In this final article I want to bring you up to date with how things have been going. After all it is relatively easy to think through the theory and to make plans – but the real proof of the pudding is in the eating!
I love the understated Aussie reaction to the question ‘how’s it going?. ‘Not bad!’. As in any effective work for the Lord there are encouragements and discouragements. Covid was a major disruptor for many things. I also saw it as a great opportunity. Any significant ministry for the Lord will see the opposition of the devil – sometimes the spiritual battle is fierce – but we remember that our fight is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). The Lord opens doors!
We have four partner churches signed up and several more in the pipeline (although you never count your churches until they are hatched!). In working with churches our aim is to come alongside each church in a ‘bespoke’ consultancy role – to ask the hard questions, seek to help and encourage the church to knock at the open doors.
Some churches reject completely any apologetic approach (whilst others go the other way!). They want the ‘simple gospel’. I don’t like the term ‘apologetics’, but we do like the idea of persuasive proclamation of the Gospel. Sometimes the idea of ‘the simple Gospel’ is code for we like the formulaic approach and don’t see the point in putting in the hard work required for a more creative and culturally sensitive approach. As Pascal pointed out – we need to show people that the Gospel is reasonable, beautiful and good – so that they want it to be true. Then we can show them that it is true! Evangelism is ploughing, sowing and reaping. The temptation for most churches is to want to go straight to the harvesting and to look for instant results.
The longer-term approach – looking to prepare the ground and sow the seed, before seeing the results is not an easy sell in a church culture heavily influenced by the ‘success’ model of the US, and feeling under siege from an increasingly hostile (but also more open) general culture. When you are drawing up the drawbridge it’s not easy to launch out into the ocean!
I continue to work with City Legal – the lawyer’s part of City Bible Forum and have seen some encouragement in that – particularly in Sydney CBD and Canberra.
On the media side we are developing contacts with both secular and Christian media. We have started a new podcast called ASK – most of that has been with Greg Sheridan. https://theaskproject.podbean.com Partly because of Covid I have been forced into the video and YouTube – doing short videos such as Coffee with Job, Songs for Sunday, or Stumbling Blocks to Christianity. I have just begun a new daily series entitled ‘Coffee and Revelation’.
Each week I have new people contact me and it has been good to be able to connect some to local churches. For example, even as I write this I have just come from a meeting where a young man told me that this was the first Christian meeting he had attended and that he had become a Christian four years ago through online ministry and had come to the meeting because he had read and heard some of our work. Contacts have come from all over Australia. The most encouraging thing has been to see a couple of people become Christians and several more inquiring.
Also, on the media side I write articles for some Christian outlets, do radio interviews and have a significant number of Australian listeners to the Wee Flea Quantum podcast. The media opportunities are enormous, but I lack the technical ability to develop them, so we are seeking to get some help with that. I (and hopefully others) can provide content – but we need the artists, producers and tech people to use social media, the internet and print forms with the creativity required. In this regard the ASK website is in the process of being developed and should be launched soon. http://www.ASK.org.au,
I have spoken at a couple of schools, but the education side will be limited. My main aim with that is to encourage churches to either be involved with their local schools or even to set up their own!
What can you do to help? I know that everyone says this, but it still remains true. Prayer is the work. Unless the Lord opens the doors, we are wasting our time. Unless the Lord builds the house the builders labour in vain. (Ps 127:1). Ask the Lord for guidance, the Spirit, wisdom, strength. We are starting a monthly prayer/newsletter this month. If you would like to subscribe to it, then please contact me or Robyn at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also chip in with your constructive criticisms and questions. I have been on a steep learning curve, and I still have a lot to learn. And of course, you can give. Our budget for this year is around $150,000 but we would really like to make it $250,000 for the next year – to enable us to really push out with the media development. Tik Tok videos, podcasts and some other creative ideas are all in the pipeline – but are all finance dependent. There is a button on the website that you can click to give. Everything from the widow’s mite to the millionaires’ tithe is gratefully received!
I feel privileged and excited to be called to do this work. Together with my wife Annabel – who is a key part of the ministry and my main support. If you have any questions or comments, please do contact me at email@example.com
Also, if you would like me to come and speak or get involved with you in anyway. There are limits but we consider all requests!
I leave you with my favourite psalm for evangelism – Psalm 126. We sow in tears because we care. We reap in joy because the Lord is faithful and will not permit his word to return to him empty. The Lord will restore the fortunes of Zion, and we will be like dreamers. To paraphrase John Lennon ‘you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the church will be as one.” At least in communicating the Good news to a world that needs it so desperately just now. Our concern must be for the restoration of the Church, and the glory of God, not just our own ministry. But I do hope and pray that the Lord will use this small part of his work, for that greater purpose. Then the nations will see and be astonished. And our tongues will be filled with songs of joy!