Next Sunday we are seeking to repeat the remembrance day procession as last year as well as gathering at the flag pole in Eight Ash Green. This provides a great opportunity for a visible presence in the villages of Fordham and Eight Ash Green. For those who do not or cannot process from church to the war memorial, do let the stewards know who can direct you to someone who could give you a lift whilst the rest of us process.
Our thoughts also begin to turn towards Christmas at this time of year, largely because the consumer machine starts to lure us in. But the up side of this, is that whilst we may not yet be thinking of shopping, it is right to be thinking of the great opportunity that Christmas provides for the gospel. Of course, historically our main approach has been to invite people to church. And we should still do this! However, according to Sky News reporting last year, 25% of people will go to church at some point over the Christmas period, but that leaves 75% of people who will not go to church at all over Christmas (and 99% who will not attend church regularly through out the year). So, we really are in a very different situation to even 20 years ago with 53 % of people now describing themselves as of “no religion”. How can we reach out? We are planning to reach out in three ways:
- Delivering invites to the whole parish prayerfully asking for opportunities to talk with people about the gospel. Last time we did this, it was encouraging the number of conversations we had. We can invite people to our Christmas services, but also to an event on January 26th entitled “Real Lives”. The aim is to encourage people to come and hear how the Lord Jesus Christ makes a real difference in our lives over cheese and wine in the John Owen Barn.
- Being intentional as growth groups. I am sure we all have a circle of friends who we may have invited to church, but they have not come. Why not have a social as a growth group? Each growth group can work out what they feel comfortable in running, and it doesn’t have to be on a Thursday. From dialogue suppers; to mince pies and mulled wine – or something completely different; we could encourage friends to mingle with church friends and pray for conversations to take place in which people can be pointed to Jesus Christ. Evangelism is not something we are to do on our own, but rather in relationship. What could be better!
- We should make the most of the opportunities we have before us. Of course, do be inviting to our Nativity, Lessons and Carols and Carols by candlelight with the invites. But we could also make a commitment to be at the schools services where people hear the gospel and friendships could be formed or reformed over refreshments or at the school fairs. We have many opportunities. As Colossians says “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 4:5. With much love in Christ,