Books I have read: Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

Multiply Francis Chan

I’ve always enjoyed reading Francis Chan’s writings, a few years ago I was inspired by his book Crazy Love, so I was looking forward to reading Multiply: Disciples making disciples.  As a youth minister I’m incredibly passionate to resource young people to share their faith with their friends – they do such a better job than I every could do.  Not because I can’t share faith, or because I can’t answer the tough questions, but because I don’t have the shared context that they have.

The book can be used for personal devotions, but works well for a group to look through together.  It is split into five sections:

  1. Living as a Disciple Maker
  2. Living as the Church
  3. How to Study the Bible
  4. Understanding the Old Testament
  5. Understanding the New Testament

This book would work well as a post Alpha or other evangelistic course for those who wanted to develop a stronger foundation to their new-found faith.

We used the first section themed around what is a disciple and what does it mean to share our faith with our group of 11-14 year olds who really enjoyed looking at the material.

I thoroughly recommend taking the time to read this book and the additional resources developed for it.

Assembly: General Election 2015

Ballot Box

Here’s my assembly for our local junior school for tomorrow morning on the theme of the General Election, you can download the powerpoint here.

General Election

What’s your favourite colour? Maybe it’s yellow or red, blue, green or purple. Maybe you prefer a combination or like there to be some kind of pattern or symbol. The media has been saturated with a competing range of badges and banners urging those over 18 to nail their colours to the mast. It’s because there’s a General Election scheduled for tomorrow.
The General Election has probably passed many of you by. It’s simply been an irritating interruption to TV, radio and social media. But maybe it has more to do with all of us than you might think.

 

Politics does have something to do with all of us, even those who are under the age of 18 and are not yet able to vote. Politics is about the way we organize the communities and country in which we live. It affects our water, our power, our schools, hospitals, mobile phone networks and much much more!

 

Every one of us, I’m pretty sure, wants the best for ourselves and also the best for society. The range of political parties competing for seats in Parliament simply shows that there might be many different ways to achieve this and so politics becomes a complicated business.

 

Good Leadership

William Gladstone, Liberal prime minister of the 19th century said ‘It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right’.

 

We need good leaders in every area of our society. Without good political leaders, laws would be passed that would make it easier for people to do wrong things and get away with them. Gladstone was right about what governments exist to do – good leaders make it harder to do wrong and easier to do right. Without good political leaders, the country would descend into a very unstable place where the poorest and most vulnerable in society were not being looked after. Many believe a society should be judged on how well it looks after its most needy and vulnerable. Good government frees up people to take responsibility to do good and confront things when they are bad.

 

Explain that the children will have one vote each at the end to choose who they feel would make the best leader of the country based on what they say and anything they know about them:

  • ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won.’ (Gandhi)
  • ‘You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way.’ (Lady Gaga)
  • ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’ (Winston Churchill)
  • ‘I stand for freedom of expression, doing what you believe in, and going after your dreams.’ (Madonna)
  • ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ (Nelson Mandela)
  • ‘I still look at myself and want to improve.’ (David Beckham)

 

Hold the vote with a show of hands and announce the winner! Point out that it can sometimes be difficult to choose – perhaps you wanted to vote for more than one person, or you were disappointed that your person didn’t win. But this is how democracy works.

 

In the end, everyone agrees to go with what most people (the majority) decide and once the person who has been elected takes his or her place, that person represents everyone (not just those who voted for them!) – that’s democracy!

What about you?

But what about us? The result of the General Election might affect us but we still don’t have a vote. What’s politics got to do with us?

You are already able to demonstrate your views. You live as part of a school community and reside in a local geographical community. From what I hear, you’ve got lots of ideas. You believe there are better ways to do many things. You get angry at what you perceive as injustice. You get irritated at rules and regulations that seem to have little point. You want to describe a better way to do it. So what might you do?

 

Politics in school is about making your views known. Use ideas boxes to post your concerns and suggestions. Think about what’s important for the most vulnerable in the school or those who are too shy to voice their opinion publicly.
Politics in your community can provide the opportunity to work with all ages. Make a stand, offer to volunteer, take part in a boycott, hold a protest rally and use social media. It’s all politics and you can be an important part of it.
I don’t know what the Election result is likely to be. It’s too close to call. I hope you take an interest. But more than that, I hope you get involved.
Prayer
Dear Lord,

Thank you for people who are willing to give their time and expertise to organize the society in which we live.
Remind us of their sacrifices when we’re tempted to criticise them and help us to see where and when we too can be involved in politics.
Amen.

 

Youth Talk: Why are Christians so hypocritical, nasty and judgmental?

Why are Christians so hypocritical, nasty and judgmental?

Last night I spoke to the young people on the topic of “Why are Christians so hypocritical, nasty and judgmental?” as part of a half-termly series we do on apologetics.  Here’s the powerpoint if it’s any use:

 

One of the biggest question people have against God and the Church is “Why are Christians so hypocritical, nasty and judgmental?”

 

I remember visiting a church where I arrived late, and so sat in the back row. The man leading the meeting halfway through got everyone who was in the back row to stand up. He then got everyone else in the church to turn and face those standing and pray for them that next time they wouldn’t be so lazy and get here on time. Surprisingly I haven’t been back to that church!

 

People have experienced a lot worse than that – some treatment by the church and Christians has been horrific and heart breaking. Some of you will have very reasonable reasons for not believing because of the church and what it has done to you.

 

I get your objection and I’m onside with you. Sometimes how we Christians have behaved has been awful. Let’s look at the objections

 

My objection is not to God but to his so-called followers on earth – paedophile priests, charlatan evangelist millionaires, why does God allow them to do their thing?

 

When you read in the local paper about a church leader now serving time in prison, and when you read about Councillors and MPs writing to David Cameron saying that because you passed the equal marriage act now great judgment will come on this country; and when people like Young Cho, running the largest church in Korea, just got sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling millions of dollars. When we hear of these things I get it, I understand.

 

Another objection is having been abused by one church I decided to try another this time with the Church of England when I subsequently came out as a gay person I was rejected – it is quite clear to me that church does not want me, there are members of the church who despite knowing me will not even acknowledge me on the street. Do you know what I get it, and if the church has been a part of that please accept our sincere apologies for that. It is appalling.

 

I hate to see photos of Christians on marches with slogans and banners that say things like “God hates fags”. It is wrong.

 

Another objection: why is it that I have more Christian values as a non-Church goer than some so-called Christians? I remember speaking to a young person who said the reason I’m not a Christian is this, my friends condemn me for smoking but they’re sleeping with their boyfriends. Another said this, I’ve a friend called Mary, Mary is a gossiping Christian, I have another friend called Sarah who isn’t a Christian and doesn’t gossip – I’d rather be with Sarah the non-gossiping, non-Christian.

 

Another objection: if the church is meant to be a place where all can be welcomed and come in why has its actions meant that some people cannot access it for fear as to how they will be perceived in the church. A conversation took place with a sex worker on the street one night, and trying to support this young lady we asked whether or not she’d thought of going to church. She looked incredulous and said why on earth would I think about going to church, I feel bad enough already.

 

Final objection is this: it’s not so much the idea of God I object to, it is the Christians I have trouble with. Gandhi said this, “I don’t reject your Christ, it’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

 

You see it is not so surprising that this Christian message, the Gospel message, which means good news doesn’t seem so good news when we see apparent frauds and charlatans saying one thing and living in a completely different way.

 

I just want to put out some assumptions that many of us carry:

  1. Firstly, Church is meant to be about love, kindness and tolerance. The subtext is you are meant to accept me for who I am even if that differs from what you believe. And if you don’t like you’re not meant to point it out or show your disapproval.
  2. Second, Church is meant have a moral compass with integrity, standards, and authenticity. The subtext is you are meant to be beyond approach, practice what you preach. You set a standard and if you don’t live to that standard you get loads of abuse as a result of that.
  3. Thirdly, all Christians are probably hypocrites.

 

Now without wanting to offend, I would tend to agree with all those statements, at least in part.

 

To say all Christians are hypocrites is true some of the time. For me often, if not daily, as a Christian I will pretend to be something I am not. Let me just unravel a little bit of what a hypocrite is and isn’t as I think there is some confusion.

 

A hypocrite was actually a Greek theatre term. Literally it means a mask wearer. They would be on a stage, with a mask on them, it wasn’t the real them but a character, a persona that they were portraying. In the Bible that Jesus got hold of this theatrical term and completely redefined it. He started to use it in the religious arena as Jesus hated mask wearing religious fakes.

 

Matthew 7:

‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

 

In Matthew 23 Jesus said:

13 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.

15 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.

16-22 “You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, ‘If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? And what about this piece of trivia: ‘If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious’? What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.

23-24 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?

25-26 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.

27-28 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.

 

So Jesus took this word from the theatre and completely gave it a whole new meaning and the word was never the same. Now imagine how appalling it is now, the very thing that Jesus hated, is the very thing that is so often associated with the movement he came to start. How tragic is that the word hypocrite is a hallmark of the church as though it fits like a hand in a glove?

 

Now I understand that the fakes, the phoneys and the frauds who live their lives in front of God without even blushing, who publicly condemn others whilst doing the same in private.

 

Hypocrisy what is it? What is not hypocrisy?

 

Hypocrisy is not when someone fails your expectation of perfection. Someone falls short of your expected standard. It isn’t about catching out a Christian who says they follow Christ and by making a mistake we say “Ha, you hypocrite”. A Christian making a mistake is not hypocrisy, it’s a mistake!

 

If you spend any time with me you will realise how far short I fall of the expected standard. The question is does that make me a hypocrite? If being a Christ follower means I have to be perfect then yes I am a hypocrite. However, I don’t think that is the case.

 

What is the opposite of hypocrisy? It is not perfection but it is authenticity, genuiness, transparency. Living without the mask.

 

A hypocrite is someone who is pretending to be someone they are not. I reckon we are in danger or prone to this. We often try to be something or someone that we are not. We might put on a persona in order to receive acceptance. Matthew 23, Jesus said everything they do, those hypocrites, is for show.

 

So if a Christian claims to be perfect, morally superior in anyway then they are being a fake. Jesus’ teaching is this: keep it real, love God, seek God, you don’t have to be perfect, in fact don’t pretend you are perfect as the moment that you pretend that you have got it right that is the moment that hypocrisy comes out.

 

1 John says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” A Christian author, Philip Yancey wrote a book ‘What’s so amazing about grace?’ he came to a conclusion that there were two groups of people that Jesus met. The first group was the sinners who knew it and the second group were the sinner who denied it. This first category of people, the sinners who knew it, Jesus spoke grace, love, compassion. To the second group of people, those who sinned and denied it he called them hypocrites, he confronted and he challenged. The Christian life isn’t about pretending we have it altogether. In fact we don’t, and the fact is we’re all in the same boat, all needing treatment, some of us have accepted the treatment Jesus is offering – that’s the only difference.

 

If you feel tonight that you can’t become a Christian because you’re not perfect then there’s a misunderstanding about what Christianity is about. In fact some people would say I don’t want to become a Christian because I know I can’t be perfect and I know if I cant be perfect that is being hypocritical and I don’t want to be hypocritical therefore I don’t want to be a Christian. That’s upside down and back-to-front thinking as the very essence of what Christianity is about is people who recognise with their hands up to recongise I’m not perfect, there’s so many things in my life which are wrong but do you know what I’m in the process of change.

 

You might say I can’t become a Christian because I’m carrying a load of baggage. Well welcome to the club, you’ll be struggling just like the rest of us.

 

When I look back I think I’m more like Jesus now then I was a year ago, or five years ago, and I think that’s replicated in this room. One day I will conquer, but I’m in the process of change and I know my life has changed.

 

Authenticity is about transparency and honest life change.

 

If we go back to Mary and Sarah and take a snapchat view, in the eight seconds we want to be with the non-gossip. But we fail through the snapshot to realize where Mary has come from. We don’t know what Mary was a year or five years ago. This issue of gossip might be tiny in comparison with the fact that a few months ago she was an axe-wielding murderer. And we have no idea with Sarah, the non-gossip, what difference Jesus would make if she became a Christian because we just get the snapshot moment.

 

There’s many a moment where we look and can’t believe in Christianity or Jesus because look at that. We miss out on the transformation that has taken place in millions of peoples lives who are committing themselves genuinely to becoming more like Jesus.

 

Jesus in Mark 2 :

As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’

 

We see an upside world with the outcast, the sinners welcomed to eat with Jesus and instead, those with good reputation, the moral reputation, the religious hiding behind the mask are out in the cold.

 

The world of misfits are invited and welcomed in. It’s like Charlie Bucket getting the Golden Ticket, the invite to the factory. The misfits are invited and then donated the whole factory.

 

The church community will be messy as we’re full of screwed up people, welcome to the club! It’s no wonder therefore that churches are full of people who say one thing and don’t always mean it. Sometimes we’ll act in a way that isn’t always consistent with the Christian faith because of the nature of the people who come along. People who know they make mistakes but are on a journey of transformation.

 

But don’t think this is an excuse. Jesus didn’t make things easier, he rose the bar – don’t murder in the Old Testament, he says don’t get angry; don’t commit adultery in the Old Testament, he says I don’t want you looking at that guy like that as you wander down the street as if you’ve already committed adultery in your heart. He raised the bar but he didn’t put in place a perfectionism we couldn’t obtain, he makes a way for us to meet with God.

 

Sick people need doctors, we all need to remove the mask and get ourselves into recovery. The real issue is Jesus not the people who follow him. I grew up in the 1980s, one of the best bands then was U2, and one of their best songs was Pride in the name of love. Most of you will have no idea who they are let alone the song I’m talking about. Then you hear that some of your mates are playing this song in your school’s Got Talent competition. They massacre the song and you go away and wonder what on earth was all that about. Let me encourage you there are millions of Christians walking around playing a bad replica of who Jesus is. Please don’t get put off by how we have failed because you need to listen and see the original Jesus. Don’t judge the cover version alongside the original it simply cannot compare. Christians will disappoint you, Jesus won’t.

 

Whatever has happened my plea is look at Jesus, the original, and see what he’s all about.

Youth Ministry – the most meaningful job in the world

Forbes tells us what we all already knew – youth ministry is the best job in the world!  Check out this snippet:

It’s been said that money can’t buy you happiness. It turns out it has similarly little affect on whether an employee feels their work makes a positive change in the world.
Each year, Forbes reports on PayScale‘s list of the most meaningful jobs that also pay well. But when the caveat of income is removed, medical professionals, criminal justice workers, and youth ministers still find their way to the top of the list, while some highly-paid jobs are found to provide little meaning to those that hold them.
Youth minister, the third party in this tie for first, pays the least by far–an annual median $35,000–but 100% of respondents still find strong meaning in the role.

Fusion are recruiting!

Fusion Camper Van

Fusion are recruiting for 9 roles to continue developing student ministry.  Are you be called to one of these roles?

Student Mission:

Approaching the end of our two year road trip to every university city in the UK, there’s a strong demand for Student Mission equipping from the local church. In the new academic year we will build on this momentum. Could you grow Student Mission & call up evangelists?

Student Mission Developer (Part time & full time applicants welcome).
Student Mission Internships (Part time & full time applicants welcome).

Student Work Training:

We’re intentionally training & growing Student Workers across the UK. London has a population of 400,000 students. We’re recruiting someone who can network, train and champion our partner churches & student workers in London. Are you passionate about Student Work Training?

Student Work Developer (Full time, London)

Student Linkup:

We’re growing our Student Linkup app internationally – that wherever a student goes to study in the world there’s a local church ready to welcome them. We currently partner with 85 international churches. We’re looking for two entrepreneurial networkers to grow our international network of churches. Integrated into this in this role; you’ll also be a part of a local church’s day/week discipleship year.

Global Student Linkup Internships (Loughborough)

Fusion Ireland:

We’re intentionally serving Churches, training & growing Student Workers across the UK. Last year we launched Fusion Wales & Scotland which has resulted in great growth in both of these nations. This summer we launch Fusion Ireland – are you able to spear head this initiative?

Fusion Ireland Developer. (Part time role)

Fusion Church Connection:

With 1269 churches in our network, it’s crucial that we grow relationship and serve them well. We’re looking for someone to build relationship with our Fusion Connection Churches both on the phones and in person. Could this be you?

Church Relations Developer (York, Full Time). 

Easter Spoken Word

I loved Dai’s spoken word about Easter:

Easter is a funny time of year.  You come back from the Christmas holidays, you hit the ground running then all of a sudden the clocks go forward and you’re in April.

Now Christmas is known as the celebration of Christ … and though sometimes it may not be celebrated, the clue is sort of in the name.  But what about Easter? Some chocoholic Bunny and a sugar rush on Easter weekend…there’s gotta be more to the story.

When it boils down to it – Easter is foundational to the Christian faith. Who would have thought that 3 days would have been so key to the fate of humanity? And it’s all cos that tomb was empty.

This is my spoken-truth piece on the Easter story.  It is my hope that this video is used to help us re-visit the message of Easter.

Sticky Faith children’s & youth leader training

Sticky Faith SW Jun 17 2015 A4 Publicity copy

What is Sticky Faith?

The Christian church has a problem that we’ve known about for many years. The simple fact is that vast numbers of young people in our churches and Christian youth/children’s groups give up on faith in their teenage years and early adulthood, often having nothing further to do with the church. Survey after survey shows it to be a huge issue, but up to now we’ve seemed powerless to do much about it.

The Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) in the USA has carried out the most comprehensive research yet into the problem of young people giving up on faith. As a result they have produced a raft of resources to help youth/children’s leaders, parents and others to be fully equipped to help young people stick at their faith so that it lasts through into adulthood – hence the reason they call it Sticky Faith!

What can I expect at the Sticky Faith training evenings?

Our training evenings start by exploring together the main findings from the FYI research and putting it into a UK church context. We then provide a choice of workshop looking at practical ways of putting Sticky Faith into practice
in various settings. We finish altogether with an opportunity for feedback, questions and some final thoughts. The training is suitable for anyone aged 16+ and is primarily aimed at those who work within the 5 to 18 age group, although others will find it very helpful too.

Refreshments are provided free of charge during the evening (donations welcome).

How much does it cost and how do I book in?

The Sticky Faith training evenings in SW England are free of charge to all who come. However we do ask that everyone planning to attend books in by email so that we can provide sufficient refreshments and handouts. (You are welcome to book in others from your church/youth group at the same time as yourself but please check they will be attending before making the booking.)

To book in send an email to bspurling@urbansaints.org putting ‘Sticky Faith Southampton’ in the subject line and giving the following information:

  • Your name;
  • A contact phone number;
  • The name of your church + town;
  • The number of places you are booking.

We will acknowledge all bookings, and nearer to the event we will email you directions to the venue and parking information.

Date and Venue

SOUTHAMPTON – Wednesday June 17th 2015

St Andrew’s Church, Beaulieu Road, Dibden Purlieu, Southampton, SO45 4PT

Programme

7:00 pm Refreshments and Registration

7:30 pm Welcome and notices

7:40 pm SESSION 1 – Setting the Scene

A quick overview of the key findings from the FYI research and how these should be interpreted for the UK church context.

8:15 pm SESSION 2 – Developing Sticky Faith

A choice of two practical workshop looking at how to develop sticky faith in young people in different contexts; Church, community and home.

9:30 pm SESSION 3 – Final Thoughts

A chance to provide feedback or ask questions about the evening so far, and some final thoughts about what comes next!

9:45 pm End

Hampshire Messy Meet-up

Messy Church logo - medium

When: Tuesday 19 May 2015, 7.30pm
Where: Church of the Good Shepherd, Four Marks, GU34 5AA

Come and join the Messy team at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Four Marks, Lucy Moore and James Pegg on 19 May at 7.30 for a Messy Meet-up. Time to chat about how your Messy Church is going, share some great ideas (and problems!), catch up with the local and national Messy Church picture, talk with James about teenagers in Messy Churches, pray for each other and generally wallow in Messiness for an evening.

Bring an activity example that’s worked really well in your Messy Church recently if you can, but even if you can’t, just turn up and be reinspired. No need to book but a rough idea of numbers would be useful, so email Lucy lucy.moore@brf.org.uk if you can.