The Importance of Belonging Before Believing

Often in our Christian walk we buy into the idea that people need to believe first before they can belong. In fact, sometimes we have taught – subtly or openly – that people must not only believe but also behave before they belong. But this was not Jesus’ way in the scriptures.

Love Joburg: Relational Evangelism, Not Event Evangelism

On 4 May, we re-launch our Love Joburg Equipping Course. It will be a 12-week (two term) course where we will learn how to live a lifestyle of evangelism.

We’ll be publishing a series of posts that are adapted from the new material that will be made available when the course begins. In this part, we want to highlight some of what we’re doing – trying to create a lifestyle of evangelism, rather than evangelism that is ‘event’ based.

A lifestyle of evangelism is simply living out our faith and sharing it with others. Evangelism is a fruit of our faith and our genuine love for God and others. You don’t need to hype yourself up for it. Evangelism is actually not an event, a programme, but a lifestyle. It’s not calendar-driven, it’s relationship driven.

Here are some interesting stats that support the point. In a U.S. survey of 15,000 people, the following statistics showed the primary influence in conversion:

  • 1% were converted at ‘crusades’ (a large, tent-based outreach event)

  • 1% were converted at a ‘visitation’ (door-to-door evangelism or something of that kind)

  • 1% were converted due to some kind of crisis

  • 3% were converted due to some kind of ‘cold church contact’ (a face-to-face discussion, a pamphlet )

  • 3% were converted at some sort of event (outside of a ‘crusade’)

  • 5% were converted in or through Sunday School

  • 6% were converted due to having a relationship with a pastor or some-or-other ministry leader in the church

  • 80% were converted through a friendship with a Christian.

Most people, in a similar survey in the UK, had a gradual conversion to Christianity (69%), while others were converted in a ‘crisis moment’ (a Biblical example of this would be Paul). This shows that people do need time to come to Christ – you don’t need to convince them in one conversation!

Interestingly, of the factors involved in conversion, almost 0% was due to a TV or radio programme.1 Why this is interesting is it shows that some of our evangelistic strategies that require the most financial investment might bring very little result. Ultimately, the best results come through your relationships. 

Relational evangelism is far more effective than any other kind of evangelism. Your relationships.

People really are interested in the gospel, if they’re told the gospel and not something else. Which is why we really do need to know the gospel, and you really need to understand how key your friendships with others are in presenting the gospel. In our Love Joburg course, we want to cover this in more detail.

1 (These statistics were taken from Pete Gilbert’s book, Kiss and Tell . Available here.

Love Joburg

Evangelism – sharing your faith – is a lifestyle, not a programme. You don’t need to hype yourself up for it. It’s not calendar-driven, it’s relationship driven. People are more ready for the gospel than you realise, and you are more ready than you realise to share it.

My Heart // My Love

Our new theme

We’ve had a fantastic season studying Jesus’ discipleship process with his twelve disciples. Our tag line for The Twelve series was “Preparing for the mission with Jesus’ disciples.” As we’ve come to the end of this series we’ve become aware that God wants to change our perceptions of mission and evangelism. In short: Evangelism needs to move from an event to a lifestyle.

We’re still working through God’s challenge to us at the beginning of this year – the challenge of seeking and saving the lost. Christ’s life can be summarised in that phrase. But if we’re honest, seeking and saving the lost is not our culture. Our culture is more about maintenance, self-centredness, and “I”.

The reality is this: if we don’t care for the lost and the fact that people are not being born again, we’ve got sick hearts. That’s why we want to focus on the heart in this next term with a theme called My Heart // My Love.

When our heart is moved with the Gospel our heart has a love for our city and the nations of the world. Inward to outward. We’re trusting God to change hearts. We’re desperate to see revived hearts which care for the lost – hearts which know, deeply, the benefits of the Gospel; hearts that urge us to pray for others and trust for real opportunities where we can share this wonderful liberating Gospel. This sharing is a lifestyle.

How we’ll be doing this

The My Heart // My Love preaching series will take place across the sites and we’ll also be running Equipping Courses on evangelism on Wednesday Nights at Bedfordview. Elders and some of the deacons will be taking teams out to practically engage people with the Gospel. We want to provide some practical learning opportunities like Jesus did with his twelve disciples.

With Easter and voting day (7 May) the term will be structured a little differently in the beginning. We’ll let you know how the dates are going to work out so keep your ear to the ground about that.

As always, thank you for your partnership, friendship and passion. It’s such a wonderful privilege serving our King together with you.

– Marcus and the elders

Love Joburg with Keir Tayler – 19 to 26 May

Keir Tayler is part of the NCMI translocal team (who we partner with) and has a very strong gift of healing and evangelism. Keir and his wife, Callie, lead the translocal ministry of Hand-in-Hand International.

We’re delighted to have Keir spend some time with us at Cornerstone as we look to strengthen our muscles in evangelism and fulfil our calling to love Joburg together.

Here are the dates of our training time with Keir:

Love Joburg with Keir Tayler – 19 to 26 May, 2013

Sunday, 19 May (9:30am): at Rosebank‘s morning meeting

Sunday, 19 May (6pm): at Bedfordview‘s evening meeting

Wednesday, 22 May (6pm): at Wednesday Night Life, Bedfordview

Thursday, 23 May (7pm): at Uptown‘s evening meeting

Sunday, 26 May (9am): at South Side‘s morning meeting

Sunday, 26 May (6pm): at our All-Sites Celebration at Bedfordview