'It is time for churches to ask a new question… How do we join in with the mission of Jesus and reach out to people beyond the walls of our church?'
That’s the challenge posed by a new Baptist-led ministry which launched this week.
The Rooftop aims to equip and enable Christians to share the gospel confidently with those who are beyond the walls of their church buildings.
It has been developed by Dennis Pethers, an accredited Baptist minister and founder of Viz-a-Viz ministries, and is being co-ordinated in the UK by Amanda Allchorn, the former communications director of our Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Based on Acts 10 and 11, it finds its origin in the story of Peter on the rooftop: Peter receives a fresh vision from God that was to challenge everything he had ever known, which resulted him in going beyond the walls of the temple and the Jewish tradition.
While many churches are actively involved in outward facing mission programmes such as mums and toddlers, Street Pastors and foodbanks, Dennis said that many church members lack confidence in knowing how to share their faith when the opportunity arises.
The Rooftop offers a ‘3-step journey’ to overcome this challenge. It has already been pioneered in 17 states across the US.
‘The sad truth is that the number of people who don’t know Jesus and his transforming love for them is growing rapidly,’ said Dennis. ‘As culture and the world changes at breakneck speed this is resulting in a whole new reality, and in fact, a new question for churches to ask.
‘It’s not 'How do we get people into church' but 'How do we join in with the mission of Jesus and reach out to people beyond the walls of our church?'.
In 2014 a more public national gathering is being planned to launch The Rooftop more visibly to the UK to coincide with HOPE14 and a year of mission and evangelism.
The resources and website http://www.therooftop.org.uk
have been funded through the generous support of the Baptist Insurance Company.
The launch comes as witnessing your faith in Jesus is increasingly in the spotlight. On Tuesday the Archbishop of York the Revd John Sentamu spoke on the subject when introducing a debate on evangelism in the General Synod.
‘Next to worship, witness is the primary and urgent task of the Church,’ he said.
He said that while not everyone is an evangelist, every Christian is a ‘witness’. ‘Witnesses are empowered by the Holy Spirit simply to tell the story of their encounter with Jesus Christ; to share what they have experienced.
‘All people in Britain experience weather, and they talk about it readily, and repeatedly. If only disciples of Jesus Christ in England did the same about him!’
Elsewhere veteran evangelist and Baptist minister Billy Graham marked his 95th birthday earlier this month by sharing a message on the Fox network, alongside stories of people whose lives were changed when they rediscovered faith. According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, thousands of people made commitments to Christ after watching the programme My Hope America with Billy Graham
. A UK version is planned for next year.