The Turning Oxford 30th April – 6th May FAQs
- Do I have to take the week off work?
No. Although we would really encourage you to do so if you can, we recognise that it is not possible for everyone to use up a week’s annual leave. You are welcome to come to as many encounter evenings and outreach sessions as you like and are able. If taking time off work is a problem, Monday 1st May is a Bank Holiday and we will also be going out on Saturday 6th May, so please join us then! The important thing is that you come to an encounter meeting the evening before you go out on the streets – we need to experience God’s love afresh ourselves before we share it with others!
- Is it all day every day?
No. Encounter meetings start at 7.30 pm and will finish around 9.30 pm and will be at the King’s Centre. There will be a training session every day at 10 am at Wesley Memorial Church, followed by two outreach sessions, 11.30-12.30 and 1.30-2.30, after each of which we gather briefly to hear each other’s stories. The rest of the day is free.
- I’ve heard there’s this script. Do we have to follow it?
Yes. The script has been devised to help keep a conversation on track and bring people to a point of decision. The constant feedback has been that those who don’t follow it for whatever reason often don’t get very far. Of course, if you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you to share something, please do so! We would, however, recommend you do this at the end of the conversation.
We understand that some people will have concerns about the script. We are happy to talk these through with you, but please understand that this is a tool to introduce people to God’s eternal and life-changing love, not provide a theological exposition. We do not need to understand the mechanics of salvation in order to respond to God’s love!
- Will there be childcare?
No. We would really encourage you to let your children join in, especially as the experience in Reading has been that their children are amongst their most effective evangelists! It would be great for this to be a family mission – however, please note that you are responsible for your own child! We would love to see the youth get involved too, but again, please make sure they are accompanied by an adult. We would very much recommend that under-18s come to the evening encounter meeting the day before, along with their parents, as they can meet God there just as much as we can.
- Is this for one week only?
We hope not! This week-long mission launch is to train us in this particular format of evangelism and have a significant initial impact. It’s also so much more encouraging to go out and know we’re part of a whole group of people who are doing the same thing! Most places who have launched The Turning now do a monthly outreach one Saturday a month and we may do the same. In any case, our prayer is that this will help effective evangelism become part of our normal life.
- Does this mean we are stopping missional Communities?
No. We would like to encourage Communities to cancel their own meetings that week so they can be involved in the outreach, but we still very much see our Communities as a vital part of our missional strategy as a church. We are anticipating that The Turning Launch will bring new life and expectancy to our Communities and provide them with the confidence to reach out even more effectively to their specific spheres.
We are asking Community leaders to consider having more flexible meetings over the summer term, to allow members to be involved in following up the people who pray on the streets. We also strongly encourage you to think of organising social activities that a seeker or new believer can easily be invited to. We also believe that our Communities can be a place of encouragement and support for those who are discipling new believers. And if you want to run an Alpha or Journeys Course, please do (and let the church office know)!
- What happens to all the people who pray on the streets?
We follow them up. When someone prays to Jesus on the streets, we ask them if they would be willing to give us their contact details, so we can stay in touch and encourage them on their new journey of or towards faith. We will then make sure that someone is allocated to each of these people to call them, meet up with them and disciple them. The aim is to make first contact, ideally a phone call, within 48 hours of talking to them on the streets. Many of these will be from unchurched backgrounds, so one-to-one follow-up and discipleship has proved more effective than group courses.
- I’ve never discipled a new Christian before. How do I know what to do?
Don’t worry, we will provide you with a useful tool and train you in using it. There are many resources available that will help, but we suggest you follow a course designed by Yinka Oyekan, pastor of The Gate in Reading. It covers the basics of the Christian faith in an easy-to-use, discovery-style format. It focuses on building a relationship with the individual, not just teaching them what we know. It should take about an hour every week (or fortnight) per person (plus travel time).
- Why don’t other churches seem keen to join in?
There are many possible answers to this. Some might feel that street evangelism is outdated, others might not like the idea of following someone else’s format. Most won’t have the benefit of a previous connection with Yinka or The Gate and might therefore be suspicious of this ‘outpouring’. And of course, there’s scepticism that it really works, already busy schedules and uncertainty as to how this could impact their church congregation. All pretty normal human reactions, really! We have a history of being at the driving edge in the city, we have the connections with The Turning team and a number of us have experienced this outpouring first-hand, so it’s not surprising that we should be the early adopters in Oxford.
- Talking of scepticism, are you sure this will work in Oxford?
Yes! We believe God is doing something big in our nation and in Europe, and that Oxford is a key place in that. Not only has it often been in the past, but members of our OCC churches have been involved from very early on in different ways, from hosting it in South Oxfordshire, to being on the National Turning Team and even taking it to Lille, France. We don’t want to miss out at home! To find out more about what has happened in Reading and elsewhere, check out The Turning Facebook page, with its posts and videos (https://www.facebook.com/theturning.eu/?fref=ts) or our own church blog (http://oxford.occ.org.uk/our-blogs) and read the stories told by people you know.
- So, if this works, how much church growth can we expect from this?
Well, it’s still rather early days for definite statistics. We would strongly recommend not seeing this as an opportunity for adding numbers to our church, but as a blessing to the wider Church. We can probably expect about 20-25% of those of pray on the streets to agree to a regular follow up, but they might end up joining another church eventually. That’s fine, it’s all for God’s glory, not ours!