Hundreds drawn in by new style of evangelism


Melbourne, Victoria

Hundreds of people have discovered the Bible prophecies about Jesus through a first-of-its-kind evangelism program held in Victoria.

Christmas in July is not original—what is original is how we are doing it.

The Victorian Conference took a different approach to the traditional style of evangelistic campaigns by running a Christmas in July program at three sites in Melbourne last month. The inspiration was the popular Road To Bethlehem Christmas program that has been running for more than 20 years as a ministry of Nunawading church.

Kerina-Lee Joy, who last year was appointed as the Conference’s Global Mission pioneer and Evangelism facilitator, discovered that Road to Bethlehem attracted more than 16,000 people annually, “however we were not reaping any significant results from this evangelism and experiencing Church growth”.

“As a result, I felt extremely saddened and also challenged by this situation,” Ms Joy said. “I spent several weeks agonising in prayer, wrestling with what we could do as a Church to follow-up the thousands of community contacts. Then very early one morning, the Lord gave me the idea of running a Christmas in July program based on the Messianic prophecies from Scripture.”

The three Christmas in July programs attracted more than 2000 people.

Her vision caught the imagination of Australian evangelist Pastor Geoff Youlden, who wrote the script and played a key role in bringing it all together. “We do need to be using different approaches because we are fishing in different pools all the time,” he said. “I think the good thing about this is that everyone loves Christmas and we are trying something that is secularly accepted and using it as a means of leading people into the centre part of Christmas, which is Christ.”

The family-friendly program explains the true meaning of Christmas, based on the Messianic prophecies, and includes a Christmas dinner, choir, orchestra, carols, actors playing Mary and Joseph, and children’s activities.

The response was extraordinary with 2250 bookings taken across the three venues at Box Hill, Tullamarine and Sunshine. According to Ms Joy, the sites were completely booked out within a matter of hours.

“It has shown that people will come out to programs like this,” Pastor Youlden said. “I think what we are doing is unique. I don’t know of any other group doing what we are doing. Christmas in July is not original—what is original is how we are doing it.”

Pastor Geoff Youlden speaking at one of the programs.

At the end of the programs many people requested Beyond DVDs and signed up for prophecy seminars.

Conference president Pastor Graeme Christian said other churches around the Conference caught the vision and ran versions of the program.

“We are continually looking for new ways of connecting with people in the community,” he said.

After the success of the program, planning is underway to run Christmas in July again next year.