Andy renewed our friendship and fellowship in the gospel with Culduthel Christian Centre in Inverness recently. It’s a church we have a close relationship with at Solas, and Andy Bannister went back there recently for a weekend of ministry. This took place when the meeting and travel restrictions prevented him making the long trip up the A9 and so zoomed in from his study in Dundee.
Andy’s first talk was on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in a world of religions. The aim of that talk was to show folks both the unique message, and the unique person of Jesus; that both He and his gospel are quite apart from other truth claims.
The other meeting Andy took part in up there was an open online Q&A, on which he was joined by Culduthel’s pastor Alistair Macleod, and Angus Jamieson another of their leaders. The three of them interviewed each other, asking questions about how they each came to faith initially – but then also why they are still followers of Jesus today, weaving in a little bit of apologetics as they went. Then the floor was opened for a good time of Q&A.
Andy said, “These were a really lovely pair of evenings which I really enjoyed doing with the Culduthel folks. The key thing was that they used these sessions to launch their Christianity Explored course the following week. They wanted to do a bit of pre-evangelism, and then offer the course to people who wanted to explore the issues further. I was really glad to hear that twenty or so people are now doing the course too.”
One of our observations at Solas is that there are many people who are interested in spirituality, many who are interested in Jesus – and are asking serious questions. Many of them are just unsure about where to start looking. Take the Bible for instance, which can be fairly intimidating for the uninitiated. If someone opens it at random and stumbles in Leviticus, with no frame of reference, that’s going to be difficult for them. It’s important to help people see that if Jesus really is “the way, the truth and the life” then the whole thing centres on Him, and that’s where to start.
The other side of the story that Andy, Angus and Alistair tried to convey is the difference that Jesus makes to life today. They each sought to keep the focus on Jesus as they explained why as a writer, businessman and pastor respectively – they find that Jesus makes sense of life today.
There is sometimes a gap in our churches in this area of pre-evangelism. There are people who are gently interested, but are perhaps completely unfamiliar with the Christian faith, and interpret the world through a whole series of different lenses. Learning to begin by intriguing these folks with Jesus can lead onto more searching conversations.
Andy Bannister commented, “A church’s evangelism strategy should look a bit like a funnel. It needs to be as wide-as-possible at one end to draw in as many people as possible through all manner of events in which they form relationships with people in their community. They can be low-key things such as parent and toddler groups, community BBQ’s, charity quiz-nights or carol services. Secondly you need some pre-evangelism events. The funnel narrows a bit as people who are interested in going further with Jesus are identified, there maybe questions to be asked here about the purpose of life. Then thirdly the funnel narrows a bit more as people who really want to know can do Alpha or Christianity Explored. Finally of course, those who are persuaded, and who come to faith in Christ don’t stop there- but move through into discipleship.”
What is sometimes missing is that middle section, the pre-evangelism between the social event and the evangelistic course. It was great to be able to deliberately work on that with our friends at Culduthel in Inverness.