Preaching the Gospel and shepherding God’s children effectively is always a challenge to churches. How do we help newcomers adapt to the church environment? What should we do if newcomers have another religion?
Although there is difficulty, breakthrough is possible. This is the reason the Hunan Xingsha Church held a three-day "Inspiration Training Camp."
The camp began from Oct. 29 and ended on Oct. 31. The training covered the inspiration of the youth, the elderly, couples, children and workplace. There were 110 people including the pastors from 13 regions and co-workers in attendance of the workshop.
The traditional preaching pattern is like this: The newcomer comes to church to attend the service, s/he listen to God's words and after that he or she joins in the group sharing and discussion. This pattern presents a kind of pressure for new friends who have never had faith or have other religious belief.
The feature of the inspiration camp is: when the newcomer comes to church, he or she joins the group in the way of meals or drinking tea, and shares his or her recent life or as part of communicating with each other, establishes close relationship with others and the group leader leads group members to study the Bible together.
The difference from the traditional pattern is that the inspiration training holds respect for new friends. Huang Li, the teacher, one of the people responsible for organizing the workshop, says, "In the past when new friends comes to church, if they hold other beliefs, then when there is a strong ritual, they feel apathetic. But now we choose to communicate through drinking tea or having meals, it helps us open each side's heart and ease the sense of strictness."
"The Inspiration Training is to respect our new friends and their previous belief. Through chatting, we want them to know that Christianity is not exclusive or egocentric but a broad faith. Christians talk about their belief with them and this includes their previous belief."
The lessons of the training are abundant, including Your Understanding of Christian Faith, Who is Jesus Christ and Why Jesus Died.
Xingsha Church is directly managed by the Hunan CCC&TSPM. It held the first service in July this year. The pastors had been considering how to run this new church. On Sept. 15, the senior pastor sent the pastoral staff to Singapore and Malaysia to study new patterns. When they finished the study they immediately held this training.
After the two days of theory study from Oct. 29 to 30, on the 30th, the students invited new friends to join the class. Under the instructions of the teacher, they held the first "Applying the Knowledge into Practice" class and it turned out to be good. Many new friends who attended the class went to church on Sunday and asked "When is the next class? I will come."