Stepping out in Essex - the Facts

Russell Godward (right) & Team

Russell Godward (right) & Team

Figures from Russell Godward's 30 Days in the Harvest

Figures from Russell Godward's 30 Days in the Harvest

Russell Godward has been 30 Days in the Harvest. Out every day sharing the gospel, looking for people of peace in Essex, England.

In May he spoke to over 500 people, 300 accepted prayer for needs, 177 wanted to hear the gospel, ten turned and believed. He's doing follow ups with another 37 "yellow lights".

Almost one in ten wanted to hear more. One in fifty were ready to turn and believe.

Russell says it's been hard to get to group/church formation, but the figures continue to show that there are responsive people out there in Britain, waiting for someone to say hi.

Contact Russell for training in the UK.

3Circles Made Simple UPDATED II

3Circles - Mike Albutt.jpg

I like the way Andrew Clements does the 3Circles gospel presentation. Mike Allbutt has made it even simpler. No written words. I'm waiting for Troy Cooper's version in interpretive dance.

Don't forget to ask the 3Questions (p7).

Principle: in multiplying movements less is more. Don't ask what can you add. Ask what can you take out and still have an accurate presentation of the gospel that is contagious.

UPDATE: Mike Allbutt has let me know that the 3Circles drawing came from our friends at  oralitybible.com

I've fixed the link to the 3Questions.

UPDATE II: Ray from New Zealand has written out the text of Andrew's presentation.

Why praying the sinner's prayer is not enough

A few years ago I led a young man to Christ. At least I thought I did.

We met up again to work through basic discipleship. Lesson 2 was Jesus’ command to Be Baptised. We did a discovery bible study on Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Then came the surprise.

I asked Gary how he would obey what he’d learnt in the story. Here’s how the conversation went:

Steve there’s no way I can get baptised.


If I got baptised I’d have to be a real Christian.

What does that mean?

I’d have to stop sleeping around. I’m not willing to do that.

I assured Gary we could work on this together. That God would give him the strength to do what was right. Even when he stumbled, God would forgive and restore him. But he had to be willing to let Jesus rule in every area of his life.

Gary said no.

Gary had prayed the sinner’s prayer, but he wasn’t willing to let Jesus rule in his life. That’s not saving faith.

When I’m training people to do Discovery Bible Study, I often tell the story of the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50). What amazes me is that nobody notices that Jesus announced to a room of Pharisees that this woman’s sins were “many”.

Most people think the woman was rescued from religious bigotry by Jesus’ unconditional acceptance. Yet Jesus says her faith in him brought forgiveness and freedom from sin.

Throughout the New Testament we don’t find any examples of someone being asked to pray the sinners prayer. In the NT conversion is one experience with five key elements: repentance, faith, forgiveness, baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. These are five ways of looking at the one conversion experience. You can’t separate them. (Robert Stein has done the homework on this.)

At Pentecost Peter challenged the crowd to:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

Peter doesn’t mention faith, but it’s assumed. Sometimes other elements aren’t mentioned, but they’re assumed.

Back to my friend Gary. What could I have done differently?

I like Chuck Wood’s approach. When someone says they what to turn and put their faith Christ, he takes them Matthew 28:18-20.

He has them read it out loud. Then he explains:

  1. All authority in heaven and on earth is given to Jesus. Are you willing to make him the ruler of your life?
  2. Jesus commands us to follow his example and be baptised. Are you willing to be baptised?
  3. Jesus wants us to learn how to obey everything he has commanded. Are you willing to meet with other disciples and learn how to obey what Jesus taught?
  4. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples. Are you willing to share the good news with others?
  5. Jesus promises that as we do these things he will always be with us.

Then he asks, Are you ready to turn and believe?

If the answer is Yes, you lead them to Christ, baptise them, and begin meeting for discipleship (7Commands).

If the answer is No. Offer to keep meeting for Discover Bible Study (7Stories of Hope).

The Great Commission has nothing to say about praying a prayer, it’s all about making disciples of the nations by going, baptising, and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus has commanded.

Related: 7 Ways to narrow the conversion-discipleship gap

Why "praying the prayer" is not enough

Manchester Push 2016

Manchester Push 2016

I was struck recently by the experience of one of our teams on outreach in Manchester (above) They were out offering prayer and sharing the 3Circles gospel outline.

A young man turned and believed on the street and prayed to receive Christ. When he was asked, "when can we catch up again?”, he made it clear he wanted no more contact.

Do we count that as a “conversion”?

Recently I’ve heard reports 1,200 people praying to receive Christ on the streets of Reading, UK. Christians are heading out to pray for people and read out a gospel presentation. 

Even if some have fallen away, there must be hundreds who we can identify as new disciples. How many have moved from conversion into baptism and discipleship?

Over the last two years around 4,500 people have come to faith through Healing on the Streets in Northern Ireland. Causeway Vineyard estimates less than one in seven are now in a local church. Good on them for keeping track!

The great thing about the folks in Manchester, Reading and Northern Ireland is they are out there connecting, praying, sharing. As DL Moody said, I prefer my imperfect method of sharing the gospel to your method of not sharing the gospel. 

But what can we do to bridge the conversion-discipleship gap?

I think we’ve been measuring the wrong things. Praying a prayer to receive Christ is only one element of conversion. NT conversion is one experience that has five elements: repentance, faith, confession, the gift of the Holy Spirit and immersion.

That’s why I’m beginning to think that instead of counting prayers of commitment we should be counting baptised disciples meeting in groups. 

Meanwhile in Manchester the follow-up of contacts continues. It’s hard work. Some have fallen away. Others have stuck and are learning to follow Jesus and take the gospel into their world. 

Isn’t that what Jesus trained his disciples to do?

Manchester final figures

Nick Duffy

Nick Duffy

We crowded into the hotel conference room for our final session at the end of a long week searching for people and houses of peace.

The stories from the day came in. Nick Duffy added up the totals.

Over five days:

  • 423 people received prayer
  • 241 heard the gospel (3Circles)
  • 62 yellow lights — they want to meet up again and hear more (7Stories of Hope)
  • 18 green lights — they turned and believed and are ready to meet for discipleship (7Commands)

All of this happened in Moss Side, notorious for its high rate of drug and gang related murders.

Thanks to our hosts, Anthony Delaney and Ivy Church, and to Don Waybright and the team from Sugar Creek which included their lead pastor Mark Hartman.

UPDATE I’ve just read Don’s report. I like his better than mine. It captures the incredible diversity of people we encountered.

Theresa & Don Waybright

Theresa & Don Waybright

The notorious Moss Side neighborhood of Manchester UK is recognized as the most diverse neighborhood in the world. We encountered Muslims from around the world, Rastafarians, Gnostics, drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, gang bangers and more.

Look what God did in five days with less than 20 people surrendered in the Spirit and abiding in Christ...prayed for 423; shared the gospel with 241; 18 salvations with beginning discipleship; 62 desire to continue the discovery of life in Jesus with follow up appointments, one church started. Jesus is filled with Joy! #noplaceleft#noplaceleftmanchester

Don (& Theresa) Waybright