Greetings, one and all.
Good news! You still have time to register for next week's Sydney and Brisbane Masterclasses, with Ed Stetzer. An American pastor and missiologist who has lectured at more Bible Colleges than you have had hot dinners, Ed also is a cultural expert who regularly features on Christianity Today, as well as CNN and USAToday. Ed will be sharing his research and wisdom on cultural changes in the Western World, to help church planters understand how best to minister to those around them.
After you have finished registering for the Sydney Masterclass or Brisband Masterclass, come back here to whet your appetite for what Ed is on about. Are you back? Great, because we have some important stuff to share with you – straight from Ed's brainbox.
4 out of 5 Australians accept Jesus?
During our most recent Planter Session – Geneva's monthly webinars that focus upon different church-planter topics – Ed discussed “Are Christmas and Easter losing their gospel edge?” with Scott Sanders. A vital question to answer, right? Especially with Easter celebrations being fresh in our minds and pews. Well, seats. Benches. Whatever. To get into all of what Ed had to say, you can view the whole Planter Session by clicking here.
One of the overarching points made by Ed, was that Australians already are warm to Christiianity. No, he wasn't just making that up. Based on Olive Tree Media and McCrindle research, it's official: four out of five Australians accept Jesus was real. Additionally, the majority of Australians have an affinity with identifying as Christian.
Although our society might not seem anything but hostile to the things of Christ, Ed noted how such research suggested otherwise. Also, statistics gathered by Lifeway Research – the US data-gatherers that has Ed as its executive director (how many things can one man be part of?) – revealed “that people are most open to spiritual conversations at Christmas and Easter – Christmas ranks highest, and Easter is second highest.”
Seize the moments
You really, really, really should check out the full webinar to hear how Ed offers helpful categorisation of people, to shape a church-planter's approach to whomever attends a Christmas or Easter event. But one group in particular – the non-Christian – led Ed to make a strong declaration about how to maintain the gospel edge during Christianity's major annual celebrations.
“It's a cultural oddity to non-Christians,” said Ed about the idea of Easter or Christmas services. “They might want to come to see what Christmas is all about, like a Muslim person might invite us to Ramadan activities or a Jewish person to Passover activities.
“It's a cultural phenomenon that they may want to learn from. They might be less open [than some others], but not without opportunity.”
“As a pastor and a Christian, I lead my people and encourage them to seize these moments as gospel opportunities.”