Why simply speaking louder won't work (Simon Goddard)

Monday, 18 May, 2015

Simon Goddard explores why we need to speak in new and creative ways.

I've recently returned from a trip abroad, and rather lazily I neglected to learn the language of the country I was visiting. I did what many of us do and hoped that by speaking English a bit louder and slower I might be able to make myself understood. I think sometimes in the church we adopt a similar approach to sharing the gospel!

The story of Pentecost, however, offers us an alternative approach when individuals from a long list of different nations exclaim 'we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!' (Acts 2.11). In an increasingly post-modern and post-Christian context the Holy Spirit is still inspiring people to share the unchanging gospel in languages that people can understand. In a desire to connect with the 94% of the population who aren't regularly in church, some have begun to speak in new and creative ways.

Whilst there are some who, like the scoffers in Acts 2, take one look at Messy Church and café church and presume that those involved 'have had too much wine!' (v13), the language of fresh expressions is one that is increasingly being spoken. Unlike this Englishman abroad, however, many Christians have taken the responsibility to learn how to communicate the wonderful gospel message in a 'tongue' that others can understand.

The mission shaped ministry course has been one method that the Spirit has use to empower the church to learn this new language. At Pentecost about 3,000 people responded, and the impact of msm has been no less impressive. Over the last decade, msm has been the catalyst for new expressions of church being planted and a source of renewal for existing congregations. It's also been a place where people have responded to a call from God, and have been equipped to get involved in the mission of the church, perhaps for the very first time.

For some, however, accessing msm has proved to be a challenge. In some parts of the country it has only been possible to run a course once every few years, and even when a course is available regionally, there are many living in rural locations who have long distances to travel in order to be able to attend. That's why in 2014 people like me, who are already involved in delivering msm, were invited to consider how it could be offered more flexibly.

And that brings us to the launch of msm online. The first running of this course begins in September 2015, providing the same content but presenting it over the web in a 'virtual learning environment'. The idea is that a small group, of up to five people from a single congregation or local group of churches, will gather around a laptop or smart TV in someone's lounge, interacting with other groups and a speaker who will be teaching from the comfort of their own home via a webcam.

If you want to be part of the first cohort on msm online, or know of churches that might be able to benefit, then more information can be found on the msm online website. As a special introductory offer there is a 15% discount on the group fee for those who register before the end June.

Simon Goddard is a Regional Minister in the Eastern Baptist Association and coordinator of the Pioneer Collective, an initiative to identify, release and resource 400 new Baptist pioneers. He was formerly the pastor of RE:NEW, a pioneering and ecumenical expression of church near Cambridge.

Please note that comments and views may not represent those of Fresh Expressions.


I will be attending the next September MSM course running in Bury St Edmunds but at present Im the only person from my congregation who is going. I think it is possible there may be people in my fellowship who cld be interested in an online course. It would be good to hear from you.

You can find details of mission shaped ministry online at http://www.missionshapedministry.org/online.

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