If you are in the Central Belt, (or even further north!), maybe you might like to gather with me and others across denominations as we seek God for his empowering, his strategy and his presence as we prepare our churches for welcoming more and more children and their whole families into the Christian faith.
If you know me or have been following this blog for some time, you will know that I cannot separate children and teenagers from their families. I have been reading and researching the first four centuries of church growth as preparation for the chapter on children and families in the New Testament in the book I am writing.
I have re-discovered much that is making my heart beat faster, my faith levels increase and an increasing, "awakes me at night" deep hunger for the good news to spill out into the community. Like an infectious disease, (!) my plan was simply to facilitate a time for others to catch it too by drawing folks together to worship and pray. I'll teach a little bit on what I see in the Bible that underpins and highlights the rapid transferral of a life-changing belief in the person of Jesus from one person to another through the extended family and social networks of the day - sociologists like Rodney Stark have concrete evidence for a 40% growth rate every decade from the time of Jesus resurrection to the end of the fourth century. Close study of actual death records in Egypt over one time period showed this growth rate to be modest - it was in fact far higher than this for the one specific area records existed for.
The reasons for this rapid spread of Christianity are varied and complex but there is consensus that the different way of life (witness) of the changing family had such an impact that people WANTED to re-orientate their lives towards Jesus - babies were born without the fear of exposure/infanticide, women were treated well and grew in their own giftings and leadership; marriage was honoured, slaves were treated well, families grew and thrived. In short - people were attracted to what they saw in the lives of Christians. Wow.Wow. Wow.....oh Father, how we want to see more of that in our time!
So this evening of prayer, worship, teaching and preparation to go and love and serve is on Monday 26 September at 7.30pm. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information.
At the moment I am serving on the ministry team of an ILSOM (International Leaders School of Ministry) and have been reminded by the internationally-travelled speakers of the incredible growth of the church in South America, Africa, China, Indonesia, Korea....in short - in every continent bar ours and North America......
But something is stirring. Hunger is rising. A month ago, 15,000 young adults gathered for a conference in Chicago - Jesus Culture Awakening. I was privileged to watch a lot of the talks live and I urge you to listen to them - they blew me away.. You can find out about them here
I do believe that hunger is stirring in our nation too - to get "out there", to love and serve local communities, to love our cities, towns and villages. There is a rising dissatisfaction I have observed with just "doing church". Yet we mustn't rush ahead without spending time with the Father to just rest and listen; to hear his strategies and plans, just receiving from him because we're simply his beloved! Its hard enough to get out there without crashing and burning(interestingly I read this today and I wholeheartedly agree with Mike Breen's (initially tough-sounding) post.
And so the plan for Monday 26 Sept is that we too will gather to ask the Lord to enlarge our hearts to love the ones who are in front of us, maybe even related to us (!) and to believe that once more God can change a nation by impacting one who impacts another who then impacts another. We need the fuel and fire that comes from sitting at the Father's feet and drinking in the Holy Spirit's power and plans rather than relying on our own strategies and thoughts.