Connection in the market place
Mark Lyndon-Jones is a strong advocate of allowing men to belong before they believe as far as it relates to church stuff and events. Very often his connection with “non-churched” blokes happens outside of the church building in local restaurants and other social establishments. He notes that the Jesus of the Gospels is usually observed in the “market-place” talking to people at the drinking well or in various house-parties mixing and matching with the riff-raff (Mark 2:16).
MLJ has also had great conversations at the coffee vending machine at work in times gone by. A great leading question on Monday mornings is “what did you for weekend?” Our about ability to answer that question boldly as Christian guys, as it relates to our church activity and attendance, has the potential to have a profound effect on the enquirers spiritual destiny. Mark has seen opportunities arise from such conversations that have led to natural invitations to outreach events that have changed the destiny of some work colleagues who are now serving in ministry. Let us not under-estimate how effective authentic Christianity can be in the natural sphere of influence we have, where God has positioned and appointed us as Men.
MPower Team members Ryan Morton and Mark Petrauskas also speak about “Lifestyle” the MPower principle relating to our Christian witness in the world.
Jesus didn’t say “Go into all the world and make converts,” He said “Go into all the world and make disciples…” (Matt 28:19)
This quote was made at the MIT conference at Regents Theological College in 2013. Mark had always considered himself an Evangelist, but that quote hit him between the eyes and has revolutionised the way he shares the gospel and the way he thinks about witness and evangelism.
Why? Because he realised how critical discipleship is. How many of us have seen people ‘put a hand up to receive Jesus’ and then six months later, they are no longer to be seen. Discipleship and evangelism are not separate entities, they run together hand in hand.
We need to change our focus from ‘getting them in the door’ to getting into their lives. We need to open the doors of the church not to necessarily let people in but to let Christians out and do what Jesus commanded us to do. This is discipleship; sharing life with someone, walking through it with them and introducing Jesus into that journey – showing that He is real and that an authentic Christ wants authentic men and brings authentic transformation.
We live in an age where it would seem, anything goes. Anything, that is apart from Christianity. Being ‘spiritual’ is fine. Being a Christian is something else! And this means we have work to do because sadly, we don’t have queues of unsaved people knocking down our church doors desperate to find salvation. It is time for us to stand up and be counted. Most people, believe it or not, are pretty switched on and they will sniff out a phoney in a nanosecond so we need to ask ourselves, ‘what does my life say about Jesus?’
John 13:35 tells us, in Jesus’ own words, that lifestyle and an inclusive attitude is important in witness and discipleship. How people view us will influence how they view Jesus.
Authentic outreach and witness does not just take place in a church or an Evangelistic event through the preached word, but is also communicated through our lifestyle as we carry that witness wherever we are and have influence. It happens in the office, on the building site, in college, down the pub, on the sports pitch, wherever our environment of influence happens to be.
Ryan is a weightlifter. He says “My involvement in Olympic Weightlifting and coaching and running a gym in Bristol has become an authentic way to reach people who would never go to church. Most of my prison ministry is in the gyms rather than the chapel.” How true is that? How many of the guys that Ryan ministers to would ever gravitate towards a church in the short-term?
Mark is a “hairy biker”. His work with the Knights of Antioch Motorcycle Ministry takes him into places that most people would shy away from. Many of the ‘Outlaw’ bikers that he ministers to actually have Club Constitutions that state they are not allowed to go into a Church and very few of them watch Songs of Praise! So they need to hear the Gospel somewhere!
You don’t have to be a weightlifter or a biker; just be a man. Be you. Be Available and Be Authentic.