I am hugely challenged, and equally encouraged, by some recent research we at the Evangelical Alliance were involved with (alongside Hope and the Church of England) from the Barna group that showed that 66% of UK Christians have shared their faith in the last month. This is amazing and far higher than I would have guessed. However, disappointingly 42% of those shared with felt glad that they didn’t share the Christians faith and a further 42% felt indifferent as a result. I am desperate that we would keep sharing as prolifically, but that the impact would be immensely more positive than this. I am challenged to try and help Christians share their faith more effectively and see this as utterly fundamental in seeing the UK+ reached with the Gospel (find out more about the research at www.talkingjesus.org). I dream of a Church that gathers on a Sunday in order to then be scattered as missional salt and light for the rest of the week, before being gathered again and released once more.
The church is doing so much good within society. The growth of numerous mission initiatives is having a profound impact and we should never underestimate this. However is there ever a danger that we might be drifting towards presenting a largely social Gospel? Might it be possible that our actions are having a great impact and yet our mouths have become gagged? It seems to me that in many ways the UK Church has been lacking confidence in the Gospel for too long. We need to be clear about ‘whose’ we are and make all of our ministry entirely Christ focussed. This does not mean that we’re preaching at people all the time but simply that we are not being used as purely a social benefit to people when the greatest thing they need is Christ. We are not called as the Church to build Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ but instead to build Christ’s Big Kingdom. There will be many sociological benefits along the way but our chief goal must remain the fulfilment of the Great Commission above all else.
Today’s UK landscape is wonderfully diverse and exciting. We at the EA are wholeheartedly committed to working across the breadth of the people groups that make up Britain. I am hugely passionate about our One People Commission which is a body made up of key national church leaders, committed to celebrating ethnicity, while promoting unity within the UK evangelical Church. As we look at mission and evangelism we have to be prepared to cross certain cultural barriers in order to share Jesus with all.
We can’t expect people to come to faith by osmosis, sometimes we need to make the invitation. We need to pray for the self-assurance to step out knowing that whatever the outcome the Lord is with us. I wonder if at times we are simply not seeing as much fruit as we would like because we are not asking the question enough. That to me is the greatest pitfall in our mission. We are doing loads of amazing things which is brilliant but are we giving people an opportunity to meet Jesus enough? Let’s be people who give the invitation regularly.
We are all involved and it can never just be the role of the evangelist to lead people to Jesus. All Christians should have non-Christian friends. Who can you share with, and show Jesus, to? Let’s all be in relationships with others where we are seeking to lead them towards Jesus. I wholeheartedly believe that the best days for the UK Church are yet to come, but for this to be true we all need to be involved. Step out of your comfort zone, pray fervently and believe the Lord will move. After all one of the most common promises in Scripture is really reassuring… whatever we are facing, whoever we are asking, whenever we feel afraid, the Lord promises His people ‘I am with you.’
Gavin Calver, Director of Mission, Evangelical Alliance