Thursday, February 12, 2009

Evangelism Mode

By now you know I am very much affected by the ministry of Terry Virgo. Terry is the visionary founder of the church planting ministry, Newfrontiers. What has captured my attention is his "big picture" thinking. His book "Restoration in the Church" was the first time I saw in print the things the Lord had been stirring in my heart for years.
Having just drifted into somewhat of a passive lull, the Lord recently prompted me to re-read "No Well Worn Paths". It chronicles the ministry of Terry Virgo and the development of Newfrontiers. What encouraged me so much when I read this in the fall of 2007 was one of the values the Spirit of God was drawing my attention to from the New Testament. I like to say "the church God is building is nimble". In other words, its not a static, bogged down, committee driven organization immobilized with paralysis by analysis. The church the Lord is building is on the move! It is a movement! So you can understand my profound distate for what to me appears like the discussion of and dissecting of theology for theology's sake. All too often this kind of "religion" never catches fire. The result of this is most evident in our lack of evangelistic fruit.
One section of "No Well Worn Paths" that grabbed my attention was a place where Terry explained the decision prayerfully made to end a conference called "Stoneleigh". He talked about all the time, energy and resources required throughout the year to pull off the event, and how this could hinder evangelism in the way the Lord was calling them to pursue:

"God led us to get ready; to clear the ground for what he was preparing. Like Joshua, we were about to cross Jordan. We were to move out of dwelling in tents and into invading cities. It was time to mobilise."

So in explaining what the Lord was doing in that season, Terry Virgo sums up the decision to close Stoneleigh with these soul stirring words:

"Conferences can be helpful, but they are not essentially what we are. They help us on our missions, but they do not constitute our mission. Our mission in the world is to go and make disciples of all the nations. God has brought a group of churches together in Newfrontiers to accomplish what we as individual churches could never accomplish alone. He has developed strong bonds of love and friendship, and he continues to raise up the Ephesians 4 ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers through our ranks.
We also acknowledge our indebtedness and dependence up on the whole body of Christ, having received so much from people form many diverse backgrounds. Across the UK, a growing tide of expectation grips many and the need for the nation to be evangelised and for hundreds of churches to be planted must take priority. We must become more mobile and embrace mobility as a lifestyle. Pastoral mode and 'celebration' mode must give way to evangelism mode.

So what do you think? I welcome your comments on this one.

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