The One Thing 351: Why Should I Taste and See?

Imagine an experiential gospel presentation where the food matches the talks and discussion. Taste And See is a 4 week course that has been developed by Paul Young, Wendy Potts, Rory Shiner and others.

  • There are lot of presentations out there, but we need to keep making more, its part of the importance of re-creating in our ministry areas
  • Food is an important part of life, the story of the Bible and our experience
  • It is a course that involves all sorts of gifts that people have
  • It is scalable and it is effective for people becoming Christian

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TRANSCRIPT:

The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

G’day, I’m Scott Sanders.Welcome to The One Thing, a podcast designed to give you one solid, practical tip for gospel Centre ministry.Every week the One Thing is brought to you by Reach Australia.As a network, we have a vision to see thousands of healthy, evangelistic multiplying churches across Australia.

If you are wanting to find out more about our work, head to our website www.rachelaustralia.com.au and find about all the places you can get developed as a leader.Now today we are talking about evangelism, but we’re talking about in the context of a new ministry resource, taste and sea.

And a key part of it is food.And so, well, Pete just asked me to wax lyrical with you about about my favourite cooking show, but I thought I’d bring in our two guests.So Wendy Potts is a learning consultant in evangelism at Anglicare in in Sydney and Paul Young is the lead pastor of Providence Bayswater, a church plant a few years old in WA in Perth.

So guys, tell us, tell us your favourite cooking show, Paul, do you want you want to go first?It’s.Going to be Iron Chef?Nothing beats good old Iron Chef.And where the host takes a massive bite out of the capsicum, or the bell pepper, as he calls it, that’s a classic.

To say, I haven’t watched a cooking show in a long time.It’s probably since the era of MasterChef, so sorry.It’s a it’s a while it’s been awhile between drinks.Well, can I encourage you?I’ve been watching Stanley Tucci in Italy.It’s on its second season and he basically is going through the regions and just spending, spending time just surfacing all these interesting things.

But it’s amazing just just how geography, geography impact impacts food, so and there’s all these beautiful stories, so I, Stanley said.She SBS free.It’s a it’s a good one.For now you’ve pressed play on another episode of The One Thing.

Why should I taste and see?Today’s podcast is brought to you by Safe Ministry Check.Safe Ministry Check has been trusted by churches all over Australia for the past decade, taking the headache out of Safe Ministry training, compliance and screening.Safe Ministry Check is the cheapest option in the market with the rare feature Automated Safety Cheques.

This feature will save you from the painstaking hours of manual screening, freeing you up to focus on ministry.You’ll have access to 4 levels of training tailored to your church members, volunteers, leaders, church staff and board members.Hedge the website Safe industrycheck.com dot AU.

And now back to the podcast.So it’s really good to have both Wendy and Paul here today.Paul’s a bit of the sort of evil genius created behind the course and and he has been working with Wendy over the last few years kind of honing this and putting this resource together, which has been I guess launched publicly recess recently.

So I guess the question that is sort of begging is, do we need another evangelistic course?Aren’t there already, like heaps of excellent courses out there, Paul?What kind of prompted you to write a new one and write your own?Yeah, we don’t need another one, to be honest.There’s so many good courses out there and so many courses that have done really well as strategy shouldn’t change.

Like we always wanted to tell the gospel to people and explain that clearly and really persuasively and winsomely.I think our tactics do change bending on context.And the people that were in front of So Taste and See started because they had a group of mates around me.And I wanted to give him one last shot to kind of before we moved Disney for a little while here the gospel and just wanted some way to connect with them and they all love food at that time.

We’re all involved like love and master Chef and kind of cooking some fancy stuff and so that’s that’s how it started.It arose from the need from that, you know, it’s not like, oh, that’s a great idea because it’s kind of like let’s make it into a resource.

But other people started to hear about it.And when people who heard about it from other churches that have tried it, just like the very initial draughts that were scribbled on pieces of paper, started to give it real shots and started to feedback that they really liked it, seem to suggest actually maybe there’s something in how we’re using Tyson Seed that could really be useful for other churches, not just our own.

Now, Wendy, you’ve been around, you’ve been around doing mission and thinking about evangelism in a whole bunch of different contexts.For many, you know, for many years, another course.Yeah.Do we need another?Course, yeah.Look, I it’s a great question, isn’t it?And there I agree with Paul, there are lots of great courses out there.

But I’d have to quote Chapo here, John Chapman, because he just said you’ve got to keep recreating fresh gospel resources.And I think something that’s homegrown, created for our time by Australian people is a good thing.

And there’s some unique things about taste and see that that I think mean that it fits a slot that isn’t necessarily being covered by other courses.So we can go into that a bit more.Well, yeah.How?How does taste and see work as an evangelistic course?

You know, I guess what?What’s this point of difference?Yeah, well, I think there are a few things.Obviously the food is a big one, but lots of other courses use food and hospitality.But I think what Paul’s really picked up on here is using food not just for the communal community thing, which it is a powerful community connector, but also as an illustration, A3 dimensional illustration of the gospel.

And so each week the food represents that content of the gospel and we have got four weeks.And I think that’s another factor.It’s a short course.It’s not sitting alone.I think that it it’s an introduction, it’s an invitation, It’s the big meta narrative of the gospel in broad brushstrokes.

So as you say, food.Food is a part of most courses, you know, putting on hospitality.You know, I remember some kind of Rd testing simply Christianity with, you know, John Dixon at Saint Clements Church.And it was, you know, glass of Chardonnay and cheese board.And Dickies.Yeah, that’s it.That that was a that was a key part of that sort of home, you know, home and inviting people in.

Yeah, Taste and see.Though, food, food, food is kind of a key part of each of the weeks just unpacked a little bit more.So, So the food is a universal language.It brings people together.It breaks down barriers and we know that when we do dinner parties with friends.

So there’s that.And that’s what you’re describing with Chris.Simply Christianity anyway.But the thing about taste and see is that week one, it’s, it’s, it was good.It focuses on creation and the beauty and wonder and design of creation.

And we use fresh beautiful food from the ground and salads and vegetarian and then in that way it it illustrates that concept.And then week two it’s what’s gone wrong and it’s the fall.

And we use fast food junk food and and use the food to illustrate that concept.And week 3, the the great rescue.We focus on the Middle Eastern food and we have a a modern day Passover meal and we hear how Jesus theory interprets that to to share the message of the cross.

And week 4 is the future hope.We have an international banquet picturing the nations coming together and God’s new creation.So that’s almost like a a bring a bring a plate as well that kind of almost involved.Can be involved in Group?Yeah, some churches have tried that to great effect.It doesn’t have to be.

Depends on your context.Yeah.OK.So, so Paul, you talked about kind of having that one last shot with your mates and it seemed like food, you know food was the attractive thing that actually got them in.You know, it was the, it was the IT was the bait of the switch, you know come and I’ll cook you, you know.

So in that first instance was that you who was kind of cooking these meals, organising them, organising the food and and and getting everyone over and you know and then you open up the Bible and and talk through, talk through stuff.Is that kind of how it worked at the start?Yeah, it pretty much was how it worked at the start.

I was just, you know, I remember that year just wanting to try half a dozen things and that was one of them.And Taser scene was one of them.And yeah, mates would come over, would cook a meal, would talk about a part of the Bible and how the meal explains that.And yet that’s kind of that’s how it run.

And I think that’s, that makes sense of a lot of things for me, like we’re not just brains on sticks that think about stuff and interpret information and process it like a computer.Like where humans were embodied that feel and touch and sense that we want to play with concepts and we do things in the world.

And food is that opportunity to engage the other senses as we learn and hear about God and the Bible.Hmm.So what’s the shape of a of a knight?What does?What does it look like, Wendy?

Well, depends a bit on your context.But if it was a typical church hosted evening, then there’s a time and space for welcoming, mingling, gathering over perhaps a stata getting seated.

And then there’s the main course, an introduction to the night by the host’s main courses served.There might be a starter question around the table to get people discussing things and and then the presentation happens sort of midway through that meal.

The presenter might share their story at the beginning just to brag to, to break the ice a bit and get them known the presentation happens and then through that presentation is some discussion moments around the table.

So I think that’s quite critical because it’s not just a sermon, it’s an interactive presentation and then there’s Q&A at the end and.Everything else.So you’re covering creation, fall, redemption, new creation.It seems like there’s there’s a lot of information a lot of content but it but it sounds as though you know the the bulk of the portion of the evening is actually getting, you know getting the table to be talking and and discussing these rich kind of biblical points in time.

But also, you know, key themes that we see in the centre live scripture.Certainly lots of content, but we’re trying to do it in broad brush strokes.Is that true, Paul, would you say just you’re covering the the meta narrative of the gospel, you’re not trying to say everything in one week or even 4 weeks and then we’ll talk about that later where it fits on the mission pathway.

But there is definitely content and it’s content rich, but I think breaking up that content with conversation and opportunities for the table engage at the beginning, midway and at the end is really important as well as that three dimensional learning which Paul has referred to with the food.

We want people to experience just good experiential learning.We know as educators, educators know that people learn in different ways.So it’s head, heart, hands, it’s it’s not just hearing, it’s experiencing.

You’re experiencing community, experiencing conversation around the table, but you’ve got visuals and you’ve got beautiful food illustrating the concept.Paul, do you wanna?There are broad brushstrokes being played it in every kind of meal, but I do think one of the convictions, particularly when Randy Potts and Rory Shiner helped rewrite all the content and make it usable and and actually made it into what it is today.

There is an element where we wanted to push people and show people that there’s more on other food here than what they necessarily think.So when we mean broad brush strokes, we don’t mean something that we’re imagining explaining it to a kid in Sunday school.We are imagining that we’re engaging sceptics, people with big questions about the gospel who have thought critically about what’s going on.

Now we’ve tried to make it appropriate for other kind of context as well as well as we’re referring them material, but but we did want to engage with the big questions that people are thinking.So it’s simple but not simplistic.And we do dive into those bigger questions over going through those contexts of different parts, key parts of the Bible.

Good, good.So I’m keen to kind of get into the nuts and bolts of of putting a knight on.I guess one of the questions, you know, a number of people might be thinking, wow, this this is going to require a lot.You know, like I I struggle just to make a meal for my own family or myself and now you’re asking me to make it for you 10/15/2020 people say, is something like this sustainable?

Is it scalable?Is there a limit on the number of people you can actually, you know, have attend the course?Yeah, great question.You want me to go for it?Yeah, You go for Wendy, yeah.It is scalable.I think that this is the beauty of of of the concept.

It can be run small in a home around someone’s table.I think that thing about around 12 people around the table is is about as big as you can go for that more intimate group.But then if you want to scale it up, you can have 35 tables of eight and there’s a definitely a different dynamic going on there.

I think the key is making sure the table has a table host when on the big scale.That can help facilitate conversation and look after that group week by week and between the sessions.The busy person might be thinking I’d I’d love an off the shelf resource that has the video and all I gotta do is kind of click, click, click, play.

But you’ve you’ve created this in in terms of you know a script and a PowerPoint you know and a discussion that someone actually you know has to learn and has to deliver and has to give.You know, I guess why have you, why have you chosen that rather than you know, recording Rory Shiner who’s he’s a pretty good speaker, you know to deliver kind of the the content of the of the evening.

The Hilariously we actually have recorded running, but.You can probably delete that, but it’s not on the website.So you like, you’ve made a decision there, intentionally say no, we’re gonna give you a script rather than a a video, yeah.Because I think the way that you communicate something, communicate something, the way that you do something teaches something.

And I totally get.I mean, I’m a church planting pastor.I totally get it’s busy and it’s so there are 1,000,000 things you need to be doing.And I’ve delegated like a million things to the floor and they’re not going to get done.But I think there is worse in putting some of our best time and effort into whatever evangelistic stuff we’re doing now.

I could talk about that for a little bit longer if you wanted.But like I guess going back to the course, if we’re hosting people over meals, I think it’s there’s something like really endearing about it, that we’re actually talking to them face to face and life about these issues.

So we’re really grappling with and thinking about huge issues about God and eternity in Jesus.And so it it feels like, and I think the mechanism is right, that we do it face to face.It’s funny.Yeah, it’s more personal, isn’t it?I think there is some great advantages to the videos, especially the well, the well created ones.

But I think that at the end of the day, we’ve at this stage at least made that just creative decision not to go there because we do want the the person on the ground to own this and share this more personally to their context.OK.

So Paul, I guess the the other question is it doesn’t work, what have you actually seen in the Providence network and at Providence Bayswater have you been running taste and see?Yeah, we’ve been in a variety of locations and in different contexts.So I’ve run it around with a couple of people around my dinner table front up with 20 people around our dinner table.

We’ve we’ve run it with city, has run it with 50 people over 3 or 4 tables.We’ve run it in our youth group, we’ve run it with our with our kind of women and bubs Bible study group over lunch or kind of morning tea in the morning.

So we’ve tried and tried to adapt it it actually over many different contexts.And what we’ve found is, yeah, the the fruit does breakdown barriers and it’s a really helpful way to explain something that’s so deeply important with with that thing in front of you.

It does take a team, does take a team of people to do it is what we’ve found.Like it’s I I mean I have run it individually myself, but it’s always way better when I involve other people.And I think there’s a real joy in that actually.Like if if we want to put some of our best time and effort and some of our best people on the ground in our church into evangelism mission, we can involve in this stuff like this.

And I think lots of people have actually found that really enjoyable.Not because they’re always a person presenting, but because they have other skills and other gifts and abilities like cooking or making dessert or opening up their home and they love that they can be a part of a way that people are coming to know Jesus.

I think it’s true in in whoever I speak to that maybe not everyone wants to be the person standing up giving the evangelistic tool, but everyone wants to be a part of a church where people are coming to know Jesus.And I think if if we pitch that there are different ways to help with that happening in our church, people actually really excited and willing to do it.

So Paul, you’ve kind of talked lots about inputs there and activity, but but the outcome of actually getting people converted, what what have you seen in terms of actually seeing people converted?I might hear from you, and then, and then hear from Wendy.Yeah, great question.Ah yeah.

So when we ran Taste and See when we came back in 2021, this was kind of like the new and updated edition a little bit and we ran tests.Say I’m trying to remember how many people we ran it with that year.

I can’t remember the top of my head, but we’d always have a follow up course after Taste and see.Then we called that investigate where it takes someone through marks gospel in five weeks.If someone did Taste and see with us and they made it through Investigate, we were finding that we’re having a 50% conversion rate and those numbers are high.

I think this the sample size was too low for that to really have significant.But when you have 8 or 10 conversions a year that year that was that was great.That was a real encouragement to see.I think we found the follow through from taste and seed to investigate was roughly one in four.

So I guess that year what do we have?We had 40 non Christians come through the course with roughly 8 to 10 of them become Christian.Yeah, that’s what 25% conversion rate which is what we see on on most courses, you know, So it’s partly, partly often why I’m agnostic on courses.

I just want you to do one, just pick one and do one because we’re finding that group dynamic is actually working.You know as as as people gather around the gospel, you know surprise, surprise as they interact with God’s word and get challenged with with repentance and faith.

You know they make a decision.You know, generally what we see is is about 25% of the time when you’ve run this lots in retirement.Villages in you know, with different church groups and church sizes, What have you seen about it at its impact?Or it’s it’s working, you know?Is it making a difference?I’d love to answer that on a on a few levels if you don’t mind, Scott.

So I think the impact is you want to recognise where taste and see fits on the mission pathway.Because even though we do obviously invite people to put their trust in Christ at the end of four weeks, we also recognise that this could be a part of the process for them where they’re not quite at that spot yet.

So inviting them to the next step of have they enjoyed this?Would they like to dig more, dig deeper, and explore a gospel further?Is is often the expectation that I come to running that course with and so.

But what what we see is a beautiful impact on many levels because um, the conversations on the night where all the feedback afterwards is often people saying, oh that really struck me.

I haven’t thought about this for a long time or ever.It’s got me thinking.I think that’s a really beautiful impact to come away with.Christians have said I’ve just had these most meaningful conversations with my good friend on the way home in the car and that one to one follow up that can then happen between friends because you’ve empowered the the Christian to have those deeper conversations or to kick start those conversations.

For me, that’s a great win.Um.And I think the other impact that perhaps is a bit hidden is that the Christians on the team, the Christians who’ve invited their friends are there’s a training element that goes on because they’re experiencing a growing confidence in having gospel conversations and how to talk about the gospel in a meaningful, unfolding way over time.

And so when they’ve been a part of it, they come away more excited, more confident, and that has ripples out to the everyday.Yeah.So really really I’m really encouraged to hear that you’re talking about follow up because it’s because that’s often the problem that we see.You know in terms of the mission ecosystem a church will run of course, you know maybe once and then they go look we didn’t didn’t see a lot of traction so they don’t run it again or they they wait until they get this you know this magic number of of how many people.

But but often it doesn’t work because actually people along further back and they need to follow up and then they need another follow up and then another form.So it’s I love that.I love that taste and see it’s kind of another another way in to get people to interact and move them into your into your mission funnel and into your sort of mission ecosystem in church life.

And there’s something else to say there.We talk, we’ve talked about where we’ve mentioned the follow up end which I think is critical to build in before you start taste and see the expectation that you want to have a sense of inviting someone to explore the gospel further.But the other end before taste and see is is also important to have in your thinking, in your mission strategy.

Which is have you as a congregation got meaningful relationships with non Christians?Relationships of trust and depth.Where you’ve already done all that beautiful work of spending time together in each others worlds, meeting your your each other’s friends, having those deeper conversations.

Because it’s only then that someone will say yes to your invitation to come to dinner for four weeks.Yeah, someone’s not number of so probably asking what does it cost?You know, how do I how do I get access to it?Wendy, give us the give us the pitch.

Ah sure, sure, website tasteinc.org dot AU all the informations there and shoot us an email if you like from the website, but the cost at the moment is Oh well, it’s a hundred 100 bucks and you want to know what you get.

Yeah, what, What’s included in the 100 bucks?What you get is the full presenter scripts, the full presenter PowerPoints.You get a set of 12 training videos that pulls beautifully created for these kinds of questions that were answering India.Um.

You get a welcome to the table document which is a really good introduction to the philosophy and the workings and the practicalities.Some guidance around menus and and decoration and how to pull this off as a team, and you get some promotional stuff.

There’s a trailer and some invitations and graphics like that.So you pretty much got everything you need in order to run the course, from the invitation all the way to the to the follow up.What’s the one thing you want us to know about?Taste and see?I want them to know that it’s experiential learning and that it takes a team and that it sits on a mission pathway.

Paul.If you haven’t got a way and A and a thing that you’re doing that your church trusts and that you trust that can present the gospel to people, there are lots of great courses out there.But can I recommend to you?Taste and see.Nice.Well, in terms of the toolbox, I will put a link in the shower to the taste and see website.

And then can I just encourage you to check out the, the conference resources from I think 2019 where we we started.We we delved kind of deep into the mission pathway and the mission area.There’s a whole bunch of stuff thinking about this ecosystem, this mission ecosystem in the life of your church.

Wendy Paul been really good to talk to you about taste and see and so good to see the website up and and churches using it across the network.So I’ve already chatted to a couple of churches in Adelaide that have been using it in their mission sort of cycle and they’ve already seen, you know, a number of people come through it and and continue to stick in church and make first time decisions, which is great.

That’s exciting.Thank you.So good.Well, if you’ve got a topic that you’d like us to cover, email us at [email protected] dot AU.I’m Scott Sanders.Chat soon.