|This Article is from the Spring 2007 edition of good idea!, also available here in a fully formatted PDF file.|
Missions may be large or small. This one involved a whole diocese, shaped a whole twelve months ministry, and attempted to witness to the heart of a city.
How often do 700 Anglicans and their friends fill a downtown theatre to hear the Gospel? Yet this is what happened in the Diocese of New Westminster, Vancouver, in November 2000. The event was one of the most fruitful in the twenty years of the Diocesan Evangelism Unit, which was responsible for this event—“Celebration 2000.”
The evening, however, was only the culmination of “Evangelism 2000,” an integrated, year-long evangelistic training and outreach program which comprised three main elements:
• An opening diocesan conference with Harold Percy and Michael Knowles.
• Thirty people then enrolled in an extended period of training, which included an internship with a local leader.
• These interns and their mentors worked to stage “Celebration 2000” as a mission event for the whole diocese.
In an effort to witness right in the heart of Vancouver, the Evangelism Unit booked the Vogue Theatre, we invited Harold Percy to be the main speaker, and we secured the services of the “VOC Soul Gospel Choir”.
Prior to the evening, the Unit held a series of information meetings with parish leaders and sought to build a network of contacts. Parishes were also bombarded with outreach and publicity through different media, including mailings, diocesan newspaper coverage, videos of Harold and the choir, personal phone calls and mass emails.
Prayer and counseling teams were selected and prepared well in advance of the evening and so were follow-up procedures. The use of written response cards, which were collected after Harold’s talk, ensured that the roughly 20% of those completing them who requested some form of subsequent ministry were able to be contacted by participating clergy.
The results of “Celebration 2000” were highly encouraging. Not only did a significant crowd turn out to on a chilly Saturday night in November, but more than 15% of them made a clear response to the good news of Jesus.
There were, of course, lessons to be learned. If the Unit were to stage a similar event in the future, we might choose a less expensive and more amenable location. We would probably think more about the precise scheduling and logistics of the evening, and we would devote greater time and attention to enabling existing church members to invite the as yet “unchurched”.
“Celebration 2000” itself provided an invaluable opportunity to conduct and witness large-scale evangelism at first hand. What an event of this nature is able to provide, especially when combined with the kind of training program that was offered, is a powerful means of drawing people together around a positive Gospel focus.