Summary: How does Jesus begin his mission? By gathering a few friends around him.
John 1 :35-51 Jesus meets a Sceptic
preached at Jubilee Church by Adrian Warnock
Audio and slides available at
· Does hearing about Church statistics discourage you or inspire you to want to make a difference?
· Why does Jesus choose the way of gathering a few faithful friends?
· How can we be better and more faithful friends of each other and help each other follow Jesus?
· What are the best ways for us to introduce our friends to Jesus?
· What friends do you have that you would like to first pray for, and then invite?
Intro-Bleeding to death
Archbishop George Carey in 1998 stated ‘Our mission is under attack. ... In some sections of our Western Church we are bleeding to death."1
Perhaps he had in mind his native country of England. The words are an apt description of where we might be going if one looks at them from a purely statistical point of view. In 1979 5.4 million people in England attended church on an average Sunday. Ten years later in 1989 that number had become 4.7 million. Nine years later in 1998 that number had become 3.7 million. A 0.7 million drop in 10 years has been followed by a 1.0 million drop in 9 years, a 13% decline over 10 years and a 22% decline over 9 years.
This has been at a time when the population has been increasing, from 46 million in 1979 to nearly 50 million by 1998. This means that Sunday church attendance, in percentage terms, has become:
· 11.7% attending church on an average Sunday in 1979
· 9.9% in 1989, and
· 7.5% in 1998.
We can take some solace from Worldwide statistics-
33% population ‘Christian’ of which 11% are evangelical and 22% are non-evangelical
BUT! Islam has recently taken over as fastest growing religion
Local figures do also provide us with some solace-
Enfield and Waltham Forest have both shown significant church growth. This is thought to be largely related to the growth in non white populations.
The questions remains though- are we going to be a significant part of this picture in Jubilee and what kind of churches are these people attending?
What are we doing about it?
‘The New Testament offers a picture: A God who does not sound at all vague to me. He has sent his son to Earth. He has distinct plans both for his son and for mankind. He knows each of us personally and can communicate directly with us. We are capable of forming a direct relationship, individually, with him, and we are commanded to try. We are told this can only be done through his son. And we are offered the prospect of eternal life — an afterlife in happy, blissful or glorious circumstances. Friends, if I believed that, or even a tenth of that, I would drop my job, sell my house, throw away my possessions, and set out into the world burning with the desire to tell others.’ Matthew Paris from the Times.(cited in Adrian Holloway)
54 MILLION people die each year! (UN, 1999)
‘Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!’ (1 Cor. 9:16)
General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army said that if he could have done so, he would have finished the training of his officers by dangling them over hell for 24 hours, so that they could see its horrors. Only then would he put them onto the streets.” (cited in Adrian Holloway)
In this context, it is of course interesting to go back to the beginning and see what Jesus did about it. In his day the church was a tiny minority- one out of the whole worlds population.
What was his first step?
Was it to launch a large meeting series?
No it was to gather a few friends!
What a way to impact the world. What a way to launch a world movement that today affects 33% of the worlds population 2000 years on.
Just maybe we need to learn from this- instead of moaning about the sate of the church, lets set about building one that bucks the trend, or in our case locally simply joins the trend!!
Lets see how Jesus set about it- he’s a great example.
Whos seeking whom?
Seeing Jesus, John says LOOK, the others follow. There is no sense of competetion here- John existed to bring people to Jesus- do we?
As they turn to follow Jesus, I guess they didn’t think that ‘The LONGEST journey begins with a single step ‘ (quote from Lao-tsu (c 604–c 531 BC), founder of Taoism). But it is true, the journey of following Jesus begins for them and mankind here. It is always important to examine the beginnings of anything.