Engaging Local Communities (with Andy Hawthorne)

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  • A key revival strategy is to go for the least, the last and the lost.
  • To do this it is important to have proximity – you need to be where the people that you are trying to reach are.
  • The Message Trust does this  through Eden teams, and through working in tough communities and prisons.


  • As well as proximity, it is important to have proclamation.
  • In our generation, there has been a swing away from proclamation to proximity – and perhaps it has gone too far. We are doing a lot of good community works like food banks, but we are not training evangelists.
  • Church plants that grow fast raise up evangelists.
  • For most church plants, if they can afford to employ somebody it is a pastor, then a worship leader, then an administrator. The evangelists are right at the bottom of the list.
  • The very first person that you should employ if you want to grow a church plant from scratch is an evangelist.
  • Churches that are growing fast are still preaching the gospel boldly and expecting a result.

“Pray and preach as if you’ll be astonished if men don’t get saved.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

  • A big part of the future vision for the Message Trust is Higher. This involves schools work, preaching the gospel in big arenas, and releasing lots of evangelists.
  • Andy Hawthorne has gathered a group of twelve evangelists around him on the understanding that in 1 year there will be twelve preaching evangelists who have faith that when they preach, people will get saved.
  • Pastors fish with a rod. Evangelists fish with a net.


  • Without vision people perish. How has the church lost a vision for the least, the last and the lost?
  • When Andy Hawthorne organised a large youth conference in Manchester called Message ’88, he asked God to speak to him and confirm that it was the right thing to do. His set Bible reading for that night was Isaiah 43:18-21.
  • Isaiah 43:18-21 – “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honour me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
  • This passage became a keystone scripture for the Message Trust.
  • We need to listen to God’s new thing. Church planters aren’t always great at listening to God.
  • You won’t see the things that you want to see without sacrificial prayer. Andy Hawthorne believes that one of his best decisions with the Message Trust was dedicating a day every month to prayer and fasting.
  • These prayer days are not optional – there is no meeting that is more important than a meeting with God.
  • A lot of church planting coaches suggest spending most of your time with your best people – but this is exactly the opposite of what Jesus did.
  • It’s encouraging that after three years of being the ultimate role model, Jesus still had a group of disciples who were a total mess. But they did end up getting filled with the Spirit, fired up and changing the world.
  • Jesus’ strategy is very different to ours. When the woman in John 12 poured perfume on his feet, it couldhave been sold and given to the poor (or to church planting), but Jesus had a very different perspective.
  • When Jesus told Peter to cast out his nets at night, it wasn’t Peter’s strategy that was needed to catch fish, it was Jesus.
  • The best ideas aren’t ours – they come from seeking the Lord.
  • The second keystone scripture for the Message Trust is Psalm 37:5-11.
  • Seek the Lord, and he will transform communities. Be relentless and ruthless about this. Don’t let time pressures squeeze it out.
  • Believe in the cause. Believe that the gospel can change the city and the world.
  • The cause is righteous. As we keep doing the right things in the right way, God will honour it.
  • Keep sowing.