Volume 3 Number 1

December 2004

Because of the nature of these reflections they have also been sent

to people not normally on the list so that you can get some thoughts

on 'Introducing God'.

The Christian Reflections for this month are on the 'Introducing God'

seminar that was run in Hobart on Wednesday 17.11.04. Dominic Steele,

the author of the course walked us through the course and here's what

I have thought about it:

1. The way he ran the seminar was superb. because:

a) He didn't do a Moore College one hour intro about the Bible being

the word of god and the gospel being the centre of the Bible and the

Bible's storyline is..... he just gave a punchy sermon (very good

sermon) on: 'the son of man came to seek and save the lost'

b) he went through the whole 'this is a postmodern society' stuff and

showed how to respond as evangelistic christians to these issues. it

was a real 'the making of' semianr that could be applied to all sorts

of things, not jsut introducting God

c) he prefaced his broad comments on postmodernism with a statement

that this was 'slip slap slop' philosophy... 'that way you know that

i know that this is very broad and general'. this is much better than

christians pretending or seeming to claim that they are being

academic when they are really being overgeneral (like 'Does God

Believe in Atheists?' etc)

2. Thoughts on Introducing God (IG) and what's already happening

at Crossroads/Hobart Central:

a) A lot of the comments about how to run evangelistic meetings and

how to evangelise postmoderns are things that happen already in our

weekly Sunday meeting. That is good to see how sensitive we are to

philosphical climate, and therefore an encouragement to us

b) A lot of specifics about IG we are already doing with

'Island Gospel Lounge/Beer and Bibles' and the SUS courses on a

Monday night - going

through the Bible's storyline, allowing people to ask questions etc

c) In fact, an advantage of our Island Gospel Lounge model over 'IG'

is that because it is not multi-media heavy our studies do not take

over the whole venue. We can run several studies for non-Christians,

and a follow-up course for those who have done the original studies

and a evangelism training course for Christians all at the one place.

d) Dominic encouraged leaders to run the plug for IG at the venue and

in the same style as it will actually be run when the course begins.

We follow a similar approach at Island Gospel Lounge - inviting

Christians from the various Growth Groups to come along to 'shout'

food and coffee for the evening, and running evanelistic training

courses at the same venue. This gives the Christians a 'feel' for the

night so they know what they would be inviting their friends to.

e) Good food and drinks at the meeting is clearly so much better than

just weak church cordial.

f) Following the Bible's storyline is being done. Scripture under

Scrutiny definately does that through following Romans 1-5 (FYI this

is one of Don Carson's suggestions in Gagging of God [p. 504]), the

Ethics course does this in a more circuitous way by looking at

christian ethical issues and the foundations for them.

3. Some more negative thoughts about IG:

a) Some of the graphics of IG are a little daggy, but you can never

totally win with that.

b) i like the fact that there are quite a lot of passages in Luke's

gospel over the eight weeks and weekend away. Still, i think that the

selection of passages feels a little haphazard to my neat mind. that

is more meaning liking things tidy rather than anything else :-)

c) As it is, the 'large venue' approach to IG i don't like the feel

of. Of course for many churches it would be totally unrealistic for

them to do anything else but in an ideal world, i think there would

be a better way to manage things.

As it is, the 'large venue' IG seems to be the same as the 'seeker

service', with many of the same criticisms levelled at seeker

services applying across. in fact it is worse in some ways since it

is also repetitive and distant (since the preacher is always

preaching the same message on the video).

It ends up saying that there is one big church meeting for

non-Christians and then our normal worship service for the

christians. that's clearly not a good road to go down. once it gets

to big church size, i think we need to own up and say that's what it

is - its a church. a seeker service church meeting. what i think

would be better if you are going to run it for the entire church,

evne move the whole church to a resaturant for the 8 weeks if need

be. Then there should just be separate tables for all the churchgoers

who haven't brought friends along. granted this would not work so

well for churches who need to cater for kids and so on. also it would

be spending extra resources on getting the other people along.

nevertheless i think that when things get so large-scale it is better

to put them in the 'church' category than the 'para-church' category.

if it is uunrealistic to shut down the main public meeting, then

perhaps all the growth groups could shut down, or whatever. i just

like the idea of keeping such a big group meeting as a church


d) I can imagine once Christinas have been through the course a few

times that maybe the 'vibe' of the meetings might suffer a little as

Chrsitians glaze over during the talk. Maybe the high of seeing new

people coming along and worrying about what they think would offset

this, but still it would feel a little funny I think, having say 40%

of the group knowing the talks word-for-word.

I suspect it would be better to run the official IG video on a

on-again off-again cycle. first time you play the video, second time

the preacher prepares some sermons that do a similar sort of thing.

This would be particularly good if the 'whole church' idea in point

(c) were applied. Once series of sermons a year the preacher would

plan to be IG/postmodern/firstdate/Biblcestoryline talks.

3. Here are the things which were challenging and helpful and which I

hope to take on board more at Crossroads/Hobart Central:

a) Dominic told us that he works hard to move people in IG from being

'customers' to being 'owners'. This includes things like being open

to the idea of them brining food, helping with the washing up, being

involved in a joke telling competition (wasn't so keen on this one

but hey?) or helping choose dinner music for the following week. This

is a thought that we ought to apply more to both Island Gospel Lounge

and Sunday night church (of course not inviting non-christians to

preach or whatever!)

b) The weekend away. i was definately not keen on this idea before i

came to the seminar. Now I am open to the idea, provided that a lot

of work is done to make the paricular group/table discussion group

develop over the whole time and do stuff outside of the set course

time as well. I think provided that is all done well and it is only

people who have gotten to know each other, it would work great.

c) The idea of the 'first date' approach rather than the 'proposal' i

quite liked. We don't want to propose to people the first time they

come along, rather we want them to come on another date. Very good

idea for people, particular when they want to invite best

friends/family etc. This idea of not coming on 'heavy' at first but

rather just listening and discussing makes a lot of sense. Of course

I think there is still a time and a place for a gospel blast too!

d) The idea of the DVD meaning that people can do peer-to-peer or

even subordinate-to-elder evangelism is cool. The fact that this

also allows for free discussion since the speaker is not actually

present is good too.

e) A long-term course is definately cool if you can get people to

come. The idea of always mentioning the length of the course as you

go along and making a real effort to make it something people want to

come back to is good. Having a calendar of all the dates is a good


f) The planning which means that the IG discussion tables can move

seamlessly into Growth Groups I really like. rather than chanelling

young christinas into our existing growth groups, instead start a

whole new Growth Group and make the christian who invited their mate

change Growth Groups in the process too! This seems to be an organic

way of re-shuffling Bible studies groups so they don't get stale, let

the gospel re-shuffle them.

g) The introductory night is a very good idea, rather than launching

straight into the whole course

h) Running an evening where the welcome, the study and the

after-teaching discussion are all 'items' in the evening is great

since it turns the whole evening into an 'event'. At the moment, I

think the Island Gospel Lounge can sometimes be a bit like an

adult-ed course where people turn up and do the course and although

the Christians work hard at discussino afterwards it is not clearly

seen as a whole

'event'. consequently people stop coming after the 5-week course

because they have done their course. They don't own the entire event.

i) the division of different types of evangelists was good: the rock

star (Billy Graham) the cowboy (invited by a christians to come and

chat with his non-christian mate and then rides off) and the everyday

(as it sounds). Little ideas like these are good to use when talking

and thinking about evangelism

j) the division of 'evangelees' (ugly word) was also good: the back

packer (talk once and drive for a gospel challenge once-off. this can

work, trust god!) the speech pathologist (one-dimensional

relationship, for a short term, try to get to the gospel, and get

multi-dimensional quickly) the work mate (longer term but one

dimensional, take time but otherwise same as speech pathologist)

brother (slower slower slower). 'Most confusion and angst comes from

treating everyday evangelists as if they were rock stars and treating

brothers like backpackers'

k) The whole concept, already referred to, of moving people from

being 'one dimensional' relationships into multi-dimensional

relationships is a great way of putting a very good principle. That

we should both 'enfolding into the community then...' and 'become

convinced of the gospel then...'

l) A passing comment: it is better to give non-Christians a new word

- 'autonomy' - than to try to redefine a word they have so many

misconceptions about 'sin'

4. Some thoughts about the practical application of these things for

Crossroads/Hobart Central for 2005:

a) Run IG for whole church once a year, during normal meeting time,

since our venues and style are suitable for guests. Maybe not full

dinner, but we'll see. Then the following year, write our own series

and then the year after that use IG or something of that sort

b) Run the Island Gospel Lounge evenings more as 'events' with a big

group welcome and a short 'item' and other bits and pieces of that

sort. Make it clear that there are several parts of the evening, that

the study is the central and longest part but that the discussion

time is also a segment of the evening.

c) Publish little calendars of the dates of the course, showing the

follow-up courses and the weekend away date as well, so that the

follow-up courses aren't introduced for the first time at the end of

the course

d) Make a much higher priority of doing social things with the group

outside of Island Gospel Lounge times, press this on the leaders

e) Use a non-multimedia version of IG as one of the courses available

at the Island Gospel Lounge.

f) Think about ways to make the move from 'customers' to 'owners'

both with people at Island Gospel Lounge and with church.

g) Try to slide the Bible Study groups into Growth Groups and be more

mindful of that strategy and goal.