Equipped to Connect
One of our priorities as Sydney Anglicans is to reach the lost in our Diocese with the life-giving gospel of Christ, but what steps are churches taking to do this?
“Come and make a cardboard roll ninja!”
Who could resist such an invitation? Interested kids at the Ingleburn Alive Festival wander over to the St Barnabas’, Ingleburn stall with their families. Kids do craft while parents chat with church volunteers.
Members of Life Anglican in Riverstone are picking up toys from local homes, preparing to clean and catalogue them for a community toy library that will soon be launched. And once a month Christ Church, Mortdale shares soup and sandwiches with residents in the nearby nursing home, bringing a gospel message and lots of laughter.
Across our Diocese churches run playgroups, youth groups, ESL classes, community food pantries, and the list goes on. All different activities, done in different places by different people, but all serving one common goal: to connect with, and care for, those in our community who don’t know Christ.
Equipped to connect
The Rev Simon Flinders from St Mark’s, Northbridge has given a lot of thought about how best to teach his congregations to have a mission mindset and to do that in a way that leaves room for people to take responsibility and be moved to share the gospel with others.
“We talk about the three N’s: neighbours, networks and nations,”
“When we think about the unbelievers we know there are people in our local area and our church has a place in our suburb and therefore a special opportunity to reach those people. But a lot of the people in our church don’t live in Northbridge, and even those who do have a wider circle of people who aren’t in our local neighbourhood.
“We’re also conscious that through our links with global mission partners we have opportunities to serve the gospel in far-flung places beyond our city. We want to bring those three horizons into people’s view at church and remind them we have opportunities in all three places.”
In order to help people see opportunities for spreading the gospel, Flinders and the team at Northbridge have encouraged a bottom-up approach, rather than top-down.
“We are convinced that the right strategy is not the church putting on more events, but that our emphasis should be on prayer – not just for the lost but for God to stir up the hearts of our church to care about the lost,” he says.
During evening services he also encourages people to tell “stories of connecting”.
“It’s a really little thing that has punched above its weight. We give people an opportunity to share how they’ve connected with a non-Christian in their networks and shared something of their faith. It has proved to be really encouraging and it dignifies the small steps people take.
“Pastors like me would like to have a strategy that’s going to transform the suburb, and we pray for that kind of revival,” he adds. “But I’m convinced that it looks like a small moment here and a conversation there and some steadfast faithfulness and prayer. Dignifying those small steps is what we’re trying to do.”