04 May, 2012 Why ‘go to them’ proclamation ministry is needed
This week we have finally announced the ‘Hope Campaign’, which we (Shining Lights) plan to do in 2014 (God willing).
I’ve created temporary webpages for this at www.shininglights.co/hope
The weakening of proclamation ministry
Many ‘proclamation’ ministries have become weakened, or fallen over entirely, in Western nations over recent decades. There has been a growing disinterest in Christian things – balanced by a growing interest in religious things that fit with the prevailing world view that ‘all religions are the same / no religion is actually true’. As a result, ‘come to us’ models of outreach struggled – so much so that many abandoned them. (Note – the above picture is a ‘come to us’ model also).
The need for ‘go to them’ proclamation ministry
However, I propose that they are as needed as ever. It’s just that our approach in them, including how we communicate our message, needs modifying. We need to communicate to our culture today – not our culture as it was 50 years ago.
Why do we need them? Because it is evidenced that our other methods (relationship evangelism, witness via community ministry, etc…) are not able to reach all of those in our communities!
The statistical evidence of the need
An Australian study by CLS in 2002, titled “Why People Don’t Go to Church”, revealed that…
– 80% of Church-goers said they had friends who did not go to Church
–60% of non-believers said they had no Church-going friends.
(Illustration borrowed from ‘Love Your Neighbor” / Church Volunteers in Communities [VCiC] )
An outreach strategy for our nation
In reflection upon this I propose a strategy for Christian communications to our nation as follows
STRATEGY ONE: Mobilise believers to reach those they know
(Friendship ‘ministry’ / conversational approach).
In New Zealand, this is what the ‘Next Step Project’ is seeking to give Pastors and key Church leaders a leadership paradigm for, so this can be done – rather than being talked about.
This has the potential to reach up to 40% of those in our nation.
– We note that this is not being done
– But that the potential is there if Churches apply leadership principles such as
those the ‘Next Step Project’ is promoting.
STRATEGY TWO: Mobilise believers to reach those they don‘t know
(Community ministry and community engagement).
In New Zealand,tThis is what organisations such as ‘Love your neighbor’ in New Zealand (see website here) are encouraging Churches in, and what CViC (Church Volunteers in Communities – click here) are seeking to help Churches train their key people for doing, so these outreach efforts can be better sustained.
Maybe this has the potential to reach another 10% of those in our nation.
STRATEGY THREE: But we still need occasional other programs to reach out to the rest
Because, even if every believer were mobilised to be a pro-active witness to those
they know, 50 – 60% would still not be hearing nothing!
‘Go to them’ proclamation ministry is not an optional extra. It is necessary!
Conclusion: Regarding the “Jesus – all about hope!” effort
This effort will quite uniquely take the message of ‘hope through Jesus’ to the people – rather than expecting them to come to us. Additionally, it will reach to every home.
It is of note that most of our remaining ‘proclamation ministries’ – such as evangelists who run large meetings in stadiums – are still ‘come to us’ approaches.
–These ‘gospel rallies’ will reach those who are willing to go to a Christian outreach (i.e., the ‘seeker’), however I suspect that 70% – 80% of those in our nation would be ‘sceptics’ of the idea of religious truth, thus requiring more than a gospel message for the paradigm (worldview) of Christian faith (which the gospel stands upon) to make sense.
–Also, regarding such ‘gospel rallies’, 90% of all who attend such meetings come because of the invitation of a friend …which means, we’re still talking about how we reach the 40% who have a Church-going friend!
The ‘Hope Campaign’, in contrast, will take Christian messages – in the gentlest way possible – to our homes through amusing television ads, booklets, and a web campaign which including advertising, facebook and twitter engagement, and a website.
I pray we can contribute something of value, and that God will helps us do it, because we are small. However, as the Scriptures say, we ‘do not despise the day of small beginnings’, because our God is big enough for this – and this is necessary.
Please pray with us that God would provide for our needs, but also give us wisdom.
We desire to encourage faith – yet to show respect to the fact that others believe different things.
We are going to work hard to produce something that can be appreciated by all – including those who do not believe.