A Better Hero
Five minutes with Tom Heasman
Tom is married to Josie and has two daughters, Elsie and Lily. Tom is a pastor at Dundonald in London, where he leads the evangelism ministry stream. He spoke to us about A Better Hero.
Hi Tom, thanks for chatting to us! So what is A Better Hero?
A Better Hero is a little booklet that contains four short Bible studies in Mark’s gospel. Each study comprises a short passage and three questions over a 2-page spread, introducing people to the person of Jesus.
The aim for it is simply to serve as a conversation starter about Jesus, and is designed such that anyone can pick it up and read it with a friend. They’re small, cheap to print, and don’t require any training in advance! You can have a couple in your back pocket, you can fit a bunch of them in your bag, or order a box-load to stick at the back of church for members to grab whenever they need.
Where did the idea come from?
It was birthed out of a desire to see our church family feel equipped to read the Bible with non-Christian friends, neighbours and colleagues.
In Honest Evangelism, Rico says that it’s getting harder and harder to take people to church to hear the Bible being taught - that actually we need to take the Bible to them. That’s compounded in London where we’ll often work with people who live far away from us and our church.
Hence the idea for A Better Hero – we wanted to provide an easy-to-use resource which Christians could open up with a friend and start a conversation about Jesus. It doesn’t matter whether you go through a study in five minutes, or do all four in one sitting - the aim is to get lots and lots of people from our secular city into the living word of God, and help give confidence to our church family to begin those conversations.
We love to hear about churches coming up with creative ways to get people into the Bible. What kind of impact has A Better Hero had in your church?
It’s a little hard to gauge because you don’t necessarily anticipate people to be converted off the back of the booklets themselves, because they’re designed to be a conversation starter. The encouragement has certainly been seeing a growing confidence across our church family of people wanting to go and tell others the gospel.
Excitingly, we’ve heard all sorts of stories – young people reading it with their school mates, city workers getting it open in the office, people taking a stack of them on holiday to look at with friends.
As such, I think we’re starting to see a change in our church culture, away from evangelism being a scary thing reserved for a few to becoming something that we can all be involved in.
In that regard, we’ve tried to implement a vision for evangelism at Dundonald which we describe as an ARROW vision. In short, we’re trying to be a church where evangelism is:
Active - a culture of evangelism where all believers assume responsibility; it’s not primarily staff led
Relational - evangelism done in the context of informal personal relationships which take time and effort
Risk-taking - people being willing to cross the pain-line in holding out the gospel
Organic – lots of evangelism being done outside of church programmes
Word-deploying - a culture of evangelism where the living word of God is held out, because it’s as God’s word goes out that we see lives changed.
In God’s kindness, A Better Hero has helped us with that.
Do you use A Better Hero alongside any other evangelistic initiatives at Dundonald?
Yes! We see A Better Hero as the initial outbox - it has become our go-to first step of engaging people with the gospel outside of our church walls. But it’s not the silver bullet – the booklet actually finishes by encouraging people to ‘Come Along!’ (to church) or to ‘Carry On!’ (reading through Mark, or attending a Christianity Explored course). We’ve found that A Better Hero is often just the beginning of the journey.
So what’s next for Dundonald?
Well we’re in the process of having our church building renovated, so we’ve had to move out into other local venues for the next 18 months – but we’re really excited about engaging with our local community afresh.
As part of our time out of our building, we are preaching through John’s Gospel in its entirety. To complement that, we’ve produced A Better Life – four short conversation-starters from John’s Gospel. It’s the same format as A Better Hero, designed to help people talk to friends and neighbours about what we are learning at church.
I remember hearing Rico say of Christianity Explored that it was developed in the incubator of the local church, and that’s definitely what we’ve experienced with A Better Hero and A Better Life - they’re driven by the particular needs of our church family. That said, both of these resources are available to view and order on our Something Better website and we’d love other churches to use them if it helps them.