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Equipping the Church to share the gospel

More than half of non-Christians who know a Christian have never had a conversation with them about Jesus: let’s change that together, writes Gavin Calver

3 figuresI recently found out that 4 in 5 practising Christians believe it’s every Christian’s responsibility to talk to non-Christians about Jesus* – isn’t that encouraging! I was so inspired to hear this.

In my role as director of mission at the Evangelical Alliance, I’m so excited to see and hear new stories of people coming to faith in Jesus almost every week at the moment. And for the first time ever I saw more people come to Christ in January than I did in December – and December was by no means a disappointing month.

Yet we have to face the fact that the statistics aren’t all good – though 57 per cent of people in England call themselves Christians, just 9 per cent are what we might call “practising Christians”. That’s fewer than 1 in 10 people who know Jesus and live out their faith in their daily lives.

Perhaps more worrying still, 54 per cent of non-Christians who know a Christian have never had a conversation with them about Jesus.

If you’re like me, you’ve been shocked by this statistic.

Simply put, something must be done. And that’s why the Evangelical Alliance is hard at work on a new project to equip the UK Church to communicate the gospel clearly, confidently and powerfully to those who don’t know Jesus – and see people come to faith.

As we speak to leaders across the UK, we’re hearing the Church’s passion for people across the UK to be told the good news of the gospel and put their trust in God.

But I’ve been challenged recently talking to a number of church leaders who are doing more than ever before to bless their communities – in fact, the UK Church has become known and praised for its amazing social engagement – yet they’re not seeing people come to faith in anything like the numbers we would imagine.

I’m convinced that now is the time to build on this foundation of social action, and strengthen the muscles of the Church for evangelism.

When we surveyed church leaders to find out what we can do to support them, they’ve told us that they need our help – 70 per cent would like ideas for how individuals can share their faith story with others. What’s more, 65 per cent need suggestions for ways they can do mission as a whole church, while 58 per cent want to hear inspiring stories of how others are sharing their faith.

That’s why we’re looking to provide four services through one website, launching later this year, to equip churches and individuals for mission:

  1. Signposting to the UK’s wide range of existing high-quality initiatives and resources proven to be effective in evangelism. We will categorise and colour-code them for easy searching according to groupings such as age, belief, workplace, stage in faith journey, and more;
  2. Catalysing or commissioning new projects and tools where there are gaps;
  3. Equipping by sharing short videos with advice and best practice in evangelism, building greater confidence and passion;
  4. Inspiring by filming the stories of people who have come to faith and those who are sharing the gospel up and down the UK.

There is a vital need to equip the Church and Christians in the UK to share the gospel with those who don’t know Jesus.

Someone like Simon, for instance. Earlier this year, I spoke at a church service in Leeds. After the service, 27-year-old Simon came and spoke to me. He shared that he came to faith 13 years ago when I spoke at his church, and he’s now going from strength to strength in his walk with Jesus. Isn’t that amazing – God is good and His gospel is powerful!

As the UK Church it’s my firm conviction that we are better together, and we’d love you to join us on this journey to see the Church’s muscles strengthened for evangelism:
Do you know any stories of people who’ve come to faith in Jesus in the last few years? Does your church have a great story to share about how you’re talking about Jesus in your community?
We want to share all that God is doing across the Church, so if you have a story to tell we’d love to hear more – you can contact us via faithstories@eauk.org
Let’s be praying together for more people to meet, love and follow Jesus.
At the beginning of 2016, we wrote a New Year prayer for the UK Church, encouraging Christians to renew their commitment to share the gospel this year, so that people might meet and put their trust in Jesus.
This prayer is now available on a downloadable prayer card – perfect to put in your Bible, stick on your fridge or share at your home group to reflect on and encourage one another. There’s space on it too for you to write the names of five people you want to commit to pray for and share the gospel with this year.

And why not encourage your church to pray the prayer together this Pentecost, a time when the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called for a ‘great wave of prayer’ for the evangelisation of the nation.
We truly are better together, and I’m excited to see all that God will do as all commit to sharing Jesus with those around us – in words as well as deeds.
**Most statistics taken from Talking Jesus research, published in October 2015, conducted by the Evangelical Alliance, Church of England and HOPE – visit www.talkingjesus.org for more information


Gavin Calver is director of mission at the Evangelical Alliance, and an accredited Baptist minister

Baptist Times, 13/04/2016
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