The realization that contemporary society shows many alarming signs of having turned its back on God gave J. John the vision to connect with people in a new and engaging way. In January 2000 J. John commenced a new series of areawide, interchurch missions and evangelism in towns and cities across the United Kingdom that was based on the Ten Commandments. However, unlike the do's and don’ts most people think about when they consider the Ten Commandments, J. John presents them in a positive light and as the best parameters for life. For example, “You shall not steal” is entitled “How to prosper with a clear conscience” and “You shall not commit adultery” is unpacked as “How to affair-proof your relationships.” J. John is often asked why he began this series. Following is his response:
“I can honestly say it was a ‘God idea.’ In 1999 there was much discussion on how to mark the new millennium. I sensed God saying that we should go back to the basics—back to his ten principles of how to live life well. There have been signs of a spiritual awakening wherever we have taken ‘Just10.' During the twenty-five full-time years I have spent in evangelism I can honestly say that this is the most fruitful, transforming programme I have ever been involved in.”
J. John has now run twenty-four series across the UK; the venues have included ten-thousand seater marquees, cathedrals and county showgrounds. Countless others have seen the series on DVD around the world.
Just10—The Ten Commandments
The live talks are held over a ten-week period, one Commandment per week. The Commandments are presented in reverse order, starting at number ten and finishing with number one. Each evening includes a warm welcome, sung worship, a video clip and a personal testimony and teaching from J. John. Each session concludes with an opportunity to respond to the gospel presentation. Each of these components is tailored to be jargon-free and to engage with the unchurched.
The evenings run with the following titles:
- How to find true contentment
- How to hold to the truth
- How to prosper with a clear conscience
- How to affair-proof your relationships
- How to manage your anger
- How to keep the peace with your parents
- How to stop driving yourself crazy
- How to take God seriously
- How to know the real God
- How to live by priorities
While all of the talks are evangelistic, the topics get progressively more God-focused as the weeks go on. Experience has shown that having the series spread across ten weeks allows momentum to build; the number of people attending has risen in nearly every series and the effect that God has in a community can be cumulative. Christians have multiple opportunities to invite their friends, and people can fit the weekly programme into their busy schedules. It allows people to be taken on a journey from week to week. There is not just one crisis point where individuals are called to make a decision; instead, there are ten opportunities for attendees to warm to the gospel and respond to its message.
The Unchurched and Christians
Often when individuals become Christians they also become very enthusiastic witnesses. They often impact friends, family and colleagues as they tell of how their lives have been transformed. It can be an advantage to them if they are able to invite their friends to the same ongoing event that has deeply affected them. We have seen this happen on each series of extended mission. For example, in the latest series in Devon, one woman came to faith in the first week. This made such a difference in her life that her non-Christian husband came along the next week; he made a decision to follow Jesus that evening.
The series also acts as a spiritual check-up for Christians. By calling believers to “get right with God,” the series makes Christians more effective witnesses. As their own lifestyles are challenged week by week, they enter the workplace, the home and the community as different people. Through changed attitudes and actions, others are drawn to question the cause for such changes.
By relating simultaneously to Christians and the unchurched, the series offers an opportunity for every person to respond. People do not feel threatened, and it does not foster a “them and us” mentality that can be present at so many outreach events. Every individual attending comes to learn, to be challenged and to reassess his or her life, no matter what his or her starting point.
Over 500,000 people from around the UK have attended one of the twenty-four events; countless more in the over one hundred prisons where the DVD has been shown have made commitments to Christ. It is impossible to measure the impact this has had both in individuals and in communities. Thousands have made first-time commitments to Jesus, and even more have recommitted their lives or come forward for prayer.
The impact of these series is practical as well as spiritual. Those who respond are invited to link up with organizations that can help them further; this may be in the form of debt relief, professional counseling or spiritual pastoring. Parenting and marriage seminars are run alongside the missions, so that people can tackle at a deeper level some of the issues that may arise during the series events.
Amnesty dustbins (trash cans) which enable people to repent and make restitution are provided. Amnesty bins allow people to dispose of inappropriate materials throughout the series: stolen items when talking on the subject of stealing, pornography when discussing adultery, weapons when dealing with murder, idols/occult objects when talking about idolatry and so forth. It has been incredible how many people respond in this way. At one mission, during the week after the talk on stealing, £102,000 of stolen money was given in by one man alone. At another series after J. John spoke on murder, such a large amount of ammunition and guns were handed in that the police brought in armored vehicles to take it all away
Partnership and Unity
Partnership is key to the success of these missions. Each series is managed by the local church. Each partner church commits to praying for the event, preparing for the event, pastoring those in attendance, promoting the activities and providing help where needed. Churches of all types partner together with a common vision for mission with Just10. The unity is a powerful witness and has brought about connections that have lasted long after the missions have finished. Having hundreds of churches working together also means that whole communities, cities and counties can be impacted.
Prior to a mission much preparation goes to ensuring that the churches are ready. All of the churches involved conduct a friendship evangelism course based on J. John’s latest release “Breaking News.” This course is designed for small groups and is tailor-made for discussions, study and reflection; it is an ideal tool for equipping Christians for practical and effective evangelism and mission. As well as preparing churches to make the most of this opportunity, the events are publicized widely in the press, on the radio, on billboards and on flyers.
The evangelist John Wesley once said, “God does nothing except in answer to prayer.” We believe this and each mission is undergirded by prayer and prayer strategies have been developed in preparation for each of the Just10 missions. Prayer is encouraged by every means–private prayer (daily), prayer triplets and weekly/monthly corporate prayer meetings. A prayer team continues to intercede during the meetings and even after the event is over.
Much of today's society thinks with a postmodern mind. Relevance and personal impact are key as individuals search for reality. It is because the Just10 series meets people where they are at—in real life dilemmas, in real life situations—that it is of such importance. The Ten Commandments engage people in the issues of life and point them to the solution: Jesus Christ who lived in accordance with them and sets us free from the consequences when we fail.
A report from the Committee on Strategic Evangelism, sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance, stated that the trends and issues relating to evangelism in these days can be summarized as follows:
- Evangelism is most effective as a process
- Evangelism is most effective when contextual ( i.e. associated with lifestyle)
- Evangelism is most effective when relational
- Evangelism is most effective when Christians are seen to have integrity in lifestyle
- Evangelism is most effective when it bridges the culture gap (i.e. the relationship between what happens in Church and in society)
The Just10 series uses all of the above principles and provides a tool for effective evangelism, delivering it in an appropriate package for the people of this age.
J. John believes that “the Ten Commandments—God's top ten—are not obsolete, they are absolute.” After one recent series J. John commented, “I have been enormously humbled at the way our series has helped people to reassess, refocus their priorities and in many cases, restart their lives.” For more information on Just10, the Just10 DVDs/CDs and J. John please visit www.philotrust.com.