Engaging the Mobilise Generation In Church Planting (with Tom Shaw)

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The Heart Is Key

  • There is a silent emergency going on in the nation at the moment.
  • According to the Matthias Trust, over the last 20 years there has been a 90% decline in the number of 15-20 year olds in the church.
  • 59% of churches do not have a single person aged between 15 and 20 in the church.
  • It is not enough just to have the value of mission if we don’t  actually practice it in our churches.
  • If we are an apostolic movement, a large part of what this means is fathering. Fathering is about caring for the next generation and putting their needs above our own.
  • Tom Shaw has had apostolic leaders ask him about many aspects of his life and ministry, but nobody has ever asked him how often he is leading people to Christ.
  • As leaders, we need to be deeply motivated for seeing this generation reached.

Get the Atmosphere Right

  • We need to make sure that the atmosphere in our churches is as welcoming and as Biblically healthy as possible, so that the only stumbling block for people is the gospel.
  • Five common struggles for people in the Mobilise generation are trust, tolerance, truth, brokenness and aloneness.


  • In the sixties, there was a cultural movement to make pleasure king.
  • Our generation is living in the consequences of this shift – high divorce rates, family breakdown and the casting off of moral restraint.
  • As a result, many people feel that they can’t trust anyone, including the church (a feeling that is heavily reinforced by the media).
  • We need to think carefully about how we can build churches where we enable people to start trusting Christians again.
  • We need a culture where there is room for people to express doubts about God and be honest with their struggles.
  • There are Biblical precedents for this, such as John the Baptist, King David and Nicodemus.
  • Christians who have never expressed doubts can often lack empathy evangelistically.
  • We can be very vulnerable with people about the hard times in our lives, and this can help to build trust.


  • For many people in their twenties, what has led to most wars and conflicts is a lack of tolerance.
  • When people perceive a lack of tolerance in us, it can shut them down emotionally because it touches a particular nerve.
  • Jesus was profoundly tolerant.
  • Because of our passion for the Bible and for holiness, we can often be clumsy and give off vibes of intolerance.
  • Acceptance is not the same thing as agreement.
  • If you were to find a Rembrandt in a bush that was covered in mud, your focus wouldn’t be on the mud but on the Rembrandt.
  • We need to be a people who model a culture where we focus on who a person can be in Christ, rather than the ‘mud’ that there is at the moment.


  • Getting the culture right is important. Once this has been done, it is time to invite people in.
  • God is an inviting God. He is highly proactive in inviting people in.
  • God is not screaming at us to evangelise like a drill sergeant. He gives easy and practical things to do (see Luke 10).
  • We need to bring the peace of Jesus all around us.

“Peace begins with a smile.” (Mother Theresa)

  • Take ownership of the situations of your life. Make eye contact with people and invite them to receive a smile. This can lead to trust and relational connection.
  • Invite people to look at God’s story. Many people will look at the Bible before they are willing to come to church on a Sunday.

“I would rather speak five words of His Word than five million words of my own.” (C.H. Spurgeon)


  1. What effects did you see on your church when you took them through the two-step process?
  • There was a lot of pastoral honesty. People revealed that the were struggling with depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Leaders tried to model it and became more vulnerable.
  • There was a constant flow of unbelievers every Sunday seeing the leaders being open and vulnerable.
  • When a pressure/guilt driven model was switched for joy and fun, more people had a sense of being equipped.
  • There was a growing hunger for being on mission. People started celebrating smaller wins.
  • People were having more meals with unbelievers.
  1. What advice do you have when people are willing but don’t feel that they have the capacity?
  • Jesus was sent by the Father, so he was fathered into the mission.
  • So it is the Father who will send us (see Luke 10:2).
  • As we engage with people around us, we should be asking the Father what he wants us to say/do.
  • We tend to think in terms of ‘relational evangelism’, but Jesus was actually least evangelistically effective in Nazareth where he had the greatest depth of relationship with people.
  • It isn’t about adding in more things, but viewing the things that we already do differently.
  1. What is the most effective way of connecting young people into the church?
  • Relationships are important, and so are spontaneous connections.
  • Be around people and listen to the Father.
  • Be available for people, and have an earnest heart to seek out people who don’t know Jesus.
  • Most young people have never experienced churches like ours, and aren’t aware they exist. Connections with young people who are part of the church can be massive.
  1. Do you have big Sundays that particularly invite people into, or do you invite people every Sunday?
  • A bit of both, but more towards inviting people all the time.
  • If there are Sundays when a lot of new people are expected, Tom Shaw doesn’t preach but invites somebody with a more evangelistic style to do so.
  • Tom Shaw hasn’t found series designed to be attractive to unbelievers have made any difference in the numbers of unbelievers coming along.
  • Don’t focus on church growth, focus on church health. Both Rick Warren and John Stott define a healthy church in terms of worship, fellowship, serving, discipleship and evangelism.