Spring is upon us, although I’m still needing to scrape ice off my car windscreen some mornings. We often talk about ‘signs of spring’ and right now, living in the countryside as I do, I can see them all around me: flowers, birds, hedgerows are all displaying signs ‘that spring is here’. Looking around me I can believe it, but the thought of going out without a coat … I’m not so sure!
I wonder to what extent we realise the Church in Britain is now in a new season of opportunity? There are signs that spring may well be coming, as Justin Welby said a while ago ‘winter is over’, and so this should not be surprising.
Two things, in particular, are acting as signs of spring right now:
1. Talking Jesus
I wrote ‘the fields are ripe to harvest’ when Talking Jesus was first published: http://nigcoles.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/they-like-us.html …18 months on they’re even riper! Do check out the Talking Jesus website and read the whole report – http://www.talkingjesus.org – but essentially, for every five people we know who is not yet a Christian, one of them, will be not only open to hear, but keen to know more about Jesus
2. The Turning
Last year we had the headline: Unprecedented openness to the gospel was reported in Reading as 1,200 make commitments to Christ. This has been followed by The Gate Church in Reading taking ‘The Turning’ to a number of British cities where significant numbers have responded in some way, to a very straightforward presentation of an aspect of the gospel.
When Paul, the Apostle, wrote ‘make the most of every opportunity’ from his prison cell to the Christians at Colossae (4:5) he could have been writing to us, urging us to pray ‘that God may open a door for our message (4:3). Whilst I would focus, very much, on this being a challenge for every Christian on their own frontline, I also recognise the benefit of gathering a group, or organising an event, to create the opportunity for ‘the mystery of Christ’ (4:3) to be proclaimed.
Two sources of inspiration which might well help your own creative juices to flow are:
The Baptists Together Regional Associations
For your local contact details:
In their own distinct ways each Association is doing 50 days of Good News. WEBA have a different downloadable animated video clip, which can be shown each Sunday, during ‘50 days’ available for free: http://www.webassoc.org.uk/50-days-good-news-church-challenge/
Although Baptists Together are a partner with http://www.hopetogether.org.uk , the partnership we would love to see on the ground, is with every single local Baptist Church. Now is the time to plan, to pray and to prepare for Hope 2018. HOPE’s dream is a growing church, showing Jesus’ love and telling the Jesus story, at the heart of every community, so there’s every reason why every local Church will want to be involved.
As we see the signs that spring is upon us, let’s begin to expect the summer and prepare for the harvest that will follow.