Everything seemed to be progressing as you well as you would imagine a 40th church anniversary to be. We had a video covering the history of the church (with ugly bits left out). Previous church leaders were either present or had sent congratulatory messages that were read out. Then suddenly things took a turn. (more…)
Whilst there are always a few Christmas grinches around, people still love Christmas time. For churches it’s an important time that comes around annually that gives plenty of opportunity to tell the Gospel story. It’s a unique time of year in our Australian culture when openness to the biblical story of the birth of Jesus is arguably at its highest. If there’s ever a time when people who don’t normally darken the door of a church are going to set foot on church property it will be Christmas.
Baptist churches across our country put an enormous amount of effort and innovation into Christmas outreach. Each year thousands of Australians get to hear the Gospel story thanks to the diverse ways in which churches have used Christmas to reach out:
Christmas lights attract hordes of people each year, sometimes by the busload. Many churches have built up an impressive array of lights. Lifepointe Baptist Church in Maroochydore is one of many Baptist churches who have built up an impressive reputation for putting on an outstanding light display. There is more than lights though, there’s also the annual production, an expo, the Bethlehem walk and a baby animal farm.
The production features multimedia, drama, dance and song to drum in the meaning of Christmas. The musicians, singers, actors and dancers lead a 45 minute presentation depicting the reason for Christmas and the difference it’s made for so many people.
Christmas Carols & Plays
Churches have a ready made stage, talent and equipment to put on an impressive carols experience. Many churches take the carols outside and gather in many more thousands of people as a result. Often churches have built a popular reputation for staging an impressive carols event and as a result continue to attract large crowds.
Some people would only ever think of attending church twice in a year: Easter and Christmas. It’s a unique occasion where a significant percentage of the congregation present do not normally attend church. Churches have become sensitive to this and pitched their celebration services accordingly. The challenge is to be evangelistic without making people regret they made this rare exception to attending church.
Many churches use the opportunity of the Christmas season to reach out to those less fortunate. The message of Christmas is reinforced through practical expressions of love and service in the community. The truth is churches do this throughout the year but it does attract more profile during Christmas (and perhaps make more impact).
Christmas is a time where a lot of people have the potential of being left out. Hospitality is an important outreach at this time (and always). Reaching out by way of inviting people around to share a meal and some company can be the best gift. Outreaching churches encourage and facilitate this to great effect.
The power of the personal invitation trumps any flyer you can stuff in a post box. Evidence proves time and time again that people become Christians more often than not through the involvement of someone known to them, and were initially invited to something by that person/s. Having something to invite someone to helps, but extending that invitation through a warm, personal interaction is the most effective way to do it. At the very least a warm invitation to enjoy personal hospitality goes a long way.
Some helpful links with more ideas:
Alpha Australia has launched the Easter Invitation 2016. At Easter in 2016 Alpha Australia will be running a national promotional campaign to help churches invite their community to explore faith and God through Alpha. Churches will be able to register their Alpha course on the Alpha website so that people will be able to find it through the Alpha Finder site. (more…)
Church Planting Webinar – 11am (EST) Wed 4th Nov. 2015
Church planting is an exciting frontier of ministry. There are churches who have been involved for many years in planting other churches and others who are seriously thinking about it. Church planting can be tough, complex and draining. It’s important to share ideas and experience, encourage one another and build supportive relationships.
Join us for our Church Planters Webinar on Wed 4 November at 11am EST. Our guest is Andrew Turner the author of Fruitful Church. Andrew works as a Church Development Facilitator with the Baptist Churches of South Australia and is a valued member of the Crossover Taskforce. Andrew replanted and for 11 years pastored Glen Osmond Baptist Church, during which time it in turn planted several churches. He and his family have now joined a team to missionally reinvigorate a small church in West Beach SA.
The Webinar length is scheduled for between 60-90min. Click on this link to join us: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/412314997
You can dial in by telephone to participate on this number: Australia +61 2 8355 1024 using the following access code: 412-314-997
Tess Holgate from Eternity Magazine recently interviewed Karl Faase about the balance between the gospel as word and the gospel as deed. It’s a great, short read where Karl shares some of the motivation behind the recent REFOCUS seminars tour around the nation which he and Dan Patterson have embarked on in conjunction with Crossover.
Norm Nix Scholarship 2015
The annual Norm Nix scholarship is given to assist an Australian Baptist Pastor or theological student in their development as a leader in evangelism, in their ministry context. The scholarship is named in recognition of the outstanding leadership and service of retired Crossover Director Rev. Norm Nix, in encouraging evangelism throughout Australia. The purpose of this scholarship is to provide or contribute to the funding of the recipient’s undertaking a research project or specific training course, to allow for their intentional development as a missional leader. In 2015 it is awarded to Scott Morrison from Victoria.
Scott and his wife Sarah are intentionally involved in evangelism and church planting ministry in Melbourne, and Scott is six months into the Arrow Leadership Program with the view to prepare and equip them for this ministry both in Australia, and in the long term overseas.
After seven years as Youth Pastor at Crossway Baptist Church, Melbourne, Scott left this role at the start of 2015 to invest fulltime in the disciple making and church planting ministry Praxeis, a ministry birthed out of Crossway. Scott describes the move “towards the end of my time at Crossway, God started to shift my heart towards the lost, mostly through an organization called Praxeis. Praxeis is all about seeing church planting movements in Melbourne, Australia, and the rest of the world. As I began to share the Gospel with more and more people, and more and more people seemed to respond in a positive way to Jesus, it felt increasingly that this was what God really wanted me to do.”
Scott describes Praxeis as a ministry focused on praying, sharing the gospel and training others to share the Gospel too. Their hope is to see a saturation church planting movement where all over the city of Melbourne non-believers of all races and faith backgrounds meet in homes to fall in love with Jesus, become more obedient to Him, and to join with God in His mission of reconciling all people to Him. As an example Scott describes, “Sarah and I are currently connecting with a number of Hindu households. One of these is a couple who have seen God answer really specific prayer. When we last met together in their home, both said how much they love praying together, and that they want to know Jesus, not just know about Him. There’s a long way to go, but bit by bit, God seems to be drawing them to himself.” Long term they are considering a call from God to go overseas to a people of 22 million; 0.1% being Christian, majority are Buddhist. They hope the experiences of disciple making and church planting in Melbourne will equip them to share the Gospel overseas.
The scholarship will specifically support Scott as he does the Arrow program to increase his capacity to lead others, and bring them along the journey. He reflects that “six months through Arrow (a 2 year course), God has already been shaping me. He’s spoken to me clearly about my heart attitude, the future, and how I approach my role. As well as this, perhaps for the first time, I would now say that I am competent with admin!”