Perth Baptist Church (PBC) invited Solas to lead three evenings to encourage and equip Christians in persuasive evangelism, which we were absolutely delighted to do! PBC do not run a traditional Sunday evening service, but have been pioneering what they call ‘MPGs’ which stands for Multi-Purpose Gatherings. On a typical Sunday night, everyone gathers for refreshments before splitting up into different parts of the building for courses such as ALPHA or The Prayer Course. Its been really successful in Perth, with people coming for fellowship and gaining skills and godly wisdom for many different aspects of life.
PBC’s church pastor Eder Feraz ran just one MPG for these three weeks though – and invited friends from many different churches to join us for these sessions – and it was a joy to chat to many people from at least seven local churches. It was encouraging to see so many churches represented, and a common desire from so many folk to get just a little better at sharing their faith.
Andy Bannister led the first evening in which he explored the basics of conversational evangelism, where asking questions can open the door to gospel conversations. Not only does the question asking approach diffuse hostility, but it can also facilitate conversations in places such as the wrokplace, where more direct proclamation is impossible. As ever, at Solas events there was a Q&A time and the topics raised included suffering, how to start spiritual conversations, apathy, questions about secular work, and the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelism.
Andy returned for the second week of the MPG’s at PBC and looked further at one of the most significant topics facing the church today: how to engage the apathetic. While some of the people we meet have definite ideological or religious commitments and want to debate ideas, we increasingly meet people who profess total disinterest in God. They do however care deeply about other things such as human rights and dignity, or the environment – all of which make most sense in a Christian worldview. Andy explained how the ‘Have You Ever Wondered?’ questions can be a pre-evangelistic bridge from their world towards the gospel.
On the third week, as Andy headed south on route to a week of mission in the Channel Islands, Gavin Matthews presnted the Solas material. He looked at some inspiring and creative ways in which people are sharing the gospel all over the UK today, before inviting people to pray for their own Christian witness and for people they long to see coming to Christ. The three evenings concluded with a reminder that the gospel is ultimately good news, good for the lost as it contains the promise of forgiveness and eternal life and also good news for us! That is because we’ve all failed, especially in evangelism – but the gospel promise is that all our sins and failures are paid for at the cross. We are therefore free to get involved in God’s mission, not out of guilt, duty or seeking approval – but because the love of Christ compells us!
It was a great privilege for us at Solas to work with PBC again, and meet so many people from such a wide variety of churches.