Explore Christianity

Up your publicity!
HOPE Explored is a key part of the strategy for churches in Cambridge, with Alpha and Christianity Explored courses running right across the city. They publicised centrally with the distribution of 45,000 leaflets to every home in Cambridge and the surrounding villages!
 
For churches in Dinas, their social action week was a great chance to give out invitations to their Alpha celebration supper and four churches – why not have something ready to leave with people after you’ve served them?
 
Schools
 
ExploRE (based on Youth Alpha) is a 12-week programme providing an overview of the Christian Faith. It is designed to be used by teachers, youth workers and church workers who want to take the message of Jesus into schools. Leaders have the opportunity to outline what they believe and students have the opportunity to explore and discuss their own views, as well as listening to those of others. Written by experienced teachers and filled with fun activities, it fits seamlessly into the national guidelines for teaching RE at Key Stage 3 and has gained government support as part of the National Curriculum. For more details check out www.exploreforschools.co.uk.
Youth Groups
 
How about getting your youth group to text or email their friends, inviting them to come for a pizza and do a Youth Alpha? It’s great material for the young people of your church and a wonderful opportunity for their friends to come to Christ. For more details see www.youthalpha.org.
Workplace
 
For many of us the workplace is where we spend a high percentage of our lives and while the workplace these days comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, wouldn’t it be great to see short, sharp lunch time or after work get togethers, where discussion takes place and faith can be shared? Some of the resources in the Resource section lend themselves to such a use. See Chapter 17 for more thoughts on evangelism in the workplace.
Your Street / Neighbourhood
 
‘Loving our neighbours’ comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes – a summer barbecue, mulled wine at Christmas, a chat over the garden fence or an exchange of pleasantries as you meet on the stairs. But maybe there is an opportunity for more – how about a specific invitation to explore faith – an Alpha-style course on your street or in your apartment? Book clubs or film nights are increasingly popular and provide a great opportunity to get together with friends and explore some of the big issues of life. The Bible Society’s Reel Issues magazine might well help you discuss the faith elements of current cinema releases.
Story Telling Evening
 
Why not consider getting someone with a great story, which is personally relevant and glorifies God, to tell their tale (either in a home or down the pub – whatever would work best) and then with a group of friends open up the discussion and talk about it?
 
Back To Church Sunday
Back To Church Sunday www.backtochurch.co.uk is a simple invitational idea which began in Manchester in 2004. Since then over 70,000 people have come back to church on a single Sunday in each year because their friends invited them. But the big numbers aren’t the true story. The motto for Back To Church Sunday is ‘success is one, success is one big church’.
What does this mean? Well ‘success is one’ is about one person inviting one person. For many people evangelism seems so far away from their own lives. But this, the shortest step in evangelism, simply involves asking someone you know to something you love. And in 2008, 37,000 people did just that!
The motto ‘success is one big church’ is where the Back To Church vision overlaps with the HOPE vision of ‘Do more, do it together . . .’ Anglican, Baptist, Salvation Army, Methodist and many other churches are now part of the Back To Church family. They all aim to invite their friends on a single Sunday at the end of September, using common publicity and a common theme, so that the nation can recognise Christians as belonging to the ‘one big church’ of Jesus Christ. Media coverage has been fantastic because all churches work together. And the DNA of invitation becomes deeply grafted in to local churches all over the country.
HOPE and Harvest
For many churches, especially in our villages, Harvest Festival remains a key event in the church year. This fits very well with the ‘invitational season’ in the autumn, when the Alpha course, Back To Church Sunday and other initiatives have a high profile. So people can be invited to church at Harvest and can hear about God’s invitation and also hear about God’s call for a harvest of justice. This fits so well with the HOPE theme of doing more in word and action.

This holistic mission is happening at Harvest all over the country. Traditional churches find it easy and natural to use Harvest to move the mission of God forward where they are. Listen to this church in West Sussex, bringing evangelism and community outreach together with a passion to help the poor, locally and in the two-thirds world: ‘Here at Lyminster we are having a Harvest Family Communion as the focus for our Back To Church Sunday. Apart from collecting goods for Worthing Churches Homeless Projects and Littlehampton Homelink we are giving our collection to our Diocesan African Appeal. (And Africa is the theme for our Harvest meal at The 6 Bells on Wednesday evening.)’ 
 
Slum Survivor
Autumn is also a great time to get your young people looking outwards and thinking about the realities of life for people in developing countries. Soul Action have come up with a fantastic initiative called Slum Survivor where groups spend a weekend living in the slum-like conditions that one billion people face for a lifetime. See www.soulaction.org/slumsurvivor for everything you need to run one of these events.