13 September 2016

Friends, I’m just back from our Staff Planning Conference. There were some enjoyable times of team building, and some excellent planning ahead. For example, we prepared a first draft preaching program for 2017. Other steps are to do with strategic direction or focus.

In particular, reading The Vine Project, we were struck afresh by a simple way of summarising progress towards Christ and in Christ: Engage, Evangelise, Establish, Equip. It’s made memorable by the use of the same letter E. But its power is in capturing a sense of flow or direction. Here’s how Marshall and Payne put it in their book


  • Some people are very ‘far away’ from Christ and his kingdom; they may not have ever met or spoken with a Christian person. Very often the first thing they need in order to take a step [ahead] is to meet and engage with a Christian.
  • Others have met and engaged with Christians or Christianity in some way. The next step for them is to hear the gospel; that is, to be evangelised.
  • For those who have responded to the gospel in faith and repentance, their next step is to be established as a Christian, to send down roots, and to begin to grow in godliness and Christlikeness (a ‘walk’ that will continue for the rest of their lives).
  • As Christians are established, and grow in love and knowledge, they will become increasingly concerned not only to step [ahead] themselves, but to help others do so in whatever way they can. They will benefit from being equipped to do so through teaching, encouragement, coaching and prayer.

The staff felt one helpful suggestion was to focus each school term on one successive E. Engage in Term 1. Evangelise in Term 2. Establish in Term 3. (We suggested just ‘existing’ in term 3, only half joking about the need at that time of year to take things a little easier!) Then Equip in Term 4. It’s not the only time to do these things, but it brings a clear focus.

In practical terms, it means, for example, that we’d ask the Men’s and Women’s Ministries to schedule their evangelistic event in Term 2, rather than some other time. And we’d certainly run our Christianity courses in that term too. We expect to move our Ministry Training week to Term 4, beginning from the end of 2016, God willing. And we’ve been working on a strategy to engage new residents moving into the many apartments being constructed in Wollongong. So we’d aim to implement that ‘Apartment Engage’ strategy in Term 1, 2017 (perhaps with a mini-trial in Term 4, 2016).

Sandy Grant,
Senior Minister