TEN WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR CHURCH

Here are some suggestions about how to use MYW exercises in your existing programmes. Start with your own small group, or whoever wants to start. Prove it there first.

1. Sunday church sessions

If your congregation is around fifty or less, like the vast majority of churches in Australia, instead of a sermon, do one of these exercises. Each Sunday do one more, once or twice each month. Some of the sessions can be adapted to sermon input.

2. Regular sessions for a social service team.

To keep the team reminded of the evangelistic edge to all church life, and to increase their capacity to cross over with permission, introduce these exercises to their training, on a regular basis. When “clients” request an explanation of why we do what we do, there is no barrier to what they can say. An imposed talk or a pressure to attend church will be counter-productive. You can put up posters which say “Ask me why?” OR “God loves you and so do I.”

3. Prayers for the Lost in church.

Many churches pray for everything except those whom they would love to see come to follow Jesus. Ask the minister, worship team or whoever you need to , to make it a regular structured and listed part of Sunday’s “prayers for others”. Make them holistic, not just scalp-hunting prayers, an expression of all our love.

4. Say HHii! Month

Also known as the “Cancel Everything” month. Once or twice a year, instead of inviting the evangelist to town, invite the congregation to become the visiting evangelist. They are to invite their friends in, no excuses. Simple as that.

Prepare with special prayer groups , special Sunday prayers, and Prayer Triplets. Set up the sort of special event to which you feel you CAN invite your house guests. Print really nice invitations.

Cancel for the entire month ALL other church group meetings and committee meetings, in order to make time to Say Hhii! H=hospitality at home. I= Intercession and Invitation. Get really serious about this , or it will remain an optional extra in their life.

Have an Alpha course or something similar ready to follow up the Say Hhii month, so that people who come to your special event can be invited to attend it. This structure teaches the congregation where their particular responsibility lies.

In summary, the sequence goes: Book up the month of no-meetings. Prepare one special invitational event at the end of that month. Print and distribute really special invitation cards to it. Set up special prayer. Now, stay home with friends or make new friends! Don’t be seen at church. Special Event. Follow-up course. Evaluation. Set the dates for the next one.

5. For Group Leaders for Alpha, Emmaus Walk, or similar courses.

Many courses follow the Alpha model of a friendly-dinner and discussion approach, however there is a weakness in the model that MYW addresses. That is, the group leaders are not always at ease, respectful or friendly with their own faith-sharing. The group may be too passive to the DVD talk, or the ill-at-ease leader may talk too much, or answer too many questions. MYW training moves them to the next level, and the effect is multiplied through the groups.

6. A special study series for a small group or a weekend.

Advertise the course for anyone interested, in your church and any others. If you don’t get enough the first time, postpone the course and keep going wider until you get ten to enrol. Ask them what they want to do, where their needs are, and select the exercises accordingly.

Take them away for a weekend to do the bulk of it, and then continue to meet for six weeks. Agree from the outset that you will return and do some more within the year. The effect of this is to say that you mean to check up on how you have all continued to implement the learnings.

7. Working with an inter-church team on a mission project.

This works the same as for #6, but they will need to take a bit of time at the beginning to say why their church wants to come and do this. They may already know each personally from the town, through business, schools, sport, etc, but this is different so do not miss it out. It builds a deeper commonality among them. Then, their different emphases and traditions, and ways of praying will not get in the way.

8. In connection with routine family life and working life.

If you are talking about living the faith at home or at work, you will have topics to do with relationships and ethics. Throw in one or two of the MYW case-study exercises too, tailored to the situation. That sense of practical context will help very much.

9. In preparation for involvement in a community festival.

As with preparing mission teams above, the festival team need preparation of not inly their programme but their minds and hearts. The casual activities of community festivals can make it seem too hard to “get serious”. The relaxed approach of these exercise, especially entry and empty points, will provide ways of conversation, and provide new ideas for the content of your displays.

10. In reviewing the ways you can impact your community.

When you do the exercises, especially the entry and empty points, it may suggest new ways to engage with your community. When you do your church future-planning, someone who has done these exercises may passionately get an idea upon how to reach out. Not just in conversation but in action too. You won’t be just doing community welfare work, but entering people’s lives with ALL the love of God, full of gentleness and respect.

Am I the only one to worry that something this easy, this authentic, simply can’t be impressive? can’t bring the changes it describes, can’t move people along very far? Don’t we need someone impressive, something dramatic? MYW will make you wonder!

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