Developing A Passion for Life
A Passion for Life is a nationwide initiative that is drawing together local evangelical churches to plan a fantastic variety of missional initiative culminating in Easter 2010.
Richard Underwood took the opportunity to ask John Stevens, a pastor of City Church Birmingham and Co-chair of the AP4L (A Passion for Life) steering group what it was all about.
We’ve all heard about nationwide Gospel initiatives before,
what’s special about AP4L?
The distinctive feature about AP4L is that it is a local church-based mission initiative. It is not a centrally organised national mission campaign in the style of Billy Graham crusades of the past. This means that it will be entirely up to local churches and to local leaders to decide for themselves how best to proclaim the gospel in their local community. This should mean that the mission as a whole is much more effective as it will be able to be responsible to local circumstances and local cultures.
AP4L is intentionally co-operative. What are the
strengths and challenges of this approach?
The strength of this approach is that local churches are able to do much more working together for the sake of the Gospel in their community than they are alone. In particular they are able to share ideas and resources with one another and to encourage each other in evangelistic efforts. It is especially our hope that larger churches will be able to help smaller churches that may have limited resources and that this will foster lasting Gospel co-operation for the future.
The disadvantage of this approach is that we have to work very hard to overcome superficial differences of style and culture between churches. AP4L is a Bible- and Gospel-centred initiative with a very robust doctrinal statement so other churches that are involved will be firmly committed to the Biblical Gospel. However, even where churches share such a common doctrinal, other differences between them sometimes make it hard for them to work together. We very much hope that churches which share our firm commitment to the Biblical Gospel will seek to overcome any other differences for the sake of reaching their community more effectively for Christ. We are convinced that this pattern of faithful Gospel co-operation is the pattern that we find in the New Testament.
What resources are available to support churches
both in preparing for and delivering AP4L?
The national AP4L committee has produced two very important resources for churches which are now available. Prepare for Mission is a DVD and Bible study training resource for churches and is designed to encourage our congregations to pray for mission, to engage with their communities and to learn how to share the Gospel clearly with others. Ideas for Mission is a book gathering together a huge range of ideas for events and activities for effective local church outreach. It also contains practical advice about organising a mission and reaching particular groups within society. A number of other resources are in the pipeline including a specific AP4L Easter tract, giveaway copies of Luke’s Gospel and a giveaway DVD with a short evangelical message. We will also be producing template posters and invitation cards to make it as easy as possible for churches to produce publicity and invitations to AP4L events.
How can local churches get involved?
Local AP4L events are being co-ordinated through the various regional Gospel partnerships, although there is no obligation to join your local partnership in order to take part in the mission. The FIEC has been hugely supportive of AP4L and we hope that all FIEC churches would want to get involved with AP4L and know that they have a huge amount to contribute to the success of this mission.
What legacy would you like to see from AP4L?
Our greatest desire is to see people converted to Christ in response to the proclamation of the Gospel. Past experience shows that many people become Christians in the period after mission, perhaps as a result of joining an enquirers’ group or coming to church. We also long that churches and Christians will regain a confidence in the power of the
Gospel for salvation and a renewed commitment to prayer for God to work powerfully in our needy nation. We hope that there will be many long-lasting benefits from the mission, especially better engagement between our churches and their communities and strengthened partnership between local churches. These long-term benefits may prove far more fruitful for the Gospel in the long run than the four weeks of the mission in 2010. We are not planning for AP4L to be ‘the mother of all missions’ nor will it address the vast spiritual needs of our country but we hope it will encourage us to remain faithful and to take one step further forward and perhaps what we learn from AP4L will enable us to do something even better in a few years time.
Taken from FIEC’s ‘Together’ magazine Spring 2009)
For further information on FIEC please visit: www.fiec.org.uk