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20 January 2014

Churches start 40 days with Jesus

Churches start 40 days with Jesus

Easter is one of the busiest times in the church calendar. With so many guests passing through church doors nationwide, how can we make sure that this great 'event' is not just a one-off?

KingsGate Community Church, a member of the Evangelical Alliance, and CWR have created a new post-Easter resource, 40 Days with Jesus. Senior pastor Dave Smith asked: "What would happen if on Easter Sunday we said 'Welcome to week one of a journey' and invited people to come with us?"

40 Days with Jesus focuses on the life-transforming encounters Jesus had with his disciples. At its heart lies an amazing invitation for all of us: to be convinced of the resurrection, to encounter the risen Jesus and to receive purpose for our lives.

Dave says: 'If you're preaching on Easter, there's no better sermon material than the 40 days after the resurrection. I think that period was one of the most pivotal in history, because it's then that we see the evidence of the resurrection.'

When KingsGate focused on these 40 days, back in 2012, the effect was transformational. Dave continues: "Our Sunday numbers were considerably higher than normal. As we focussed on Jesus and the wonder of the resurrection many people came to Christ and many people came back to Christ. In addition, because the material is about Jesus and about him changing people's lives, the whole body was strengthened."

The resource has already received praise from church leaders Nicky Gumbel, Terry Virgo and Greg Haslam, senior pastor at Westminster Chapel, who said: "Here is heart-warming devotional reading of the first order, colourful theological fire-crackers, and unforgettable glimpses of the real Jesus convincing his friends, and even us, that he is really alive! Six weeks that could completely restore your life!"

What initially started as a six week sermon series has now developed into a range of resources designed to help churches go on this 40-day journey for themselves and learn together. Based around a new 40-day book, 40 Days with Jesus comes with free sermon outlines, small group studies and video teaching. All of the resources are available from www.40days.info.

"There is something about focusing together on a particular topic, reinforced by multiple teaching aids, that helps people grow in their personal relationship with God. So the plan is to encourage congregations to invite friends, join small groups and learn together over a 40 day season," adds Dave.

The hope for this series is that many will come through the church doors again: to listen, to explore these 40 days and to see their own lives transformed.