“From the abundance of the heart – catholic evangelism for all Christians” Stephen Cottrell, Darnton, Longman and Todd, 2006, ISBN 9780232526363
“To many the word ‘evangelism’ conjures up negative images of coercion and manipulation. Stephen Cottrell’s approach is realistic, generous, inclusive and creative. He presents a vision of an evangelising church that will embrace Christians of every tradition, and explores practical ways of developing structures and ministries that will establish a culture of evangelism in local churches.”
Stephen Cottrell understands evangelism as the aspect of mission concerned with bringing people to faith in Christ. This book is concerned with ‘catholic evangelism’, which he sees as having
• An emphasis on the interior life and the attraction and beauty of holiness
• A belief in the converting power of worship, especially sacramental worship
• An understanding of the ministry of evangelism as accompanying people on a journey into the fullness of life
• A passionate concern for justice
• A conviction that coming to Christ also means becoming oart of the church
Set in this context, the book offers practical suggestions on how churches can rediscover their missionary calling by producing a simple purpose statement; it explores a model for evangelism that sees a process of nurture as key between initial contact and commitment and suggests a variety of ways of nurturing faith; there are suggestions for making effective contact with people and how to help people grow in their faith and build community; finally there are suggestions for enabling worship to be evangelising.
This book is based on extensive research and takes a look at the spirituality of people beyond the fringe of the church and offers insightful responses showing how the Church might address the issue of evangelism in the 21st century.
• Big questions people are asking (what happens when we die? What’s the purpose of life? How did the universe start? Does God exist? Is there a spiritual realm? Why suffering?)
• How people view Christians and the Church – identifying a need to create points of contact with people by using language that doesn’t alienate, by developing liturgy and worship that inspires rather than bemuses, telling stories that enthuse rather than bore)
• Listening – its vital importance (so we address the questions people are asking todayand learn from their wisdom )
• Achievable ideas for the local church (worship and prayer, publicity, occasional offices, engage with needs of community)
• General trends in spirituality and creative evangelism (engaging with those who have experienced New Age spirituality, eco-spirituality and offering Christian spirituality and sacred space)
• The community as a key to contemporary evangelism.
This book begins with a key challenge – do we believe God speaks in the cultural context, or only in the Christian tradition?
The dilemma facing Western Christianity is described by creating a very helpful and insightful parable. In his story Hollinghurst describes how a community, which has successfully fished a nearby lake for centuries, must now face the effects of a deep, seismic shift that has simultaneously altered and threatened the viability of their once productive fishing grounds. Thus the community is forced to probe for new ways to not simply survive but also thrive. This, in Hollinghurst’s view, is a status of the modern church. The lake represents the once productive pool of ‘Christianized,’ indoctrinated, but recently de-churched, ex-Anglicans, ex-evangelicals, etc. who modern Christians for centuries have been able to successfully re-converted back into the arms of mother church. Thus their evangelistic tactics were aimed at reaching a somewhat “willing” prospect back into the fold. However, with the advent of the paradigm shift of postmodernism, old tactics are no longer as effective. Therefore new techniques, tailored to different conditions, must be considered.
The book is in three parts:
Part One – Listening to God in the cultural context explores the radically changing culture in which the church exists today, the rise of new spiritualities, the secularisation of society and religion’s increasingly dubious public image.
Part Two – Listening to God in the Christian tradition looks at key periods in Christian history as responses to cultural changes, from the ancient pagan world to modernist faith. What can we learn from the lessons of the past?
Part Three moves from theory to practice and tells great stories where innovative evangelism is taking place – from supermarkets to festivals to the internet
“Mosaic evangelism – sharing Jesus with a multi-faceted society”, Roger Standing, Grove Books, 2013, ISBN 9781851748662
This book addresses how the existing methods of evangelism no longer translate to a society that has largely moved to a post-Christian phase and asks how churches can reach a population 4 in views and experiences, and in attitudes to Jesus. It concludes that there needs to be a bespoke, contextual approach to evangelism – a ‘mosaic’ of diverse and creative evangelistic initiatives that meet people in the context of their own lives.
The author has become increasingly concerned about a lack of confidence in the gospel, an overdependence on tools such as Alpha and a sense of guilt at the fruitlessness of more traditional evangelistic activities. He sees the complexity of the different ways that the population relates to the church and Christianity, different generational profiles, lifestyle choices and personal interests needing a whole raft of different activities and initiatives for evangelism. The stories of some churches who have explored this are told. He suggests that this form of evangelism is best done collaboratively with other congregations, that it requires constant reviewing and adapting as contexts change and it may seem messy and untidy rather than strategic!
This book provides an example of how something used by those in alternative spiritual paths can be translated into a tool for evangelism.
“In our ‘post-Christian’ culture, with its pick-and-mix approach to spirituality and belief, the story of Jesus has never been more relevant. But engaging people with little or no prior knowledge of Christianity is never easy.
Uniquely visual and unexpected in its approach, the Jesus Deck can be used in a range of settings, from Body, Mind and Spirit events to pub psychic evenings and one-to-one evangelism. This booklet explores how it can be used to encourage sharing personal stories, and the story of Jesus.”