Evangelism is a word that can evoke fear in Christians, but Chris Duffett continued to offer a compelling case as to why churches and Christians should be giving it a go
The new president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain encouraged delegates to 'get out of the box and enjoy the adventure' as he spoke in the Pass it on session in the Aldersgate Room of Westminster Central Hall on Saturday.
He began by taking the four most common excuses why people do not do evangelism, and argued why these excuses were flawed.
Some say it's not their job - but the days of just an evangelist doing it 'are over' he said. Referring to the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26, he explained, 'There isn't anyone else who's going to do it - except you and me.
'I'm really inspired by Philip. We learnt earlier in Acts that he had become a deacon, but here he was, responding to God's call to speak to the Ethiopian eunuch.'
The next excuse was that evangelism is 'boring' - but Chris said evangelism should never be boring as it involves making 'divine appointments' where we jump alongside God's plans for us.
'The words "divine appointments" have become missing from the Christian vocabulary, but these are not coincidences.
'There are people today that God has planned for us to meet. People in the hotel, or the lift. Are you going to take these divine appointments? Are you going to get alongside God's adventure?'
The next excuse is that people are just 'too sinful' to bother with. But, again referring to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, he said that the first non-Jewish Christian is a castrated person employed to take charge of a harem.
'This story of the first non-Jewish Christian is a story for us - if the Ethiopian eunuch is in, then our neighbour, or our family member is in, too.'
The final excuse was that evangelism is just for a certain type of person, but Chris said God wants to use everyone, and everyone's gifts.
'God wants to use us, who we are, and what we've got. It's not just people being able to speak, but able to pray, or to listen.'
In exploring how to connect with communities in creative ways, the session also heard from Carolyn Skinner, who leads Third Space Ministries, which looks to provide a Christian presence in areas where people choose to relax.
Home and work are first and second spaces, and third spaces - places such as gyms or cafes - provide 'significant opportunities' Carolyn said. 'Third spaces are places where people are looking for relationships and for community,' she explained.
Carolyn is a chaplain in a local gym, and told a story of how she would regularly meet a Turkish girl recently arrived in London who had joined the gym looking to improve her English and make friends. Other parts of the ministry involves going to nightclubs and taking teams to Ibiza.
Describing it as 'friendship evangelism, she added, 'None of these things take place in a church. We need to meet people where they are at.'
The session also involved breaking up into four workshops. Chris hosted a workshop exploring creative and prophetic ways of using the arts in public. This involved people going around Westminster to creat a piece of art based on Philippians 2:9 ('the name that is above every name'). Ali Boulton and Paul Unsworth led a workshop looking at ways of engaging communities, while Rob Hare introduced Big Hearted Lyfe, Chris's recommended resource for 2012.
David Shosanya led delegates to City Gate Church in Soho, which has a café and office space in addition to the church. Senior pastor Barney Skrentny and other church members highlighted the ministries the church is involved in, including reaching out to prostitutes, feeding the homeless, and hosting art events. As a result, around 90 people come to a church service each Sunday, but more than 300 people come through the café each week.
'It's about creating a pool to fish in,' said Barney. 'We give them stuff we know they want, and then we can connect.'
But, once those connections have been made, you need people who can make the spiritual enquiry'.