For a fire to burn it needs three essential ingredients: fuel, oxygen and heat. If you remove any one of those three elements then the fire goes out. Fire extinguishers work by removing one or more of those three from the equation. The fire blanket smothers the fire by removing the oxygen. A CO2 extinguisher cools the fire by drastically reducing the heat. And a foam extinguisher isolates the fuel. As you can see, my time in the Combined Cadet Force wasn’t wasted!
For a fire to make progress you need each one of those three elements. In the same way, for a church to make evangelistic progress it needs three essential ingredients: good news to proclaim, a messenger to share it and an audience to engage with it. Take any one of those three elements away and the fire goes out. Where do you think that your church is weakest?
Are you clear on the gospel? Are you good to go with the gospel? And are there people willing to listen?
Where do you think you’re weakest?
For me, it’s the audience bit. I know the gospel. And I’m willing to share it. But I have become aware that although we know and are known by lots of people in and around Balham, we know far too few at anything more than a superficial level. We simply haven’t invested as we would have wanted to in deep non-superficial relationships. There are lots of reasons for that which I won’t bore you with. But we’re determined not to make those reasons excuses. Excuses won’t ignite the evangelistic fire that we long to see burning in our lives.
But the summer offers lots of opportunities to strengthen the audience component. We’ve got more time. There’s opportunity. And lots of the church events that usually fill up our diaries simply aren’t happening. The church programme is considerably lighter than usual. And so it’s a great time of year to be able invest in non-superficial relationships with friends that God has brought into our lives. So why not host a BBQ and have both those from your small group Bible study and your workplace along? Why not go cycling with a bunch from church as well as others who also love time spent on two wheels? Why not take a longer lunch break with a colleague in the park? Why not organise a game of frisbee on the common and then share post match analysis with a drink at the local? Why not go for a summer walk along the coast with a gang from church and friends you’ve made at your spin class? Why not have a picnic in the countryside with the family of your son or daughter’s best friend from school? The possibilities are seemingly endless.
I take it that we all want the evangelistic fire to burn bright in our church. And so I wonder whether we could all spend the summer paying more attention to the audience component.