workshop was both to learn how to use the creative arts in one’s own spiritual journey, and how to enable others to do the same. It was important that we didn’t have technically-proficient professionals running it, but people who have a passion for enabling ordinary churchgoers to develop their own gifts – for the benefit both of themselves and those around them.
Last weekend I thought I would check out how the seals were doing at Greatham Creek, given all the snow and freezing weather. The answer: it appears they are completely unfazed by the conditions – you’d think it was midsummer! They must have an awful lot of blubber on them…