Evangelism and Mission

One day Jesus was having dinner at the home of one of the top Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day). As always, there was some lively and interesting conversation around the dinner table. Near the end of this meal, this happened ... Luke 14:12-14. Jesus turned to the host. "The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You'll be — and experience — a blessing. They won't be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned — oh, how it... Read more →

ANZAC Day Tomorrow is ANZAC Day, a day when Australians and New Zealanders remember the beginning of World War I. This was Australia’s first major military encounter as a nation with the wider world as we joined Britain’s fight against Germany. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the ANZACs landing at the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. This was supposed to be a quick knock-out battle but the wildness of the terrain and the fierce resistance of the Turkish defenders led to a stalemate campaign that dragged on for 8 months. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. ANZAC Day evokes mixed and strong emotions. Some people feel it glorifies war. Our last ANZAC, Alec Campbell, pleaded on... Read more →

The Gospel of Matthew tells us this about the ministry of Jesus: Matthew 9:35-37. Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a d shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. NLT Here are a few insights we can glean from Jesus' approach to ministry: Jesus made a... Read more →

There are four kinds of churches in the world today: The Museum Church. They are old and beautiful but empty (like the picture above). No one goes there. They are showpieces of past. Sadly, there is no spiritual vitality within their ancient walls. The Maintenance Church. These churches are a little better. They are almost empty ... but hanging on. Their mission is to survive, to maintain amidst the many drastic social changes. They refuse to change, members are dying off. Sadly, they too will soon become a Museum Church. The Ministry Church. These churches pursue Christian ministry to people within their walls. They have a full calendar of activities … Sunday worship (with free coffee and donuts), Bible studies,... Read more →

The apostle Paul worked hard to relate to a wide variety of people. Have a read of this from his letter to the church at Corinth in the first century: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose–living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized––whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ––but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet... Read more →

Paul at Athens The apostle Paul gives us an insightful example as to how to engage with our culture during his time in the pagan city of ancient Athens as recorded in Acts 17. He spent time in the synagogue, in the marketplace and then was invited to the Areopagus to engage with the philosophers there. These places can represent three different environments or spaces in our own world today. The first space is the synagogue, which is where Jews and God-fearing Greeks gathered (vs.16-17). These are people who believe in God and share a common language, experience and belief system. This space can refer to the church community today or to a Christian organisation. It is where we share... Read more →

We live in a rapidly changing culture that often seems at odds with the character of God's kingdom. Some Christians choose to reject the surrounding culture, escaping to live separate lives. Others seem to embrace the culture uncritically and end up no different than the world around them. Could it be that a better approach is to engage with the culture - to be in the world but not of it. The apostle Paul modelled this exceptionally well during his time in Athens, especially at Mars Hill - a place full of idols, altars and pagan philosophers. Where is your Mars Hill and how well are you engaging with it? That's what we'll be talking about this month at CityLife.... Read more →

Who would’ve thought that one photo could cause so much trouble? It wasn’t the first time I’d been criticized for my friendship and solidarity with the Muslim community, in fact I’d had some threats of violence when I spoke up about Halal certification but this one took it another level. Had I renounced the gospel? Sure, being friends with Muslims, but praying in a mosque? Did I even believe in Jesus anymore? The beard didn’t help any. Had I taken the instructions “love your neighbour as yourself” and “love your enemy” too literally? Too far? 1 John 3. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down... Read more →

I admire the many Christian mission workers around the world. Many of them work in some of the poorest, least evangelised and most persecuted countries in the world. Personally, I believe everyone should have a passport. We encourage everyone in our church to go on a short-term team to another nation sometime in their life time. It opens your eyes, enriches your faith, and makes you grateful for all we have been blessed with. Ever heard of 'first world problems'?? Here are a few quotes about travel that I love: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” St. Augustine “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” Aldous... Read more →

Here is a recently published book I'd like to recommend - Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians by Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw. From the back cover: Ever wonder why people fall asleep in church? It happens. We’ve all seen it. We shuffle into rows of seats that grow more comfortable with every new fundraising campaign. We slouch down and settle in for an hour or so, as singers and storytellers and preachers and teachers take their turns filling our ears. And almost without fail, at least one of us nods off while listening to the greatest story ever told. The church was not meant to be like this. The church was meant to be on its feet, in the... Read more →

In October 2013, my wife and I participated with a number of other church pastors in an Indigenous Awareness Trip, sponsored by the Concilia organisation. We began by flying from Melbourne to Alice Springs. It was my first visit to this iconic Australian town. It was not as big as I thought it would be - only 28,000 people. It was 41 degrees when we arrived - a very warm welcome. We began by visiting a number of the 20 Aboriginal camps around the town. Aboriginal people make up about 20% of the local population. We also visited some of the work of Mission Australia. Needless to say, it was quite confronting to see the challenges being faced by Indigenous... Read more →

Last weekend, as part of our Australians Together focus, we were privileged to host Max and Tracey Conlon at CityLife Church. They are indigenous Australian church leaders who founded Walkabout Ministry. They travel and minister to many of the isolated indigenous communities across our nation. Max was raised amongst 14 siblings in the Cherbourg Aboriginal settlement in south east Queensland and is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi/Kullali tribes. Max is an established artist and has been painting for 35 years. He has travelled extensively with exhibitions of his work in Dubai, Japan, Korea and a number of European cities. He has also exhibited extensively throughout the east coast of Australia, collaborating with his brother Robin (Goma) on murals and... Read more →

Mission is the activity of God himself. It has its source not in the church but in the very nature of God. Mission is not just an activity or a department of the church. It is an attribute or a character quality of God. God is a missionary God. [The word “mission” is not used in the Bible. It comes from the word “to send”, which in the Greek language is “missio”] 1. God the Father sent the Son into the world. Jesus was the first missionary. John 3:16-17. … God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 2. The Son sent the Spirit. John 16:7. “… It... Read more →

William Carey was one of the main instruments in God’s hand for the restoration of mission into the mainstream of Protestant Christianity through his writing, emphasis on prayer for world evangelisation and promotion of practical structures for mission. He was not the first to preach on missions, but he was the one used by God to lift the lid of the church preventing it overflowing to the world. He was preceded by great preachers and theologians such as Jonathan Edwards, and also a few significant missionaries like David Brainerd. The month of May 1792 was a pivotal time for church and world history. An impoverished pastor, named William Carey, in rural England was about to impact history. Carey preached a... Read more →

What Happened to Missions? D espite the clarity of Jesus' commission to his followers, we have seen a “marginalisation of mission” over the last 2,000 years. 1. Mission has been belittled in the church. Many Christians have inherited mindset in church that has almost excluded mission altogether or has pushed it to the sideline of what church is all about. For years, mission has had little importance to the average Christian. Our own needs are so great that we easily neglect the mission mandate, leaving it to the few “mission-heads” who feel the call. Mission’s reputation? Boring slide shows from the jungles of Africa. Unfortunately, for too long mission has not been seen as a priority for the church or... Read more →

The dominant theme of Jesus' last 40 days on earth was world evangelisation and included a Great Commission: Matthew 24:14. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. NIV Acts 1:8. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. NIV This is an incredible global mission given to 11 people! Minister locally in Jerusalem, their city (streets and neighbourhoods where they lived - local community). Minister nationally, in Judea (wider state areas and national borders). Minister to ethnic... Read more →

When in the USA recently, one of our church staff members visited two large, well-known churches. The facilities and church services were first class, but at both churches ... no one spoke to him. Sadly, this is all to commonplace today. Have we become high-tech and low-touch? Here is a great article by Will Mancini called Smiling is Not Enough: Top 10 Mistakes of Church Greeting Teams. The team at Auxano enjoys playing the role of “secret worshipper” when we take a church through our visioning process called the Vision Pathway. We call it a guest perspective evaluation. As I prepare to debrief a church again tomorrow, I want to share some general insights on welcoming ministry and hospitality for... Read more →

In about a week's time (17th March), Irish people all around the world will celebrate St. Patrick's day, which has become both a religious and cultural holiday in Ireland. St. Patrick is also highly esteemed highly by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Churches. Only two letters survive about Patrick's life and mission, although there is a host of other material containing various traditions about him. He was captured by a group of pirates as a 16 year old and taken to Ireland as a slave. He lived there for 6 years before escaping and returning home to Great Britain. During his captivity he had a conversion experience and became a follower of Christ. Eventually, he returned to Ireland... Read more →

During the month of November, many churches around the world set aside time to prayer for the persecuted church. Believers in countries such as Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Vietnam face violence, imprisonment and even death because of their faith in Jesus Christ. There are other places in the world such as North Korea where acts of persecution take place, but we don’t see or hear of it. Brother Andrew of Open Doors once said: 'Our heroes are not with us simply because they are in prison.' IDOP is a time set apart for us to remember thousands of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who suffer persecution, simply because they confess Jesus Christ as Lord.... Read more →

Many times it’s difficult to find practical ways to be a blessing in your workplace. Rapid pace, mounting deadlines, or co-worker conflict can often derail even the best of intentions to say and show the love of Jesus at work. Yet, it is important for us to know what it looks like to bring gospel intentionality to our jobs. Recently, Josh Reeves posted some very practical ideas for blessing others in the workplace. Hopefully this will help spark a few ideas for connecting with and blessing your coworkers. 1. Instead of eating lunch alone, intentionally eat with other co-workers and learn their story. 2. Get to work early so you can spend some time praying for your co-workers and the... Read more →

Olive Tree Media recently launched the results from their Australian Communities Report conducted by McCrindle Research to discover what Australians really think of Christian faith, Christians and the Church. Held in Sydney on 4th November, the research was launched by Archbishop Peter Jensen. Mark McCrindle, Principal of McCrindle Research presented the findings to 50 church leaders and business people. Click here to watch excerpts of the presentation and here to download a summary of the research results or purchase a copy of the full report. The Research was commissioned in preparation for a new Apologetics Series being produced by Olive Tree Media in 2012 which will tackle the issues arising from the research. Some interesting insights from the research include:... Read more →

Practicing Justice Let's take this first important matter that Jesus mentions: justice. How can we move from believing in justice to actually living it out in practice? It requires as to ACT and that involves three things: Awareness - Ignorance is not bliss. Sticking our head in the sand until the storm blows over is bot meant to be an option for us as Christ followers. Jesus has called us to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ (Matt.5:12-13) which both involve a proactive positive influence on our world. We now live in a global village and we need to have our eyes andears open to the needs and the cries of those who are hurting (see Prov.31:8-9). Abraham Heschel once said, "The... Read more →

Weightier Matters In the Pentateuch, there was as many as 613 different laws or commandments that God’s people were meant to keep - 248 affirmative commands and 365 negative commands. Debates and discussions often occurred as to which were the more important ones. One teacher of the law even asked Jesus this question: “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus selected two: “Love the Lord your God …” and “love your neighbour as yourself.” While not neglecting the others, Jesus made it clear that these are the two most important commands and that if a person does these two things, they essentially encapsulate the rest of God’s requirements for his people. Unfortunately, the Pharisees had focused on the minute details... Read more →

In Matthew 23, we have a record of Jesus’ strong condemnation of the religious leaders of his day, who had not led the people faithfully and who had become hypocritical and legalistic. Here is one of the seven “woe’s” he gave them: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law — justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things (NLT).” To Tithe or Not to Tithe The entire Israelite nation ran on a system of tithing, or of giving 10% of one’s income for... Read more →

Jesus’ dream was that his followers would be known by their love (Jn.13:34-35). Think of all the various qualities Jesus could have told us to be known for – truth, justice, holiness, or righteousness. All of these are very important, yet Jesus’ desire was that LOVE be the mark, measure and goal for his new community – the church. The apostle Paul picked up on this priority of love from Jesus. In a letter to church at Corinth he addressed various groups within the church that had developed a variety of priorities and pursuits (1 Cor.13:1-3). To those pursuing more spiritual experience, he said, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others,... Read more →

Have you ever done any street witnessing before? It’s definitely not an activity for the faint of heart! I was involved with some street teams many years ago and we had some good conversations with people. I really admire people who still engage in street evangelism or door-to-door witnessing today and I have heard some amazing stories of people coming to Christ this way. However, it is important that we not see this as the only means of evangelism. Otherwise, we can wrongly think that evangelism is only for the courageous people who are bold enough to start up conversations with strangers in public. Evangelism is intended to be a normal part of the everyday life of all followers of... Read more →

The God we serve is a sending God. God sent Jesus and then He sends us (John 20:21). We are a sent people. Mission is who we are not just what we do. It is part of our core identity ... even if we aren't sent very far. The incarnation of Jesus Christ (God taking on human form) informs us as to how we are sent on mission. AS the father sent the Son into the world SO Jesus sends us. Mission is about going out while incarnation is about going deep. Jesus is the best missionary that ever was ... so let's learn from him. Here are six principles of incarnational mission from the life of Jesus: 1. Presence.... Read more →

At last year's Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, one of the speakers was Christopher Wright. In a stirring address, Wright compared in detail the sate of the church today and the church in the generations before Luther. "What is the greatest obstacle to God's mission in the world?' Wright asked. "It is not other religions or a resistant culture. Our idolatry is the single biggest obstacle to world mission. We are a scandal, a stumbling block to the mission of God. Reformation is the desperate need of our day, and it must start with us. If we want to change the world, we must first change our world." He called for a new reformation beginning within evangelicalism.... Read more →

The apostle Peter wrote the following to some first century followers of Christ ... "... worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ." [1 Peter 3:15-16. NLT] The word translated "explain" in our English language (or "reason" in other translations) is the Greek word apologia, which means to give an account of yourself (in a legal sense) or an explanation and defence of your beliefs. From this thoughts emerges the... Read more →

Most Christians and churches today have a variety of approaches to presenting Christ and the gospel in the public marketplace. Some go with "Turn or Burn" while others try "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." It is important to carefully consider what the gospel actually is and what our approach should be to people we are trying to reach. In Luke 10, Jesus gives detailed instructions to his disciples as they were about to go out into the villages with the good news of the kingdom. In his teaching, Jesus has a clear strategy. First of all he tells them to seek to bring peace (shalom) to the people they are reaching out to. People... Read more →

The Global Shift

Rick Warren recently said ... The last 50 years has seen the greatest redistribution of a religion ever in the history of the world. There is nothing even to compare to it. For instance, at the beginning of the 20th century, in 1900, 71% of all, quote, "Christians" lived in Europe. By 2000 only 28% claimed to be Christian, and I'm sure it's far smaller than that who actually even go to a church. On the other hand, Christianity was exploding in Africa, Asia and Latin America. If you want to know the future of evangelicalism, it is in those continents. To give you an example, in 1900 there were only 10 million Christians in all of Africa -- 10%... Read more →