Before I’d even had breakfast I got a ‘knock back’ text about the Lennox evening. Bit gutted. This was the talk that he needed to hear. But he disagreed and the Lord is king.
The success rate on inviting is pretty low. But to my way of thinking you have two options; one, quit or two, ask more people because the next one might say ‘yes’! Now is not the time for an indepth analysis and evaluation of church evangelistic strategies. We can do that in a few week’s time when the dust has settled. Now is the time to get stuck in. And so I’m going with the ‘ask more people’ strategy! I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said that if you gave him four hours to cut down a tree he’d spend the first three sharpening the blade. Trouble is that there’s not much time left on this mission so I’m just hacking around doing what I can with what I have. I’ll sharpen the evangelistic blade over the summer!
Dropped the kids at school and headed back home to let the workmen in. They’re fixing the bathrooms. The last time I had a shower was November. Obviously I’ve had the occasional bath since but I’ve missed my shower! One of the workmen is involved in Cornerstone Church in Kingston and so it’s been great to catch up on what’s been going on over in the Surrey branch of AP4L!
Cleared the e-mail inbox and headed down to Balham to join Sim and Pete. They were filming for Saturday night and I thought I’d get in on the act. It just seemed like an excuse to engage people in conversation and get some fliers into people’s hands. You get a mixed bag at ten o’clock in Balham but the only group that’s really missing are the city workers. But I think we caught a few that were throwing a sickie! Unexpectedly bumped into an old acquanitance who’s good friends with a good friend. Do you follow that? She’s got a church background but has moved on. She described herself as spiritual but her spirituality had limited space for Jesus. We chatted for a bit but she had work to get to. Who knows, she may come on Saturday night and I think she’ll come and try church at some stage.
Lots of CCB’s evangelistic strategy is built on the friendship evangelism route of getting people to events. It’s one approach and it’s a good one. But it’s good to face the fear and just invite people at random. This kind of ‘cold contact’ hasn’t been part of my evangelical heritage. I’ve not done a whole load of thinking on it but I’m not prepared to dismiss it out of hand. Pete Woodcock keeps championing its’ value and he’s worth listening to. Not always but occasionally! Not everyone should do ‘cold contact’; I can’t imagine St Helen’s doing this in the Square Mile or Emmanuel Wimbledon doing it in the Village. But I can imagine us hijacking people on the Balham High Road. Not everyone can do it; I think you need to be pretty relaxed, informal and naturally winsome. It doesn’t need to be ‘cold’ contact. I like to think I’m warm!
Anyway, back to Balham. We were competing with the chuggers [charity muggers] and I think we came out on top. The trouble with most chuggers is that they all pretend that they want to be your best mate. And they don’t. They just want your money. I’m glad that there are charities but their warmth is sometimes disingenuous. People seemed very happy to talk to us and we probably gave Sim more material than he knows what to do with.
Got back just before lunch and worked on a first draft of the full text version for Saturday Night. Sent this to everyone who needs to see it so that I can get their input. Spent the afternoon doing text work for Luke 1 sermon on Sunday morning. It’s shaping up. I’ve got an outline and an idea what I’m trying to do. Sunday seems a long way off though. Lots of water to flow under the bridge until then. Hard to concentrate on something without the imminent fear of the deadline. And Saturday’s event feels like the biggest deadline. Wondering whether I can download a Driscoll, play it through the speakers and lip sync. Would anyone notice? Would anyone mind?
Picked the kids up from After School Club. Rufus is still in with a shout of being in the gymnastics team but I sense he has his father’s finesse and so disappointment is just round the corner. Picking them up from school means I finish the working day at 5.30pm which is a bit of a hassle. But I’m aware that most Dads don’t get to do this. Our ambling walk back usally takes about 20 minutes during which time Flora will ask me whether she can i. watch TV ii. play Education City or iii. visit the Cosy Corner on average once every 100 metres. The kids don’t chat much. They occasionally have things to say but it’s all part of the backdrop without which I’d have a very different relationship with our kids.
The lovely ‘J Pro’ came to baby sit so that Rosslyn and I could head off to the Lennox evening. We picked up a friend on the way and met two of Rosslyn’s colleagues at St George’s. The lecture theatre was packed. I’m not sure what the capacity was but I’d hazard a guess at over 300. And we spilled over into an overflow theatre. CJ Davis from St Nicholas’ Tooting hosted the evening with characteristic aplomb and sheer presence. Some blokes just have it through breeding. And CJ has it in bucketfulls!
John Lennox was brilliant. Every time he was about to lose me he dropped in an illustration to help me grasp the idea. It was a warm lecture theatre and though he gave us a thorough cerebral workout he kept us with him all the way. I could have done with a clearer structure to help me know where we were going and where we’d been. But you couldn’t have failed to come out of there thinking that science and Christianity aren’t ebenmies. John did a great job of making sure that he did more than simply make a case for Theism. He made a case for Christian Theism. People heard an eminent scientist give them the gospel. It was hugely encouraging to see so many CCBers with mates.
The question time worked because John didn’t try to answer the question in such a way that everyone would understand. He answered the questionner who’d asked. And so though he lost me in one or two of his answers I was convinced that the questionner was grateful that he hadn’t dumbed down. We were done shortly after half nine and so we headed off into Balham for a drink and debrief. Our guests really appreciated the evening. They were effusive in their praise and conversation flowed until it was bedtime. There’s lots to follow up on.
For those that are interested, Al Stewart’s Men’s Curry Night talk is available here. Sadly the interview is consigned to the mists of time! Probably for the best.