by ANDY BANNISTER & GAVIN MATTHEWS
One of the things we sometimes do at Solas (although it’s not the thing we are primarily about), is to speak to churches and church groups around the country. We tend to two things when we do that, we either go and teach Christians how they can share their faith more effectively in our secular age – or we like to take topics that are more directly evangelistic, and pitch on the assumption that there will be people in the audience who are not Christians. In the last month, Andy Bannister has spoken at Tayside Christian Fellowship in Perth (Scotland!), one of the Filling Stations, near Aberdeen, and Perth Baptist Church, while Gavin Matthews was at Harvest Church in Hamilton. (read more about Solas and the Filling Station here).
Andy has been speaking on some really key ideas in the Christian faith such as The Uniqueness of Jesus in a World of Competing Faiths, and why that matters. Of course, it isn’t the church who says that Jesus is utterly unique, it’s actually Jesus himself who makes the amazing claim, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except through me” in John 14. Andy explored ways of proclaiming the uniqueness of Jesus without getting dismissed as bigoted, or intolerant.
Meanwhile Gavin Matthews, who is part of the Solas team, had the privilege of speaking at Harvest Church in Hamilton. Harvest is a lively, growing church with a real heart for mission who are in the process of moving out of their rented space in a community centre and into their own building. Their worship leader is Mark Hinde, a great friend of Solas, who spoke on behalf of Open Doors at our Confident Christianity conference in Perth recently. Gavin spoke from the story of the feeding of the 5000+ about not being daunted by the scale and difficulty of the task of evangelism today, but offering what we have to Jesus. The message was that evangelism is for ordinary Christians, not just exceptionally gifted ones like Billy Graham, John Wesley or George Whitfield! Most of us feel about as inadequate as 5 loaves and 2 small fish to feed a multitude, but yet we can be used by Jesus.
Then, more recently, Andy Bannister had the opportunity to speak at Perth Baptist Church on the subject of meaning in life, which Google ranked as the hardest possible question to answer. Andy went to Jesus’ parable of the 2 Sons, and showed that the younger ‘prodigal’ son sought to carve out his own meaning in life in rebellion against his Father; yet the older son was equally far from his Father, lost in his own self-righteousness and pride. The point is that real meaning and purpose in life isn’t found in rebellion or legalism, but by our relationship to God our Father being restored when we respond to His grace , pictured so beautifully in the story as a Father’s embrace.
It’s part of our mission at Solas to equip and teach the church. So when we’re invited we go we love doing that. Whether it’s in our conferences, training events, Sunday services or in evangelistic outreach events; we are always in partnership with local churches. One of the things that make that a real joy is that in doing so we don’t just forge useful working arrangements; but also make great friends.