The Silver Bullet of Gospel Growth – Not Having a Building

centrifugal-vs-centripetalI’ve been putting together the preaching programme for next term. And we’re heading back into the book of Acts. We won’t finish it this time round. But it’ll take us into uncharted territory as we progress through chapters 14-20. And some of that will be hugely encouraging as we trace the spread of the gospel through 1st Century Europe.

One of the things that I’ve had my eye on as I’ve read through these chapters is Paul’s missionary strategy for reaching people with the good news of the gospel. It seems as though he had a twofold strategy. He went first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. In other words, for as long as he was able he preached the gospel in the religious institutions of the day. He ran Christianity Explored in the synagogue while he could get away with it. But sooner or later that became unwelcome. And he was kicked out. But it didn’t matter. Paul then concentrated on taking the gospel to the irreligious; the Gentiles. To that end he was forced to use other buildings. If the gospel wasn’t welcomed by the religious establishment he’d have to use secular space. In Corinth he made much use of the house of Titius Justus, a God fearing convert. And in Ephesus he hired the Hall of Tyrannus (a person not a place).

There are clear parallels with our own situation at Christ Church Balham (CCB). We do not have a building. Our gospel ministry is not welcomed by some of the religious establishment. Historically the Diocese of Southwark and some local churches find our biblical  convictions and patterns of ministry offensive and have refused us use of their buildings (even though some of them are dying on their feet).

Our situation here at CCB is not that dissimilar to that faced by Paul. We meet in many locations. We meet in a (currently) ropey but in the fullness of time shiny new school hall in the morning, we meet in a dark and occasionally distracting pub function room in the evening, we meet in homes midweek for Growth Groups, we meet in a drama studio for ‘Knowing God’ and we meet in a curry house for the ‘One Life Suppers’.  That’s terrific. It gets the gospel out of the four walls of a church building and into the local community. And I have to keep telling myself that. Because as a recent post has  revealed, I occasionally hanker after a building, convinced that it’s the silver bullet to church growth. But it didn’t seem to be in Paul’s day. The gospel seemed to get along alright without the church’s need to call a place their own. And I have to keep telling myself that too! It’s no secret that I’d love us to have a permanent base in Balham. There are things that I think we could do that we can’t do at the moment. For example, I imagine ‘Boppers‘ would be easier with our own space in which to store the toys and a kitchen from which to serve an arresting array of homemade baking options! But I strongly suspect that one of the things that we’d continually have to fight against is the building-centric dynamic that would very quickly become the norm. I fear that we’d fall into a pattern of centring everything on getting people to come to our building rather jettisoning people out into the community. Our challenge is to continually remind ourselves that we’re meant to be a centrifugal church rather than a centripetal one (see diagram above for Physics lesson). In other words not merely sucking non-Christians into our building and church life but spitting Christians out from our building and church life. We must never become a holy huddle that retreat to the safety of our bunker to escape from the hostility of ‘the world’. If we ever have a building it’ll be nothing more than a base camp from which we strike out to explore the community around us and hit them with the good news of the gospel of peace.

There are implications to not having a building, of course. We’re unlikely to reach those who are keen for church to take place in church buildings. Obviously. And that’s ok. We can’t do everything. There are churches near us that can provide for people like that. St Nicholas’ Church in Tooting is a Church of England one that I wholeheartedly recommend. And Trinity Road Chapel is an FIEC alternative. But CCB can reach people who wouldn’t normally darken the door of a church building.

And that’s our challenge.

Convenience Church

richmond parkI went for a ride a few Sunday mornings ago. That’s unusual. Not the ride; ever since I was forced to stop playing rugby, cycling has become my exercise of choice. But riding on Sunday was out of the ordinary because I’m normally in church. Fair enough, it’s my job and it’s unavoidable. But I’d still be there even if I wasn’t the Senior Minister because I’m a Christian and gathering with your church family comes with the territory. But this just means that I’m not usually out and about on a Sunday morning. But that Sunday was different. We’d postponed our usual 10.30am meeting until 4pm so that we could enjoy our family carols in the dark. The candles work better when the light has something to disperse.

And so I went out riding. I headed off to Richmond Park and span round like a deranged hamster on speed. But on the way there, on the way round and on the way back I was overwhelmed at the numbers of people going about a very different Sunday morning to my usual fayre. I’m willing to admit that their usual morning church may also been postponed to take advantage of the ambience of a candlelit nativity. But I don’t buy that. I’m simply going to assume that for the vast majority of people who I saw, church simply isn’t on their radar. At Christmas. Or at any other time of the year. And I don’t blame them. Not entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I think they ought to be in church. But I understand that they’ve made the decision not to be. I think they’re wrong. But I get that they don’t want to be there. Presumably they’re non-Christians and so it goes with the territory! And so on this particular Sunday morning I passed families on bikes, kids playing rugby or football for their team and the park was heaving with people going for a walk.

So here’s the question that nagged me all the way home: How do we reach them if we’re asking them to give all that up and join us on a Sunday morning?

We could say (and people have said this to me) that non-Christians need to realise what’s really important and then they’ll come to church. And I agree. But it’s not as simple as that. It’s true that what we do expresses what we value. So if I take my kids to rugby on a Sunday morning instead of taking them to church it’s because I think that their skills with the oval ball is more important than knowing the God who made them for Himself. When it’s an ‘either-or’ decision, that’s called idolatry. [For the record, I think it’s a ‘both-and’ decision. In other words, I think you can be a Christian rugby player! But the Christian bit of that description means that when you have to choose, rugby loses out.] Therefore not being in church is what you’d expect from non-Christians, isn’t it?

And so, if we’re asking non-Christian people to join us at church (when they have lots of other exciting things that they could be doing) that’s going to be difficult. It’s virtually impossible. Without a change of heart. And that’s called conversion. That occurs through the work of the Spirit through the proclamation of the gospel. The same wonderful gospel they may not hear and understand if they don’t go to church! That’s the conundrum in a nutshell. It prompts the question, is our current evangelistic strategy flawed? Aren’t we asking non-Christians to make a choice that even Christians find difficult. We’re asking them to give up the things they value on a Sunday morning without having had the opportunity to be persuaded that there’s nothing that we could ever give up that would make gaining Christ look like a bad deal. Aren’t we simply saying that church is for Christians? It is. But not exclusively so. After all, the Apostle Paul expected the presence of unbelievers in the church gathering 1 Corinthians 14. So why do we do church on a Sunday morning? Is it sensible? I’m not the first to ask this. And I won’t be the last. And it’s not a straightforward question. But it’s got to be worth visiting, hasn’t it?

We thought long and hard about it as a church family a few years’ back. It wasn’t an easy time. In the end, we decided not to move our family congregation to 4pm. We did so not because of the strength of the arguments against it. But because of the strength of feeling against it. Weak leadership? Perhaps. But It didn’t seem wise at the time to oppose the consensus on what’s a matter of judgment. And I still think that was the right call. But what was so disheartening about that discussion was just how few of some very fine Christian people were able to see how church can be an integrated part of our evangelistic strategy. For sure, bringing people to church isn’t our only evangelistic strategy. It doesn’t and shouldn’t replace inviting people into our homes and our lives so that we can talk about the gospel. But that missional strategy, though much to be encouraged, is not the only string to our bow.

It may seem harsh but the responses we received to our proposal could have been interpreted to mean that people were more concerned about the inconvenience of the change of time than they were about the conversion of unbelievers. If church has any part in our evangelistic passion to reach the unbelievers among whom we live then when we do church has to be a matter for debate. And, in fact, it already has been. Most urban evangelical churches do evening church for their 20s. Why is that? Because we’ve worked out that this is the best time to get the 20s along. We’ve conceded that getting them out of bed before midday on a Sunday is ambitious! I’m not being critical. I’m simply pointing out that we’re already willing to make concessions in order to reach people. So why not do the same for families? It may be that there simply isn’t a time that works for everyone, not even every family. And it may be that 10am not 4pm is the best time. But it’s worth pondering, isn’t it?

Do I think therefore that we all ought to close our morning meetings and instead find a more convenient time to reach unbelievers? No. I’m not really sure what to propose, which is frustrating. But the memory of the vast numbers of people out and about on that Sunday morning will stay with me for a long time. And the numbers of kids at rugby was simply astonishing.

Rugby church, anyone?

My Sunday Highlight – Before it’s Happened!

StreathamAll things being equal (ceteris paribus if my A Level Economic memory hasn’t failed me in the same way that it did in the actual exam), I already know what my Sunday highlight will be this week. The Lord willing. Somewhat unexpectedly, it has to do with Streatham. Now what were the odds of that?! But we’ll come to that in due course. First, an extended metaphor …

Last weekend Rosslyn, the kids and I were away with old university friends in Birmingham. It was a great time with great mates. Since we were so near, I decided that on the way back home we’d stop in and have a look at the place where the gang of us had met, mucked around and matured. And studied. We couldn’t have picked a worse day to visit the University of Warwick. Hundreds of parents in cars rammed to the gunwales with duvets, kettles and their kids’ favourite posters were dropping their offspring at their new residences. I’m not sure who was most anxious; the parents or their sons and daughters. No doubt the event was marked with the obligatory picture on Facebook. And one would imagine that the previous evening meals had been shared and words said to mark and celebrate the passing of a child into independence. Significant moments for a family.

On Sunday at CCB, we’re going to commission Streatham Central Church. Whilst the parallels aren’t exact (I’m not planning to drive Alex Lyell the Church Planter to his new digs, I haven’t given him a fully charged mobile phone to call me when he gets into trouble and I haven’t sat him down for a long talk about the perils of peer pressure and the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption), there are nevertheless similarities. This church plant, conceived within the loins of Christ Church Balham (now there’s an image to play with) is about to enjoy their independence. No longer will the plant be just an idea; a hope for the future. It’s about to become a reality. And we thought we should mark that in an appropriate manner.  Not this time with a celebratory meal at Pizza Express (though I did suggest this) but by commissioning those that are going and appointing Jon Stidwill as co-elder. And then on Sunday evening we’ll interview Alex about the plant so that we can pray for this work in its earliest days.

We’ve asked the whole church family to join us. This is a family celebration, even for the newest members at CCB. We want Streatham Central to know that they go with our encouragement, our support and our tears. This is a significant moment for our church family. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Chugging for the Gospel?

ChuggersI imagine that, at some point or other, most of us have been ‘chugged’. To be chugged is the passive verbal form of the noun ‘chugger’. Chugging is what chuggers do to us. And chugging is ‘charity mugging’, perhaps more accurately known as street fundraising. Though I understand why they do it, I really don’t like being chugged. You? It’s usually such an unpleasantly false social situation that often makes me feel very awkward. To be fair, I’ve never been abused for declining their offer to hear more about the cause they’re championing. But I wish they wouldn’t approach me like we’re old friends who just happen to bump into each other on the Balham High Road. We’re not. I’ve lived here for over a decade and they’ve just come here via public transport because the area finally has a fair few people with disposable income. When I’m making my way purposefully from the Church Office to Sainsburys, I’m a man on a mission.  I’m going to buy lunch and I need to get back to my desk. I’ll stop for friends for a chat. And I’ll stop to cross the road for personal safety. But that’s about it. I don’t want to be accosted by some well-intentioned campaigner, no matter how well-meaning.

So how is street evangelism any different? At CCB, we’ve invited street evangelist Geoffrey Hilder to come and train a cohort of street evangelists. He’s a man with lots of experience and no little expertise in engaging strangers in gospel conversation. But aren’t we simply going to populate SW12 with a bunch of irritating chuggers (church muggers?) who waylay people going about their business?

I don’t think so. That’s certainly not our intention. And I don’t think it’s the effect either. Because whilst there are some superficial similarities in what we’re doing, it’s the dissimilarities that make all the difference. Think about it for a moment.

When chuggers chug they’re after my money. That’s not necessarily wrong. But they’re not there to give. They’re there to get. They’re raising money for a charity after all. And so I don’t really gain from the exchange. I’m no better off as a result of our interaction. I suppose I might feel the warm glow produced by an act of selfless philanthropy. But it doesn’t last because I don’t really believe in it in the way that I do the gospel. On the rare occasions I’ve filled in a form it’s because I’ve been put on the spot and felt coerced rather than persuaded.

When chuggers chug they’re trying to manipulate me. Is that too strong? Is it better if I say that I usually feel their approach is a little disingenuous? Invariably I’m approached by the young woman. The blokes don’t even try for eye contact. And I’m under no illusions here. It’s not that I’m irresistible to members of the opposite sex. No really! But presumably someone somewhere has worked out that middle-aged men are statistically more likely to stop and chat to an attractive, smiling young woman. Even if she is carrying a clipboard and wearing a duffel coat. The truth is, if I stop, I’m probably not stopping because the condition of the endanegered lesser spotted newt, for example, is a burning issue for me. And they’re not as interested in me as they appear.

When chuggers chug they’re in it for what they can get out of me. When that persuasive and smiley young woman approaches me, all she wants from me is in my wallet. And that’s fair enough. Presumably she really believes in whatever charity she’s raising money for. And why not? But the whole exchange isn’t really about me and my best interests. It’s about the thing she’s raising money for. And I get that.

So why is street evangelism different? Well, we’re giving people the opportunity to hear something incomparably wonderful. Something that they may not otherwise have access to. The overwhelming majority of people who live in our area do not go to church, they don’t go near a church and they have no intention of ever doing so unless perhaps it’s a friend’s wedding or funeral. Are we really going to leave them in that perilous state? We simply can’t assume that they’ll pick up the gospel from anywhere else. Not even the intelligent media can get it right. The gospel is something that God has entrusted to His church. And it’s for sharing. Of course, we normally try to do that through conversation’s with our friends. But our friends are a very small proportion of the people who live in Balham. And we’re a church that wants other to hear. So what we’re doing is driven by honest motives and characterised by integrity. We don’t stand to gain anything. We’re not in this for what we get out of it. This is love. We’re not trying to recruit members to our religious club. We’re giving people the opportunity to hear what God has done in Christ. We want them to know that they can be forgiven for the way they’ve treated the God for whom they were made. We want them to know that they can have a real relationship with the Lord of heaven and earth, who will love them both in this life and in the life to come. And there won’t be a standing order form in sight. But hopefully there will be many who hear the gospel from a gloriously unexpected conversation.

A Capital Idea – Antioch

Antioch PlanNice piece in this month’s Evangelicals Now. Good to get some coverage. And what with Noah’s release it was hardly a slow news month. Front page was a bonus. I was expecting the piece to be tucked away on the inside pages sandwiched between an advert for the Protestant Truth Society and a book review for the latest book bewailing the theological liberalism of those that don’t hold to a six day literal interpretation of Genesis 1.

It’s a well crafted piece of journalism, in my honest opinion. OK, so I wrote it. What’s especially brilliant is the bit where I quote myself! In my defence, I’d been asked to write up something for EN. I spoke with the administrator who just happens to be an old school friend and he gave me some hints and told me to send something in from which they could work. I hadn’t realised it was actually going to be attributed to me! If I’d known I wouldn’t have quoted myself!

Here’s the piece in full.

The Antioch Plan is a new church planting initiative for London.

It’s been launched by Co-Mission, the cross-denominational church planting network run by Richard Coekin. This exciting development is an attempt to gather and plant ‘house church’-sized congregations across the wide variety of Greater London’s geography. Their objective is to recruit, train and deploy a cohort of ten to 15 pioneer church planters and fund them over a three-year period. And they’ve been given £1 million to finance it.

Anglican and Free Church

Recruitment has begun already. A wide variety of men from both Anglican and Free Church backgrounds have responded to promotional materials in the Christian press. The first in a series of selection interviews with the Antioch Board has already taken place. Four men have been approved for the scheme and they’ll commence in September 2014. The second round of selection interviews is due to take place later this month.

The diversity of candidates represents Co-Mission’s determination to plant in the different communities across London. Two of the recently appointed planters are Tom Sweatman and Mike Reith. Tom is 25 years old and he has recently completed a ministry apprenticeship at Cornerstone Church in Kingston. He is planning a house church plant on the other side of the Thames in the suburb of Hampton.

Mike is approaching his retirement. He has spent the last 20 years as the senior minister at Dagenham Parish Church. Concerned by the lack of gospel-preaching churches near his home, he wants to do something bold for the thousands who have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. His plan is to plant in an ethnically mixed and deprived area of East London. These two planters and these two locations demonstrate the Co-Mission’s intention to resource a diverse range of new church plants.

Oak Hill and LTS

September’s cohort of pioneer church planters will have access to a training programme running alongside the already wellestablished Co-Mission apprenticeship training scheme. Lectures in theology will be provided at a Wednesday workshop by staff from Oak Hill and London Theological Seminary. Ministry training and Bible handling will be taught by senior Co-Mission ministers. The specific church planting training will be given by a variety of experienced church planters, many coming from the country’s gospel partnerships. In addition to a formal training programme, each planter will be encouraged to partner with an existing Co-Mission church, perhaps even recruiting a launch team from that church family. They will be encouraged to join a local cluster of Co-Mission churches to benefit from the wisdom and resources of existing churches. An Antioch church planting mentor will provide advice and support throughout the three-year launch period.

Over the past few years, Co-Mission has gained experience of planting both with individuals and small teams looking to grow house church plants. Two plants in particular have trialled the ideas that underpin the approach of Antioch.

From Putney to Brixton

The Boathouse Putney is a church plant into familiar territory for Co-Mission. But the way they did it was anything but familiar. Pete Snow and his wife moved into the area in 2010. Over an 18-month period they gathered a Bible study group and ranChristianity Explored courses for unbelievers. They launched a Sunday meeting in November 2012 with 25 people. They’ve recently appointed their first experienced pastor so that Pete can move to theological college to study.

Jay Marriner has spent the last two years training as a church planting apprentice at Christ Church Balham. During that time he has been trying to establish a reformed evangelical gospel work amongst the black community in the heart of Brixton. He has seen the Lord gather two Bible study groups, had contact with a large number of local residents and launched a mentoring scheme amongst teenagers at a local secondary school. He is currently studying at the Cornhill training course while he gears up for the imminent launch of a regular Sunday meeting.

Significant moment

Speaking to EN, the recently appointed director of Antioch and senior minister at Christ Church Balham, Richard Perkins, said: ‘It was a hugely significant moment in God’s plan of salvation when the first Christian believers at Antioch intentionally reached into a very different social context from their own. Antioch subsequently became the base for cross-cultural mission to the world. We’ve boldly called our church planting strategy after the church in Acts 11. Wouldn’t it be great if, as a result of these new fledgling church plants, a great number of people believe and turn to the Lord?’.

Still spaces

At the time of going to press, the Antioch Plan still had vacancies for its first cohort of pioneering planters.

If you wanted more details on Antioch, you can find them here.

Three Ways to Grow A Church

growthWhat is it that makes churches grow?

Is it down to their buildings? The music? The location? The leader? The preaching? The style of their meetings? Their website? Which factors combine to create the elusive growth dynamic and ensure that the numbers are on an ever upward curve?

I preached on Acts 11 a few weeks ago. Cracking sermon. Small crowd (just a reminder that growth isn’t necessarily automatic!) But in Acts, the church in Antioch grew. God grew it. And He did it using three factors.

Without these we won’t grow. At least we won’t get biblical growth. With them, we may grow. That’s up to God. But these are three factors that He invariably uses.

1. God grew the church in Antioch through evangelism on the ground (19-21)

In Acts 8  God’s way of getting Christians out of one geographical location so that they could share the gospel in another was persecution. It’s an unusual missional strategy. But an effective one. And as a result, Christians ended up travelling as far as Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon), Cyprus (modern-day venue for package holidays) and Antioch (modern-day Turkey). As these Christians fanned out across the Eastern Mediterranean, they shared the gospel. But their evangelism had a narrow focus. They went only to Jews. The idea that the gospel was good news for the world was slow to catch on. But some enterprising men from Cyprus and Cyrene understood that Jesus had died for the sins of the world, not simply the Jews. And so they employed a very different strategy. They went to Greeks. This was deliberate cross cultural mission. And it was the first time it had happened in the history of the Christian church. They intentionally reached into a very different culture from their own in order to share the gospel. The Lord clearly thought this missionary endeavour was a good thing because He blessed their efforts (21). And this church grew. And it happened simply through evangelism on the ground. It was carried out by unnamed church members. Luke doesn’t say who they were. They were just the normal men and women of the church family sharing their faith in the Lord Jesus. And so this was a church that grew through the evangelistic efforts of everyday church members on the ground.

2. God grew the church in Antioch through encouragement from the side (22-24)

What happened in Antioch was so remarkable that the church back at Jerusalem HQ decided to send an envoy. They sent Barnabas. And I think they knew exactly what they were doing when they sent a guy whose name meant ‘son of encouragement’. When Barnabas saw the undeniable evidence of the grace of God, he took it upon himself to encourage the church. But his encouragement had a particular shape to it. It wasn’t that he was generally encouraging (though I’m sure he was). His encouragement had a specific purpose. He encouraged them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He urged and exhorted them to steadfast wholehearted loyalty to the Lord Jesus. What a blessing this man must have been to the church! That’s the kind of encouragement that I need. And I suspect it’s the same for you, isn’t it? I need people in my life who are there for me when I’m tempted to half-hearted discipleship. It can be a very powerful thing when one person takes it upon themselves to encourage another. So ask yourself, is there someone in your small group who could benefit from some encouragement? There will always be people who are les mature in their faith than we are whom we can encourage. This is something that every single one of us can do.  Imagine how much better you’d live the Christian life if everyone around you was roaring on their support! Imagine how much difference we could make if we were as positive and as vocal in our encouragement as we sometimes are with our criticism! Churches can grow through encouragement from the side.

3. God grew the church in Antioch through education from the front  (25-26)

Very quickly Barnabas realised that he needed outside help. And so he went to Tarsus to get Saul. It takes a big man to admit that a church needs more than he can manage. Whether he realised that the workload was beyond him or that he was out of his depth, we’re not sure. But he knew that this church needed a teacher because they needed educating from the front. And so this church grew because they had at least one gifted teacher. The New Testament takes it for granted that churches will appoint senior, godly men to instruct them. Churches need people who can spend time studying the scriptures for themselves so that they can teach those scriptures to others. In Ephesians 4, Paul makes it clear that pastor-teachers equip the rest of the church body for diverse works of service so that the church can reach maturity, unity and stability. And so churches need teachers to explain and apply the truth of the gospel. When that happens, men and women like Barnabas know what to say to encourage others to wholehearted service of Christ. And every church member then knows how to explain the gospel. Churches need gifted teachers with time to teach. And we need to access good teaching.

Every single church member has a crucial part to play in the growth of their church. All of us can contribute. We can all get involved in sharing the gospel on the ground. We can encourage one another from the side to keep serving Christ. We can demand andwelcome teaching from the front. The ‘formula for growth’ is actually very simple. And so we’ll send our forthcoming Streatham plant off with little more than a leader, some people and a Bible. And we’ll send them off with every confidence that God can use that to grow them if He so chooses.

Exposed

2014-03-26 20.11.19I’m really proud of our mission. In a good way, not an unattractive arrogant full of our own brilliance sort of a way. I just thought it was gutsy. We only did two things, which was realistic given the busyness of London life and the size of our church family. And both of them were gospel talks. We didn’t try to piggy back the gospel on an otherwise entertaining event. Of course, there’s always a place for other types of events. We need a ‘mixed economy’ so that we make it easy for friends to access the gospel at an event they’re likely to attend. And if that means running a wine tasting or asking a group of lumberjacks to do their thing, then so be it (more of that in a later post). We want people to hear the brilliant news of Jesus Christ. And so we’ll put on all sorts of events that encourage people to come and church members to invite their friends.

What was so great about these two talks is that they did what they said on the tin. We said we’d address the issue of whether there was a God and why we should care. And we said that we’d address the issue of only having one life and being careful not to waste it. And we did. We had a half hour talk at each evening. And then we invited peopel to submit questions on paper or to text them in to the church mobile. And then I gave people the opportunity to comment or question things from the floor. There was a great atmosphere and more importantly there seemed to be serious engagement with the issues that had been raised.  Lots of conversations continued up until last orders.

In my opinion our guest speaker, Martin Ayers, did a tremendous job in both talks. And he was exceptional in question time. He’s on the staff team at All Saints Preston (who must be delighted to have him supplementing the Vicar, Daf Meririon-Jones for the three years of his curacy). And Martin’s the author of ‘Naked God: The Truth About God Exposed‘. It’s a great read (although every time I write these words on a computer our accounatbility software sends an e-mail alert to a couple of ‘partners’).

We held the talks in the Wheatsheaf, opposite Tooting Bec tube. The function room at the back is a fabulous space with a makeshift stage constructed from milk crates and a playwood sheet. The ales on tap were also terrific (try the Otter when you get a moment). Both evenings were well attended. Wednesday evening in particular was rammed. And there were good numbers of guests at both. About twenty non-Christians heard the gospel. And they could not have failed to engage with the issues. They were evenings to be proud of.

The truth is that we probably got fewer along to these events than we will with the forthcoming Axeman, Beer and Hog Roast evening. But the few got more to interact with. And so, do you go for more with fewer or less with more? It’s a trade off, isn’t it? I’m pleased that this time we went for more with fewer. Because perhaps it’ll mean that the fewer will go further.