Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7
No longer can evangelism be one program or ministry function alongside others. Rather, in an evangelising (or missional) church culture, speaking the name of Jesus Christ and telling the story of what God has done for us will become as natural as talking about our families. It is who we are. Steen Olsen
‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Matthew 28:19-20.
Reaching out in Christ’s name reflects Jesus’ directive to his disciples. He commends a way of life that is the responsibility of all of us and not just for the attention of a few. It suggests a way to live in this present age. We are Jesus’ disciples in today’s world and it is up to us to reach out with the love of Jesus.
Here are four areas we have identified that are worth paying attention to:
- Diversity: The increasing diversity throughout Australian society. Diversity in the length of lifespan, generational identities, family structures and marriage patterns, and in ethnic makeup.
- Digital Technology: The rise of new digital technologies that are reshaping society. The emergence of a connected, networked society.
- Religiosity: The dramatic change and increasing diversity in the religious beliefs, practices, and affiliation of Australians.
- Religious Transmission: The decline in religious transmission from generation to generation.
As we endeavour to focus on being missional it is helpful to understand the spiritual and religious diversity of people that exist in Australia.
It can be a daunting task to reach out to such a diverse range of people with the love of God.
Consider the following two strategies to help us get started:
Missional faith formation
Expand and extend the church’s presence through outreach, connection, relationship building and engagement with people where they live. Let's move faith formation out into the community.
Develop targeted approaches and strategies designed around particular needs and life situations. These need to be contextual and built around the gifts and skills of your congregation and community.
- Develop community settings for church ministries and faith formation - offering courses and workshops in a school, community centre or coffee shop.
- Open church events and programs to the whole community such as community meals and playgroups.
- Create an inviting website and an active Facebook page to connect with people.
- Connect with people’s life issues and situations by offering career mentoring, parenting courses, life skills courses, and more.
- Connect with people during transitions and milestone moments such as marriage, birth of a baby, starting school, funerals, just to name a few.
Missional faith formation
Provides pathways for people to consider or reconsider the Christian faith, to encounter Jesus and the good news.
Missional faith formation guides people as they move from discovery to exploration to commitment. Baptism, first communion and confirmation are examples of a pathway with formational content. Provide opportunities for participation in the life of the faith community through small group Bible study, worship, acts of service and hospitality. Resources like The Alpha Course series cover the basics of Christianity in a multi-session course in a supportive small group environment. These types of programs and processes provide pathways for people to grow toward a life of discipleship and lifelong faith.