A new decade, a fresh wave of evangelism
A new decade brings a time for fresh vision for Elim. General Superintendent Chris Cartwright spoke to Matthew Murray
Chris, tell us about Advance? What’s on your heart for the Elim Movement?
It’s a new year, a new decade and Elim is as committed as ever to move together in mission.
That’s why I want to introduce Advance, where we are calling every Elim leader and church to advance into fresh mission, extending their influence, impact and outreach, reaching and serving the local community and beyond.
We are committed to beginning this next decade with a call to a fresh wave of outreach and mission into every community and culture in Britain, and of course the world. Our focus remains on our four strategic priorities – growing and planting healthy churches, developing existing and additional leaders, making discipleship a priority and reaching nations.
Advance will be a springboard campaign – likely to have a shelf life of three to four years, gaining momentum over that time. It will challenge leaders to consider what’s next in advancing mission through their local church, as well as how they can help other churches and leaders advance in their journey into accelerated and radical mission.
How will Advance be launched?
Launch events will take place in the first half of 2020, gathering Elim ministers and their leaders together. We will develop a culture that encourages our leaders to be visionaries, moving into a decade of advanced and radical mission, bringing the whole gospel to the whole world.
Advance will cover the decade of the 20s, not just the year 2020, so we expect this to play out and gain a life of its own over the coming years.
Initially we will be gathering and shaping a wide range of resources and opportunities to help Elim leaders and churches share and celebrate stories, and we will give examples of what is already working and is fruitful, as well as developing and strengthening existing projects.
At its heart, Advance will take a joined-up approach – taking on board national, regional and local perspectives. Vision and practice will be connected for the entire Elim Movement to advance together with the good news of Jesus at the centre.
You seem excited! What’s significant about this upcoming decade?
I sure am excited – we are encouraging every local church to begin a fresh adventure of mission in their community!
Looking at Elim’s history, there are times when the Movement has had a significant response in a decade to the changes in the nation and the need for the re-evangelisation of Britain. It feels like one of those seasons is upon us.
It was true after the Second World War – Elim went for evangelism and outreach more than ever before, and there was a fresh approach and growth across our churches. The same happened in the 60s. There were lots of new towns, communities and housing estates and Elim went all out for reaching people with the gospel. Over a decade it really built some momentum. The methods would have been different back then but they worked for that season.
The same happened in the 90s. Elim and AoG went big time for a decade of evangelism. We weren’t the only ones. We had the JIM (Jesus In Me) campaign through Paul Weaver (Assemblies of God) and Phil Weaver. We went for souls and it happened.
In 2010, John Glass launched the Big Centenary Ask to ask churches to plant new expressions of church. It’s amazing to hear of new churches that have sprung up in the last decade.
Throughout our history there’s been a sense of times and seasons needing a fresh push. I believe and we believe as a National Leadership Team that we’re at one of those points again.
We want to push into this decade right at the beginning to advance every local Elim church and local group of believers in faith and in fruitfulness in their own communities and contexts. We want to have an emphasis on a decade of building and renewing faith for our nation and communities.
How would you assess the state of most churches’ approach to evangelism?
There are so many creative and fresh things happening… the more we hear the more we realise we need one another. We want to build that momentum and that sense of confidence that God is going to use us as the Elim Church in this fresh adventure.
We have to recognise that society is changing rapidly around us and people have lost considerable confidence in the established Church and yet they are spiritually hungry. It’s not a time to back off. We have got incredible things happening at local level in our churches. People are engaging in food banks and multiple community contexts. There are mums and toddlers groups, homeless outreaches and loads of other expressions where our churches are connecting with those outside of the Church. We are seeing people coming to faith but that seems to me a foretaste of first fruits.
What are the best methods of evangelism in 2020? Have traditional crusades had their day?
We need lots of methods and there will always be a place for different kinds of presentations of the gospel. In different seasons different methods are used that they found were engaging and attractive to the wider community. Those methods have in many ways changed for us. It might be hard to get people to a mass event but some people are working creatively with digital evangelism where they can reach hundreds of thousands in ways we would never have dreamed of. There’s a real opportunity to be connecting with people, not at a distance but up close and personal.
It’s not just about getting people into one meeting any more and it all resting on that. We have to face the fact that Christian witness is a long-term thing; it’s not an instant thing. Many leaders are really exercised about their own lives, wanting to be real witnesses where they live amongst their family and neighbours and are seeking to make fresh connections with those around them.
Evangelism is all about sharing faith on a personal level. How do you personally do this in the midst of your busy schedule that is largely focused around being with Christian leaders?
It’s a good question and a challenging one! We’ve just moved house, so we have a brand-new neighbourhood of 25 homes, but we’re getting to know our neighbours on an individual basis. It’s incredible how God is stirring our hearts to be real with the people we live amongst. We are new, so it’s a great opportunity to find out stories.
That’s my starting point, to begin to invest in some friendships and new connections. It’s hard, but that’s where we are. It’s a great challenge for all pastors and leaders to be leading the way in terms of sharing their faith whether that be at the gym, across the street or in their social lives.
This article was taken from the February 2020 issue of Direction Magazine.
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