Mission - ECGI - Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative

Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative – ECGI Newsletter – January 2012

Acts 6.7a – ‘The word of God continued to spread’

The Evangelism & Church Growth Initiative Newsletter

Jesus Christ The Light Of The World
“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”  (Luke 2. 30 – 32, NRSV)

I HAVE lived on the equator, experiencing the sunrise at the same time every morning and set at the same time every evening.  As I write this, living in the northern hemisphere, it is dark when I leave home in the morning for work, and dark again when I arrive home at the end of the day. 

Through the changing seasons, I am aware of dark times and how I look forward to welcoming the light again. At such times it is encouraging to be aware of where the light is shining in other parts of the world. 

In this edition of Witness6.7, there are wonderful stories of the sharing of Jesus Christ, the light of the world;  exciting stories of the amazing changes that God has brought about  in Mozambique; of Christians from Nigeria church-planting in Madagascar; of new ways of being church in Harrogate in the UK and in Maine in the USA; and the sharing of light elsewhere in the world. 

These stories not only provide us with hope, but also might be examples that we can learn from; the spark that ignites our imagination and leads us into new mission initiatives; a reminder of the mutual sharing, learning and support that is possible for us Anglicans because of the connections we have with each other as part of a worldwide Communion. 

St Paul writes   ‘For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing’. (1 Thessalonians 5. 9 – 11, NRSV).

We hope that in 2012 this newsletter, and the Anglican Witness Facebook group, will be a resource that continues to affirm our hope and help us to share the light of Christ, within the world so that we can ‘encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing’.

Stuart Buchanan—Editor

Something Significant

WE’RE in that waiting time again, earlier than normal. Dry heat, red dust, gusts of wind. We wait for the rain. People predict heavier rain because of this winter’s greater cold. Climate may change but the wisdom of generations still holds and lives depend on it.  The waiting provides a time for action and remembering - for patching thatches, finishing building, preparing fields – seeing what’s there, what’s going on.

For a while now, we’ve known God’s doing something different amongst us in northern Mozambique. Having seen the war years in the late 1980’s, the coming of peace in 1992, working in community development in the 1990’s, we remember what was. We returned to Niassa in 2003, daring to believe the old waste places and the foundations of many generations would be rebuilt from among us. And they are, quite literally! The number of churches have doubled to around 510 for 65,000 members;  eight clinics have been renovated or built on the Lakeshore serving 20,000; a mission school has been extended, two new schools built; a staff of one is now more than 100; 21 priests are now 52.

Mozambique is still one of the ten poorest countries in the world, with economic growth statistics varying greatly by province, but we hope to make a difference with volunteer mission teams in two-thirds of our congregations working to bring healthcare, basic training, compassion in Christ’s name - and caring for around 10,000 orphans – in our own communities. The forestry companies we have partnered, for both good and bad, are changing the landscape with around 15,000 hectares of trees around the diocese, employing around 5000.

But many significant things have been part of the ‘doing something different’. Just one significant thing is that we are reading the Bible differently. Mozambicans take the Bible seriously, and its story and meaning literally. The metaphors and imagery resonate with rural Africa, and, when reading the letters to the churches in Revelation last week with community priests, I saw how intensely real and personal those letters were being heard. With high illiteracy and insufficient Bibles, a meditative Bible study method was rolled out around the diocese early on – a method requiring only one Bible and reader in a group, encouraging women and men to speak and read aloud, an inspiring way for each ‘to receive in their own heart’, as one woman said. This laid the foundation for ‘Rooted in Jesus’ as a small group discipleship course, and response to the Bible and confidence in the Spirit has gently been given freedom to grow, leading to some significant people growing the church differently - like Alberto, a community priest, now looking after 27 church communities; Ramine,  aged 22, planting 15 churches in 6 months: a 12 year old planting a church in Mecanhelas: Mama Mazula having the confidence to lead as a catechist; and the MU [Mother’s Union] being an example for Muslim men and women.

Significant visits have happened. In 1991, a ‘Time’ reporter wrote of  Lichinga: “It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there!” The Diocese of Niassa, unknown and hidden in the Communion, hurt by war and poverty, now has true companions bridging the differences of the Anglican Communion: links around the world, with friends and neighbours. Within our Province, ‘Growing the Church’ has walked with us, served us in ACSA [the Anglican Church of Southern Africa] and the world. Archbishop Thabo’s June visit was a delight. Visits are life-sharing. I once interpreted a visitor’s question to an abandoned Mozambican woman, evicted from her one room hut with three children: what does God mean to you? “You’re here”. She knew that God’s hope was in that moment, that visit, that day. And her perspective, as amongst the worlds’ poorest, matters.  

Because another significant thing has been the growth in hope that the poorest find in their church. Archbishop Rowan called it ‘holy communion in action’ during his October visit to Malawi, celebrating 150 years since Bishop Mackenzie came to this region. Hope and action, formation and evangelism, Eucharist and rites of passage, all expressed liturgically, has led to many churches in far-flung impoverished communities seeing their worship change – more freedom, more joy, more singing, more dancing! The old terms of High/Low/Evangelical/Charismatic, important still in other ‘First church’ contexts perhaps, don’t fit neatly. It’s more of a healing-breaking-forth for us, the ‘Third church’.

When Derek Hong from Singapore spoke here two weeks ago about renouncing the sins of the past, of past generations and of spiritual forces that are real, our priests celebrated this freedom and welcomed this healing much like they will the new rains. The God of the Bible is with us after all, and for all!

Helen Van Koevering
Diocese of Niassa, Director of Ministr

St. Elizabeth’s Essentials Pantry

ST ELIZABETH’S Pantry is an outreach effort of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine and supported by eight Episcopal Churches in the Portland area. We are located at St. Luke’s Cathedral. Last June we celebrated our 10th anniversary. Our primary mission is to dispense essential items that are not covered by the Federal Food Stamp Program. The basic items that we distribute include toilet paper, kitchen trash bags, bar bath soap, laundry detergent, diapers and small household items.  We are open on Tuesday mornings and each Tuesday we have between 300 and 350 clients come through the line. Approximately 50% of our clients are recent refugees or immigrants. Many have come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur in the Sudan and Somalia.

In addition to the tangible items we distribute, we also provide a safe, warm place where people can come and be part of a diverse community that is filled with love. All of our clients really just want to know that someone cares. We attempt each week to see Jesus in others as we attempt to be Jesus for others. The spirit is alive and well at St. Elizabeth’s, Portland, Maine. 

Richard Rasner

ECGI Core Group Meeting

PRAY for the next meeting of the Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative Core Group that takes place in Kenya from  6—11 March 2012.  We hope to include a report of this meeting, visits to local mission initiatives and interaction with local mission practitioners in the April edition of Witness6.7.

From Parish to Network… Adversity or Adventure?

From traditional parish to mission-shaped communities. Mark Carey describes the highs and lows of the transformation of Kairos Network Church in Harrogate.

I ARRIVED in Harrogate to lead St Mary’s and All Saints’ in October 2007. Within 12 months we began the significant transition from parish church to a ‘fresh expression’ of church, serving beyond the traditional parish boundaries. The parish had two centres of worship: St Mary’s, the parish church, and All Saints’, a chapel for an outlying area. When severe structural problems closed both buildings the congregations continued to meet in a school, and a local Methodist Church – but numbers dwindled and there was a lack of vision. Something had to change, and change it did.

During a transitional period, we:

  • Decreased the number of services, to create space for mission
  • Moved out of the school into the old church hall, making it simpler to gather together for worship
  • Began ‘café style’ worship to help create community
  • Purposefully shared faith stories, raising expectations of Kingdom activity
  • Began to ask: how can we gather as communities of disciples, in simple, flexible and purposeful ways, and still be ‘church’?

Out of this process emerged the first mission-shaped communities (MSCs). Each one of these small- to mid-size groups (up to 30 people) is treated as a church in its own right, meeting not in church buildings, but in homes, cafés, pubs, or workplaces. There were thrills and spills, false starts, uncomfortable tensions and downright difficult confrontations; but this new thing began to grow, with a vision to release communities of followers to live out the mission of Jesus.

We renamed ourselves the Kairos Network Church. Jesus used the word kairos of the ‘appointed time’ in the purposes of God: ‘The time [kairos] has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news’  (Mark 1:15).  For this church, it was indeed time for a new thing. Kairos also describes how we hope to act in our missional communities – looking for where the Kingdom is coming, and becoming part of it. We also began the process of becoming a Bishop’s Mission Order (BMO), laying down parish status and becoming a network church. Encouragingly, senior Church of England staff were hugely supportive, and we began operating as a BMO in May 2011.

Those brave souls who have started a mission-shaped communities find themselves on quite an adventureThe groups enjoy low control by the church leadership, and we encourage high accountability, aiming to create an environment of trust which allows people to be the disciples Jesus wants them to be. At the time of writing we have a handful of mission-shaped communities  at varying degrees of development, each seeking to have an impact either on their networks of friendships or particular geographical areas. They tend to meet in between our twice-monthly central gatherings:

The Wanderers are a vibrant example of disciples in mission, paying attention to the transformation of the whole person. This MSC started out with four people connecting with others through social activities. They became part of a walking and exercise group, carrying out street surveys in the centre of Harrogate, and have launched two discipleship groups.

Vintage is a group of young adults building a shared life around meals, worship and mutual encouragement, reaching out to people they meet through workplaces and family life. They recently gathered nearly 40 people for a picnic. One of the couples from the core team is bringing together a group of men for Thursday evening football, as well as getting to know their wives and girlfriends.

Links is a MSC that may point to the development of the wider Kairos network. This group is from another Harrogate church. They want to do ‘a new thing’ with Kairos, but remain in good relationship with their own church. Thus they are finding missional accountability, supervision and support from Kairos, and pastoral support and encouragement from their ‘sending’ church. They are now working out a vision for a particular geographical area.

Elpis is a new MSC serving in elderly people’s homes and aiming – among other things – to develop discipleship cells. It may not be the most glamorous mission field but promises to be very fruitful, with an ageing population both locally and nationally.

Going from traditional parish church to network church is not a much-travelled journey for many churches; there is still a sense of going into uncharted territory. We take inspiration from the journey of God’s people after the Exodus, especially Numbers 9:23: ‘At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out.’ This is what I continually encourage the community of Kairos to do: live and move at the Lord’s command.

There is a lot of muddle, we sometimes don’t know what to do, and we often fall back into old ways. We aren’t anything like perfect at this – but we are learning, and enjoying the adventure.

 Mark Carey leads Kairos  with his wife Penny  Learn more about Kairos at  www.kairoschurch.net

Share your two-minute Mission Moment

GOD’S mission is at work in your life. Why not share your story with the rest of the Church? Anglicans from around the Communion are being invited to make a two-minute video for the Mission Moments website to explain how God is working where you are.

This is the latest-and most interactive-element in the Anglican Church of Canada's promotion of the Marks of Mission, five priorities used throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion.

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize, and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Stories don't have to explicitly reference the Marks of Mission.  They can be general or specific stories of how God's mission is at work in your life.  Already the site is hosting videos made by people across the Anglican Church of Canada. An intern from the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund talks about how God has guided her in her life choices. A young priest in Montreal explains what ministry looks like in a shopping mall. A bishop shares what it was like to find God among some especially generous children.

This Mission Moments website is one way Canadian Anglicans can learn about the Marks of Mission.

Explore Mission Moments and record yours now at http://www.missionmoments.anglican.ca/

Further free resources from the Sheffield Centre

TSC Research Bulletin

THE Sheffield Centre Research Bulletin has been created with the purpose of both giving people a flavour of what we are discovering in our research, and tackling a particular issue all together. We produce this twice a year, Winter and Summer.

Recent topics include:

  • Summer 2011 - larger churches and fresh expressions
  • Winter 2010/11 - models of engagement
  • Summer 2010 - transitions: so far, but no further?
  • Winter 2009/10 - seven sacred spaces
  • Summer 2009 - mission among vulnerable people

Tomorrow’s Evangelism

Tomorrow’s evangelism is a research bulletin exploring contemporary culture as the context for mission, using social analysis and lessons drawn from the experience of Christian mission.

This bulletin provides updates on research in evangelism within a post-Christian culture carried out by Steve Hollinghurst, and comes out twice a year. Also see Steve   Hollinghurst's  blog www.onearthasinheaven.blogspot.com, which offers updates between larger writing projects.

The first two issues were released Spring and Autumn 2011.  

To be added to our mailing list for both bulletins, please contact Laurence Keith at ask@sheffieldcentre.org.uk.

Evangelism and Mission among the Sakalava Menabe,   Morondava area, Madagascar

Isaiah 42:10 says “Sing to the Lord a new song… You Islands and all who live in them.”

MADAGASCAR, the fourth largest Island in the world with a population of about 20 million, is home to the Sakalava Menabe people, situated on the south-western coast. The Anglican Church of Nigeria, through the Diocese of the Niger Delta North, partnered with the Diocese of Antananarivo, Madagascar to mobilize a church planting movement among the Sakalava Menabe from 2006 – 2011. The Sakalava Menabe people are lovely and enjoy communal life as opposed to individualism. We enjoyed our stay and mission among them.

Our mission was very clear from Bishop Remi Rabenirina ‘come and help us plant churches in Morondava Area’. So, upon arrival in April 2006, we met two Anglican churches in Ankisirasira and Ankilivalo. Mahabo church was planted on July 2, 2006; Tsimahavao Church,  planted on January 28, 2007; Bemahasoa  Church planted on July 1, 2007 - the first church in this village; Tanandava/Benjamino church;  planted on December 30, 2007 - the first church in this village; Mangily Church,  planted on July 27, 2008 - this has reproduced itself this year in a location a few kilometers away; Befotaka Church, planted on September 14, 2008; Miandrivazo Church,  planted on October 11, 2009 - this has reproduced itself in Andolobe about 2 kilometers away; Analaiva Church,  planted on September 18, 2011. 

In planting churches we followed some specific procedures such as the following:

Visit the Place - With the team on ground mobilized and sensitized on how to go about church planting, we visit the place to see the reality on ground after prayers. We make enquiries from the inhabitants about the area and the people’s response to the word of God. During this process, we first of all visit the Chief/President of the community and interact with him, informing him of our mission in the land. He officially agrees with us before we do anything and he decides whether to continue our mission or not. Then, he mobilizes the people to respond to us.

Fellowship Centre - The next stage is to start up a house fellowship after participating in house to house evangelism. In some cases we conduct a free medical treatment with a doctor for the benefit of the community. The chief assists us to locate a fellowship centre where we meet once a week for Bible study. 

Officially Opening of the Church - At this point, with the residence in the place, we organize an evangelical service for two to three days and the last Sunday becomes the official opening and the first Sunday  worship. After the official opening, we assign an evangelist or a catechist to supervise them. We start the Sunday service in a classroom, the community hall or under a tree. As time goes on we either buy  land or the community gives us some where we construct a place of worship.  

Assimilation Process - Then, we start preparing them for baptism and confirmation with order outlined by Bishop Todd McGregor – in Reproducing Christian Leaders in the context of the African Reproductive Cycle. The Zealous ones can become  lay leaders while others goes for Evangelist training.

We forever remain grateful to God for giving the grace to work in his vineyard and, amongst others, to my Archbishop, Most Rev. Ignatius C.O. Kattey, the Archbishop of Niger Delta Province & Bishop of Niger Delta North Diocese of Nigeria for giving us a maximum support for the period under review.  The work was not without any challenges. The language barrier, the health hazards, the natural disasters like cyclone etc. But, God gave us victory in the midst of them according to His promises in the scriptures. He will be with till the end of the age - Matthews 28:20.

Rev. Canon Kingsley Ogbonda

CMS Stories from Chile, India and  Burundi

Thousands hear gospel from Chile’s “new generation”

THOUSANDS of people in Chile heard the gospel during the country’s bicentenary celebrations, thanks to CMS Latin partner Cristobal Ceron in Santiago. “[We felt it was a perfect time] for one of the biggest national mission outreaches this country has seen,” said Cristobal, who leads MOU (urban youth outreach).

More than 2,100 young Christians from 21 cities across Chile donned yellow shirts “to represent the light of Christ” and went out on the streets to proclaim the love of Jesus.

“Our motto was ‘for the renewal of passion’ because we long to see people brought to a full, real passion for Christ and because we want the church to remember what Christ did for her,” said Cristobal, adding, “Both aims were achieved by God’s grace—the church grew in number and in passion. It was an enormous blessing to see the new generation taking seriously the call of Jesus.”

Through seven years of running MOU, Cristobal has seen several young Chilean pastors and church planters raised up. A pastor and ministry training leader, Cristobal is also working to plant a church for students in the centre of Santiago, where the student population is about 230,000.

Thousands of Indians reborn in Jesus

A CMS partner in India, Bihar Out-Reach Network (BORN) is giving thanks for 30 new churches planted in the summer months. More than 1,000 people have decided to follow Jesus and a further 3,000 people have heard the gospel across 132 villages.

To nurture these new Christ-followers, BORN has published discipleship materials and runs teaching courses. CMS has supported BORN with grants for the training of church leaders in this large North India state where Christianity is growing significantly. In the last 15 years, BORN has planted more than 5,000 churches.

Burundi Christians trained to make disciples

“I have been a Christian for 20 years, but I never understood in depth what it is to be a Christian until now.” These were the words of Harerimana Jean, one of ten new teachers recently given theological training to train others in Burundi, thanks in part to a grant from CMS.

Harerimana and the other tutors will be passing on what they have learned to other Christians in the Buye diocese. Stability is a big need for Christians in Burundi, according to Rev Amos Mutezimana, who coordinates theological education by extension (TEE) for the diocese, and it has been shown that those who receive discipleship or theological education are more likely to remain firm in their faith.

There are currently 31 centres in Buye where Burundi Christians can go for theological learning and it is expected that each of these ten new teachers will preside over a new centre. “I am committed to sharing what I now know with my fellow local Christians,” said Harerimana.

This grant also provided for 90 goats to be purchased for three associations of TEE students in order to increase their income.

Use Your Initiative

The Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative now has more than 300 registered members based in at least forty different countries. We also have over two hundred friends in our Facebook group.  The majority of the facebook friends are not registered members, so we are confident that we are in touch with more than 400 different people around the Anglican Communion; 400 people with different stories to tell from being involved in evangelism and church growth within their different contexts; 400 people that we can learn from and share with.

The Initiative is you, the members and friends, so we encourage you to use the Initiative as a way of keeping in touch, supporting and encouraging each other.  You can:

Join by registering - if you have not already done so, the online form is available on http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi — we will inform the core group person responsible for your  region about you and make sure you are sent this newsletter six times a year

Become a facebook friend – once you have joined facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/anglicanwitness/  the facebook page provides an interactive forum so that you can share stories, prayer requests, resources and questions with each other

Explore the website – at www.aco.org/ministry/mission/ecgi  you will find back copies of the newsletter, lists of evangelism resources and various resources that others have produced to help with their work;

Encourage others – who are involved in evangelism and church growth to register, join the facebook page and explore the website

Share your stories – so that we can include these within the newsletter; stories of how God is working through your church or organisation to grow his church; stories to encourage others; stories so that we can learn from your experience.  Stories (300—700 words) and photos to be arrive by 1 March for the April edition; articles for the thematic June edition on children and young people, by 1 May 2012

Tell us  - about resources: books; websites; courses, good practice; prayers, forthcoming events etc that we can include in future newsletters or on the website

Post – stories, helpful web-links, resources, prayer requests, questions, information etc on the Facebook page

Translate  - this newsletter, and other material, into the languages of  those who cannot read in English; at this stage we do not have the resources to do this ourselves

Pray - for the work featured in the newsletters and Facebook page and give thanks for God’s faithfulness

The Mission Department 
Anglican Communion Office
St Andrew’s House
16 Tavistock Crescent
Westbourne Park
London W11 1AP, UK