With a newly revised edition of Christianity Explored (CE) and an updated support website (www.ceministries.org), this is a great time to think through what can make a CE Ministry a success. The revised edition includes a brief “QuickStart Guide.” The QuickStart Guide lists five steps in getting started:
Over the next few weeks, this blog will give you some insight into each of these steps. Let’s begin with planning as we focus on the need to bring the right perspective to our planning.
Perspective– It is crucial that you view CE as a ministry, and not just as a curriculum. A curriculum is done after the seven weeks, but a ministry is something that is built over time. Too often church leaders adopt the program, or curriculum, of the day, try it, and then move on to something else. The chapter on getting our expectations right in the Leaders Handbook is sometimes painful to hear, but it is crucial if you want to build a ministry. Yes, God does provide dramatic results (not always the same ones we are looking for), but often we need to start by expecting disappointment and delay. This will keep you from giving up too soon because the initial results did not match your unrealistic expectations.
Find One Key Ally – Sometimes CE advocates in a church are so excited about the ministry and the material that they are frustrated that the rest of the church is not on board with them at the beginning (or even a few years down the road). Let me recommend that you find one person who shares your passion for the gospel who will walk with you down this road. You will need each other to remind one another of the proper perspective needed at each moment.
At Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, we formed a small core-group of leaders who believed in “letting the Gospel tell the gospel” and who also believed in the relational methodology behind Christianity Explored. Each week we would meet a half-hour before the course and pray. For the first 3 or 4 years we hardly had any non-believers as participants in the course. More than once we had none at all. It was at those moments we had to remind ourselves that we believed that CE’s approach is the right way to do evangelism. We still ran the course even if there were no non-believing guests, seeing that as vital practice for that day when the non-believers would be there. We were experiencing disappointment, but we encouraged each other with the belief that we were also experiencing delay – and that dramatic results would come. We have now been running the course for 15 years, and over the past few years, we have seen dramatic results. We just concluded our most recent CE course, and we had a record number of guests – over 75! God has also drawn dozens to himself over the years.
By Kevin Allen