22nd June 2023

Phil Knox says


I'm not old enough to remember the words uttered in 1966:
"They think it's all over..." but the great news for us as
the Church is that it is far from over.
We need to remember that we follow a saviour who knows
his way out of the grave.

Only half of UK Christians think it is important to share their faith.

I am still reeling from the England World Cup exit. I have been praying:
"Forgive us our captain, as we forgive referees who sin against us."
If that penalty had gone in, I reckon we could have won the tournament.

In 2013, IT worker James Howells disposed of his old computer
hard drive at a waste disposal site in Newport, Wales.
It contained cryptocurrency which, at the time, was not worth very much,
but since then it has increased dramatically in value,
and would now be worth over £340m.

In 2000, Blockbuster Video turned down the chance to purchase a small
streaming service called Netflix for a mere £50m.
That streaming service is now worth $141bn.
Blockbuster was liquidated in 2013.

As the UK Church, we could be making similar errors.
Most people who become Christians in the UK credit a friend or family
member as the most significant influence on the journey.

Our most effective witnesses are not those on platforms,
they are those living and telling the story of Jesus
to their closest companions.

Only half of adult UK Christians agree it is important to share their
faith with their friends. Many Christians know nothing about the
Great Commission (Matthew 28:19 - Go and make disciples etc)

The Church could be doing more to help.
Evangelist J.John surveyed 1,000 churches, asking them whether they
had ever provided intentional training to help their members share their story.
Just 36 had invested in their people in this area.
The workers are not only few, they could be far better equipped!

And yet the harvest is plentiful.
A friend of mine recently surveyed almost 1,000 non-Christian students.
They found that a staggering 78 per cent would come to church if invited
by a friend.

Where the church is biblically faithful, missionary in heart and welcoming
and innovative in practice, there is almost always growth.
The greatest opportunity for growth in the Church is to equip and inspire
each other to share, with our friends, with the good news of Jesus.

There are, of course, other factors at play.
We know that one of the main reasons Christians don't share their faith
is a lack of meaningful friendships with not-yet-Christians.

Society is also becoming increasingly fractured as we barricade ourselves
into our echo chambers, rarely discussing contentious issues with people
of differing worldviews.

When it comes to discipleship, the cultural winds blow in the direction
of individualism, rather than an outward facing, sacrificial one.
When it comes to thinking about mission, we may be more inclined to
the view that 'actions speak louder than words', rather than a
winsome invitation.

Perhaps we could be doing a better job of helping people understand
the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-37).
Holistic mission is not either/or, but a both/and.
Jesus' ministry was full of works and words.

I'm profoundly optimistic about the future of the church.
I know countless gifted, humble, passionate, sacrificial church leaders
who are doing an astonishingly good job.
My excitement is fuelled by this.

But what would it look like if we increased that percentage of churches
training their members to confidently share their faith?

What could happen if all of us were just a little more intentional about
praying for friends, reaching out in love and inviting expectantly?

What if we made the most of the opportunities before us?

My conviction is that many more people would come to faith,
the Church would grow and Jesus would be glorified.

Let's not miss this.

May we be the generation that takes hold of the opportunity God gives us.

© 2023 Premier Christianity
Phil Knox is evangelism and missiology senior specialist at the
Evangelical Alliance.
He is the author of Story Bearer: How to share your faith with your friends
and The Best of Friends: Choose wisely, care well (both IVP)