The Essential Jesus joins your Bible study
At a church I visited recently everyone was given two tomato plants: one for them, one for a neighbour. In a part of Sydney where everyone has a garden, this is a brilliant way to establish ongoing connections. I decided to give it a go and our competing plants are an ongoing discussion between my neighbour and me a month down the track.
In church after church throughout the diocese there are new (and old) ideas for connecting being tried and refined. And there is a sense of anticipation and excitement about the year ahead. At a Christmas party for my wife's work I overheard one man enthusiastically telling a couple of blokes about how his Archbishop was encouraging churches to really focus on connecting with their communities during 2009. I wanted to sign him up as a Connect09 Ambassador on the spot.
With the clock now counting down to our official Big Day In launch on 8 Feb 09, we are arriving at the business end of our campaign. A staggering 240 parishes have thoughtfully ordered their gospel resources with over one million copies of The Essential Jesus and another 100,000 copies of gospels in Chinese and Arabic being requested. (Note: it is still not too late to get your orders in for delivery in early 2009!)
There is a sense that the preparation is winding up and things are beginning in earnest. In recognition of this fact I have been "eased out" of column writing. (And just when I felt like I was getting the hang of it "” dang! I know Mum, I thought they were getting pretty good too.) But seriously, the editors at Southern Cross and Sydneyanglicans.net have rightly pointed out that after a year of information about Connect09, people now get it. They are motivated. What we need in 2009 are the resources to help people do it. (Well, that is how they broke it to me anyway.) And as we thought about it, the choice seemed obvious"
With over a million copies of The Essential Jesus to share in the context of a genuine connection, we all need to be intimately familiar with the gospel we are giving away. So, beginning in February 2009, Southern Cross and Sydney Anglicans will be publishing a fortnightly Bible study working through the gospel of Luke and designed especially to compliment The Essential Jesus.
You might decide to use it in your regular Bible Study group through the year to make it extra easy to invite along friends who’ve received a copy of The Essential Jesus. You and a Christian buddy might start a Luke reading group and invite some not-yet-Christian friends to join you. You can even do the studies online with the author so that you have more confidence to talk with friends and relatives about the things Jesus said, or to help you answer questions that arise as they read for themselves.
Contacting people we don't know yet and connecting with them is what our year is about. Many are already doing it and we are all praying and gearing-up to do more. The ultimate aim of connecting is to connect people to Jesus "” their Lord and their Saviour who is dying to know them, forgive them and welcome them into his family.
There is no one way to go about it "” other than by prayer! "” but Luke's gospel is as good a place as any to introduce someone to the real Jesus. I commend these regular studies to use, to adapt and to share as we seek to connect with people and connect people with Jesus.
Andrew Nixon is the Executive Director of Connect 09 and a minister with many years of parish-based ministry.