To paraphrase Ecclesiastes 12:11 “Of making many evangelism programmes there is no end, and much talking about evangelism wearies the soul”. Maybe that’s a little too cynical, but it does appear to me that there are numerous evangelistic organisations, books, initiatives and programmes. Every evangelical church wants the silver bullet for outreach – especially in the context of a culture which is becoming increasingly hostile to the Gospel.
I’m afraid that ASK is not that silver bullet. I know that this is not a great sales pitch, but then we are not selling something! We are not opposed to evangelistic programmes, or books, or initiatives or organisations – indeed the opposite. It’s just that we take a different starting point. We believe that evangelism is best done through the local church, and that every other aspect is supplemental to that. This is because evangelism is not just telling the good news – it is living it – and seeking to disciple people. And for that purpose, the Lord has given us the church. This is counter cultural in a culture which does not like organisations, especially religious ones – but the Bible has always been counter cultural.
Church – Therefore our first priority is to work with local churches. The main aim for this year is to work with ten churches/organisations/schools for one day per month each – helping them with their outreach through consultation, speaking and doing. This costs them $500 per month. In terms of churches, we try to help with speaking, training, media etc in order to ensure that evangelism is in the DNA of every part of the church. There is no one size fits all – so after consultation we try to work out a bespoke programme for one year.
The main structure I ask churches to think about is Eat, Pray, Love (EPL). Eat is the idea of hospitality in various forms. Pray is an emphasis on praying with, and for, non-believers. And love is the teaching component. The latter may seem a little strange, but it fits our times. Our culture speaks a lot about love – ‘love is love’ – but struggles to give it any meaning. The Christian message is essentially the ultimate meaning about love. God is love. This emphasis on teaching is not the gospel-lite wishy washy emotive, virtue signalling feeling – but rather the very heart and content of our message. It enables us to present a positive and challenging alternative to a world that longs for love, but has no idea what they are longing for, or where to get it!
Another main aspect of what we do is helping Christians to understand the current cultural context – so that we can better communicate the Gospel within it. We call this ‘Communicating the Gospel to Modern Pagans’.
Media – is our second main area of work. We try to get involved in both secular and Christian media. Writing, YouTube, TikTok, social media, music etc are all important. ASK is currently developing its own website which we hope will be a resource for the wider church. I write articles for various publications and am currently working on another evangelistic book for teenagers. As well as being involved ourselves we try to help churches assess and think through their own media strategy. If the local church is the reality – the media are the shop window. Use of modern media is an essential part of today’s outreach. We are currently developing a new website. We have started the ASK podcast. And we are developing a series of short bible teaching videos. We have no desire to reinvent the wheel or duplicate what others are doing so we will use their resources and point people to the best we can find.
Education – Where there is a church, there is a school. That maxim from John Knox is one we adopt. It is essential that the church sees the importance of Christian education – in the home, church, school and university. I have done, and continue to do, a lot of work with teenagers (my book ASK was written for them) – and although there are obvious limits of time, I intend to maintain that work – and encourage churches to look at the different ways they connect with young people.Finally, we are seeking to mentor and help those who are seeking to develop as evangelists.
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Yours in Christ,