30/06/13 From the Minister's Deckchair (I wish!)
So I feel rather like some crusty old school master as I hand out some homework for the holidays. What task do I have in mind to enthuse you, write a hymn for Christmas; find all the references to worship in the Old Testament; or learn several choruses in the Greek before September. Sadly nothing so easy.
I would like you to find a friend and encourage them to come along to Church. You may bring more than one if you wish. You should bring the friend to something devotional in nature. This could include
• A Sunday Service
• Ladies Meeting on Thursday afternoon
• The Thursday Group
• Bible Study Groups
• Sea Sunday
• Simply Peace
• Breaking News
Now I am sure that some will feel their stomachs churn at the very thought of such a task. It is not easy, so perhaps some may think of dragging along a visitor who goes to church elsewhere. That would be cheating. One or two may decide this challenge is outside their personnel curriculum (one of those subjects they dropped long ago). Well this is challenge to everyone.
The New Testament will churn many a digestive tract when we understand the purpose of the Church. The stories in it are littered with Jesus calling people to follow him; cluttered with apostles addressing people about belief and overwhelmed by those who responded. Growth, converts, new followers are a tangible harvest for those who share their Faith. Even attempts at incarcerating preachers brought about the conversion of a Jailer and his family when Paul served God.
We are called to be a New Testament Church but people do worry about the ‘numbers game’ today. For many churches, it is almost in bad taste for some Christians to measure success by ‘bums on seats’. That thought was a luxury when the churches were strong but it’s a notion that is now proving fatal as denominations struggle. I do not think Sidmouth Methodist should play the numbers game for the sake of it but I do think the Church should increase, share fellowship and present the Gospel of Christ. The success of that policy will bring more people into the Kingdom. It will fulfil our calling before God. Thus we need to make confident invitations to many people. It is a discipline all of us should address. I saw a recent survey revealed that over 70% of new converts in a five year period were there not because of clergy, not because of campaigns, not because of leaflets but because a friend had asked them to come along.
Our programme is geared for easy invitation for friends to come and give faith a chance. Our new ‘Breaking News’ event is particularly good for an easy conversation of what people make of a news event. It briefly explores what the bible and dictionary say about news which the media bands around in its reporting. Our Recent meeting looked at the question is Google evil. Well the bible did not speak of Google but it has things to say about evil. I would say everyone has an opinion on this subject so come and join in and bring a friend.
Do enjoy the holiday time and come back ready to share an exciting year in the life of the church. Oh and come early for a seat, it should be standing room only by the time of the Autumn Introits.