Evangelism front and centre
Christ Church, Mortdale is keeping evangelism and mission front and centre with a parish-wide mission goal. “Our mission statement is five in five: 5000 people connected with our church every year in five years,” says senior minister the Rev Denis Oliver. “We have a thermometer that tracks how many people we are connecting with in our church foyer. Whenever we have an outreach event, we try and present all the contacts we’ve made for that outreach event.”
Oliver doesn’t consider his parish to be doing anything out of the ordinary when it comes to community evangelism, but this doesn’t stop the people working tirelessly to share the gospel with Mortdale.
“If our vision is five by five, we’ve got to make that real, so we need things to appear on the calendar,” he says. “We take stuff off that doesn’t work, we keep stuff on that does work. When we’re too inward-looking, it kills our church. Our church has to do this.”
Into the community
One way Oliver is helping members get out into the community is by encouraging every Bible study group to do some form of outreach. “We were given this project after a review of our church by Ivan Lee in 2015,” he says.
Groups responded with creativity and enthusiasm. One began running fun activities with a clear gospel message in a local nursing home. These lunches, called “Eat Love Laugh”, allow relationships to develop as people share a meal, laugh at old times and even reminisce about war.
Another made food packages and delivered them to the local primary school. A different group hosted a meal for the local men’s shed, while another group prepared encouragement packages for teachers during Term 3.
“The big thing is that they’re pumped afterwards,” Oliver says. “They can’t believe how easy it is and how positively people respond. They’re all nervous at first, but nine out of 10 times they say ‘Are we going to do this next year?’
“I’ve got this one Bible study group... the youngest lady is 72 years old. They’re from an age where you don’t ask the minister questions and they’re all shy. They wanted to sing some carols at the local nursing home and share a gospel message. They had 40-50 people come in, more and more, and the nursing home said ‘Can you come back next year?’
“These women, they expected six people and they were blown away because God went next level. They're still scared, but not of failure.. they're afraid of being too successful now, which is really cool.”