Journey To Faith: a local church training course
Many rural churches struggle with evangelism; both the concept and the practice. Yet the first two of the widely-recognised Five Marks of Mission explicitly anticipate evangelism by the local church, or assume that it is part of that church’s ongoing life:
• To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
• To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
The reasons for such struggles with evangelism may be many, and can include:
• Failure to understand what evangelism is
• Fear of speaking out about the Christian faith
• Small congregation size
• Lack of experience
• Confusion over who might be expected to bear witness to Christ
Some of these reasons are magnified by the circumstances of many rural churches and the communities they serve. They are also sometimes made worse by a lack of help – whether resources or training – that takes rural church & community life seriously. That is the need that this resource from the Arthur Rank Centre is designed to meet. It is not a tool for so-called personal evangelism, but something to envision & equip a local congregation.
Journey To Faith is a low key, simple training programme that can be run by any local church – or group of churches - over 2 half-days. It requires no outside or expert help; all the material and resources that are required are freely available to download below – with the exception of some very basic practical items that virtually any local church can rustle up with ease. Besides the material required to run the two course sessions, we provide other resources, optional supplementary material, links to good material and ideas elsewhere, and a Resource Manual that every participant can take away with them to use in their own church to improve their ministry of witness & evangelism.
This resource has been developed by Capt. Gordon Banks (CA), Chichester Diocesan Evangelist, and Simon Martin, Arthur Rank Centre Training & Resources Officer. We would love to get feedback & comments from you on your use of this resource. You can email us at
"Journey To Faith" Pilot Training Day
This was run in the parish of St Margaret's, West Hoathly, in the Diocese of Chichester. Fourteen people attended the two training sessions during the day, and the feedback from the lay participants was very positive:
"A lovely amalgam of theory and practice"
"What really helped me was putting evangelism in the context of the ongoing life of the whole church"
"It has been the most worthwhile church meeting that I have been to that I can remember!"
"There was a good balance of talk, group work and discussions so that everyone was kept involved and engaged"
"I came to learn how to shape my own faith story to share, and I feel I have been really sent on my way!"
About the group work - "This provoked so much useful discussion ... I wish we could have had more time!"
About using the Rural Church Cycle - "A real help for planning events that naturally slot into the cycle of the church and village life"
About Storytelling - "Really helpful to have guidance re. my story, Jesus' story and the church story; especially linking past, present and future"
The vicar also attended the training, and offers these reflections:
"People who arrived 'uptight and slightly afraid' immediately relaxed and actually enjoyed the day! Simon and Gordon warned us that we were to be guinea pigs in the first test run of the 'Journey to Faith' course, and to expect a few hiccoughs along the way, but in fact it all ran like clockwork and I think we all felt it had been really helpful and in fact a fun day!"
"The basic message of the course was that sharing our faith with others is not just something for the professionals or for the specially holy or gifted but that it needs to be at the heartbeat of the local church, woven into the fabric of our life together. And then we proceeded to go on a kind of journey together, so that by the end of the day, I for one was left feeling excited about the potential of the local church to be reaching out to the community around us. Some courses tell you 'what', and leave you feeling rather nonplussed about how to move from where you are to where you should be. This course was so practical and geared specifically to a rural setting that it helped us to know the 'how' and be motivated to do it because it had been made to seem infinitely do-able!"
The Complete Training Module - revised (as a zip file)
• Five Is & Intentional Evangelism
• A Truthful Story
• B2CS (Back to Church Sunday) in a Rural Parish
• B2CS (Back to Church Sunday) in a Year
• Rural Church Year Cycle – document template - revised (and as a simple .pdf)
• Rural Church Year Cycle– slide template - revised
• Simple Church & Community Profiling Tools
• Six Serving Men with notes
• The Big Welcome (2012) and also see the website here
• Useful Resources