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Restoring Missional Confidence

The third of John McGinley’s Conference talks ‘Making changes: Restoring missional confidence’ looks at spirit led strategies for The Connexion today to reach people outside of the churches. Helping people to fulfil their calling as disciples who create new disciples.

John’s model, which follows Jesus’ example, is based on the practice of investing spiritually and relationally before embarking on the mission. Jesus started by being baptised, before being led by the Spirit to the desert for prayer and fasting. With the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he was able to heal people and cast out demons, and then he became relational, encouraging disciples to join him through caring, compassion and love. It is only then that Jesus becomes missional, and his example with a following of just 12 disciples had the power to change the world. 

Evengelism can feel like a pressure and making new disciples can be an unfamiliar and quite frightening concept for many. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The first step in all missionary work is prayer. Asking God what he wants us to do next and asking the Holy Spirit to lead us. All that is required of us is to show caring, compassion and love when we connect with people, following the practice of Jesus. As John points out, it is about being in a partnership with God, and reflecting Jesus’ values as we build new relationships. 

Churches operating in today’s climate need to be both missional and pastoral. This means encouraging and equipping church members with the means to try new approaches in building friendships and connections with others - and maybe inviting them on occasions to join in with activities and events, such as Alpha. This does not mean bombarding them with constant requests to attend church – just planting a seed which with prayer can help God to carry out his work. 

One of John’s key suggestions is for church leaders to form small missional groups. This may be just a handful of people who come together on a regular basis for a meeting outside of Sunday services. It could be weekly, or monthly, depending on time people are able to devote to it, remembering that even a small amount of time can be used productively. By coming together for scripture readings and prayer, ideas inevitably start to form, inspiring one another to step out and try new things to reach people and draw them in. 

At the same time, it is hugely beneficial to create an informal church community where newcomers will feel comfortable and unchallenged. It is off putting for visitors to fear that they don’t know the ways (or rituals) of the church and feel they may be doing wrong due to their unfamiliarity. Instead, it is more productive to create an environment where people can have fun, feel blessed and be supported. Wanting to return and, who knows, in time encourage others to join in the harvest.

Click on the YouTube link below to hear John’s third talk: ‘Making changes: Restoring missional confidence’