The Big Hearted Tour is over and I feel like I’ve just got started! Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t twiddled my thumbs for 12 months wondering what to do. This year has been jam-packed as I have visited every association and spoken at over 120 different gatherings ranging from youth events to cream teas for seniors, from street outreach to children’s tea parties. I even had the opportunity to see first hand BMS World Mission projects in Kolkata! This year has truly been a once in a lifetime experience.
At a rough estimate I reckon 4000 people have attended Big Hearted workshops or heard me teach. Around 1200 have engaged with the message of ‘being Big Hearted’ by doing something practical, you see I didn’t want to just teach theory but do something. What has been the greatest encouragement of this year is that many are continuing to be active in sharing faith in gentle and creative ways. Not doing what I do, but doing what they do.
Throughout this year the challenge has been: ‘Will you be bothered enough to let others in on what you have got?’ It is impossible to work out how many people in our villages, towns and cities encountered Baptists sharing their faith and sowing the seed of good news in imaginative ways but it must be quite a few! Out of the tens of thousands I think of the individuals who were impacted. Like the lady on the streets in Godalming who asked for prayer and experienced the Holy Spirit tangibly as she was prayed for by someone from the local Baptist Church nervously. Like Mike on the Wirral who wanted to talk to me about his thoughts on seeing the church in the community: “It’s so good to see the church out of the building,” he commented. Like Sandra in Leicester who told me she hadn’t heard the story of God’s gift of Jesus before. Like Tim in Coventry who became a Christian after attending an outreach event. Like Sam who brought her children to a free Barbecue and fun afternoon in Norfolk and ended up asking me to pray for her family. I could write on and on… I have been aware of so many individuals this past year who have experienced that the good news of Jesus is… well, is so good!
This Big Hearted Tour hasn’t been about ‘the streets.’ Sometimes people think I’ve got a ‘wacky thing’ for the streets. Well, I haven’t. I’ve got a thing for people and it is on the streets I encounter them, with a hope that strangers become friends whom I pray will become disciples. We live in an age where we need to pioneer and meet strangers. The vast majority of people in our communities simply don’t know the story of Jesus and don’t have any Christian friends or family. As Baptists we desperately need to address this, and already I see a change in the dearth of good news sharing in the UK and pray that the Big Hearted Tour would be one small step towards Christians having more confidence in the gospel.
Over this year many people in our Baptist churches have asked how they can train to reach out to people at work and in their communities. Some have said, “I want to do the kind of things that you do!” Well, I have some good news. Alongside BMS World Mission, Urban Expression, the Incarnate Network and The Light Project, we have a vision for 400 new pioneers over the next five years to do new things in reaching people. It’s called the ‘Pioneer Collective.’ A tribal gathering of new Baptist pioneers pushing the missional boundaries in an emerging and diverse culture. We will seek to go where church isn’t and seek to make disciples. Joining this collective will require three things: 1) you train as well as do something pioneering – this could be a few days a month or full time 2) you are mentored 3) you gather with like-minded Baptists to be inspired to keep going!
If you are interested in knowing more please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, to all those who took part on this tour, the regional ministers, my travel chums and all those who gave me a bed for the night, I want to say a huge thank you! Thank you to The Light Project for releasing me to spend time on the tour but most importantly I want to write my thanks to my family who gave up a daddy and husband over many weekends this year so that I could share the Big Hearted message. To Ruth and my children I thank you for your generosity in sending me off across the UK to show and tell of our Big Hearted God.
This article is from the Baptist Union wen site and can be found here: http://www.baptist.org.uk/blogs/big-hearted.html