Over the last few years, I’ve heard many people begin to question whether the era of evangelistic courses has run its course. They argue that people just aren’t interested any more and that we need to think of new ways of engaging people.
Then Covid-19 hit us all. Within weeks, the whole of the UK had simultaneously become Zoom savvy. At that time, we heard stories of some churches leading CE online with much larger numbers simply because they advertised more widely on Facebook and ran it on Zoom. You can optionally pay a small fee to ‘boost’ your course advert on Facebook, which they had done, and now they were running their biggest CE course ever. So we thought we’d try it too.
But it didn’t work. Well the Facebook ad didn’t anyway. We had only one taker, and she didn’t turn up in the end. But praise God, who always works in surprising ways, our church members invited their socks off. We decided to try running the Life Explored course, and by the time it had begun, we had around 35 attendees (around half of them were the church members bringing along one friend). To put that into context, I can’t remember us ever running a course with more than about 5 or 6.
Why the difference? We put together a video to advertise it to the church – perhaps that helped. (The people at CE ministries kindly gave us permission to edit and badge their promo video to make it a ‘Sutton’ one.) We had a team of four energetic church members planning and driving the course rather than just a single staff member – perhaps that helped. Perhaps it was the Zoom factor. Perhaps it was the coronavirus. Maybe it will never happen again. But we all are pumped that the Lord Jesus has given us such a wonderful opportunity.
The course is not without its challenges. We’ve never done LE before so we’re getting to grips with that. We have such an extraordinary range of attendees with such a complicated range of cultures, languages, sexualities and backgrounds. Yet it is so exciting seeing so many of our church people bringing along their friend. It makes the heart burst with pride. Praise the Lord indeed!
Our prayer is that as the course finishes, each of those church members will have the chance and the boldness to read the Bible one-to-one with their friend. Please will you pray with us to the Lord that he will answer our prayers. Thank you!