by Tim O'Neill
Well, we have just completed A2A Leaders Togethers in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania finishing the Leaders Togethers by painting a picture of hope for our country. Throughout the Leaders Together we also brought some ideas and presented some equipping tools to help realise that hope.
Following I’ve briefly summarised what we covered at the May 2017 Leaders Together, together with links to most of the videos that we showed.
We hope that you will take a few minutes to read through the notes to jog your memory about what was covered. We also hope that you will take some or all of the content back to your church to present and discuss as a leadership development tool for your church.
After a time of worship and prayer, we gave a brief update on what was happening around our Movement. Specifically, we talked about:
The Latest Research
Recent research from the National Christian Life Survey and McCrindle Research enables us to see a great opportunity that we have in this country to reach people with the good news.
According to McCrindle Research, 59% of Australians have some form of belief in God or a higher power, with 45% of Australians identifying as Christian. And yet their research indicates that only 15% of Australians are connected with a church.
This provides a massive window of opportunity for us as Christians to connect with and share the good news to the 30% who identify with but don’t practice Christianity, and the 44% who believe that there is a God but aren’t involved in a church.
The majority of Australians are not anti Christian. In fact recent NCLS research indicates that only 2 out of 10 Australians are against religion, with 4 out of 10 believing that religion is good for our society and another 4 out of 10 being undecided.
In fact McCrindle has found out that more than half of Australians (52%) are open to changing their religious views given the right circumstances and evidence and that younger Australians are more open to changing their current religious views than older generations. We have such opportunity here, but the ball is in our court as to whether we will walk into the opportunity we have.
We have a harvest field that is ready and waiting for workers like you and I who will not just wait for ordinary Australians to come to us, but who will follow Jesus’ lead in going to them in an endeavour to seek and save the lost.
Connecting with People Receptive to the Gospel
We once again shared how simple and effective the Prayer Calendar was as a way of connecting with unchurched people, giving an update on it’s effectiveness. The Prayer Calendar is simply a tool where we:
Often the person will respond thanking for the prayer and sometimes asking to catch up for coffee. We are seeing people come to faith after connecting with them through the Prayer Calendar.
We encourage people throughout A2A to select one person who they feel may be receptive and ask them how they can pray for them. Our hope is that as you do this, you will find people who you can share your faith with.
Sharing the Good News
If we are to take the commands of Jesus seriously, and if we to be effective in sharing our faith we have to know how to do it!
We showed a short video demonstrating the 3 Circles was of communicating the gospel message and encourage you to not only watch this, but to then practice retelling the 3 Circles to people so that you become competent at it.
Acts 14:1 tells us that Paul and Barnabas spoke “so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed”. Training and practice, training and practice, training and practice will help us become effective like this.
But to share the good news involves us to step out of the boat. It involves a crazy combination of risk and faith. A question we should all ask is “Are we engaged in the great commission in such a way that we potentially face personal rejection?”
If not, we haven’t truly died to self yet.
I know that it’s easy to hide behind a microphone or an event where we aren’t confronted with the risk of personal rejection. But when we sit face to face with someone to share the gospel with them, rejection is an ever present possibility.
And so at times, we might be careful to ensure that we don’t place ourselves in a situation where the risk may be high and we may find rejection, so we play it safe and don’t say anything.
“If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25
We encourage you to train yourself and others so that you are ready, willing and able to effectively share the good news by stepping out of the boat whenever the opportunity arises.
Planting New Churches
In his last session at the 2016 A2A conference, Stu Cameron (I believe) shared a prophetic word for us as he encouraged us to plant more churches that will reach people and make disciples. Stu shared that the growth projections for the Gold Coast meant that at least another 500 churches were needed over the next 35 years to keep pace with population growth.
You can watch this part of Stu’s message here.
NCLS statistics indicate that the number of churches in Australia has actually decreased by about 10% (1,000 churches) over the last 20 years. We need new churches that will not only reach the masses who are open to our faith but be able to gather them.
It’s our hope that A2A will give rise to many who will feel the call to plant churches, and so we are gearing ourselves up to coach and equip emerging leaders who may sense a call to church planting.
In line with this, we also reported on the success of the recent Church Planting workshop held at the Tailrace Centre in Tasmania, and announced that another Church Planting workshop will be held in late September this year. Perhaps you may know someone who should attend this workshop?
Contact me if you are interested or would like more information.
What's in Your Hand
The thought of planting churches, or even equipping people in your church to be effective disciple makers may seem too big a task for some or perhaps even many. It’s natural to look at what we lack, instead of what we have. We encouraged everyone to look not at what they don’t have, but at what God has placed in your hand.
Specifically we encouraged people to look to see whether they had:
After we identify what is in out hand, we then encouraged that we need to cultivate what we have, to realise the potential that is there. The next step is to utilise what we have.
Many would have one or perhaps two of the physical / financial resources, people resources or giftedness etc, but would not have all three. Yet another church may have what we lack and we may have what they lack.
So we encouraged leaders to look at what they have in their hand, and to see if this can be utilised for the benefit of other leaders and their churches, and perhaps they may be able to bring to us what we lack.
Changing our perspective like this is a way of seeing our motto of “Together We Can” become reality as we team with others to make disciples, plant churches and impact our communities.
Developing a Leadership Development Culture
To raise leaders who can plant churches or initiate or take over ministries requires us to have both a disciple making culture and a leadership development culture in our churches.
A disciple making culture should have processes that can potentially take a pre Christian all the way to being an authentic disciple who then goes on to make disciples, with some becoming church leaders or planters.
A leadership development culture should result in our church naturally yet intentionally producing leaders.
Rick Paynter gave an excellent talk on how you can implement a leadership development culture in your church. You can watch it here. It would be worth while discussing this with your elders / leadership team. Brief notes from Rick’s presentation can be accessed here.
Wrapping it all Together
The bottom line is that Jesus has commanded each of us to go and make disciples. That means getting engaged with reaching people who don’t know Him, sharing His good news, and when people come to faith discipling them so that they go and reach and make more disciples.
There’s not one believer who is exempt from His many commands to be His witnesses, to share the good news and to make disciples. And yet across our country, too few Christians are actually doing as Jesus commanded them. That called a sin of omission (see James 4:17)
But stop for a moment and imagine a country that is populated by people who not only believe in Jesus but actually do as He commands them. Just perhaps Australia could be that country.
But for this gospel impregnated dream to become a reality, we need to disciple the people in our churches so that they understand about this and are open to being moved by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
As Jossy Chacko said at the 2016 A2A Conference, we all need to have a sense of expectancy that the God who can do immeasurably more than we can imagine or understand will do great things.
We also need to equip our people, not just by telling them what to do, but by leading from the front showing them what to do and how to do it, and then equipping them through training and practice, training and practice, training and …
As we make disciples in such a way, some will sense the call to plant a church. People like this we need to encourage, equip and coach.
And as we embark with this mission in mind, we need to team with others, bringing what is in our hand so that together we lack nothing. When this happens, the reality will be “Together We Can”.
We have a nation that needs us. It needs us to follow Jesus in such a way that we truly become His ambassadors. There are huge numbers in our country who have some form of belief but haven’t yet made Jesus Lord. This is where we will find the harvest that is ripe and ready.
But to do so, we must envision, equip and send out as Jesus has commanded us to do; to make disciples.
My questions are firstly whether you will become a partner in the great harvest that is before us. Secondly, will you train and equip the people in your church to come and join in, partnering with Jesus and others in bringing in the harvest like we read about in Mark 16:20?
They went out and proclaimed everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through the accompanying signs.
We are in an exciting time. I hope that you can share that excitement. Please let me know if I can assist you or your church in doing this in any way.
25 May 2017