Languages are not my thing. It’s embarrassing but I really struggle to pick them up and then remember them. I’m that classic Birt abroad who has to rely on pals, body language and google translate. Heading abroad can feel a bit intimidating, a bit of a whirlwind and sometimes tiring if you're not on a holiday and needing to understand the culture and the environment. For so many people this is what it can feel like stepping into church and the Christian sphere.
Getting out and getting invitational is brilliant but we need to create an environment that matches the warm welcome you have already offered and one that actually makes a little sense. Here are some ideas and good places to start…
Putting it Simply…
My mate Brogan, a Student Worker up in York, was regularly seeing students giving their lives to Jesus on campus mid-week who were super keen to get along to church. This could sometimes be a whole 6 days away, a long time to wait when your life’s just changed so dramatically.
Students were hungry to know more but had little to no framework to know what next. Brogan started sending over daily Bible readings to the students and over time developed a brilliant 14 day reading plan.
This reading plan assumes no prior knowledge or understanding. It unpacks how to simply use a Bible and it explains the key plot lines and key figures in the Bible. The Bible study helps new believers to engage with both the Old and New Testaments and be transformed by them. It goes beyond an invitation and it leads people to know how to engage with Jesus using accessible language, without the jargon and the confusion.
Communication isn’t just verbal. It’s not just the words that we speak, it’s how we listen and respond. What we communicate and how we communicate are two very different things.
We’re not here to ram invitations at people, we are called to go and make disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them the commands of Jesus. We are called to love God and love one another. An invitation on its own doesn’t cut it. Ruth, a student worker in Salford, is brilliant at listening and creating environments for students to feel known and to access church when it’s alien to their normal.
“Equipping students this year has been a lot of one to one coaching, lots of conversations, lots of vision and lots of opportunities to invite people into community. We have been gentle in coaching, case by case, student by student, pitched at where they are at.
The focus is to keep on communicating the vision and building confidence.
The key is to LISTEN and hear stories, hear where people are at and get to know them for them.”
As a follower of Jesus, church is probably a place you know you belong in, a place you are known and feel safe in. Let's make it that for everyone.