In Matthew 28 Jesus famously says “go and make disciples of all nations.” This command is known the “Great Commission.”

But for us, has it become the Great Omission instead?

We so easily go another week, or another month, doing almost nothing about it.

This year we hope, with God’s help, to see that change.

Read on to see why we think this should be our focus for 2020, and what is going to be involved.

Why?

Why have “The Great Omission” as our focus for 2020?

Over the past few months, our church council has been working through an evaluation tool produced by the diocese. It has helped us to assess different aspects of church life – celebrating what is good, and highlighting areas for attention. Strikingly, the main areas which we thought needed attention were those to do with reaching out.

As an example, on a typical Sunday we have perhaps a dozen visitors. About half are Christians new to the area who are joining us as a church family. About half of the others are family or friends who are visiting people in the church. Which leaves two or three people who wouldn’t call themselves Christians, who are with us because they want to find out more. We praise God for the two or three! But it is still a relatively limited impact.

But is the issue that we don’t think it’s important to be reaching out with the gospel?  Is it that we don’t think it’s important to see people come to know the Lord Jesus for the first time? To see them responding with repentance and faith? We don’t think so. For many (most?) of us, it’s not that we are actively trying to avoid telling others about Jesus. But rather that we are not actively thinking about it much at all.  So we hope that this year’s focus will help that to change.

But there are two other issues which we feel makes the challenge much harder…

Our Limited Contacts

Who are the people that you are regularly having conversations with that touch on faith?  Who it would be quite natural for you now to invite along to church?  Who would you invite to Life Explored or Christianity Explored discussion evenings? 

For a lot of us, there’s no-one. Or nearly no-one.

Perhaps that’s because we don’t know that many non-Christians in the first place. And those we do know, we only barely know.

If we were spending regular time with people, going through significant times with them, and spending time in conversation, then perhaps opportunities to talk about our hope would come. But many of us struggle with this because we are not making those sorts of relationships and having those sorts of conversations.

Or it might be that we do have these kinds of conversations, but we can’t imagine how we could confidently speak of the good news of Jesus within them.

So the courses and events that we are currently running as a church are so far away from what would be a natural next step that it’s just not hitting the mark.

Instead, we want to think about how we can develop and deepen our relationships with others

Our Difficult Context

Evangelist Rico Tice speaks of how back in the 1950s we lived in a culture where Christianity was respected, and people knew the ideas of who God was, the idea of sin and so on. This meant that evangelism began with those categories in place and explained the gospel and how someone could respond.

By the 1980s, there were many more barriers in the way of people coming to faith. Christianity was viewed with reluctance, e.g. “Christians are weird,”  “Christianity is irrelevant”, “science has disproved God” and so those barriers had to be removed first before then people would come to an event and hear and respond.

But fast forward to today, and it is very different again. Christianity is viewed with resentment and ridicule. And there seems to be very little common ground between us and the people we meet. That makes reaching out to people much harder, and means that it generally takes much longer for people to come to faith in Christ.

Let’s put it another way. Imagine a scale from A to Z. At “Z” is the person who has heard, understood and now believes the gospel, and just needs help to respond. At “A” is the other extreme – someone who knows nothing about Christianity, in fact he or she has an ingrained suspicion and hostility toward it.

Where are most of your non-Christian colleagues, course mates, neighbours and friends on that scale? 50 years ago we might have expected lots towards the ‘Z’ end of the alphabet. But today, it’s much more likely your answer is in the “A-G” section!

It shows that as well as developing and deepening relationships with people, we also need to be displaying the love of God to them, so that they begin to see not only the truth, but also the goodness of the gospel.

Who are the people that you are regularly having conversations with that touch on faith?  Who it would be quite natural for you now to invite along to church?  Who would you invite to Life Explored or Christianity Explored discussion evenings? 

For a lot of us, there’s no-one. Or nearly no-one.

Perhaps that’s because we don’t know that many non-Christians in the first place. And those we do know, we only barely know.

If we were spending regular time with people, going through significant times with them, and spending time in conversation, then perhaps opportunities to talk about our hope would come. But many of us struggle with this because we are not making those sorts of relationships and having those sorts of conversations.

Or it might be that we do have these kinds of conversations, but we can’t imagine how we could confidently speak of the good news of Jesus within them.

So the courses and events that we are currently running as a church are so far away from what would be a natural next step that it’s just not hitting the mark.

Instead, we want to think about how we can develop and deepen our relationships with others….

Evangelist Rico Tice speaks of how back in the 1950s we lived in a culture where Christianity was respected, and people knew the ideas of who God was, the idea of sin and so on. This meant that evangelism began with those categories in place and explained the gospel and how someone could respond.

By the 1980s, there were many more barriers in the way of people coming to faith. Christianity was viewed with reluctance, e.g. “Christians are weird,”  “Christianity is irrelevant”, “science has disproved God” and so those barriers had to be removed first before then people would come to an event and hear and respond.

But fast forward to today, and it is very different again. Christianity is viewed with resentment and ridicule. And there seems to be very little common ground between us and the people we meet. That makes reaching out to people much harder, and means that it generally takes much longer for people to come to faith in Christ.

Let’s put it another way. Imagine a scale from A to Z. At “Z” is the person who has heard, understood and now believes the gospel, and just needs help to respond. At “A” is the other extreme – someone who knows nothing about Christianity, in fact he or she has a ingrained suspicion and hostility toward it.

Where are most of your non-Christian colleagues, course mates, neighbours and friends on that scale? 50 years ago we might have expected lots towards the ‘Z’ end of the alphabet. But today, it’s much more likely your answer is in the “A-G” section!

It shows that as well as developing and deepening relationships with people, we also need to be displaying the love of God to them, so that they begin to see not only the truth, but also the goodness of the gospel.