I had previously said I would not comment on this matter but there is so much debate going on around the blogs I read that I thought I would offer a view that hopefully will not be controversial or cause any dire reactions from readers.
I think given the nature of circuit structures, lack of ministers across the connexion and other issues it is highly likely that the minister of a church is seen once a month if you are lucky and possibly more if you are really lucky - given this situation how can it be reasonably expected that the minister should be solely responsible for any particular aspect of chruch life whether it be preaching, teaching or evangelism. In reality the majority of our services are taken by local preachers and much of the day to day life of the church seems to be down to the members of the church. It is true to say that in many places services are taken fairly regularly by that wonderful chap 'Local Arrangement' and even here in Walsall we have had to resort to readers services this quarter to fill all the dates on the plan.
There is a responsibility on all of us for the life and witness of the local fellowship and while not everyone can stand at the front and lead worship or preach there are many things that we can all do.
Apart from when I had preached there one of my first visits to our church was on a Sunday evening - we arrived for what was listed on the plan as a 6-30p.m. service at around 6-25p.m. and it had actually started at 6p.m. For all this we were made most welcome and chairs were moved so that we could join the circle. We had been looking for a new place of worship and had tried one or two churches during the previous month before we arrived at Pleck on that first Sunday Evening and 10 years on we are still there and believe that we are where God wants us to be.
It is true to say that Pleck is an unusual church in some ways - nobody takes any notice when people arrive late for a service - we have an extremely transient congregation as we have had and still have a ministry to asylum seekers, we love to sing anything and everything whether it be Wesley or Kendrick, Crosby or Redman and preferably with a mix of each. We try new and differnt ideas but will also run with the extremely traditional hymn sandwich with every hymn from Hymns and Psalms and I do believe we offer our love to evryone who comes across our threshold.
I am of the opinion that much of what we do as a church is an extremely effective method of evangelism as we show our love to those who come in. Recently a new housing complex has opened just across the road from us and we really felt it would be a nice gesture to give each new resident a welcome pack with tea,coffee, biscuits and a little welcome card in. We spoke to the owners and they were happy for us to do this and a card was left with the packs telling people who were are and where we are and saying that we would love to see them at our coffee morning on the first Saturday of the month - who knows what may come of that?
Some years ago I read a book about friendship evangelism by Rebecca Manley Pippert I think and while I did not agree with everything she wrote I could see the sense in being friends with people as well as trying to evangelise them.