The church is located in a small town with an approximate population of 31,000. There is a mix of income brackets, but it consists predominantly of white middle class and working class.
Preparation for the mission: We made sure that the mission was quite high profile for several months beforehand and encouraged people to pray.
We explained that the mission would give a particular focus to our ongoing evangelism by providing a week of events that would appeal to different types of people. We asked people to pray for specific non Christians they were in contact with (e.g. family members, work-mates, friends, neighbours etc.). Also, we encouraged our church members to be bold enough to invite their friends to at least one event; and we showed people the programme of events several weeks beforehand, so they would know what was happening
We invited the speaker to visit a couple of times several weeks in advance. He spoke at Sunday services so that people had the chance to hear him and have confidence in inviting people to listen to him.
In the build-up to the week-long mission, we produced publicity intended for door-to-door distribution. The publicity matched the design of a poster outside our church building and an advert which went in the local press. This not only informed people of what was going on, but helped the congregation to feel ownership of the mission.
The mission programme
Every evening for a week (Sunday to Sunday) we held events with our guest mission speaker. These ranged from easy to invite, low-key events (such as a pub quiz and a ceilidh),to events that were just a talk - perhaps over a meal. Most were outside of our church premises, to make it as unthreatening as possible. At least two events featured our speaker interviewing a Christian with an interesting life story and conversion experience.
In addition, we ran three lunchtime talks on apologetic questions (such as ‘Why does God allow suffering?’), and some breakfast events at the weekend.
We booked an evangelist for the week, who brought in other people to interview for two events. It was helpful to have this particular speaker; someone whose faithfulness, ability and character we all had confidence in. Also, as an outsider they could speak more freely – as a result of knowing few people in the audience.
People were invited to fill out response cards at most of the events, which gave them the opportunity to show interest in finding out more about Christianity. We had arranged to run Christianity Explored, starting a couple of weeks after the event. We had pre-trained people in the running of that and in one-to-one follow-up.
The mission was a good focus for our evangelism. By arranging other events at other times and encouraging people to enjoy having social lives, we avoided the trend of people throwing everything into that one week and then ignoring evangelism from there on! In hindsight, we should have considered tailoring our events more to the gifts of the specific speaker, rather than just on the basis of what people might come to. Events like a pub quiz would have worked better in the run-up to the mission, allowing the mission week to consist of more straightforward evangelistic talks.