I love praying for missionaries directly involved in creative and reflective evangelism. Not only do I get the joy of partnering with them in their work… but I get to learn from them and steal all their ideas that they share in the prayer newsletters!
These little notes were sent out by Paddy at the end of last year. Bear in mind they are very much sketches of ideas sent out to prayer supporters, not fully-formed articles and arguments, so read them with that in mind. They are reprinted here with permission.
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Here are four more reflections on the future of campus ministry:
- Training others: Being in a large campus ministry group, and having a large staff team is often a wonderful privilege and opportunity. However, one of our particular responsibilities should be to have an almost continual focus on training in all that we do. I was reflecting just last week that while we work hard at training others in their personal evangelism I have not done as much as I could have, to equip them to be training others in evangelism. So, rather than having 50 people per year really well trained as personal evangelists perhaps we should also aim to have those 50 as evangelism trainers so that as they serve in the wider church they can replicate what they have been taught. If we were to commit to this then it would require us to write a different style of material, and also to work more closely with some of our key people. However – it may encourage more to consider becoming ministry apprentices – as they are a key way in which we train others. But what impact could it have? How might it change and shape the culture of our local churches?
- Engaging with the current culture: Unless you have been in hiding you will appreciate that our country is continuing to move further away from a Judeo-Christian value system. And I suspect that it will continue on this trajectory for the near future. While this will be potentially more challenging with regard to evangelism (see item 4) what is clear is that we need to keep helping EUers rightly see the trajectory of our culture and remind them that the gospel is unchanging and speaks powerfully into this culture. We are not yet at the point of significantly preparing our students in retreating from the public space, but we should consider what this might look like. Please pray that as staff we would be diligent in training our students to use the gospel to diagnose their culture, and to know the gospel to speak into their culture.
- Less-Reached, Less-Resourced opportunities: One of the wonderful successes in the last few years has been the work that Celia (a fellow senior staff member) has been doing in encouraging EUers to consider serving in Less Reached and Less Resourced (LRLR) places. An increasing number of pastors recognise that this is a key value of the SUEU. One of our future challenges is how to increase the numbers of EUers keen to move to LRLR places – and what encourages them to actually leave and stay in an LRLR place. Please remember to pray for the nearly 220 EUers heading off on our 16 LRLR missions in the next two weeks. Please also pray that EUers would consider moving to LRLR places to serve in their local church.
- ‘Cross cultural’ evangelism: For many (myself included) we often think that cross cultural evangelism is cross-ethnic evangelism. This is a massively important and key thing for those of use living in Sydney! However, one of my more recent observations is that for many students as they speak with their friends their conversations feel like cross-cultural ones in that they have very little in common with their friends worldviews, etc. What might it look like if we trained all our students that in our post-Christian world all their conversations will be cross-cultural? How might this change the manner in which they relate and engage with their friends? What impact might this have in their evangelism? What could be learnt from experienced cross-ethnic practitioners?
- Conscience : This one is not directly related to the campus but from some thinking I did on study leave recently. Have you noticed how in the current debate around religious freedoms that Christians have appealed to a ‘freedom of conscience’ approach? This argument often runs along the lines that I, as a Christian, should be excused from a particular action because that action goes against my conscience. However this argument is weak and misunderstood in two ways. Firstly, the secularist understands conscience simply as one aspect of the decision making process which is inevitably driven by emotion – and if it is felt then it must be right. Therefore why is your Christian conscience any more valid than my secular one? Secondly, it underplays (and misunderstands) the significance of Christian conscience which is that sense of wounding and the causing of pain/guilt that occurs after we have committed an action that is contrary to God’s good word. My suggestion. As you speak with people about conscience try this line – “If you ask me to carry out this particular action it will be against my Christian conscience, and this will wound me and cause me pain. Because what you are about to do will be painful for me could you please re-consider asking me, and perhaps ask someone else.”
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