Churches That Transform Communities (with Andy Hawthorne)

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Changing Communities Is the Goal

  • Recently Andy Hawthorne felt challenged that he was counting decisions but the Lord was counting disciples.
  • The objective isn’t to have large Sunday gatherings, but churches that change the communities they are in.
  • The Sunday meeting is like the 15-minute break in a football match. It is an opportunity to receive instruction and refreshment, but the real action is what happens either side of the meeting.

1. Churches that Change Communities Are Birthed in Prayer and Worship

  • We should do nothing that is not birthed in prayer and worship.
  • Andy Hawthorne sees his role at The Message as keeping mission hot and keeping prayer hot.
  • One of the best decisions that he has made at The Message is to dedicate a day a month as a prayer day.
  • The church leader needs to be serious about prayer.

2. Churches that Change Communities Involve Everybody in the Mission

  • What percentage of people in our churches are trained in personal evangelism?
  • What percentage of people in our churches are active in personal evangelism?
  • In 2 Timothy 4:2, we are encouraged to preach the gospel in season and out of season.

3. Churches that Change Communities Are Led by a Missional Leader

  • There should be no such thing as a pastor who is not an evangelist.
  • If there is a visionary leader who is passionate for souls, you will find that there are evangelists everywhere.

4. Churches that Change Communities Are Focussed

  • Ask questions about what your geographic area is like, what the people group you are reaching is like and what your time frame is.
  • It is possible to cast the net too wide.
  • We should ask what kind of church we need to be in order to reach the people of this area.

“More pubs means more beer sold; more churches means more Jesus.” (Robin – Anglican Vicar)

5. Churches that Change Communities Are Relational

  • Sometimes we try to bring the truck of the gospel in before we have built the bridge of relationship.
  • We need to build relationships first, but once we have them we need to be sure to bring the gospel.

6. Churches that Change Communities Repeatedly Preach the Gospel

  • On average people need to hear the gospel seven times before they respond to Jesus.
  • Preach the same gospel in different ways to people in your community.

7. Churches that Change Communities Are Relevant

  • Many people see worship as a core value, but what they mean is self-centred worship.
  • People say things like ‘I didn’t get much out of the worship today’. But it’s not about you.
  • We need to unmercifully ditch things that are not relevant to people we are trying to reach. When we do this, we will probably lose people who are into the consumer Christian culture.

8. Churches that Change Communities Have Persuasive People

  • We must be confident that the gospel will bear fruit.
  • Find the evangelists in your community and use them often.

9. Churches that Change Communities Are Faith-Filled

  • Take big risks for the big goal of populating heaven and plundering hell.
  • God puts all of his resources at our disposal when we obey his command to go.
  • Faith that is based on the sure and certain hope of God means that we can take outrageous risks.

10. Churches that Change Communities Are Excellent

  • We should give our very best to the lost.
  • Blow your money on reaching the lost.

11. Churches that Change Communities Are Jesus-Centred and Bible-Based

  • It is easy for the need that we see to become our priority and focus.
  • But it is all about Jesus, and we need to keep the focus on him.


1. Can you explain what you mean when you say that you don’t plant churches but support others?
  • The Message works hard to resource churches and church plants.
  • They start Eden teams, where they recruit workers and attach them to church planting
  • All of the mission that they do is in the context of, and in partnership with, the local church.
2. What is the next ‘new thing’ for the Message?
  • Providing jobs for unemployed and unemployable young people.
  • A lot of people are getting saved in prison, but many of them are falling away when they come out – and jobs could be a key thing for these people.
  • Buying homes around the city for people to live in.
  • Supporting rough-and-ready churches full of ex-criminals.
3. What are the top three things that we should do if we want to become more incarnational?
  • Look for a person of peace or family of peace in the community.
  • Get out on the streets.
  • William Booth (of the Salvation Army) was very pragmatic. He tried lots of things that didn’t work, but when he found something, he threw everything at that thing. Don’t be afraid to fail.
4. What are some examples of things that you have seen in charismatic churches that are unhelpful and irrelevant to non-believers?
  • Often it is the music style. Some churches think that soft rock is radical, but it fails to connect with many people.
  • Everybody speaking in tongues at the same time.
  • People writhing around on the floor.
  • Even people raising their hands at the same time without an explanation can be off-putting.
  • Anything that makes people feel odd.
  • There can be a place for some of these things, but we want to be a missional community and we want people to sense the presence of God rather than just sensing our weirdness.
5. To what extent does risk need to be rooted in the prophetic?