Evangelism in Sydney (and the UK and USA)

This is a fascinating discussion about evangelism in Sydney  – in response to this interview I gave to the Sydney Anglican magazine.   This is from an excellent podcast called The Pastors Heart.  hosted by Dominic Steele. I found it very encouraging to hear pastors and church leaders take seriously this issue.  I contrast these Sydney Anglican brothers with what I hear from Anglicans here (Rico Tice resigning from the Archbishops commission on evangelism, Kelvin Holdsworth complaining about the roads being closed for a cycle race in Glasgow, the Leeds diocese facing bankruptcy, or the endless attempts to impose LGBT ideology upon the church), and I am heartened by what I hear. (at a personal level it was good to have people take one seriously and not just shrug their shoulders or shake their heads!).

Those of us who are not Sydney Anglicans (or even Australians!) could learn a great deal from this conversation  –  I loved the line “You can’t convert the public square, you can only see people converted”.

 

The Lord has really blessed the Sydney Anglicans and they do have a much wider influence – they have rich resources in terms of funding, Moore College and people.  I

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Phil Wheeler

was very impressed by Phil Wheeler the leader of the Evangelism and New Churches group of the Sydney diocese.  It was a privilege to get to know Phil a little whilst on sabbatical…he is a Godly and intelligent man, with great experience and insight.   From what I know the ENC is doing a good work….but there is an enormous danger that we (and I absolutely include myself in this) spend too much time pontificating, strategising and talking about evangelism, rather than simply doing it.

Evangelism is something you learn by being and doing.    Its a bit like riding a bike.  You can study the bike, you can service the bike and you can look at the route maps and get all the equipment….but none of that is any  use until you get on the bike and do it!  You may wobble and fall off – but you learn quickly!

There is a lot more I would like to think about…especially how we equip, train and motivate both individuals and local churches.  We are struggling with this in Scotland.  I am sure that things like our own Mission board in the Free Church, or the rejuvenated FIEC in the UK, or the ENC of the Sydney Anglicans (along with Geneva Church Planting and Reach Australia and City Bible Forum)  have a part to play in their respective countries.    But all of us are faced with this issue – how do we bring the good news of Jesus into an apathetic and antagonistic secular society, when the churches seem so weak, confused and self-centred.  I think about this almost every day…..I have just been reading an excellent book about the revival in St Peters in McCheyne’s day and it makes me long for more.   To proclaim Christ and see people coming to know the Lord is my dream….

Proclaiming Christ in a Post-Christian Culture – Menai Anglican

The Pastors Heart – Interview with Dominic Steele

 

 

7 thoughts on “Evangelism in Sydney (and the UK and USA)

  1. I kept hearing them refer to John Chapman (and Philip Jensen) and it made me wonder how or whether one individual’s influence can replicate itself into the wider culture of the denomination in a later generation.
    I found their wariness about the convert the public square type movement interesting as well.

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  2. Interesting interview. For me the biggest motivator for personal evangelism (apart from wanting to see a person saved as an individual) is the quality of preaching that comes from the church, so that when you are witnessing to someone you have in mind where you are going to take them to. It’s like when the apostle Andrew took hold of his brother Peter and brought him to Jesus. If you have confidence that a preacher is going to present the gospel in such a way that honours Jesus Christ and shows a person their need of a Saviour – it makes you want to bring people with you to church as well as witnessing to them yourself.

    You are so fortunate at St Peter’s with the quality of preaching that comes from there. Many of our churches in southeast England are being skewered by this constant drive for informality, (just about managing to fit the worship of God in between the supermarket and the rest of the day’s leisure activities), coming to worship God with a cup of coffee in one hand and a mobile phone in the other, and destroying people’s love for hearing the word of God preached. Evening services becoming extinct.

    Such churches don’t seem to believe the word of God itself has the power to transform people or that the people in the congregation themselves are the best illustrations to those who are there because the word of God has transformed them.

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  3. Long before and up to 25 years ago in Scotland, there was an emphasis on evangelism – Billy Graham last visited in 1991, and I chanced to be there and it changed the direction of my life. I thank God for those involved in that endeavour. There was a follow up, which introduced those who had committed to Christ at the rally to a local church and a small study group where we studied the gospel of Luke. My memory is that the disciple making element was very weak – what I mean by that is – a recent convert needs a mature Christian to help them to become a disciple of Christ. There are lots of issues – past, present, and future – which can affect a recent convert and they won’t automatically be able to deal with such things in a biblical way, without being discipled.
    It would appear that the emphasis is the other way round now – lots of courses on ‘making disciples’. Am I wrong to say you can’t be a disciple without first being a convert? We also have a demand for signs and wonders and entertaining rhetoric.
    I was interested to read letters to the Corinthians because of the debauchery surrounding us in the West – must be similar to what Paul faced in Corinth, sexual immorality in the church and divisions. I hadn’t even got past Chpt 1 & beginning of chpt 2 when I came across this gem. The Jews demand signs and the Greeks seek wisdom. So Paul gave them neither. No words of “eloquent wisdom”. “…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles” “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” . Whats more Paul proclaimed the cross in “weakness and in fear and much trembling”. No suave, smooth stand-up comedian style!
    To fill out my understanding I decided to hear what Alistair Begg had to say about 1 Corinthians in Truth For Life. There are 16 sermons there on 1 Cor Chpt 1 alone – preached between 1987 and 2010. The cross is so central. The power of God comes with the preaching of the cross. It is the preaching of the cross that converts people – all the better if it is in ‘weakness, fear and trembling’ – “…so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
    The converts need to be discipled then through preaching, teaching and biblical counsel, and this requires churches to have mature, trained Christians to help.
    There is a stumbling block to preaching the cross now because people think it is gorey and inappropriate to speak about blood. But there is so much blood spilled through violence now, everywhere. We are living in a culture of death – abortion, teen suicides, self-harm, violence. One man, laid down his life and shed his blood so that all may be forgiven and set free.

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  4. Evangelist. I.e. Messenger.

    Consider.

    Your Royal Mail postie could be tall, short, fat, thin, white, black, 18-67, Welsh, Scottish, French, American, fast, slow, articulate, stammer, male, female, be on their first day, or in their 30th year, but……

    Their job as a messenger, as an evangelist, is to take a message from an origin, not themselves, and deliver it to someone else.
    The message is not theirs. The content is not theirs. The result and consequences of the message is not theirs.

    It could be a birthday card to a child, or an invitation from HRH the Queen.

    The postie is the same messenger, the same evangelist. Taking a message from one source to another.

    The key to evangelism is, whose message are we taking, from whom, and to whom? In either case, it’s not ours. Be sure the message is from the right source, and is going to the right recipient.

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