Become a part of a growing movement of evangelism in Australian churches
Over the last couple of decades the Australian church has increased its focus on evangelism. Ambassadors for Christ International—Australia (AFCI) has been involved as the church has worked to connect with the community and to put on evangelistic events. Still, churches have not seen large numbers of people turning to Christ. Although many churches are organising such evangelistic events, the reality is that most people will never attend these events without a meaningful relationship with a witnessing Christian. Something has to be done differently if we are to reach our nation for Christ!
What must change is that we must begin developing believers into effective witnesses in their daily lives and relationships.
Jesus knew this to be true. While he ministered to the lost, Jesus’ main focus was on developing his disciples to be fishers of men. In his High Priestly Prayer for the disciples during the Last Supper, Jesus prayed to the Father,
“I glorified you on the earth, having accomplished the work which you have given me to do” (John 17:4).
Although Jesus had not yet gone to the cross, he knew he had finished one of the great missions the Father had given him—developing the disciples as fishers of men and builders of his movement on earth. Likewise, the Apostle Paul’s challenges about evangelistic prayer always focus on praying for believers in their witness, rather than praying for the lost themselves. In our current context church leaders are beginning to recognise that we have been focusing on the wrong target by concentrating our efforts on lost people.
The most effective place for the church to focus on, for evangelism, is believers—helping them to begin living as witnesses for Christ among their daily relationships. There is currently a resurgence of pointing to Jesus as our model for missional living and the need to rethink how the church does evangelism. While the church is beginning to recognise this needed change, there is still not a clear way forward for existing churches.
What is needed is a framework for how to make this shift, as a congregation, to living as witnesses in our daily encounters with people.
What can we do for our nation?
Ambassadors for Christ International is uniquely positioned to respond to this question. Since 1948 AFCI has been at the forefront of evangelism in Australia. In recent years AFCI has developed the LifeWorks tool of evangelism, which has led thousands of Australians to faith in Christ. In addition AFCI has run annual Effective Evangelism Seminars for hundreds of pastors. AFCI has also partnered with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to train believers in developing redemptive relationships prior to Will Graham’s visits.
So, what can we do for our nation? When we at AFCI asked God this question, he began to change our thinking about evangelism and showed us that the most effective thing we can do is to help churches move from event-driven, leader-owned evangelism to congregations with a culture of living as witnesses in their daily lives. People need to know how to be witnesses in the normal relationships of their lives. After several years of hard work, EvangelismSHIFT was ready. Now EvangelismSHIFT is multiplying in churches across our nation and beyond. Believers are being activated as witnesses and their friends are turning to Christ.
EvangelismSHIFT provides the framework churches need to develop their congregations for witness. We have a vision to catalyse a movement of spiritually fruitful Australian churches with a culture of living as witnesses, calling people to respond to the gospel of Christ.
We want people to go beyond simply inviting others to evangelistic events to actually living a witnessing lifestyle. Not everyone is called to be an evangelist, but all believers’ walk with God should naturally flow through their relationships.
EvangelismSHIFT is a two-year relationship with local churches:
- In the first year we work only with the leadership (pastors, elders, ministry leaders, and all small group leaders) to help them develop a lifestyle of witness in their personal They must come to the place where they can say to their people, as Jesus did, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
- In the second year we then resource the leadership to pass on this way of life to the congregation. These resources include a full year’s worth of daily devotions from scripture, all focused on living the witnessing lifestyle; a series of small group courses; and sermon ideas. In this way, the whole church is immersed for a full year in developing a culture of living as witnesses.
- During this second year we also take the core leadership through a study of Jesus’ movement building process. The leaders then form their own ministry plan to continue developing and equipping their people as witnesses in the world.
At the end of the two-year relationship, some of the key leaders who a) have adopted the lifestyle of a witness, and b) are applying Jesus’ movement-building process effectively in their own church context, will be invited to train as a facilitator and join us in taking other churches through this same transformative journey (while continuing to develop the witnessing culture in their own churches).
This final component of EvangelismSHIFT takes it from an effective ministry in a few churches to a true spiritual movement of evangelism in churches across Australia!