Monday, 18 September 2017

Thoughts and learning about an evangelism course in Newcastle

I attended an evangelism course in Newcastle on Saturday. Here are some of my thoughts and learning from it. The course was delivered by Scott McNamara a gifted evangelist from Causeway Coast Vineyard.

We head off to Newcastle...

Saying the word evangelism to many people in the church elicits different emotions largely guilt and fear. Leading to thoughts of  "I know I'm supposed to do it but, I am not very good at it, besides we have people who can do that." etc. Scott who delivered the course was clear at getting the message across that guilt and fear are emotions that holds the church back. The message Scott had for us was completely opposite to this, God wants us to be in partnership with the Holy Spirit, and wants to empower us to share the good news.

It's about trees...
Scott used an image to describe this partnership with the Holy Spirit. Imagine being in an orchard with apple trees. Some of these apples are ripe and ready to be picked and others are still firmly attached to the tree because they are yet to ripen. The ripe apples represent people who are receptive to hear about Jesus' love; in Scott's analogy they are waiting to fall. The Holy Spirit shakes the trees just as He shakes lives and we are there to catch them to point them to Jesus. 

It's reaping not sowing...
One thing that struck me was that the church is good at sowing in many ways with various activities or events, for example messy church, fairs and foodbanks, all of which are great ministries but are about sowing. In John 4:35 Jesus told us to open our eyes spiritually to reaping the harvest not sowing. Think about it in these terms, if we are running around sowing seeds and there are ripened apples ready to pick and we don't, they are going to fall and die on the ground, these people won't be saved. There is an immediacy in what God calls us to do. When we look at the world with worldly eyes we make judgements on who is going to be receptive and who isn't. It is with spiritual eyes that we have no prejudice, no assumptions and no judgement in seeing people who are receptive to the Gospel message and pointing them to Jesus.

The Gospel message is at the heart...
It seems obvious, the Gospel message has to be at the heart (Acts 2:38) of what we share with others, spoken with kindness (Romans 2:4).  When Jesus comes knocking on the door of our heart, it is because He loves us, we choose to open the door to Him and not feel manipulated to do so. This includes the acceptance that we have done things wrong in our life and that we need to turn and follow Jesus.
In Matthew 28:16-20(NIVUK), then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

At the end of the course and Sunday morning I was left with the question "Will I go?"

To find out more about Scott McNamara visit

Sunday, 26 April 2015

9 things I have learnt about Facebook and Twitter

As a hobbyist social media type person, I have had the opportunity to talk to few great people who are experts in this field. Here are the top 9 things, I can remember them saying (roughly) to me that I have tried. When I refer to Facebook I am talking mainly about Facebook Pages, but some of this stuff can be used with personal accounts.

1. Never link Facebook and Twitter together or visa versa. People using Twitter tend to want to view tweets and not URLS redirecting them to Facebook, because the text was too long to post. People on Facebook don't really want to see '@' mention signs that comes from a tweet.

2. Never update Facebook as often as you would Twitter. I was always told around 9 or 10 status updates a week for Facebook and no more than 14 Twitter updates in a day making sure you don't tweet more than once an hour. It's easy to be perceived as a spammer by over sharing.

3. Spread your posts over a week (if you have time) this will increase your engagement and reach.

4. Interact with your audience on both Twitter and Facebook, If someone responds to one of your status updates its good practice to acknowledge them. It keeps them interested and shows you are friendly.

5. Post a mixture of original and others content (retweets and shares), but remember to acknowledge who has produced it. Original content engages your audience and this can take the form of original thinking about someone else's work, e'g a review or response to a post you have read/watched or heard.  Always remember to reference them.

6. Use photos with your posts that illustrate your point,

7. Think about your audience and what they would like to read, watch and hear, post content accordingly.

8. Read the statistical measurements that are available on Facebook Pages and Twitter, e.g. engagement and reach for each post and have fun experimenting with different content to see what happens.

9. Post different types of media, e.g video, audio, photo and written. Variety really does engage the audience.

The disclaimer, a few people who know me, may say that I  don't always apply these points, and they are right. I think that it's about experimenting in your context (see point 8).

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Struggles and stuff

I was thinking about 2 Cor 12 and Paul's thorn. There is a lot of speculation about what that thorn is, me personally I don't know. But these verses say to me about Paul's struggle and his humaness. A man chosen by God with a clear mission and yet he has his own personal struggle. I find that really encouraging that God has a clear purpose for each one of us, even on the days when stuff seriously gets on top of us, our own personal struggle. God still has a calling on our life.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Just a thought #1 - What should I be thinking right now?

So the preacher has finished his sermon and says, "Let's wait in God's presence, " followed by either silence or music depending on the type of service. Sometimes when I get asked to sit and wait or similar requests, my brain thinks that its a cue to suddenly go off on some tangent. Normally starting with, looking forward to Sunday lunch, broccoli or cauliflower? Or sometimes, planning what I am going to do in the afternoon, grass cutting or something a bit more fun? I may even be looking around to see what other people are doing, should I be doing that? My focus of attention moves ahead of me. What are the worship band doing? The worship leader looks like she or he is into what they are doing. What's that, the band have their eyes closed this must be a serious bit. What's for dessert after Sunday lunch?

That's the thing with the brain you just never know where it will take you. On the other hand, have you every experienced nothingness, where the brain has gone completely blank, in my case it does that very quickly! It's that feeling of numbness, best described as nowhereness (if that was actually a word), a sensation of emptiness. In both situations, I ask where is my God are you in the silence or the busyness of my brain? If I'm honest I don't know, but I know He is not apart of the accusations that I hear in my head on a Sunday morning, "do you think you are any good", "you are a failure" or maybe that voice is saying, "you are beyond God's love".

To cut a short story even shorter, if you are struggling, there is probably someone else struggling and they could be sat next to you. Yes, God does communicate with us in many different ways and not always in our brains. He is always present, we just might not be aware of that sometimes.