Evangelism and Music for a Broken World
Evangelism, Everyone, Everywhere (EEE) is the strategic ‘clarion call’ of the South England Conference (SEC). However, the challenges of evangelism in the urban and cosmopolitan settings of Europe test conventional methods of sharing the Gospel. It is our contention that evangelism through music has a key role to play in facilitating the understanding of our defining Adventist doctrines.
What is the ‘evangelism through music’ concept?
Evangelism through music seeks to raise both the standard and understanding of music as an integral tool for evangelism by:
• Supporting those with professional musicianship skills to work in team ministries
• Working with such teams to deliver successful evangelism based on Christ’s relational method
From our experience, having piloted the ‘evangelism through music’ concept in London last year, three key elements have emerged:
1. Evangelism, and not music, is the entry point for rooting and growing the work of evangelism through music.
2. Church teams that lead music require nurture and training to steward their music-related talents through Christ’s method of intentional evangelism.
3. Cross-conference communication and peer learning is essential for music teams wanting to achieve local evangelism goals.
Evangelism through music is not the same as a singing evangelist role or that of a minister of music. While these broadly focus on developing the gift of music, evangelism through music starts with nurturing evangelistic attitudes in music teams, inspiring them towards mission.
When we see ministry rather than performance as the bigger agenda, then we will see the need to spend time together, to work in teams, and to respect the value of being in connection for each other’s good.
How has this been applied?
An ‘evangelism through music’ programme was delivered from September to December last year, including seminars and practical outreach training for local church-based music teams, in preparation for a one-week evangelistic outreach in Central London. Four programme principles typifying the ‘evangelism through music’ approach were shared with local teams.
1. The great commission is not an option or a suggestion!
2. Use Christ’s method of evangelism, connecting musical language to the great commission.
3. Collaborate with Christ in evangelism, especially through relationships with people.
4. Teamwork is required between instrumentalists, singers, and sound and audio engineers.
The ‘evangelism through music’ concept seeks to connect with people who are struggling to find real meaning in their lives. The Music for a Broken World (MBW) outreach was designed to utilise music and prayer as critical tools to engage those who wouldn’t usually come to a church programme.
Was it just another campaign then? No!
The programme culminated in an evangelistic outreach, but first involved training and practice specifically geared for church music teams to use music as an evangelistic tool. Six churches were identified, representing the diversity of churches within the SEC and the willingness of their local music director s to play a lead role in the outreach.
Five key areas made this programme different and unique:
• Musicians, singers and sound and video engineers usually produce the content for an event rather than being directly involved in evangelism by inviting or bringing individuals to the meetings. Training for this programme focused on the need to restore evangelistic involvement.
• One hundred and fifteen people were trained over five weeks in workshops designed and delivered using Christ’s method of evangelism.
• Identified singers, musicians and sound and video engineers in local church teams were asked to attend both workshops and the campaign, as well as to practise the ‘friendship evangelism’ concept leading up to the campaign.
• Two practical courses held at the Advent Centre focused on outreach to non-Adventists, demonstrating evangelism in action.
• A one-week evangelistic campaign was designed and delivered by working with a diverse range of singers, musicians and speakers. Each night featured an ethnically diverse cast who delivered vocal and instrumental music while also sharing their spiritual journeys alongside the pastor evangelist.
What were the outcomes?
The outreach was specifically aimed at non-Adventists from diverse communities in London. An average attendance of five non-Adventist visitors per day attended the one-week campaign. From the total of 35 non-Adventist campaign visitors, nine people requested follow-up. Attendees came from a wide range of backgrounds including Muslim, Indian, British and other European, Brazilian, Chinese and African cultures. It’s important to note that daily average campaign audiences of both Adventists and non-Adventists was around 30. Throughout the week the focus was on visitor s, as opposed to having a large hall full of Adventist ‘spectators’. Nightly pre- and post-programme contact and prayer with attendees was very important for relationship building and nurture.
Music team member s invited personal contacts, having been encouraged to do so through the ‘friendship evangelism’ approach. Throughout the week there was support from an SEC Bible worker, and follow-up has been organised for the nine regular contacts.
What did we learn?
• By utilising the CENT approach developed for this programme, local church leaders and teams connected and engaged with those attending the outreach, because of their prior nurture and training, all of which had prepared them to deliver evangelism and music to a high standard. A workshop evaluation showed that 85% were now aware of Christ’s method of reaching people in relation to their musically related role after the seminar. Eighty-four percent were likely to apply what they had learned and 89% desired more training.
• Follow-up with attendees is crucial, and more post-outreach follow-up time is necessary for future events.
• Nightly programmes were professionally delivered with no introductions and kept to a core one-hour timeframe. This facilitated a professionally delivered holistic Adventist message that appeared to appeal to non-churched individuals.
• Music team members were taught to identify and be sensitive to individuals wishing to talk, especially by using music as an introduction.
Could this approach, based on Christ’s method, make a sustainable difference, igniting the fervour of the early advent movement in our hearts and propelling us to deliver successful missions in Europe? Music, for the ambitious and artistically driven, can become overly complex. This complexity does not necessarily yield the best results, and humility is essential to an appreciation of that. ‘God often uses the simplest means to accomplish the greatest results. ’ Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 822.
This article first appeared in the Messenger. 27th April 2018 Volume 123.08. Journal of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland.