Home Mission pics

Home Mission pics

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A simple concept that has reshaped how we do evangelism

photo courtesy of www.freefoto.com
WEBA is launching Table Talk: An Evangelistic Experiment in June 2013. Every church is being encouraged to try 'Table Talk' (which you could describe as a pre-Alpha course, but actually works more like a game) somewhere in their community - perhaps a cafe or pub - with friends and neighbours. Each church taking part will receive a free boxed set of Table Talk, normally worth £25. I wanted to hear from someone who'd used the game successfully - and got this story from Ruth Rice, a Baptist Minister on the Fresh Streams Steering Group:

We began running a Table Talk group at a local cafe in the suburb of Nottingham where our church meets. The area is fairly affluent and there is a strong cafe culture. We began as a response to people wanting to ask different questions in a different time scale to the ones offered in other, more structured courses.

We invited a few friends who were interested in discussing big issues of life or who just wanted a drink with friends and to get to know some new people. 

"Our regular atheist would now call himself an agnostic"

Although we advertised with handouts, posters and invites all the folk who came were in relationship with someone who brought them. Marketing is largely, in our experience, unnecessary, relationships are essential.

We book the same table each week and everyone arrives from about 7.30 onwards...... grabbing a drink from the bar and joining in the discussion which anyone can start by picking up a card from the attractively presented Table Talk selection, which we vary each week. It's great and really natural, so unlike other courses that have felt forced and a bit preachy at times. 

With table talk if you don't like a question you move on and if the discussion is going well you stick with one card sometimes.

We have a regular table talk group now on Tuesday nights of between 6 and 12 people , many in the 20s and 30s ...a mixture of atheists, agnostics, Christians, and others on a journey from belonging to believing.

Our regular atheist would now call himself an agnostic, has begun reading his Bible from cover to cover and is writing his own questions. Three people have realised they have changed sides somewhere in the process of discussions, like crossing a mountain border on a long hike yet not being quite sure where the border was. 

For those of us who are christians the questions, some basic like, “what makes an attractive life”, some much more searching like “how do you experience God” are helping us to think and search more deeply for truth and be able to listen as well as talk about what we believe. 

"the cards seem more like a game than a religious activity"

We love table talk as a simple concept...and can see many possibilities for the easy to use, well produced little cards in homes, pubs and youth venues.

We have recently used them as a warm up in our pub church Sundays ..as folk arrive they are on the tables and keep the discussion focussed on the big story. Small groups have used them at meals when they have invited friends and there has been great feedback as the cards seem more like a game than a religious activity and yet they generate better honesty and searching than many a BIble study or evangelistic programme.

Table Talk has reshaped how we do evangelism as a church.

Ruth Rice

Friday, 3 May 2013

Rise and Shine

This article comes from the newsletter of One Hope Ministries. Var and Emma Smallwood are receiving support from Home Mission as they pioneer a deliberately 'multi-cultural' church in East Bristol, in partnership with the Church of God of Prophecy.

Var and Emma with Pastor Ray Viera of GOCOP at the WEBA Ministers' Conference

Our new church is now called ‘Rise and Shine’, inspired by Isaiah 60:1.

We meet to pray and study John’s Gospel most weeks and on 7th September 2013 there will be a
launch event when we will begin formally worshiping together as a community.
Building a church that seeks to be ‘multi-cultural’ is... complicated. The difficulty is that white privilege - the core issue at play - is rarely, if ever,
addressed. How do you react when you hear us say that? White privilege? What? In the UK, in the
21st century?

Er... well, yes. If you are white, you probably want us to soften the term, or point the finger at individuals who would be classed as overtly ‘racist’, or you probably feel less inclined to read this newsletter because the authors are on a ‘soapbox’.

If you are Black, you might agree, in part, but would rather it wasn’t mentioned because it make
things awkward and embarrassing especially when you’re trying to get on in a white world. However, the key issues in forming multi-cultural church are not, as often stated, about sharing cultural styles in worship, or having people of colour included on leadership teams (that very word ‘included’, reveals a lot about which group is doing the including i.e. has the power). The issues revolve around questions of ‘who’s in charge?‘ and ‘which culture is dominant?’. So, here we are, two white people commissioned by a Black church to pioneer a multicultural church - and no-one likes
talking about the core issue - like we said....it’s complicated!

Life may be complicated but following Jesus is always a great adventure!
Anyway, our team is made up of ten people (including children) from House of Praise church in Easton, Bristol. 7 of the team have a Caribbean-British heritage and 4 have a White-British heritage. Our strategy is to make friends with people, pray for their needs and invite them to our meetings. Having children on our team really helps us to make our meetings open to everyone. Despite the issues, we have a lot of fun!

If you'd like to keep in touch with how Var and Emma are getting on, contact them to receive the One Hope Ministries' newsletter, which also includes Var's film-making exploits and Emma's reports on the Gospel Generation Community Choir:
Var: var@one-hope.co.uk
Em: emma@one-hope.co.uk