There are many pieces to pull together to launch mission and outreach in your community. You’ll put in hours of prayer and spend time preparing how to meet real needs in your community, schools or campus. Once your mission starts you’ll be building lots of relationships with people and practically demonstrating God’s love. But have you taken the time to consider the pathways you will use to move those relationships from social spaces to spiritual conversations? How will the people you meet access the gospel and the life of the church?
Why do we need a new starting point?
Our culture is shifting rapidly. Christian leaders, scholars, historians and practitioners have informed us that in the West (and perhaps other parts of the globe that have been heavily influenced by the Church in the West) we are living in a post-Christian world.
In the past, the average person possessed a familiarity with the main stories of the Bible and held an awareness of God’s standards for humanity. At that point our evangelism methods involved challenging people to surrender to a God that they were already familiar with. More recently, as popular atheists challenged Christian belief, the church grew in its ability to defend the core tenants of Christian faith such as the resurrection, the authority of Scripture and the life and work of Jesus Christ.
We have learned the importance of building relationships in order to engage with our skeptical friends and to invite people to ask their questions about God and the Christian faith. However, increasingly we find that people, and especially young people, are not skeptical. Rather, they are indifferent. The question isn’t so much, “Does God exist” but “why would it matter in the first place?” We refer to the lack of interest in the Christian faith as the ‘relevancy barrier’. It’s the one that sounds like, “I just cannot be bothered” or “I don’t see the point” when a person is presented with opportunities to talk about faith or to ask questions about God and Christianity.
On this journey of learning to Stir Souls, let’s start at the beginning and understand what is the relevancy barrier and why do we need a new starting point?
How do we raise spiritual curiosity among the seemingly indifferent?
In our experience the Relevancy Barrier is one of the key obstacles we must overcome, both in our church programming and in our conversations with friends, family and neighbours. It seems most people we see on a daily basis have no urgent motivation to consider faith and there’s little indication their interest will change anytime soon.
Not only are we trying to engage a culture that is indifferent, but the reality is that the way people determine what is true has shifted from information to experience.
For these reasons, one of the major tasks of Christians living in post-Christian contexts is to sift through the rubble of discarded beliefs in order to uncover new starting points for helping people engage with the gospel message in a way that is relevant and experiential.
The new starting point we suggest is learning to help people discover the presence of their soul. We invite you to read this article and learn how to overcome the relevancy barrier by stirring souls.
How do we stir souls?
Knowing that the relevancy barrier exists and that it must be overcome is one thing. But being equipped to stir spiritual curiosity in our outreach might seem like learning an entirely new language. In this article we break it down for you and help you see the under-the-surface questions and longings that each person carries. We then show you how to stir up those questions and longings and guide people to the reality of their soul and their deep desire to be connected with God. We’ll get really practical here. Keep reading to understand how to practically stir souls in your conversations or programmes.
So, when are we going to talk about Jesus?
That’s a great question. Stir isn’t just about showing people they are spiritual and leaving them there. Stirring is only the beginning. We learn to stir curiosity amongst those who are seemingly indifferent because we want them to be able to engage with the gospel message and experience its beauty. We stir because we want people to encounter Jesus - the only one who can truly make our souls come alive. In this article we’ve laid out stirring pathways that lead to a place where a community of people can go on a journey of faith discovery together, a journey that culminates in an invitation to follow Jesus to full life in God.