St Stephen’s Church, Selly Park
The parish consists of two halves. One is fairly wealthy, middle class with large detached housing. The other is predominantly made up of student accommodation and terraced housing – it is also more mixed race.
Mission preparation: Prayer. At least six months before the mission, we encouraged people to form prayer triplets with the specific aim of praying for three non-Christian friends. Fellowship groups were also encouraged to keep on praying for the mission. Also, in our monthly church prayer meetings we gave some time to praying as a whole family for the mission.
Planning team. Eight months before the mission, six people formed a mission planning team to think through what we might do. These six people represented many different people within the church (older, younger, male, female etc.) this was key in motivating many in the congregation to be involved.
Visit. Three months before the mission, Rico Tice (our speaker for the mission) came to the church on a Sunday morning to preach and afterwards to do a few hours of training in personal evangelism. We felt it was important for the congregation to get to know Rico before he came for the mission.
Training. Three months before the mission, the whole church family met together on a Wednesday night, for three weeks, for some practical training on the ‘how’ of evangelism. We put this material together ourselves.
Sermons. Where appropriate, reference was made in sermons to the mission, in terms of application.
Booklet.Three months before the mission, we produced a booklet for every member of the congregation. The booklet included information on what events were happening and when, how to answer tough questions, how to invite people, a gospel outline and things to pray for etc.
The mission programme
Our aim was to reach out to people in the parish, and also to our friends, family and neighbours. So we carried out some door-to-door visits a few weeks before the mission, simply inviting people to come along. In the four days of the mission, our plan was to have some form of proclamation of the gospel at each event. To achieve this we held a quiz night, an after-dinner talk, a debate, a youth sports event, a community activity afternoon, a meal in a restaurant in Birmingham, a men’s breakfast, an international event with food and talk as well as two Sunday services.
Rico Tice from All Souls, Langham Place, London, was invited to be our main speaker. He spoke at each event. However, each event was planned and led by a different member or group of people from the church.
Christianity Explored was offered to those who wanted to take things further.
Without a doubt, from my point of view, the best part of the mission was seeing a church family buzzing for evangelism! People who would never have got involved, did so. People were bold, prayerful and we discovered some gifts in the congregation we possibly didn’t know we had! So the best part, for me, was seeing Christians motivated for mission. I’m not sure how many, if any became Christians. However, many certainly moved forward in their understanding of Christ. But what we do know is that Jesus was faithfully proclaimed to hundreds of people who would not have heard of Him had we not done the mission! People in the parish who didn’t even know we were on their doorstep were contacted and invited to come along, relationships were formed and built.
It was not the end and I think people know that, but it certainly played a major part in the effort to create a culture of evangelism in Selly Park.