Church Planting is the proving context for what works in evangelism!
Having been called to church planting a long time ago, Bob & Mary quickly found that it was the acid test of evangelism effectiveness. As a pioneering church planting team you either crack the issues of what makes for effective evangelism in your context … or you stay rather on your own. And your failure to breakthrough and add new people to your team is ever before you as a constant challenge in a way that doesn’t happen in ongoing church life with the distraction of all its internal programs.
Trawling to find and understand effective evangelism strategies for more than two decades
So as we have been involved in working with all sorts of church planting for over 25 years, throughout that time we have been constantly searching for what is not just the latest idea or hot program of evangelism but the underlying principles that enabled application and adaptation to mission strategy in any context. And by strategic principles we distinguish these from excellent principles of personal evangelism which help all of us to be more confident in our own story as a tool in evangelism and confident in the multi-facetted jewel of the Gospel to connect to any individual or any culture.
An eight-sided framework to make strategic sense of it all
Over the years we started to build up a framework of inter-related core principles of evangelism strategy. First there seemed to be four and they clearly related to one another so that we started to arrange them around a square. Then gradually we came across more principles from other evangelists, practitioners and authors, until we had eight and they arranged neatly round an OCTAGON shape. Not only that, they relate together in four pairs which makes them much easier to understand and remember. And what helps even more is that they all start with the letter “P”!
As part of Mike Breen’s senior leadership team at St Thomas, Sheffield, we offered these principles as the last of the Lifeshapes and Mike has slightly adapted them and made them his own in his books The Passionate Life and Creating a Discipleship Culture.
The two givens and the eight P’s
Now clearly as given starting points we need to understand that people are on a journey and on that journey personal relationships are the key resource that God uses to draw and support folk … all of us are on our accompanied journey. Of the eight principles then that follow and all start with “P”, there are three principles that relate to the different types of relationship – “People of Peace”; Passing people and Permanent people. Then building on these insights there needs to be understanding of five processes involved. These range from Perception or loving discernment, to Proclamation or the words we share, to Presence or the life we lead, then to Power and to Preparation.
Discover them all in the book we have written
These principles have also been incorporated into the Fresh Expressions mission shaped ministry training course (msm) in the double unit B07 and B08 (for those that undertake this excellent practical training). But if you want to explore the full exposition of these insights that have transformed many individuals’ and churches’ understanding and practice of evangelism, why not get the book in which we have written this up in full and included all sorts of illustrative stories. It is entitled as you might expect…