If necessary, use words

There’s good news for Christians who’ve only ever experienced angst about evangelism due to feeling inadequate at delivering compelling Gospel presentations and convincing apologetic masterpieces that turn sceptics into true believers. (more…)

Summer Reading List

If you’re looking for something to read over your Christmas holiday break, or perhaps for a last minute gift idea, we’ve put together a list of Crossover’s top 10 books for the year and where to find out more. (more…)

Webinars & Podcasts

Crossover runs a variety of webinars to make our resources more accessible for Baptist Church leaders around Australia. The topics include a range of practical skills (like how churches can use facebook effectively) and support discussion topics – like bi-vocational and church planting hang outs with special guests from the relevant fields to give input and advise from their experiences. (more…)

Is it Mission if the Organisation isn’t “Christian”?

“Should I be a healthy person who eats salad, or the unhealthy person who eats pizza? Surely it is not possible for me to be both a healthy person AND a person who eats pizza sometimes?”… writes Renata Carmichael (more…)

Revitalised in Witness – Lessons in Arousing Curiosity from the Prophets (Pt 2)

Michael+Frost
Michael Frost

“We need to rediscover what it looks like to create curiosity arousing lifestyles…equipping people to live lives that are weird, that are odd, that break moulds.”.

Michael Frost in Missional Conversation Series

Is Michael Frost right?

There are many questions here. What business have respectable middle class Australian Baptists got being ‘weird’? Is there a biblical precedence to support Michael’s viewpoint?

A brief look at some of the Old Testament prophets may provide support. We highlight some of these in our annual Easter Offering video HERE.

Bizarre Behaviour

Strictly speaking the prophets were in possession of a different set of messages than the Gospel, although we share in common with them the commission to pass on a message from God to the world.

JEREZEKHOS
See more of Jeremiah, Hosea and Ezekiel by clicking image to watch our 2015 Easter Video

Jeremiah engaged in some bizarre behaviour burying his underwear and walking around with a yoke attached to his back.

Ezekiel’s prophetic modus operandi is similarly odd in comparison to our modern day way of going about proclaiming the message of God. Events that stand out is his act of lying on his side for 390 days, and then repeating that. Eating barley cakes baked over cow manure was another

Perhaps Hosea amongst all the prophets would have the most traction today, due to the self-sacrificial nature of his decision to obey God and take on a prostitute for a wife. It’s not the kind of thing in modern times we expect of God – to be told to live such an unusual, controversial and sacrificial life that plays out like a long running drama speaking to the surrounding world of the nature of God’s love for his people and the degree to which they have defiled themselves.

Christians in popular misconception are perceived to be shunning of sex workers. The truth is that of all the people who reach out to street workers Christians across the world are often on the forefront.

Jesus got a hard time from the religious elite for hanging with tax collectors and other people of ill repute.

It can be argued that there is an incarnational logic to the somewhat bizarre ministries of the prophets. Under the direction of God to deliver a message, they didn’t just proclaim prophecies but lived their message out through their symbolic behaviour, be that in in the choice of marriage partners, their clothing or using their bodies symbolically. They took the word of God seriously and allowed it to have a disruptive and transforming effect on their lives.

Is anybody listening?

The prophets of old weren’t at any risk of being ignored. They aroused curiosity and made the message of God a talking point. It seems as if the church on the other hand is routinely ignored, except for when something controversial happens. So what would it mean to us to live lives that arouse curiosity? Do we have to do something outlandish or bizarre to be noticed?

It is important to note that the behaviour of the prophets mentioned wasn’t some grand plan that they schemed and hatched – it was under the direction of God.

Modern Day Curiosities

There are plenty of examples of Christians living extraordinarily sacrificial lives right across the globe, particularly those who minister amongst the poor and marginalised. However, this is not the preserve of Christian believers alone and therefore not necessarily curious from a religious perspective.

By Einar Einarsson Kvaran aka Carptrash
By Einar Einarsson Kvaran aka Carptrash

Some modern day believers do choose ‘curious’ ways of witnessing to the world around them. Carl James Joseph, a Catholic pilgrim from Detroit, Michigan, has been living without money and depending on the generosity of others for the past 20 years. Carl carries a large cross on his back and is dressed like Jesus. He is barefoot most of the time and lives a very simple life.

Having visited about 20 countries in the world he has now become a well-known figure in the old city of Jerusalem, where he explores the life and path of Jesus Christ.

If you drive down the old Route 66 into Groom Texas you will see a giant cross which attracts up to a thousand people a day. It was built by Steve Thomas of Pampa, Texas in 1995. Mr. Thomas, disgusted with the huge billboards advertising pornography wanted to make a public profession of faith along the Interstate. Originally he wanted to put up his own billboard with Bible verses but could never find the appropriate verse. Instead, inspired by a cross built by a rancher in Ballinger, Texas, Mr. Thomas decided to construct a giant cross. The cross was constructed by a hundred welders in two pieces and stands 190 feet tall.

Alongside the cross is a replica of Calvary, with steps leading to the crosses, and a replica of Christ’s tomb. The Stations of the Cross feature life-sized sculptures of the events leading to Christ’s crucifixion. The Groom Cross is fast becoming a roadside pilgrimage site with the number of travellers visiting the site increasing exponentially.

But what about us ‘normal’ people?

6STEPS

The most elementary way togain traction and cut through is to upset the applecart of expectations.Through perception that is often justified and at other times unwarranted the church and Christians at large in Australia seemed to be pegged when it comes to expectations of attitude and action. Upsetting those expectations arouses curiosity. Here’s some ways I’ve found makes a difference:

  1. Not judging when you are expected to.
  2. Taking an interest in others lives and views rather than just trying to ‘push a message’.
  3. Being found in unlikely places (outside the bubble of the church).
  4. Learning to build friendships with people outside of your usual Christian networks.
  5. Being at the heart of a community rather than the fringe.
  6. Asking questions rather than making statements.

Whilst the examples above don’t attract as much attention as the antics of the prophets or giant crosses it does make a difference one life at a time. Like the prophets, we can submit our lives to God to be used for whatever purposes he wishes and whatever way he wants. The question is, how are we going to respond if he wants us to do something off the wall?

By Stan Fetting (Operations Manager, Crossover)

For more on being ‘Revitalised in Witness’ please read the other posts in this series:

Pt 1 – ‘Scriptural Places I Turn to’ by Keith Jobberns

 

Revitalised in Witness – Scriptural Places I Turn to (Pt 1)

PAULEvangelism is often a taxing calling.  Where can we turn to for Revitalisation as leaders? Keith Jobberns – our National Director shares why ACTS 17 continues to inspire him.

 

In the western suburbs of Sydney there is a shopping centre that has been badged the ‘Carnes Hill Marketplace’. They suggest to those in the area that they are “Your Place to Meet, Your Place to Shop, Your Community Square.”

This is a widespread trend – modern shopping centers marketing themselves as ‘marketplaces’.

Back in the first century marketplaces fulfilled these meet, shop and community functions BUT they were so much more. They were the places of ideas. Places where big questions were asked and debated. The marketplace was an unpredictable and unsanitized gathering place.

Keith on Mars Hills with his wife Marilyn
Keith on Mars Hills with his wife Marilyn

I had the privilege last year of standing on Mars Hill looking down over the Athenian marketplace of Pauls’ time. Overshadowing Mars Hills is the architectural grandeur of the Parthenon. This is the scene of Paul’s ministry in Athens as recorded by Luke in Acts 17. A plaque of the Acts 17 passage is now attached to a rock face at the entrance to the area.

The Acts 17 passage has long been an inspiration and a challenge for me personally. There are two things I find revitalising from this passage:

1. Confidence

What stands out to me is Paul’s confidence in the Gospel in engaging with the religious plurality of the Athenian world. His confidence in the Gospel no doubt grows out of his transformative experience of faith in Jesus. It is a salutary reminder to reassess our confidence in sharing the good news of Jesus in our contemporary scene.

How is my connection to Jesus? Am I giving time to nurturing my experience of Jesus?

2. Competence

The other sticking feature for me is Paul’s competence in sharing the good news of Jesus in a variety of different contexts. Paul took the context of the people he was engaging with very seriously. He sought to find appropriate bridges to connect with the worldview of his audiences. In Luke’s abbreviated record of Paul’s ministry in Athens, he highlights his engagement with the Jewish community in the synagogue, the commercial traders in the marketplace and the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers of the Areopagus.

rev2I am challenged to think how I engage intentionally and contextually with a similar cross-section of people in my world.

Believing Jesus is the answer, that’s the issue of confidence.

How might I engage in a helpful way – that’s the issue of competence.

In conclusion, I ask what might my confident and competent engagement look like with 3 groups in my “marketplace”?

A. The religious people in my world. Most communities in Australia today present people from all of the worlds religions. The mission field has come to us and the challenge is how might I – how might you take an ACTS 17 approach to these seekers in our midst.

B. The local commercial community. What bridges am I building with my local business owners – be it informally or via membership of Rotary or the like?

C. The thought leaders. How can I connect with and influence in a helpful way local politicians, local radio and local newspaper journalists and bloggers?

Food for thought.

If you like this blog please share it

Cross-Cultural Ministry at Home

“I can’t help asking, why is it that Australian Baptists in foreign mission are intentional, relational, adaptive and creative in their expressions of evangelism – but at home we seem to-be ad-hoc, constrained by our existing socio-economic circles, rigid in our expressions of worship and witness?” (more…)

Out of the Box

An invitation to move into new forms of mission and ministry. “In the story of God’s people, it is often those who dared to imagine a different reality who were crucial in helping their community to move in God’s new direction.” These words introduce Out of the Box, a fresh CD resource to help churches dream up a storm of new ways to express worship and prayer, mission and community. (more…)