Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Growing a Church: Sowing...

Looking at Sowing 2 on the Engel Scale - the Alpha Course would be in that category.  Our introductory Alpha meal will bring people along who are often not yet interested in investigating Jesus but they are interested in an event! 

So one year at our Alpha meal we had Gavin Peacock, the football pundit and ex-professional footballer, to speak.  There were 200 people in the room - the biggest Alpha meal we had done to date.  A number of people came who weren’t going to come to anything else; they were just there because of Gavin but they heard him give his testimony and talk for 20 minutes about Jesus and they heard about the Alpha course.  They were not planning to come back so the ‘drop off’ rate for the following week was quite high but this was a way to begin to sow something of the gospel.  You have permission at that moment to say something. 

We run an Alpha course every term and also within the category of Sowing 2 we would place our Sunday morning meetings - a place to which people can come who are still trying to find out about God.  Then there are guest services - we make a big thing about things like baptisms. All the people that are to be baptised are encouraged to invite friends and family. We go as far as saying, ‘and we will save you some seats - just phone the office and tell us how many people are coming and we will make sure seats are reserved.’  That makes them think – ‘they’re expecting me to bring people’.  So on average, each person who gets baptised here probably brings about 5-8 guests.

We would also do other guest services.  Baby thanksgivings/dedication services have become a way of inviting people – we arrange them so that there are quite a number of families bringing their babies at the same time – there can be up to 30 guests for one family at these events!  We’ve discovered that dedications as part of your Sunday meeting mean that people will always bring family and friends - again people come along not because they’re interested in church but because they’re friends of those taking part.  

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Growing a Church: One example of what we do...

The summer months are often considered a ‘down time’ in church life. At King’s we increasingly use those weeks for preparation to make sure that we have a strong start to the church year in September and what comes beyond. While the rest of us are in summer holiday mode there is a certain group at King’s who already have Christmas in mind!

Christmas, and more particularly our Christmas Carol Services, provides a mega opportunity to reach out to our local communities! Planning, preparing and rehearsing for the eight Carol Services we currently put on over that weekend in December goes on throughout the autumn, even while we are seeking to build momentum with the start of the church year in September. Last year we saw 2800 people come through our doors over that single weekend, many of them visitors.

Thousands of Christmas Carol Service flyers will be printed – this is our predominant way of advertising the Carol Services.  They are given out to all our small groups who will deliver them in their localities and we have them available on Sundays when people will take them to give to friends and family.  There will also be a big poster on the front of the building and we will deliver flyers to homes in the area – that covers our advertising. 

One of our former elders was a School Governor at a local primary school - it provided an arena in which to reach out to others. Every year, as Chair of Governors, he sent all the governors an invitation to our Carol Services. These went with a card saying ‘thanks for all your support this year and here’s an invitation to the Carol Service’.  At that level it’s sowing.  It’s surprising just how many people who are now involved in the life of King’s made their first visit to King’s to a Carol Service.

Because we get an increasing number attending our multiple Carol Services we plan them carefully. There is a carefully thought out theme and although we will do one or two other songs, it’s predominantly traditional carols.  We’ll have a drama and Bible readings and I will speak. At this event we’re not asking for responses - we’re just presenting Jesus; we’re just presenting the Christmas story and there would be an invitation to attend the next Alpha course programmed to take place just after the New Year. The Carol Service is not a revolutionary event in terms of presentation, it’s the traditional approach people like – singing ‘Hark the herald…’ is what they expect - and that’s what we do. We also aim to put on a high quality event with great music so we will have an orchestra as well as our usual band and a choir of brightly-dressed, smiling King’s people!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Growing a Church: Useful information on integrating new people

Evangelism is a journey.  It’s a journey of sowing and reaping. When it comes to outreach, John 4:36 and 37 records Jesus saying:

Thus the saying one sows and another reaps is true.  I sent you to reap for what you have not worked for.  Others have done the hard work and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.  

At King’s evangelism is a journey and at the same time we would be highly invitational. We encourage our people to invite friends, family and work colleagues along to church. We put on events and programmes to invite people to and would take an integrated approach.  You may be familiar with the Engel Scale which refers to the process of evangelism – it has four sections – Sowing 1, Sowing 2, Reaping and Keeping.

We are not only invitational, we are very intentional about evangelism - we don’t do anything just for the fun of it!  There’s always a purpose in what we’re trying to do.  So the first section (Sowing 1) on the Engel Scale can be summarised - Christians are OK and God is good. At the extreme point people have no awareness of God and they have a negative attitude towards the church.  It’s unlikely you’re going to get those people into your church building.

The way you reach those who view Christians and the church in this way is by equipping your church members to be personal witnesses because they will work alongside people with those views. Those who are negative towards the church - unless there is a sovereign move of God - will be moved on in their lives by witness that causes them to rethink what they believe about God and what they think about Christians.  So equipping your church, your people, to be able to interact with people at this point is important. The Carol Service won’t do that because they don’t come.  Into the Sowing 1 category we place personal witness and people inviting other people.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Final thoughts on finances!

One of the best ways to save money is by looking at your everyday expenditure. For example, if you buy a Costa's coffee it costs you around £2.80. If you do that every working day, adding up your spending on that item alone comes to about £600 a year!! (And with nothing to show for it at the end of the day...) Those items add up. And let me say, I’m not against Costa or Starbucks – I like their hot chocolate once in a while!

Have any of you taken out PPI loans? Make sure you are claiming the compensation due to you via your bank or whichever financial institution gave it to you. Do not use one of the claims companies – they will take a large sum of money from you just for completing a simple form that you could do yourself.

Another thing I do is to read the financial papers, particularly the economics side of things so that I can make informed decisions on future financial planning. This may not appeal to you – I find it helps me.

In conclusion - I believe that God has called us to be good stewards, to be generous with our money and to manage it well. For each of us, our circumstances may be different but we each need to ask God for help to take the right next steps to be a faithful steward. The money we have is not only to be used for paying bills and investing in our own future but is also to be used to bless others for God’s glory. If we steward our resources aright we will have more than enough for every good work. All we have is His – it’s our responsibility to use HIS money wisely!

This concludes the series on finance taken from our annual King's Stewardship seminar

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Household bills - savings to be made!

In considering making the most of your finances - you need to look at your household bills! I reckon you can save up to £50 a month if you shop around and play the market on electricity and gas, if you pay by direct debit with an on-line tariff. Do a similar exercise with the water company. If you are a single person you should be metered for water as your use will be less than an average household, while a large family should stay on the general rate. Car insurance – I sometimes forget who is insuring my car because I tend to move it nearly every year in order to get a better rate. The companies know that they will lose money in the first year or two but they also know that many people have a tendency not to change their company. Inertia takes over and so the long-standing customer ends up paying the higher rate. If you take the time to go through all your suppliers in this way then you can save yourself a lot of money.

There are good websites that will get you some great advice – one such is Martin’s Money Tips. Youswitch is another one that is worth looking at from time to time and covers life insurance, house insurance, car insurance, gas, electricity, internet and phone.

Recognise that the gas and electricity companies work on the principle of making your money work for them. They will try to set a monthly payment that means that you are over-paying on the basis that it ‘works out right in the end...’ However, you want to be the one in control. If they announce that they intend to set your monthly direct debit and you will have no say in the amount, then tell them that you intend to leave and find another company where you can set up an arrangement that works reasonably for you. That may change their mind!

For your TV and broadband company, remember that Virgin and Sky loathe each other! If you phone them and tell them that you are thinking of moving to the other company but that you would like to stay – what’s the best deal they can offer... they will give you a good deal. Otherwise they will take you for every pound they can! Be gracious, but understand they aren’t as nice as you are.

This series of blogs is based on the annual Stewardship seminar from King's Church London