How do people become Christians today?
How do people become Christians today?

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Over 9 million people play sport each week and millions more watch and talk about sport regularly. At the start of one of the biggest sporting summers in history, we sit down with missiologist and evangelist Phil Knox, to discuss six ways people come to faith today, and how we can make the most of this summer of sport to share the good news of Jesus.

Thanks to the Evangelical Alliance for partnering with us to make this podcast, find out more about the Evangelical Alliance

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Story Bearer: How to share your faith with your friends

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0:00 Intro
4:25 Researching the state of evangelism
5:26 A 'house' framework for coming to faith
5:56 Digital outreach, 'the hallway'
14:57 Friendship, 'the living room'
21:40 Mercy ministry, 'the kitchen'
26:00 Hospitality, 'the dining room'
33:42 The Bible, 'the study'
39:53 Dreams and experience, 'the garden'
43:35 Summary and outro


Transcript generated by AI - A more accurate version will be available soon

Jonny Reid: I think we're in the midst or at the start of an incredible summer of sports. And I think whether you like sport or you don't. Listening to this you'll be aware of that. So we've got the Olympics and Paris in Paris, the euros before that. There is so much going on in sport, but with all the regular things as well. You think of Wimbledon. We've got the t 20 Cricket World Cup. There's so much big pitch sport going on, and then, locally, you might be playing involved in your local club or team. Park. Run all sorts. Sport is massive. Over 9 million people play each week and then way way more. We'll be watching. So we're gonna exciting conversation. And my name is Johnny Reid. I work at Christians in sports and we're gonna be chatting to 2 people to think through. How people are coming to faith. Both broadly. But then, within the world of sports. And the the idea is, it encourages you both in your own faith. But also hopefully inspires you to go on and make the most of the opportunity this summer brings to to gather people together to share the gospel. So I've got 2 guests with me. Let me first introduce Phil Knox. Tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do.

Phil Knox: Hi, everybody! Hi, Johnny great to be with you! My name is Phil Knox. I'm a Missiologist, an evangelist and author at the Evangelical alliance been with Ea about 5 and a half years, but passionate seeing people come to faith. So we're gonna dive into about how I do that in in a moment. But I'm married to Danielle. We live in Birmingham, massive Aston Villa Fan, which is a great time, is a rare good time to be an Aston villa fan at the moment. I've got 2 boys, Caleb, who's 11, whose love language which is football, and Joss, who's 5 whose love language is fighting and live in live in a place called Quinton, part of leadership team of a local church here as well. So yeah, that's me.

Jonny Reid: Well excited to hear lots more about all of that. And then Graham Daniels Dano again do the same, tells who you are.

Graham Daniels: Well, I work with Johnny, a Christians in sport, and as I'm listening to Phil, I'm picking what a contrast is his teams just got into the Champions League and I'm celebrating the Cambridge United Finish, Sixth and bottom of League one cause to us. That's easier than winning League 2 next season, if we could stay in the top top of the bottom. 6 in league one. So very different contrasting experiences here, Phil, you know the high life and the and the litter life.

Phil Knox: What does Paul say? He's learned to be content in all circumstances.

Graham Daniels: Exactly so. You are such a nice man to work with. You encourage me so often every time I see you. But great Johnny and I. I'm I'm just thrilled about what we're doing here, because, I've read Phil's work on these 6 big themes. The big prospects of how people come to faith and evidence of how they do. Boy, it's an eye opener for us when we think about a wider culture on sports. So great work. I'm enthused about this.

Jonny Reid: Right and I'm sure you're touching as well. Graham's done research, and further study Phd around people coming to faith in professional football, so we'll we'll weave those in as well as you. Reflect on these things together. But, Phil, you described yourself. I'm sorry as a missiologist. What is that? And why is that relevant to sort of our our conversation today?

Phil Knox: Yeah, it's niche, isn't it? I guess.

Jonny Reid: Yeah, it is.

Phil Knox: And but but so what? I'm a still, I'm a student of mission. So I study kind of that. How how mission works and and so what I try to do is is try to understand the various pathways by which people come to faith. So that we might better equip and inspire the Church to make make the most of those those pathways. So I work for the Evangelical Alliance with 600 organizations, 3,000 churches around 23,000 individuals, and one of the ways in which we serve our members is having a kind of bird's eye view of the UK. And and truly trying to understand what, where is God at work? And how do we make the most of those opportunities and see where God's spirit is moving. Church leaders especially really want to know where to invest their limited, finite, evangelistic resources, energy, finance. And so one thing we constantly hear from our members is is what? What are the ways in which people are becoming Christians? And so we try and help there. So that's that's the. That's my job. As a Missiologist.

Jonny Reid: Great. Well, I I think this dies in. Bring us. Bring us up to speed. Then you've you've done research recently, maybe. Just give us a little bit of background of the research you've done how you got about it. But then, what are you seeing at the moment.

Phil Knox: Yeah, so we we kind of gather our kind of intel from a few different places. Really. So first of all, we do really big bits of research. So this most significantly recently, a big bit called Talking Jesus, 2022, study interviewed 4,000 people, what they thought of Christians and Jesus. and then an in depth focus, study on 900 Christians as to their attitudes towards evangelism, but also how they came to faith. So we do those bits of research. We've got another bit that we're leading into into this year, which will come out next year, which is a more qualitative study of around 100 people's journeys to Faith. But we've also got as the EA. We chair A think Tank called the Evangelism Advisory Group, which brings together evangelists and missiologists from every major denomination background, ethnicity demograph to ask, what? Where? Where are people coming to faith in those but also we interact with leaders on on almost a daily basis. And I get really annoying. I'm continually asking people what have been the themes in the people that you've, you see, become Christian. So that's where we kinda kinda gather that from.

Jonny Reid: Great. And so, as you've done that, you you kind of got 6 teams which.

Phil Knox: Yep.

Jonny Reid: Maybe more. In time we pray there will be but but 6 right now, what you're gonna focusing on, we thought, it's able to just go through them when we let's go through the 6. See how they're resonating. See what you guys have learned from that, and then think that through a little bit with the sporting lens as well as we. We think ahead of sport, and so on.

Phil Knox: Yeah, super, and I and I guess that's to kind of help us here. What I'll do is I'll take us so you can visualize it. As you listen to this, podcast. I'll take us around almost the rooms of a house. I don't know about you. I'm a visual person. And so the first one is we're gonna look at the hallway. So imagine walk with me into my mission house, if you will, and the hallways. It's called the hallway because the American pastor, Kerry Newhof, he describes the online world as the as the new foyer for the church. So a few people go anywhere without kind of looking online first. And and I think when people are exploring faith, that that's no no different. So in this talking Jesus research, when non Christians were asked, Where would you look to find out more about the Christian faith? Many people won't be surprised today. A top answer is Google, which means that when we kind of when we're when we as churches and organizations are kind of working with kind of our our Internet and analytics, we need to. We need to be kind of on on there somewhere. If people are, people are gonna find us but also you won't be surprised to know. Uk. I don't spend about 2 and a half hours on social media each day consuming all kinds of content.

and occasionally what's really exciting is at the moment that content is Christian content. So all of us will be aware that the algorithms are constantly throwing us content. That kind of relates to us to try and hit our dopamine, and making sure we keep engaging, and keep scrolling down our phones, and if we watch it, then it sends us more of it. But what the algorithms also do is they occasionally send us content. And kinda and as a kind of way of testing whether we're interested in a certain thing, and and what's exciting is I. We're hearing stories of people who are being sent like Christian content, and the more that they watch that and and the more they get sense of that. And what I really believe is that, is that the Holy Spirit's in some of that that actually some people who would never. There's no human evangelist involved that often what they're doing is they? Just because the sheer quantity of time they're spending on their phones. Occasionally they come across something, and that is playing. What we're finding in missiologically is that is playing a part. And people come into faith. So, for example, spoke to a pastor a few months ago who said that they'd had more people come to their faith through TikTok from through personal invitation in the last 6 months we interviewed a girl. You can see the interview on our evangelicalized website, who who said her journey to Faith started when she stumbled across Christian videos on social media. And then finally, from that big bit of research when we asked 900 practicing Christians, kind of How did you come to follow Jesus for yourself. 5%, said Christian content shared on social media by people they didn't know. 4%, said Peep. Christian content shared on social media by people they did know. And 6% said on and said, attending online church, now, those percentages, 4, 5 and 6% might seem really small. But by the time you take out everyone who became a Christian because they grew up in a Christian home by the time you take out anyone who became a Christian before, you know, say, 2015. That's a huge proportion of people of those who are left suddenly that 4, 5, 6 becomes really statistically significant, and the Futurist pit. Patrick Dixon has said that he thinks in the decades to come it will be almost impossible for someone to become a Christian without the influence of some kind of digital content. So personally, I'm really, really excited by this, because I think, just as in the early church, you know the the Gospel spread rapidly down the kind of Roman road. I think the kind of the future future generations will come to faith through the information super highway. And that's that's really exciting.

Jonny Reid: That's great. It's really encouraging that, Dano. I'll reflect as well my role to digital Christian sport. But but from you and what you've we've noted this, haven't we? Within the advent of social media and sports people who have a faith? Probably slightly more experience, more experienced sports people or lead sports people that they've begun speaking a little bit more about their faith online, haven't they? When maybe so, 2030 years ago, it was harder to be a Christian elite. Sportsperson. You were speaking to that briefly.

Graham Daniels: Yeah, yeah, no, it's a very niche thing. But it's proved to be significant. Culturally, Phil, if we went back E even 10 years, but certainly 20 years. If you are a very, very famous footballer, for example. and you're in your early twenties. The odds, are. You? Didn't come from a church background. Sometimes you did, but often you didn't and so we'd find out. About 23 year old would come to Christ, the Premier League level and if there was a sniff that they were Christian, we get hundreds of requests a year to have them speak. but we we said no all the time. simply because they're babies that they're not formed. They're not stuck into church and so on. So they need nurturing and their pastor needs to nurture them in order to get to that point. So we just felt we were always saying no to request, and we got really Kane for it. Sometimes the Christians in sport. But now the whole world has changed. Hundreds of people in professional sport talk about their faith online. The whole culture change in numerous ways. The digital window has probably exposed those opportunities. Really. So now, it's very different for us. We need. We don't need to be asked anymore, because everybody knows schools of people who are Christians in sport at the top level. So it it's a changed world. I don't know that it ultimately helps deal immediately with pastoral care, you know, and discipleship for a very young prisoner goes public. But certainly it made an enormous impact on young people who love sport to read the testimonies of their heroes online. So is a big change. And really, from your point of view, in terms of the digital opportunities here. You've driven this for us for the last 12 years, really. So you're right behind this.

Jonny Reid: Yeah. And I I think it's interesting with my kind of church hat on as well as my my, my work had, I think we can make a mistake when it comes. Social media, can't we? Of thinking we just need to. It's like a church notice sheet. We get the information of the events which is coming up. Well, actually. like you say, dopamine it. It's it's it's entertainment is information. It's inspiration. Those are things that really work on social media less so than a come to my event. Come to my, this, come to my, that. And so it's working hard, isn't it? To think through. What are the what are the clips? What are the 30Â s? What is the 90Â s, maybe from my online church service I pull off from for us, it'll be from our podcast interview. So last week, Scottie Schefler wasn't one of the world golfer, one of the masters spoke very clearly of his faith in the conference afterwards. There's a minute clip we were able to share that that'd be one of our most watched clips t(010) 203-0000 people have seen that and I had conversations with my friends. I was on the golf course to friends who don't know Jesus. I've sent it to them and gone. Have a watch of this. What do you think? And it led to conversation. And so I think that that'd be the challenge. If you're listening and you're a church leader, you've got any influence of communication strategy to be quite niche. Be wary of just giving out information. That doesn't work. Ultimately, people aren't gonna see that the best way to kind of help people find out about your church in some ways is to to, to infuse them and inspire them and and give them content, and so think that through it it needs a. It needs a machine behind it, doesn't it? In terms of pulling things out and making that work? But it's it's we've seen that encouraging whether they're amateur sports people, or at least sports people telling their stories connecting how best they work together. We are hearing stories of people going. I watch that, like you say, fill the algorithm serving it up to people, and they're seeing it. And that's it's exciting, isn't it? It's a.

Phil Knox: Yeah.

Jonny Reid: Like a new way.

Phil Knox: And I think, my, I think my encouragement. If you're if you're listing this as a sports enthusiast and a Christian. it's a couple of things that I just encourage you to do now and again, when you see content from Christians in sport, from Ballars, and guard from from something where you think, actually, that can connect? Don't be afraid to retweet that. because you will have lots of people or share that share on social media, you'll have lots of friends and and and people who aren't believers who see that it just creates plausibility structures around that. So I've got. I've got a mate as well into wrestling and recently hulk Hogan got baptized, just sensing the clip, and said, you should. You should get on this train, mate, you know, and I think. And it just for him, just creates a bit of that plausibility structure, I think. And I don't think the other thing I'd say around the digital is is, if you're a church leader. And you're listening to this, if you're doing some events that we're going to get onto later on this podcast around this great summer sport. Make sure your website does you justice because most churches I go to are preaching a different church almost every Sunday. Most churches are way better in person than their website tells the story of. and and in some ways I wish we I wish we all could be better at kind of telling the story of the incredible community and job and gathering that we are as the church. And so when we're kind of when we're promoting what we're doing in terms of sports, sporting engagement events over the summer. Let's make sure we do that really. Well, digitally.

Jonny Reid: And that's loads of podcasts, comms strategies, my, my fun and games loads things a little bit. Church leaders. That's that's the one to the right tip. Remember your websites, not primarily for your church. It's for people looking in for others as well. This that's a whole different. It's a whole different hobby horse I can get on but let's move from a hallway. Let's move from a hallway, Phil.

Phil Knox: Right.

Jonny Reid: To next.

Phil Knox: Great. Let's move into the living room. So the living room is where friendship happens, and for that anyone who knows me will know that was one of my great passions and and enthusiasms. Is is friendship really? And the talking Jesus research has repeatedly found, because it was done to get done before in 2,015. Then again, in 22, repeatedly found that the most significant human influence in someone becoming a Christian tragically for people like me isn't an evangelist, or even a pastor, but it's a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, or a family member. and as I speak to Christians, new Christians all over the Uk. When I ask them about their journeys to faith, there's almost always a Christian friend involved, and the last few years been completely captivated by friendship, like many people, had a terrible pandemic. Really, my first book came out in March 2020, which, as many people will recall, was the week all the bookshops closed that was incredibly discouraging and disappointing. But then, in the June tragically, my mum died of of cancer, and and it was a really difficult season. 2 things got me through in that in that time faith in Jesus and friendship, and this was a time of kind of social, distancing social isolation. And so, as a kind of a as a friend, but be as a missiologist just got really captivated around friendship, and we need to be really clear when we talk about the living room that that we don't invite people into our living room in order to convert them. We become friends with people because we're made in the image of the relational God, and Jesus invites us to to love our neighbor as as ourselves. but we do recognize that from the earliest days of Jesus, disciples following him to to now, Pete God, partners with us in our friendships, to see people coming to know Jesus? And so and so, if if you're a if you're a Christian who's got not yet Christian friends, my deep encouragement is to to really pray for them, you know, especially kind of sports friends. You go go to the football with, or part of your Sports Club. Whatever you're doing in terms of praying for them, just in encourage you to intensify your prayers for them. But also, if you're a church leader, my encouragement would be to kind of whatever you're doing to cultivate friendship within your church, to crank that up a notch, because the challenge is that the the stats tell us we're really struggling in this area. So talking Jesus found in in in 2,015, when non Christians were asked, do you know someone who's a practicing Christian, 67% of people said, Yeah, I know someone is a practicing Christian. When that question was asked just 7 years later that 67% had decreased to 53%, so less and less. Not yet Christians know a practicing Christian, and at the same time 46% of Christians don't know are not yet Christian well enough to invite them to church. and I think that's a real challenge for us. That's why what you do as Christians in sport is so important. That's why, if you're listening to this, and you're part of a sports club engaging regularly with not yet Christians. What you do is absolutely amazing. I really want to encourage you in that, because as a church. we're, we're, we're struggling in that as as as a whole. Because continually the Gospel spreads through relationships. Wherever you're at, in terms of your confidence to share faith, you will possibly the only Bible your friends will will read if your friends are gonna come to know you because something that you know Jesus, it's probably going to be through you. So just really want to encourage you to keep praying, keep living the life, keep inviting them to stuff and and be prepared to share your story of what Jesus has done in your life.

Jonny Reid: Yeah, Dano, sport. What makes it uniquely good? I think I think I would argue, makes it uniquely good for building relationships. What's your experience? There.

Graham Daniels: Well, a as I'm listening to Phil and thinking West Midlands. I I'm remembering I I was in touch with somebody the other day, called Richard led Beta, who's who's become the pastor of a major London church and he was reminding me that when he played for wolves some years ago a senior pro at the club at the time called Brian Law, was a Christian to become a Christian. and he'd heard that Leddy came from a Christian background. and there was some talk of interest in Christianity, and Leddy tells the story that he was absolutely stunned when Lorz approached him. You know the big first team boys never approached an apprentice, you know, 16 year old. Never talk to them. and he said, laws, he was so friendly, but it took lady a year. So, laws! He was friendly every day with him, and you you literally would never talk to the apprentices, and he says it took him 6 months to actually believe that laws he was interested in talking to him at all, and it took him another 6 months. I'll be being invited to come to something with other footballers where there was faith involved. It took him another 6 months to dare to go every month he thought he got. He bottled it. It was just this profound friendship, and I love the way you put it, Phil, when you come into that living room we all know the balancing act. It can't be a means to an end. It's in in. It's authentic. It's Trinitarian, it's loving. It's kind. And Richard Leddy, to some years later now is a is a pastor of a church, making a big dent after his career is finished. but it was a deep friendship from Brian law that caused it. And and of course, the application's straightforward, isn't it? If you play in a sports club. you have an incredible opportunity to be authentic, to be the real deal at that club, and in a way we should rejoice in that. And and we'd be saying, wouldn't we, to church pastors if there are people in your congregation who really do enjoy sport in any shape or form, supporting and playing. Encourage them to build authentic friendships, because you're 90% of the way there. And you have loads of people that you can know be the real deal for them, and it does slowly but surely lead to faith as as you're finding show fill. For sure!

Phil Knox: Yeah, and there's few better ways are that to connect with people initially than than than sport I was with with. You know, as I gathering yesterday, and you suddenly realize I was. I was sat next to a fellow Villa Fan, and so we were just but just basking in each other's joy at the moment.

Graham Daniels: Yeah, yeah.

Phil Knox: But it's just a wonderful way of connecting people, isn't it?

Graham Daniels: Yeah, yeah, it's so intuitive. And that. And that's why we don't miss it. I I think that when do you see 46% of Christians from from talking. Jesus don't know somebody who's not a Christian. You you can't but have of acquaintances who can become real friends if you're in any way involved in recreation and sport is just natural. It's communal. So it's a great opportunity that we we must strive to encourage people to take.

Jonny Reid: Right. Well, let's let's move from the hallway where we go next, Phil.

Phil Knox: Yeah, we're going to the kitchen. Yeah, exactly. So. I mean, they've more some stronger links than others. But the kitchen is, is this is what I'd call kind of mercy, ministry plus gospel. So where kind of where? Where food is served, the first thing to note in this area is that the Church? My word, the Church is doing an amazing job. Billions and billions of pounds worth of kind of social care are delivered through the church every year, and every church I interact with is responding to their needs of their community in a really significant way. I'm not sure we celebrate it enough. The church is amazing. and what's but what's particularly fruitful in terms of gospel terms is where those who engage with those ministries are intentionally invited to take the next step. You know many churches engage with hundreds of people each way each week, but many of those people are never given them the opportunity to hear the good news, as well as experience the good news of Jesus, and be invited further on the journey. So my encouragement to the Church is to make the most of the opportunities we have when we interact with people in terms of telling them the good news as well as just sharing the good news. I was on the phone to A to a leader just last week who said that during the during the pandemic they set up a kind of community grocery, and as well as kind of getting their food, gave people dignity because they kind of paid for the paid for their food. Each week a small nominal thing, Filibasket. On the way out. On the way out they were all invited to an Alpha course. and and as a result of that. They've had to start a church. So many people have come to faith. I was on speaking to another leader recently, and I kind of, I flippantly said to them, You know what. So I said, Sam, what's that? That church had grown by? Kind of, I think, over 100 in the last kind of 18 months. I I said. I said, what's the silver bullet? Kind of? Flippantly he said. I go to the Toddler group and I work the room.

I I was expecting him to kinda say there is no silver bullet, but he said the single biggest thing that he done was at his toddler group. He walked around, and he made sure that every parent, carer grandparent, was invited to come to church for Sunday, or come to an exploratory course, or whatever was next, and that made such a difference. And so I think my encouragement to you, and sports a great way of doing that of having that bridge. Actually, you know, if you've got you know, if you if if you run a toddler group or a food bank, or a Christians against poverty group or whatever it is. And there's this opportunity in the summer to run a you know Christians in sport, quiz, or whatever it is, make sure you invite everyone, because you never know where people are at, and and the fruit, you see, as a result of that could be really significant.

Graham Daniels: Yeah, that's really good. And again and again, I think immediately, then. of the thousands of parents who stand on touch lines on Saturday and Sunday mornings. and and the hundreds of thousands of people they'll know. And I think you can do it precisely. I think you can go up that that extra step, that extra step that you describe here, the invite it it. There's something about watching a game. When your kids are playing. there's an entirely different thing about maybe being the parents who sort out food when the game's on loads of times. People haven't got coffees and that kind of thing. You sort that out. But then you're building a bridge. It's intentional, isn't it? Then, at the end of the season, really, I know you do this at your church at the end of the season you put something on and invite everybody from the Football club to come to the tennis club from the Cricket Club, and it's a social. It's a social that's the intentionality. But people are willing to take their kids to the game, but they just don't have enough time in life to do the intentional stuff beyond that and the relational stuff beyond it. You you've done this, really, haven't you? It works well for you.

Jonny Reid: Yeah, no, we've we've found it in our church where we like, you say is in in Malik, is in around the before the mercy. Ministry like you say, it's providing those opportunities which people otherwise wouldn't have or wouldn't have time to do like. Say, putting on food, inviting people around getting people.

Graham Daniels: Kitch. It's a kitchen thing, isn't it? That's what I love. That's what I love about Phil's work here. It's the food thing I know we go into hospitality next. But it's the food thing, isn't it? It is.

Phil Knox: Yeah.

Graham Daniels: Don't eat alone. You do not eat alone if you possibly can't. A great book, isn't it? Just.

Jonny Reid: Well, let's well, let's go there, then, Phil, let's go where we go. Are you going? From the kitchen dining room?

Phil Knox: Into the dining room. The food's gonna be served. It's gonna be put on a table. It's gonna be beautiful. So so this is. This is just came from. I I heard someone's heard a kind of futurologist say in it say as we came out, the pandemic, that the key word for the church in this season is hospitality. and I think there's something about about just inviting people inviting people to eat with eat with Christians. You know, just leading into that just connecting the 2 things you as you was just speaking there, Dana, around, you know, one of the best things we can do from not yet Christian friends is in introduce them to our Christian friends. because they just develop some of those kind of plausibility structures again again for them but the food thing around the dining hall. You know we we ran at the beginning of the the year a wellbeing course at church. The the simple invite was, you know. Do you wanna come and explore wellbeing? And it was. It's a slightly easier question. I've run out for a church for many years. It's a slightly easier question than do you wanna come and explore the meaning of life. You know, at this season I think lots of people really want to explore. Well, being we on the first week of the course on my table, you know, 6 out of the 7 have not been to? Not. We're not church Christian people. And we said, You know, what are you hoping to get out the course? And up came anxiety and depression and bereavement. The the felt need was extraordinary. And so. But the real magic was the real magic wasn't the material. The material was great. The real magic wasn't the kind of you know that said he wasn't the hostess. It was just a simple act of eating together and sharing sharing stories and conversation with one another. And that's where the kind of magic is. And so I think any opportunity we can take as a church to to get people eating together. And I was reading recently about Jesus, apparently in in the Gospel of Luke there are 50 references to food, Jesus either going to a meal. He's at a meal, or he's coming from a meal. There's this kind of like kind of iconic formula in Luke, where it says, the Son of man came, and it says, the Son of man came to seek and save the lost. And the Son of man came eating and drinking. and the first is what Jesus came to do. The second is how we did it. And one of the great things, while I love what you guys do is, you know, the is is one of the best ways in which to get people eating together is gathering around a sporting event, gathering around a quiz or whatever it is. Let's and let's be lavish with that as well. Don't just put on a kind of, you know. Couple of custard creams do do it really well, and get people around tables eating together.

Graham Daniels: Oh, brilliant! I mean, you're so right. I know it's unkind, isn't it? But when you show up somewhere on this meant to be food. and guests have been invited to come, and it's really rank. you know. It's a curly sandwich. and it's fine. It's fine, and sometimes people can't do more. But, boy, what a difference!

Phil Knox: Yeah.

Graham Daniels: The cheapest food. It doesn't matter, but but nice and pleasant and warm, and you sit around the table. and this banter and laughter and chatting. And the gospel. Yeah, I don't know. You're 80% to gospel clarity, because, as you said, it's plausibility then and then, when somebody says something of Christ, the end of that meal, or as part of the quiz. What a different environment that is for people to think I could fit in here. I could talk to these people. You know, Christian could say I could talk to these. And, by the way, the person who's a Christian was scared to invite at first they grow in confidence. If they come to that table, don't they? Yeah. Because if you've got a common interest and you're chatting to people like Chris says, you find yourself actually as a Christian who's a bit scared they get. Oh, my gosh! This is fun! This is actually achievable. It's plausible. though it brilliant, finding on the food of his thrilling.

Phil Knox: And guys tell us a bit about kind of obviously with the with the big sporting summer coming up around these themes we've we've lent into kind of friendship and hospitality and and and Mercy ministry, you know, food over the last kind of few things. What? What's the stuff that people can really engage with that. You're that you're helping helping churches and individuals around these big summer events. Around these, some of these things.

Jonny Reid: Yes, probably 2 big ones. One would be as Graham's talked about sports quiz we found for decades has been, yeah, it's a Po. It's a pop quiz about sports. We try and make it so that if you're not massively into sport you'll still have a good time. But but it's just that. It's it's it's fun. There's a quiz. You could do a talk at half time, a bit of a testimony, something which can encourage some conversation. And then, like I said, one of the most important things is, is is some good food half time food to eat food. So that's one. That's obviously slightly, probably more intentional in terms of there will be a gospel proclamation. Will be a challenge. And then the other thing we've we've we've encouraged church to do with her other church as well as watch parties, kind of using that, using that terminology which we're seeing more and more online. Come and watch the 6 Nations together. Come and watch now the euros coming up, and the Olympics. And the euros particularly. I'm sorry our church with. Show them euros final. I I think we're we're billing it as a family friendly way to come. Watch yours final. You could go to pubs. You can go to big sort of gatherings where you can have your big. You could great no problem. But actually, if you've got a 12 or 13 year old loves football. Your kids love football. You're probably not gonna bring to the pub. And so you're I've watching them on your own at home. Maybe this is friends. So one, you come to your church building, put on a big screen, put up some flags and bunting, have some food, have some drink a different environment, but a great space to hang out and kind of watch side by side. So I think those are kind of 2 big ones is put on a watch party. Maybe. Then you've you've got an opportunity. Invite people to church. We found doing a talk at half time doesn't really work. People want to chat about the game or analysts. They don't want to be kind of talked to for 10 min.

Graham Daniels: To be fair Reidy. You'd have to afterwards. Imagine, if you watch like the euros final, and you had all the kids there, dads and mums there, and daughters at the end, you know. Like, when you watch a great game, you're gonna have to go out in the wreck on you. You can have dumb jumpers for golf course at the end, because we'll all be gone into play. What we.

Phil Knox: Especially if England have lost the final, you.

Graham Daniels: Like a lifetime. Yeah.

Phil Knox: Lifting people from the pit of despair.

Jonny Reid: Right? Exactly. So. I think this is the thing that sport is that 8 of the top 10 most watched events in the country on TV last year was sports, and the other ones is a funeral in the coronation. It'll be 10 attendees here will be sports. And so people, even casual fans will get involved with things like the Euros Olympics obviously slightly harder, because there's so much on. But hey, super Saturday, why don't you get people around 100 meetings. Final 400 meters. You could do a we're doing a family fun day at church with we've got guides around that, so there'll be races there'll be have your face painted with your favorite flag. There'll be whatever shorter we've got a little book we can give out as well, a little tract with produce a ton of those so loads of ways you can kind of begin these golf for conversations whilst just gathering people together, and a thing which is fun. But the family fun day works. I've got 2 young kids. You've got young kids. You're just looking for something to do potentially on a Sunday. And if you're basically going as a free barbecue. This is a generosity as well. We we don't charge, and it's the biggest conversation we end up having with people who don't know Jesus is they? They keep coming to try and find the leaders to go. How do I pay for this because they're so used to paying for events, their kids. And we just go. That church is just such. Put this on fuse bouncy castles. There's a barbecues, things like that, and it and that's the plausibility and and the slight confusion, which is a good thing, isn't it? Does that slight like sorry? Why are you doing this? What's this all about? And and we can say, sign in Jesus and his love for us? So loads of opportunities to make the most of of an amazing. Some of that move us through that film. So we've. We have a dining room where we going.

Phil Knox: That's it. We've eat, we've eaten and we're hungry for information. So we're going. We're going to. We're going to the study. And the studies that is really. The study is really interesting one, because you know, I guess you know, we some people see some of these rooms trendier than others. This is really interesting, because when when talking, Jesus asked, How did you come to follow Jesus for yourself after growing up in a Christian family, the next answer down is reading the Bible. and again, still for non Christians when they're looking at where they look, find answers on Christianity after Google. The next answer down is the Bible, and we shouldn't be surprised should we get. You know, Hebrews reminds us. Yet the word of God is sharper than any double edged sword, and had recently the story of a student who said it wasn't a Christian, and he turns up to a lecture with Matthew 16 on his on his Hoodie, and his Christian friend says to him, I didn't know you're a Christian mate, and he says, Well, I wasn't. But then I had this dream about God. And and he was so impacted by this dream. What did he do? He starts reading the Bible, and he starts fortunately in Matthew rather than Genesis, or whatever maybe was a New Testament, and he gets to the bit in Matthew 16, where Jesus says, Who do you say that I am? And he realized that his answer to that question was the same as Peter, you're the Christ, the Son of the living God. And so, in response to that he gave his life to Jesus, not a Hoodie maid, saying, Matthew, 16.

Graham Daniels: Very.

Phil Knox: But over and over again we we just hear that the Bible plays a really significant role in leaving people to the Lord. And so if again, if you've got some, if you've got friend who's not yet Christians, you know, for their birthday as well as you know something else. If you, wanna you know, for the bits or for Christmas. Buy them a Bible, even if even if for a while it sits on the shelf that that will. I do really believe it has an impact. And then the other thing we can do. We can also read the Bible with people, you know, and and I think both those things together can can really make really make a difference. But we shouldn't be surprised. It's really, really encouraging. And but it's a really common theme, and I don't think is is going anywhere, despite the fact that for for so many people, Jesus, where Noah is ox of myth, but yet the word of the Word of God it just on its own, is making a difference in people's lives.

Graham Daniels: Yeah, huge you. You'll know, Phil, that in some ways what we've what we've been striving to do for years is to you've captured this. You've got 6 concepts here that brilliantly capture things, and we'll adapt to these, and I hope people listening will have a look at this. Think about it, because the pathway we're talking about here. Of course, it's not mechanistic, it not behavior isn't the gospel work. But there's a pathway here that really really makes sense of things that pretty much all of us listening are involved in this sort of experience. and I think with the Bible I I find I can't say enough. And here's I find this is a problem, Phil. I don't know how you find this, because people see you as a preacher, and they'll be used to you, you know, in churches, as somebody speaks there's a default mode, I think, which we face. So if you're a professional, as it were Christia. Well, that's what you do make. Of course you'd say teach the Bible and read the Bible one to one. but I think of as something that happened the other day, which completely smashes that up. And I want. It was a young man who plays for a football club, a local football club, and he invited his friends around for supper. They got to know each other all the stuff we've talked about here. And then he said, if you ever wanted to look at something in the Bible to work out. Christianity will do it. And he told me the story that one of the boys who came, Jack. They did it over 3. Get togethers. together run through a beer. got a bit of Luke's gospel, went through it. and after the second one they got to the Crucifixion quite quickly, because they didn't have much time. They got to the Crucifixion. and Jack said to his mate afterwards, Oh, mate. Jack is 22 and not thick. He says, mate, I can't wait for next week. I'm dying to know what happens to him.

Phil Knox: Yeah.

Graham Daniels: That's what he said, and my friend thought he was taking the mick.

Phil Knox: Yeah.

Graham Daniels: And he went. I'm dying to know what happened to him. He says, Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, we do it next week, and he says. No, no, he said, listen, I can't wait, even if they tell me. No, you can explain it next week.

Phil Knox: The Netflix generation.

Graham Daniels: Yeah, he knew nothing of the resurrection. How do you wanted it now? Yeah. So so I know that in a sense, others, people listening, might say, That's a bit extreme. Come on, come on, I'm saying no, it's not extreme. It is not extreme. And number 2, the sheer power I think of a boy who came to profession of faith at Commonwealth games. One of the chaplains of the Commonwealth games bumped into a lad. The lad was embarrassed to meet, personally embarrassed to have a coffee as a teammate. The boy were not a Christian. The chaplain texted him every morning one line from Mark's gospel and work through, if you like. All the way through to Chapter 16 the boy read it. They engaged on texts. and at the end of the week. The boy wanted to have a coffee to talk about how he could follow Jesus. They literally Whatsapp, the Bible text back, and for over 5 or 6 days. The word of God is so powerful you don't have to be a pro. That's the thing people will say. Well, you preach all the time.This is God's Word. Isn't it powerful? And we should trust it because we're a lot more embarrassed. This is the mad thing. I find we're more embarrassed to talk about using the Bible and reading a Bible with a non Christian than the Non Christian is. They don't give tupbuns. They don't give tuts about it. So I think we've got to really wise up on this one. I really do.

Phil Knox: Yeah. And and I think I think you we can also combine it with some of the others as well. So actually, even just posting Bible versus on our social media. You know. I I see that with a lot of with a lot of professional athletes as well. You know, they're often, you know, it's often on their shirt, isn't it? They lift it up, or whatever, or on their or on their instagrams. Actually, again, that let's let's not underestimate the power there. That people might see it, and and and be intrigued to read more, as as in that story. There, with the with Luke's Gospel.

Jonny Reid: No great well move us to our final room. Then, Phil, where.

Phil Knox: Yeah, great. So we got we got we for those for those engaged in sport. We're going outside into the garden, and this is in some ways is the most encouraging. Because I I in in my, you know, been I've been been in in in evangelism for 20 odd years, and and this is I've not. In the last 18 months I've heard more stories of people coming to faith through dreams, visions, and experiences than any of the time, general ministry. And yeah, wanting 5 people through talking, Jesus describe a spiritual experience as really influential in how they became to know Jesus for themselves, and I did a church just a few weeks ago, got talking to the guy on the front row, and and I said, How do you fit into this pit chases. Oh, I've not been a Christian long, I said. What happened? He said. I was on holiday in Portugal. I was outside a shop I had an encounter with Jesus. I had no Christian background whatsoever. I came home, I googled churches. I met this pastor, and I got. I got baptized on Easter Sunday this year, and His his journey began. Basically, Jesus did the evangelism before anyone else. Everybody human, had a had an impact. And my, my just, you know you often hear stories of of people in, in, in places where the close to the gospel of kind of people having dreams. I think more and more that's happening in the Uk. I can't explain why. I think it's just. I think I think it's just something that God is doing. We experience this locally. We ran Alpha course 18 months ago in our church. We had these. We're in the prayer meeting before before the the call started. And, to be honest, guys, I was really disappointed because we'd run a massive campaign before we'd had a cross at the front of church with 300 names on people were praying for to come on a Tuesday night, and hardly anyone came. I trudged home on the first night, really discouraged, but then, on the third night these these guys come during the prayer meeting, and so I go up to him. And I'm like, you're right, guys. And they said, they said, Is this Alpha? I said, Yeah, said we, we're not started, but you can come and join the prayer meeting. And they came over. I said, What's what's your story? And they said one of them said, Base, I was in prison. I had an encounter with Jesus, and I knew I had to do something about it, so I heard Alpha was happening. We walked 4 and a half miles. It was a cold January evening. They turned up. They heard the Gospel, and and and all of them of kind of chosen to follow Jesus and been baptized. And it's been extraordinary. But the initial point of contact. Wasn't wasn't a human being, it was. It was just God doing something. And and so I think my my hope is that we'd be encouraged, I to kind of to be aware of that, because sometimes we're kind of like spiritual midwives that sometimes this god berth something in in people, and we're then God partners with us to kind of help us tell people take the next step. Like the pastor in the, in, the, in the story at the beginning. That's hold of the the guy from Portugal. But but also just to be prayed for that as well. You know one of the things I pray for for my not yet Christian friends is, you know, just. Lord, would you give a dream? Would you give them something? Would it be some kind of God incidence that happens in their life that would just cause them to think, and maybe pick up a Bible, or or reach out via text or something. And so so those are the kind of 6 things really. So we, you know, we started off in the hallway. Digital living room. Friendship, then into the kitchen. Mercy, ministry looks gospel hospitality, the Bible. And then kind of dreams and visions, and those for me will be the big 6 themes at the moment. And and and I you know I as I as I've seen some of the stuff you go, you guys do really leaning into those but would encourage wh wherever you be encouraged. First of all, that God's God's on the move. But secondly, let's let's make the most of those pathways.

Jonny Reid: Yeah, super. Well, Phil. Dano, thanks so much. As we've we've said we're really excited to pray ahead and see what God's gonna do this summer, but beyond that, within the world of sports. But also wider than that, of course. But but it is a matter of summer of sports. So, as you mentioned already, we've we've got a number of resources which you can access as a whoever you are, with the individual church call or sports mission pack you can find on our website, it's got ready made quizzes for you. It's got a guide about how to maybe run like a Sunday service all around sport a way to invite people in. There's guys are running watch parties. We've created 2 short evangelistic films which use the Bible. Obviously they teach you about Jesus through that way, all reflecting on the story. Very little 100 years since Eric Liddell. So, maybe for a particular generation. If you grew up in the eighties, you know charity, maybe that would be really important for them. And so you could buy books and tracks to give away as well. Just give people something to read. Put on the shelf to like you say it. It may just get put down on the countertop and then picked up and flicks through, but but a great opportunity to do that as well. So we'd love, we'd encourage you to get that we'd love you to do that. We do hope and Price been a I will encourage you to hear about what God's doing.

Phil Knox: Where do people go, Johnny, to find out about kind of your resources?

Jonny Reid: So yeah, so they all go. Just go to our website. Christians and, 4, slash 2024. Find out the websites but mostly here. If you're listening on the podcast you know, to use Google, Google Christians and sport, you'd be able to find us. That's the easiest way to do it. But Phil, anything to wrap up what? What excites you? Particularly as you think about sports in the opportunity.

Phil Knox: Yeah, I mean, I think I think that I I as a as an evangelist, I think one of the things I also see. Is it for some people it takes a really long time. And so, if I think you know, when I was a university part of football team, a lot of those lads I knew then, still on on a real journey. But my encouragement is even 20 years on God's God still at work, and so just if I can find it just a couple of Couple of weeks ago got this text completely out of the blue from a mate who was at I was at university with, and he just, he writes, dude dude. I I mean, we're we're our full season. He shouldn't be using dude anymore, should I? But he says, he says he says, Dude, I sort of realize there is only one reason to live. There's only one God. One way of getting to eternal life, and I need to grasp it better. And you're like, you know, I mean 20 years on, you're like, Come on, Lord! And but then there's others. So it's still a it's still a kind of glacial pace, you know I've seen, but I think but but my encouragement is that my initial connection was was football manish, you know I wouldn't. I wouldn't probably wouldn't be friends with those with those guys if it was if it wasn't for that. What sport is an outrageously good way to connect connect with people. So my encouragement is lean into that, but also don't give up keep praying, and and don't. Don't ever doubt that in the long term

God can partner with us to make a real difference in our friends lives through that initial connection.

Jonny Reid: Wonderful super, Phil, thanks so much, and thank you so much for listening. See you soon. Bye, bye.

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