Mission - ECGI - Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative

Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative – ECGI Newsletter – June 2012

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

The Evangelism & Church Growth Initiative Newsletter

The June 2012 edition of Witness6.7 focuses on work with children and young people.  It features a diverse collection of articles and material from Africa, Australia, Brazil, England, New Zealand, Pakistan, the United States and West Malaysia.

Children and Young People

As a child in the 1970’s from a family who didn’t go to church, Christians got my attention. They were kind, their activities were fun and I learned about God. It stood out that they cared about me. When I was with Christians I experienced more warmth, understanding, hope and joy than anywhere else. I was drawn into God’s love.

How does God make himself known to children and young people, turning them into Christian disciples? In this issue of Witness 6.7 you will read about how Anglicans are still drawing young people to God; bringing hope and light, creating    loving community and making a practical difference. A church in New Zealand is forced to reconsider it’s ministry after a massive natural disaster and Messy Church blossoms. Discipleship resources are developed for African children. The churches respond to physical and emotional needs of young people in Brazil and Pakistan.

Articles from the US and West Malaysia remind us that ministry to children and youth is vital for our churches; most Christians decided to follow Jesus when they were young. When we work hard to sustain and grow our outreach to children and youth we are giving every new generation the same opportunity.

Children are part of a wider family. When we minister to children, their family members can be welcomed and begin to share in our community. Programs like playgroup and Messy Church encourage participation by all family members and whole families can be impacted by God’s love.

In each area and country, the way we work with children and youth will be different, and we can learn from each other’s situation, but the important thing is to keep children and young people as a clear and strategic focus of our outreach activities. We need to value and encourage those who keep working at this important ministry and help provide more resources to extend our outreach to children and young people.

In conclusion would you take a moment with me to pray? Let’s thank God for all those who work to share about Jesus with children and young people. May God increase their passion and give them great strength and wisdom. and may our churches increasingly open doors, arms and hearts to those who are young and their families.

Judy Douglas – Church Army Australia

The'4/14ers' - A Window of Opportunity

A number of churches around the world have recognized the significance of young people between the ages of 4 and 14 for Christian witness. In this article Dan Brewster of Compassion International introduces the concept of the “4-14 window”

Introduction

The future of individuals and nations are shaped in a crucial 10-year period between the ages of 4 and 14.  Dr. Luis Bush who coined the term “10/40 Window,” and others are calling this the 4/14 Window – Window of Opportunity. Healthy physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual growth is either established or stunted during that crucial decade.

Up to 85% of people in all cultures who make decisions to follow Christ will do so during that 4/14 Window of opportunity, while they are still young and their hearts are more open to   respond. Indeed, in the US, only 6% make such a decision after the age of 19. (George Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. {Ventura, Ca. Regal Books, 2003})

While this window of receptivity has always been there, children and young people have not featured prominently in church ministry and mission  strategies. Fortunately that is now changing.  There is a new movement across the world to reach and   transform this important age group, and mobilize them so that they themselves can be agents of transformation throughout the world.  The vision is to maximize their transformational impact while they are young, and  mobilize them for continuing impact for the rest of their lives. Such a vision requires strategic global thinking and action to creatively deploy this generation.

The Church Must Care About the 4/14ers Because God Surely Does!

Some Christian leaders think the   Bible says very little about children.  However, as they begin to read    Scriptures with “the child in the midst,” they are seeing that children are not just present but prominent in Scripture. Indeed, there are more than 1500 references to children and childhood. Very often children and youth are found playing important – even crucial - roles in the outworking of God’s plans.

Children are both agents and resources in God’s kingdom. God often used children to accomplish His special tasks.  Whether it is the young boy who parted with his lunch of 5 barley loaves and 2 small fishes (John 6:9) or Naaman’s servant girl who pointed his master to the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 5:1-3), God uses  children to accomplish His divine  purposes in significant ways.

Children are signs of the kingdom.  They are at the very heart of what the Scriptures have to say about the Kingdom, about the Church and about Mission. God used a tiny baby as of “sign” of His incarnation and “a little child will lead” in the Messianic kingdom (Isaiah 11:6).  God has   chosen the “foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:27).  Should it surprise us at all then that God should instruct adults to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8)?

Perhaps nothing upset Jesus more than “hindering” the children (Matthew 18:5, 6). Genesis 21: 17 – 20 says that God heard the boy Ishmael crying, and we can be sure that He is still hearing the children crying today.

There are Many Real-World Strategic Reasons to Give Attention to The 4/14ers.

4/14ers are effective agents for Mission.  In Scripture and in practice we see that 4/14ers have great capacity to understand the faith, and great courage and effectiveness as they share their faith.  Moreover, the 4/14ers thrive on challenges.  They love opportunities to gain skills and to prove themselves.  Generally they respond with energy and enthusiasm when provided with opportunities to test their abilities.

Dr. Bambang Budijanto notes, children and youth represent an enormous untapped pool of influencers with sensitivity to the voice of God and willingness to do His bidding. God can and does use children and young people—their prayers, their insights, their hands, and their feet—in changing the hearts of humankind. They represent ‘clean energy’ to transform the world. (Bambang Budijanto, “Children, The ‘New’ Energy for 21st Century Mission. Edinburgh 2010 – Study Theme 5.” 2009. {Unpublished Mss.})

Reaching the 4/14ers and deploying them as a potent force for transformation may be the single greatest challenge and opportunity for the Church in the coming decade.  Churches must approach this, not as a new fad or diversion from other worthwhile training, but as the best way to achieve what they have      already set out to do – equip the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

Dan Brewster of Compassion International

A Messy Church in Messy Christchurch, New Zealand

With the loss of most of our plant in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, we needed to find new ways of being church together as a praying community and within our wider community of St Albans, Christchurch.  By February, 2011, we were down to the Parish Lounge and the kitchen.  With no working toilets, all of our community outreach groups; music and play, Japanese preschool groups, Saturday matinee movies and music classes for our neighbouring primary school were shifted to other locations or cancelled.  Suddenly an outward focussed Parish was left with a portaloo (portable toilet) and permission to meet only on Sundays!  It was a challenging time (and still is), but we’ve also been forced to look at mission in new ways and ask ourselves questions about what it really means to be church.

We started thinking and praying about ways to connect with those around us in new ways.  As we began to visit our local businesses, the school and houses in our area, we realized that people really wanted the opportunity to connect with each other after the quakes.  There was so much uncertainty and fear in our area, and talking to others was encouraging!

Early on, one of our parishioners became a drop off point for bread from a local supermarket.  This bread was donated for distribution to households that had been affected by the quakes. So we began to take boxes to our primary school for the children and families there.  Our vicar and others spent time with the school principal finding out how we could help. We were no longer able to host the school’s music classes and performances but instead, over time, a small team worked to develop a ‘reading buddy’ programme where parishioners started going in to the school to read with different children every day.

We also decided to start ‘Messy Church’, a Fresh Expression of church, intergenerational and aimed at connecting with those on the ‘messy edges’ of our community.  With a small core team, lots of enthusiasm and a commitment to praying for God’s help, we began.  We talked and prayed with our own Parish, inviting them to partner with us as we reached out to our area of Christchurch.  Our first Messy Churches were messy!  We were learning, making mistakes, journeying together and having lots of fun. We quickly realized that we needed a dedicated clean up team to help after the crafts, games and meal!

We challenged our church community to invite people along.  Slowly folk from outside the church have started to get involved.  It’s exciting, not just to see new people come in to hear about God, work on crafts, share a meal and have fun together, but also to see the growth and passion within the team.  We have people of all ages who serve together, share, talk and connect.  One of the many blessings we experience is that even those who come for the first time often want to help out.  The conversations that happen around the craft tables, as we drink delicious coffee, or during tea time, are key as we build relationships and get to know people better. The time of worship is a wonderful celebration of all that God’s doing in our lives.

Although it’s been tough to be a broken and messy church in Christchurch, it’s also been a time of partnering with God as we reach out to others with bread, relationships and Jesus!

Julie Hintz St Matthew’s, Christchurch, New Zealand

Child Friendly Church Award

Liverpool is the only Cathedral in England to have been given a Child Friendly Church award, in recognition of its work in welcoming children and families (more details about the award and its criteria can be found at http://www.liverpool.anglican.org/cfca). The award is only given after a place of worship shows it is able to meet a strict set of criteria that encompasses both practical and missional elements. Sue Mitchell designs and delivers all-age worship activities for families visiting Liverpool Cathedral providing activities during non-term times, weekends, and to celebrate special events or initiatives such as National Families Week. All activities are based on spiritual themes, and Sue ensures that they are relevant to the time of year, or linked with events already happening locally, nationally, or in the Cathedral itself.

Recent activities have included a spiritual trail featuring prayer and craft stations, based on themes such as ‘get in close’, ‘focus’ and ‘light,’ all of which were designed to co-ordinate with a recent photography exhibition. When the Cathedral celebrated Harvest, activities were designed based on exploring the ‘fruit of the spirit’. February 13th -17th also saw ‘Who do you Love?’ which was tied in with Valentine’s Day and encouraged families to think about the different things they love, – God, family, friends and even football teams and pets. All of the themes were suggested by local primary school pupils.

The activities are not just about providing children with ‘something to do’, or ‘keeping them occupied’ whilst the adults take a look around or spend some quiet time. They are about engaging the whole family, together and prayerfully, in their  surroundings, and making them feel comfortable whilst they are there, so that they will come back. Using  current events as a starting point, all of the activities are carefully designed to explore spiritual themes which encourage prayer and quality time together for families.

Working closely with the Canon for Mission and Evangelism, and with the Education Officer, many of Sue’s free activities are integrated with those offered by the Education team. “We will create activities on the same theme that can be taken in one direction with schools and in another direction with families in their leisure time,” adds Sue. “We promote each other really.”

Many children, after first encountering the Cathedral on a school trip, are then told what is on offer, and invited to return with their families. Sue then goes to work, trying to make sure that their experience out of school hours is just as welcoming, just as accessible and just as educational.  This can then translate into regular visits, and attendance at services or other worship events.” The cathedral offers ‘Easter Eggsperience’ alongside Merseyside Police and local organisations, which aims to engage with the community during the Easter break.

The Cathedral often gets good  feedback from adults surprised that such activities are on offer in a place of worship which they consider to be very formal. “More grandparents are looking after grandchildren whilst their parents work, and they often come to the Cathedral. Many come because of its history and to teach their grandchildren about Liverpool, but say it is a nice surprise to see free activities which  enhance their visit and make their grandchildren feel really involved.”

Zone 2, cafe-style worship, takes place each Sunday at the cathedral and provides church in an informal way for people of all ages, whether they have children or not. It is interactive and a comfortable way in to church for many people, especially those who would find it difficult to bring children to a formal service. Gill adds “We project the service onto a big screen, sing, and have snacks. We sit at circular tables and it is very informal, lively worship. We also have creative prayer stations, things to make and do, time to reflect, and a monthly communion. We are growing, which is very encouraging.”

Linda Jones, Senior, Officer for Church Growth, Liverpool Diocese

Discipleship Resources for Children in Africa : Rooted in Jesus Junior

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22.6

Rooted in Jesus is a practical discipleship programme for adults first developed for use in Tanzania, and now in use in 42 dioceses/denominations in 14 African countries (see Witness6.7 December 2011, or visit www.rootedinjesus.net ). Responding to the need for similar material for young people, who in many African countries constitute a high proportion of the total population, we have now developed a Junior version for use with children and young people aged 8-16.

Rooted in Jesus Junior is based on the first two books of the adult course and is designed to be used in Sunday Schools or confirmation classes; it is already being used in schools and orphanages as well. Each lesson includes simple interactive activities using commonly available materials, and the only additional resource required is a Bible.

Initial feedback from the Junior programme is encouraging. Pastors report that the number of children in their churches is increasing, that children are becoming Christians,that children are beginning to minister actively to others. Sunday School teachers report that the programme is strengthening their own faith, that they can’t stop the children praying, that their work with children has been transformed. Parents have said that they see their children changing, and that now they are being taught the Christian faith “just as the Muslim children are taught in the madrassahs.”

Canon James Almasi and Revd Carlos Marcus, Diocese of Masasi, Tanzania write: “Rooted in Jesus has transformed our work with children; it is changing our church; teachers and children are enthusiastic for Jesus. It has taught us how to support and help our children grow in the Christian faith. Children do not miss Sunday School now. We are helping children really grow in their faith. This is a new experience for us and it is good for us. Rooted in Jesus has given us a curriculum.”

Jonathan Rendall, ex head teacher and diocesan schools adviser and now the coordinator for the Junior programme, writes: Rooted in Jesus Junior continues the high standard of writing, content, progression and cultural appropriateness inherited from the adult course, and provides a tool to use in the Christian education and discipleship of children. It became very clear that the trial of Rooted in Jesus Junior had had a significant impact on the learning, on the prayer, on the enthusiasm of children for Jesus, in their faith and for church, and thus in the numbers of children attending church in both the parishes. The teachers spoke clearly of the impact of Junior in their own Christian lives, in their Bible reading, in the teamwork as teachers and in the teaching itself with the children. Parents too had expressed their delight in having Junior as a part of the work of the parish.”

Edited by Alison Morgan, working with Nicky Plumbley (UK) and Lauren Wicks (South Africa), Rooted in Jesus Junior was piloted in the    Diocese of Masasi, Tanzania, and in the Quality Discipleship  network of churches in Uganda. Like the full course, Rooted in Jesus    Junior is published by ReSource and introduced through a training   conference run by experienced teachers and ministers who offer a combination of spiritual guidance and practical training. For more information visit www.rootedinjesus.net/Junior.

Revd Dr Alison Morgan,  ReSource, UK, April 2012.

Making a Splash in Brazil

Since July 2011, Ali Young, an associate mission partner with CMS Britain, has lived and work in Recife, Brazil working mainly with children ranging from 4-16 years. She lives and worships based in one of the favela, co-leading the pre-teens small group, where the kids are growing and changing not just physically but spiritually too. Through her church she is also involved with work with street kids ranging from newborn to 18 years old. Their stories are harrowing, challenging and difficult to understand, but they help the best they can and show the love of God!

Her main work is with a Christian social project (Vale do Senhor) in a town called Dois Unidos (a suburb of Recife) for children of the community; Ali is trained as a children’s nurse, but teaches craft and swimming at the project. All the children who enter the project have very difficult living conditions/lives in general. Describing how this project puts Jesus’ love into action, she writes -

“The kids at Vale are awesome! They always arrive at the project with huge smiles and big hugs! You wouldn’t    believe that all of them have such difficult lives and living conditions. Many have been badly treated, some sexually and are beaten regularly. Many live with grandparents or other relatives, as parents are in prison, drug addicts or prostitutes. We’ve had families where the mum has sold everything, right down to the toilet, to feed her crack cocaine habit.

I think it’s really important they learn to swim and have a respect for water, as drowning is one of the highest causes of child deaths in Brazil. Initially there were many screams of fear. These have now been replaced by screams of delight and excitement; especially when they are managing to swim, with or without floats, or dive; it’s a real confidence booster for them. I’m used as a diving board, climbing frame and large float!”

The children are fed at the project, but not just physically; they are also fed spiritually.

Ali Young, Recife, Brazil

Outreach through Sports

The Youth Desk of Peshawar Diocese in partnership with Pakistan Sports Coalition organized a ‘Youth Sports Camp’ on 23 – 27 August 2011, at the NCCP Camp Centre, Khanspur (Ayubia). The National Sports Coalition is comprised of various parachurch organizations in Pakistan. About 50 young people from different parishes of the Diocese participated in this camp. Mr Insar Gohar, the Youth Officer of Peshawar Diocese led the Bible study sessions during the camp on “Our Identity, as Christians & Our Christian Character”. He quoted the reference (1-Peter 2:9-12) about Christian Identity. “Sports is a healthy activity to overcome various kinds of temptations and promotes positive attitudes.” He said. Another session on “Youth Ministry” was led by Mr Kamran Younis (President) and Ms Sarah Asghar (Vice President) Youth Council, who taught about interesting ways and methods of the Bible study.

The facilitators from National Sports Coalition Mr Zahid Johnson and Mr Imran Tariq during various sessions and activities taught “how to relate the Bible with Sports”, and “How to witness through Sports.” The participants were divided into six groups, and different tasks and activities were assigned to them. All the sessions were activity-based and were much enjoyed by the participants. During various sports activities the facilitators also gave moral lessons and talked about Sportsmanship. This Sports Camp also developed a motivation among the youth “To Reach, the Unreached Youth through Sports”. In the concluding session, various groups presented proposals and future plans for their respective parishes.

Extract from the Diocese of Peshawar, Pakistan, Youth Newsletter

Why Target Children's Ministry?

It is a time when kingdom priorities are made evident: ‘…and a little child will lead them.’ Isaiah 11:6.

The first seven years [of life] constitute the period for laying the foundations of religion. This is the most important period in the whole of a person's life in determining his later religious attitudes. R. S. Lee, author of ‘Your Growing Children and Religion.’

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Taking Proverbs 22:6, we are commissioned and entrusted by God to train the next generation. I dream of a day when every child is not only given the gospel, but shown how it applies to his or her daily life in such a way that it is relevant and meaningful.

Secondly, every child has God given talent. Some of them don’t see it and we need to help them discover it and teach them to allow God to work through those gifts and talents and make their dreams become a reality in their lives.

Thirdly, Children’s ministry is the foundation for any church growth. How a congregation responds to their littlest member is indicative of its overall growth and health. Children’s ministry sees children as belonging to Jesus. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16) Jesus looks beyond size, behaviour, maturity and mistakes. This is called “grace”. Truly, how amazing!

Fourthly, Children’s ministry teaches children about their Saviour and their faith. It gives them both facts and experiences that will help them to follow Jesus faithfully. When Children’s ministry becomes part of the churches’ activity, it helps to validate the importance of children within the church. As a result, children feel welcomed and loved at church. When they grow up, they become dedicated leaders.

To see that this becomes a reality, the Diocese of West Malaysia, Children’s Ministry not only has activities for the children Sunday after Sunday but encourages children’s participation in the main church services and creates avenues for children’s talents and gifts to be tapped into. It also sees that the teachers are trained, equipped, encouraged, given new ideas and resources through seminars and workshops. Teaching and student materials are written, printed and made available.

Teacher’s training is conducted in churches at archdeaconry level as well as at diocesan level. Singing and choir competitions help teachers and children to work together in search of the talents that children have. It is first done on a regional level and the winners are brought together for the finals on a Diocesan level. Attractive gifts are given to encourage them further.

Deaconess Ruth Ong, Chairperson, Diocesan Children's Ministry, Diocese of West Malaysia

Young People in Mission

The Anglican Communion report Holistic Mission, a survey of mission around the Communion, (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/resources/documents/holistic_mission.pdf produced in time for the 2008 Lambeth Conference) included a couple of paragraphs about mission and evangelism in the of context young people. As well as various examples of outreach to young people there were also stories of young people doing mission.

From Central Africa there were examples of the evangelistic role of youth choirs. From Australia and England there were examples of young people being involved in mission during GAP year programmes (a term used for mission experiences in the gap, before or after further education, or sometimes in the gap between different jobs).

Not surprisingly, often the best people to reach young people will be young people themselves and these stories build upon the fact that we are most likely to be reached, with the gospel, by someone like us, or of a similar age to us.

It also reflects the fact that young people have energy and enthusiasm and also don’t have the same inhibitions about speaking about their faith that we often develop as we grow older. Many young people are also far more comfortable getting on with being involved in God’s mission , rather than sitting down learning about it!

Mission Department, ACO

 

Use Your Initiative

The Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative now has more than 340 registered participants based in at least forty different countries. We also have over five hundred friends in our Facebook group. The majority of the facebook friends are not registered, so we are confident that we are in touch with between 650 and 700   different participants around the Anglican Communion; 650 - 700 people with different stories to tell from being involved in evangelism and church growth within their different contexts; 650 - 700 participants that we can learn from and share with.

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

Participate 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 arrive a month before the publication date to stuart.buchanan@anglicancommunion.org

FUTURE editions of Witness6.7 will all be thematic.

  • August - CHURCH PLANTING
  • October - PRAYER & SPIRITUAL FORMATION
  • December - HOSPITALITY

2013

  • February - UNREACHED AND UNENGAGED PEOPLES
  • April - THE CHANGING CULTURE OF CHURCH
  • June - LEADERSHIP

Send articles for the August 2012  edition on Church Planting  by 1 July 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

john.kafwanka@anglicancommunion.org
stuart.buchanan@anglicancommunion.org