The book Towards the Conversion of England suggests that a parish can put on an evangelistic mission to its own community. Apparently several of these were held in the first few years after the book was published, although I can’t find any record of how successful they were. Here are the basics:

First, plan both the preparation for the event and the follow-up to it. ‘It is worse than useless… unless the “follow-up” has been carefully planned and the promoters have answered the question, “What do you plan to do with those whose hearts are touched?”‘

The first preparation event is what we would call an every-member canvass, but for the purpose of explaining the need for an evangelistic mission rather than the need for money. ‘Every house in the parish should be visited twice, and the visitor should make personal contact with the household.’

The main preparation event is what the book calls a teaching convention, to which parishioners are invited in order to prepare them to participate in ther mission itself. Parishioners must be able to summarise and explain, in ordinary language, the main outlines of the Christian faith. The teaching convention will be spread over several sessions, and should continue until those attending feel that they can make such an explanation. ‘The convention must be prepared for and followed up both in the pulpit and in the parish.’ To the extent possible, lay people should do the teaching.

The preparation should also build up the sense of fellowship in the church. ‘It would be of little use to to hold a mission unless those who are converted by it and, perhaps, brought to church for the first time, find within the Body of Christ a warmth of welcome that breaks down the natural barriers between man and man… This intensification of fellowship will develop from the sense of responsibility in the common task.’

The mission itself should bring in someone with experience of or at least a perceived call to evangelistic preaching, and should last long enough to reach everyone in the parish. There might be five or six talks over two or three days, in different places in the neighborhood where a different audience might be found. ‘The missioner must be able to build men up in the faith and fellowship of the Church; for a Parochial Mission which ignores the intellect and relies on emotion is not likely to have lasting results.’

Towards the Conversion of England does not say more about follow-up than the above remarks about fellowship and welcome in the church. Follow-up was apparently the subject of a pamphlet published later. The book also recognises that small-group campaigns may be the wave of the future, ‘as the age of big public meetings seems to have passed, at any rate for a time’, but it seems to me that the need now is something unmistakeably associated with a local Church. Unless local churches really don’t have a future.

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