Do you have a passion to see those around you come to know Jesus? If so I want to tell you about an exciting new initiative launching in 2020 called, Advance.

Advance groups will take place across the diocese (once a month over a one-year period). The aim of the group is to identify and equip those with a passion for evangelism. It will be a year of growth, encouragement and building friendships with like-minded people so we can be more effective in reaching people with the good news of Jesus.

The group will consist of 5-12 people, who will meet once a month over a one-year period. It will be a year of growth, encouragement and building friendships with like-minded people.

Course outline

  • Session 1: Welcome to Advance
  • Session 2: The Identity of the Evangelist
  • Session 3: The Message of the evangelist
  • Session 4: The Task of the Evangelist
  • Session 5: The Power of the Evangelist
  • Session 6: The Devotion of the Evangelist
  • Session 7: The Submission of the Evangelist
  • Session 8: The Character of the Evangelist
  • Session 9: The Opportunity of the Evangelist
  • Session 10: The Commitment of the Evangelist
  • Session 11: The Inspiration of the Evangelist
  • Session 12: Day Retreat

The ethos of this group is based around 5 key principals:

  1. Regular Meeting – We will meet monthly over a 12 month period.
  2. Sharpening – Commitment to studying the bible
  3. Accountability – Honest self-evaluation (questionnaires, group discussion)
  4. Communication – keeping each other up to date, prayer requests sharing resources & ideas via WhatsApp group
  5. Multiplication – a commitment to explore the idea of starting a fresh advance group in the future.

Current Groups running:

Advance: Coventry  – St John the Baptist Church, Westwood. Every third Saturday of the month.

Coming soon!

Advance: Rugby
Advance: Nuneaton

If you would like to take part or simply find out more information please get in touch with Gareth Fitzpatrick: Learning mentor for Need Oriented Outreach and Evangelism:


It is a cold Monday morning and as I look out of the window of my study, something is different than a normal weekday morning, there are cars on the drive. Neighbours who are usually out at work are home. Hiding behind the safety of their four walls in an effort to avoid “the invisible enemy.” The only other times I see this many cars on the drive are at Christmas or on the joyous occasion that is a “snow day”. However this time the sense of joy and excitement are distinctly absent. There is an anxious uncertainty in the air that keeps people from their day-to-day routine

In my fairly limited life I have never experienced a time like the one we are currently seeing unfold. As I reflect on how life (and my diary) has changed in the last seven days, the word that best sums up how I feel is “disoriented”. The definition of disoriented means:

“To cause someone to lose their sense of direction: to feel displaced from a normal position or relationship.”

I have no real sense of normal, the concerns and questions that I had a few weeks ago have changed, until this week I have never questioned whether I have enough toilet paper or hand sanitiser, yet these have become real issues in my life.

But more seriously my wife and I have been asking questions like, “When will this ever get better?” “Will the business survive?” “How will be ever pay the bills?” “When will I be able to see our friends and family again?” These questions hang over our head like a cloud that threatens to block out any hopefulness.

As I read posts on social media, as I watch the news channels and chat to my neighbours it is clear to see that I am not the only person experiencing feelings of disorientation and anxiety. The familiarity of routine is comforting, like a pair of well-worn shoes, and in the last two weeks it feel like they have been rudely snatched from my feet, only to be replaced by cheap, rigid boots that are uncomfortable and bring painful blisters.

As followers of Jesus we know that it shouldn’t be the certainty of routine, of comfort, or even our friends and family that bring us a sense of peace, but I have to confess that sometimes these things do become the foundation for my peace. When this becomes the case it is a sign that things in my life have gotten out of order and that it is time to realign my priorities. The parable of the man who built his house on the sand in Matt 7:24-27 testifies to that. It is only when we set our foundations (our hope, affections and trust) wholly on Jesus that we will be able to steadfastly endure the storms that life throws our way.

Sometimes it can take a crisis like a global pandemic to highlight that we have misplaced complete trust in God.

A sign of this is happening can be when we feel an absence of peace and joy. Let me clarify choosing to not trust completely in God isn’t something that we necessarily decided to do one day, in an act of rebellion. It can be something much more subtle that takes place focus. Day-to-day matters in the here and now become the main thing and the eternal matters somehow get lost. When I turn to the couple of chapters of the bible in Revelation I remind myself that the ending is good, Jesus will come back, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be no more pain and suffering and every tear will be wiped away.

As I reflect on this I realise how easily I can forget the big picture. My focus narrows on the present situation and all the troubles that come with it. When I do this I lose perspective and consequently lose my peace.

The question I am asking myself is “how am I feeling about all that is currently going on in the world?” am I experiencing the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit or am I feeling other emotions that aren’t from God?  Am I feeling fearful? Am I restless and anxious? Is there an absence of joy and peace?

If so, don’t feel condemned it is understandable. When we see things from a natural perspective things aren’t looking too good. However, as we acknowledge these feelings let them be a gentle reminder we need to turn our gaze back onto the prince of peace.

I encourage you through these turbulent times to make sure that we interpret all things (News broadcasts, social media content our conversations with others) in the knowledge that God is sovereign and in control. Let’s set our eyes upon Jesus in the midst of all the uncertainly. Let me leave you with a song to help and encourage us at this time.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful Face.

And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace. 

(Helen H. Lemmel)

So this is Christmas

I can’t quite believe we are approaching yet another Christmas. I know that I must be getting on a bit as time is starting to feel like it is progressively getting faster. Each year feels shorter than the last, and the gap between hearing Wizard’s, ‘I wish it could be Christmas’ blaring out in shops is getting ever smaller. I’ve even starting saying phrases like my Grandad such as, ‘where have those months gone’. Bah humbug!

But as we approach this time of year it is easy to get caught up in the madness of buying gifts, making family arrangements and planning the Christmas meal. So much so that we miss the opportunities that Christmas brings us as a church to be a positive message to the communities we live in.

It is a time to reflect on the greatest gift ever given to the world! It is time to reflect on a missional God, who, in His love sends His only Son to come down to Earth to redeem a lost and broken world. As a follower of Jesus I am humbled and overwhelmed when I think of the lengths God went to so that I may have relationship with Him. I am overwhelmed at the difference He has made to my life in the years that I have known Him, and I am relieved to know that my future is secured. But I am also reminded that there are so many people who are yet to truly discover Jesus.

“the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.”

John 1:14

Jesus became flesh and was sent to dwell amongst us, or as The Message beautifully puts it “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.” Today, empowered by His Holy Spirit we are called to reflect God’s presence on Earth; we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our neighbourhoods.

So as we approach this Christmas let us ask ourselves: How can we be the good news of Jesus to our communities? How can we be good news to the vulnerable, the isolated, to the lonely, the immigrant, the orphan, the single parents, and those living in our streets and neighbourhoods? How can we be Jesus to those who do not yet know Him?

We can be good news in many ways: we can open our house to those who have no one to spend Christmas with, we can visit the local care home to spend an hour making someone feel special, we can donate our Christmas money to charity and help our at our local homeless shelter. So many opportunities, of which all are good! However as followers of Jesus we are called to address not only the present needs of our world, (injustice, poverty, etc…) but also the eternal needs of our world. If we fail to invite people to hear and respond to the gospel message and give them the opportunity to respond we are short-changing the ones we are called to love!

In 2 Peter 3:9 we read that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance. We must not lose sight of this. So here is my challenge to you this Christmas – do at least one thing to:

1.       Positively change someone’s present needs. For example: Help out at a homeless shelter!

2.   Give somebody the opportunity to respond to the Gospel message. For example Invite a friend to your Carol service and share your story about how Jesus changed your life

How amazing would it be to give somebody the chance to receive the greatest present the world has ever received?

I pray that you will have a great Christmas and that God will use you powerfully to grow His kingdom in this special season.

Finding Common Ground

At the time of writing, we are 52 days away from the 100th anniversary marking the end of the First World War.

Remembrance Day gives us an opportunity to reflect and remember what has gone before us, to give thanks for the sacrifices made by so many. It is a time to remind ourselves of the freedoms we enjoy, and, often take for granted. It is a time where we are reminded of the fragility of mankind and our propensity to carry out all manner of evil. Most significantly it reminds us of our desperate need for a saviour.

As the learning mentor for need-oriented outreach/ evangelism, I see Remembrance Sunday as an opportunity to reach and engage people with the good news of Jesus. It is one of those rare occasions (like Christmas, Easter, weddings, christenings and funerals) where people from all walks of life are willing to cross the thresh-hold of our churches, which provides us a great opportunity to tell people about our wonderful God in a natural way.

Throughout the bible, sacrifice, thanksgiving and remembrance are key themes. For example, we read on a number of occasions that God continued to remember the Covenant He made with his people (Gen. 9:15-16; Exod. 6:5), the Israelites are constantly reminded to remember all that the Lord had done for them (Deut 8:10-18; Joshua 1:13). Today remembrance is most clearly expressed and demonstrated when the church gathers to partake in the Eucharist to remember the sacrifice of Jesus, who gave up his life on the cross so that we may have relationship with the Father. We respond in thankfulness for all that He has done through his death and resurrection and for giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those who follow Jesus live with the hope that someday Jesus will return to the Earth and all things will be redeemed in the new creation, where we will see an end to all suffering, pain and mourning and we will be with God forever (Revelation 21). For those who don’t follow Jesus, the future seems much less optimistic.


I believe that if we are to see our neighbours, our friends and family come to know Jesus we need to recognise the opportunities that come along and make the most of them. As we gather to remember and give thanks for the sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives in battle let’s take this opportunity to introduce people to the One who gave the greatest sacrifice of all!

As we gather to remember and give thanks for the sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives in battle let’s take this opportunity to introduce people to the one who gave the greatest sacrifice of all!

I know that this isn’t always an easy thing to do, but when we are given such natural opportunities we need to take them and trust that God will speak through us and our worship services in a powerful way!

In order to help you do this I have I have taken time to collate a range of resources to assist you in preparing your services. Here you will find, sermon outlines, videos, ideas for children and teenagers, a link to special Messy church remembrance service, a Eucharist of remembrance, prayers and many other ideas. Finally if you would like any further help please feel free to give me an email: ( or give me a call: (07757225001) and I will be happy to assist you as I can.

Click below for resources:

Remembrance Day Resources

Listen Out

       Last week we focused on the importance of being a good listener, in particular with a focus on listening to God. This week we are going to pay attention to the second aspect of “double listening”, which focuses on listening to our culture.

       I think most of us would say that we have a pretty good idea about the culture we live in. This is often true in the spheres of influence we find ourselves in. However, in reality when it comes to having an objective understanding of what’s going on beyond our places of work, social groups, the clubs that we are affiliated with it can often be the case that our perceptions aren’t always accurate.  Before I go further it is important to clarify that I am writing to those based in a local church context who are seeking to understand their culture so they are able to respond to the needs of their community in relevant and helpful ways.



So how can we gain a better understanding into our culture and and bridge the gap so that we can engage more effectively in ways that bring the kingdom of God to our streets? 

“Pray with a bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other”

Karl Barth

When Barth wrote this the newspaper was the best ways to access current affairs. I’m convinced that if this Barth was around today he would have said, Pray with a bible in one hand and a device in the other. In the 21st century we have never so rich on information. We have access to 24 hour news which keeps us up to date, as and when events unfold, we have social media platforms giving us information and in real time. As well as this we have access to a comprehensive range of data all at the click on a button. All we have to do is ask google! For example: I can find out the, the social deprivation, the ratio of single parents, the divorce rate, age profiles of the populace, life expectancy, crime levels, employment percentages, the ethnic diversity, standards of education and other socio-economic information.

For a church that takes the Great Commission seriously knowing that we have the ability to harvest so much information, with relatively little effort is exciting!  When we take the time assess the data available we gain invaluable insight toward the needs in our community. Such information can help to guide us in deciding the form of outreach which will add greatest value to our community (I will post a few website addresses at the bottom of this blog to help you understand more about your unique cultural context). But this should not be the only information that we refer to.

Jesus Asked

When I read about the ministry of Jesus I am shocked to read that the all-knowing Son of God was documented asking a staggering 307 questions during his short time on earth. Jesus was interested about understanding the people he was sent to save, he wanted to know their needs (Mark 10:51), understand what they thought and most importantly he wanted to engage in dialogue.

When we do outreach and evangelism we often set out solely on our assumptions (what we think people need and want, or simply assuming the thing that helped us in the past is bound to be thing that will help them), whilst neglecting to take the time to ask people: how can we practically help you?

This could simply be going out onto the streets and asking people “what three things would they like to see happening in their community?” It could be more focused such as “if they church could help you practically, how…”

Ask the Right People

A great way of learning about the cultural contexts and need of your community is to identify those in key positions of influence. By doing this the church is able to build a positive relationship with those outside the church, gain a better insight into what is going on in the different sectors of society and be able to identify opportunities for the church to help and encourage through prayer and in practical ways.

Below are a few examples of key people that you might want to engage with:

·         Your local MP

·         Local Councillors

·         Head teachers

·         School Governors

·         Youth group leaders

·         Local Care homes

·         Police Community Support officers

·         Leaders of local organizations (W.I. Scouts, Guides)

·         Social workers

       Once we have identified these people we are in the position to make contact, ask them key questions, listen to their experiences and most importantly we can build relationships with them. By doing this bridges are built between our churches and the community in which we live, we learn about what going on from those with the expertise and we gain a better insight into their needs and we gain opportunities to help and practically display God’s love in action.

John Stott concludes in ‘The Contemporary Christian’ that bad listeners make bad disciples.’ By taking the time and effort to listen to God through prayer and meditating on His word we give ourselves the best chance of hearing from Him and thus staying faithful to our tradition so we don’t buy into the temptation to compromise or capitulate in order to become relevant to those outside church. 


When we listen to God and listen to culture we gain the ability to engage in a ways are that are authentic not only to our faith but that are relevant to the world we live in. We can therefore respond practically in ways that meet their needs and truly show the love of Jesus.

“Bad listeners make bad disciples”

John Stott, The Contemporary Christian

Listen Up

Growing up I was often told by those in authority, “God has given you two ears and one mouth, you should think about using them in those proportions!” Pretty harsh hey! To be fair I was a chatty kid and I had lots of ideas and silly theories to share with the nearest pair of ears.

But looking back there was wisdom in what my critics had to say.

In James 1:19 the apostle reminds his readers that “…Everyone should be quick to listen and be slow to speak.

“… Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak.” James 1:19

Generally listening is not is a popular concept, I mean when was the last time that you heard somebody being criticized for listening too much! This is especially true in today’s fast paced world of multi-platform social media and on-demand everything. It is clear to see that lots of people have a lot of things to say but finding a good listener isn’t so easy.


As the learning mentor for need-orientated evangelism I could be tempted to buy into the lie that to be a good evangelist, I need to focus my efforts on how to deliver a perfect gospel presentation, become an expert in apologetics or put on a slick event with all the bells and whistles (all of which are great things), however all my efforts are wasted if fail to attentively listen to:


            I.         What God is saying (through prayer and reading the bible).

          II.         The cultural context that I live in.

The reason for this being that if we fail to listen to God we run the risk of becoming unfaithful and if we fail to listen to what our culture is saying before long we will become disconnected or at worse irrelevant. As John Stott concludes: ““Bad listeners do not make good disciples.”

The next two blogs will seek to unpack why listening is one of the most unused and underrated tools of the effective evangelist. Part one of this blog will briefly explore how we can become effective listeners of God and the impact this can have for out outreach and evangelism. Part two will seek to explore the importance of listening to what our culture has to say are explore the effect that it may have for the church in that context. We will then draw together what it looks like to be people of God who listen to both God and culture.



PART ONE – Listen Up: Listening to God

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet, a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

Have you ever played pin the tail on the donkey? If you have you will know that when we are blind folded and lose our vision it doesn’t take long until we are embarrassingly dis-oriented. In Psalm 119 we glimpse some understanding into what helps King David to be a ‘man after God’s heart’. It is meditating on the word of God, and as a result is acts as the light which guides him through life!


Plumb lines and Spirit levels

Earlier this year I moved house and as a result I had to put up some shelves. I must confess that I am not the most practical person when it comes to DIY, there was one shelf in particular that I put into position, and I could swear that it was perfectly level, it wasn’t! When I put the spirit level on the shelf the bubble was nowhere near the middle, it was miles off. The problem was that I had trusted what I perceived as level. The shelf was perfectly parallel to the ceiling (which I assumed would be level) and from my perspective it looked good. It was only when I put a spirit level on top of the shelf that it became clear that the ceiling was not level at all and neither was the shelf! It is only when we put a spirit level or a plumb line next to something that we can confirm whether or not that we are on the right track. That’s because plumb lines and spirit levels are an absolute reference point they do not change.

“We must not be enticed to sacrifice truth on the altar of modernity.”

John Stott, The Contemporary Christian 

As Christians our reference point must be the Word of God. God’s word is the anchor that keeps us grounded, even when the fiercest currents threaten to pull us here and there. As King David said it is the word of God that is a lamp unto our feet.  

When we neglect the word of God we will be influenced by the shifting sands of culture and what we stand for will be inevitably be compromised. I see this happening in our churches today as we try to navigate being Christians in a 21st century world. Often scripture can take a back seat as we can pay more deference to being relevant when we should first seek to be faithful followers of Jesus, even if that means we don’t agree with the popular opinions of society. 


I don’t think that this is something we do in a purposefully sinful way. Often the rationale can be from the positive place of wanting engage with those outside of the church family, to be relevant and inclusive. However moving the goal posts, or watering down biblical precepts is not the way to go about reaching those in our communities. As Stott says “we must not be enticed to sacrifice ‘truth on the altar of modernity.’ We often speak most authentically to the world not when we compromise, but when we refuse to do so. We are not called to be indistinguishable to the world but to be salt and light, or as Paul describes, “to shine like stars” (Phil 2:15).


As you would expect Jesus modelled how it should be done perfectly. He spent his time with tax men, sinners and prostitutes, but he never once compromised his message. For example, just read His interaction with the woman caught in adultery John 8:1-11. There was such grace as Jesus refused to condemn her, (even though he was the one person that could have) but he did say to the woman ‘sin no more’.


Hopefully part one of the blog has highlighted the importance “listening up”. When we take the time to ask God, read His word and listen intently we put ourselves in the position to be used by Him. However the listening should not end here. We then to understand how we best serve the people in our care practically and in way that resonate with them authentically. Next week we will explore the benefits of effectively listening to culture.