YLG2016: Evening session: Our True Story

YLG 2016

The third Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering is happening in Jakarta.  YLG2016 is a gathering of 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries who will connect, pray, and discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission.  It’s a privilege to be here and to share my notes of Tracy Trinita, Nick Hall and Ravi Zacharias from tonight’s evening session with you.

Tracy Trinita

How do we communicate the Christian faith to a generation who is easily bored, and pursue happiness through looking good, who are often lost in the kingdom of money, experience and fame, how do we share the gospel in a world of instant gratifications?

 

There is no simple answer to these questions.

 

One potential answer is speaking true stories.  Stories have the power to open up minds, and breakdown barriers.  Every culture loves stories, but not every story is true.

 

As someone who was bullied for being tall and having a funny name I was thrilled when I became a model.  But I realised that money and fame made no difference.  Started shopping around the world religions.  The Christian faith had something different.  The more I read the gospel the more I realised Jesus was not boring.  I was showered with genuine love by Jesus who died on the cross for me.

 

Years gone by since joining God’s mission I’ve spoken with lots of young people, especially in Asia.  Listening to the angst of a girl in Japan who wants to commit suicide, looking into the eyes of a girl in Hong Kong who has to get straight As, a girl in Cambodia who desperately wants white skin, a girl in Shanghai who is exhausted from trying to please her parents.  They are young in age, but tired and old in souls.

 

Many of the young people can relate to my story they are pursuing happiness in ways that do not work.  I can chat, share the gospel and pray to close with these girls.  The tears shine in their eyes and I know Jesus has come, their life will never be the same again.

 

We all have a unique story to share about what Jesus Christ has done, we al have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we have resources to equip us.  1 Corinthains 1:6 it is the Lord that makes it grow.  Let’s plan the seed of the gospel and water it with true love and compassion.  We know God will make it grow.

 

Nick Hall

The time is now.  The time is now.  The time is now.  Does anyone believe it?  Is anyone excited tonight.  Of all the time in history God placed you in this moment, on the edge of the commission being completed in our lifetime.

 

1974 two gatherings – the first one was a gathering in Lausanne, as leaders met to commit together resources, partner together to share the Gospel.  We are sitting here because of that evening.  Tonight I want to propose we use events in public places.  The other gathering was in South Korea in 1974 of young people called Explode as 300,000 young people gathered.  A catalytic event for the church in Korea.  No matter what time zone your body is on, God’s time is now!

 

5 years ago we had a passion that we would take a message across the USA.  Started in North Dakota, the place where no one is from.  The place where no one belongs.  God gave a message offering a reset to young people.  To start again, to move passed errors, and to get it back to the way it was created and designed for.  As we looked at our generation we saw God created us to work in a certain way.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made but so many of our generation don’t know what it means to live out your life for Him.  Jesus came and offered this reset, and so we felt a need to share it across our country.

 

We want the largest places in our culture to be full of people.

 

Coca Cola in 100 years has evangelised the world.  Which of our nations does not believe in Coke, is not selling Coke, does not have it every restaurant, bar and café.  Their product is for everywhere, not just for small gatherings – which is why they are on every stage and platform.  Do we believe our message is for everywhere or do we just believe it is for the small places.

 

We want to fill the stadiums and the classrooms, the villages and the cities.

 

All the time people say events do not work, but ironically they say it while they are at an event!

 

Habakkuk 3:2

Stand in it

In awe of it

Renew it

 

Lord would you renew it in our day, and so we booked the National Mall in Washington DC for Jesus.  People said we were crazy, I don’t want to be normal, I want to be sold out for Jesus.  We had 500,000 young people come together.  But the key to any event is the send off.

 

We have filled the mall, now let’s fill them all.

 

Ravi Zacharias

I graduated alongside Alexander the Great, you’re inviting young leaders, but to try to persuade Nick is difficult.  I told him that August is my writing month but here I am.

 

Acts 24 would love to see an artist capture it, what an incredible moment.

 

He shook and trembled, whether or not it was a sense of fear, the power of what he was listening to.  All along his goal was to trip up the messenger as he could not contend with the truth.

 

1974 Lausanne: the words of Os Guinness :

 

“Why is there such constant disparagement of the mind? Why so much appeal to the emotions? Why so little content presupposed on which to decide? Why all the talk of “souls” and so little talk of whole people? Why the obvious exploitation of the testimony of the famous? Why is it so often a case of the most simplistic the message the most sophisticated the techniques? Why is there the need for always being bigger and more successful? Why the creation of Christian “celebrities” and “one man denominations”? Why the unconscious manipulations or the open fraudulence in public appeals for money or in prayer letters?

 

…Part of our failure to get thinking people to take the Gospel seriously is born of a credibility gap. We claim Christianity is true – a claim which is awesome by contemporary standards, but then we whittle down our claims by the patent incongruity of our practices of the truth. The way we operate speaks louder than what we say. Without the practice of truth, evangelism is in danger of becoming a giant institutional mouth or as E.M. Forster dismissed it scornfully, “poor, talkative, little Christianity!”

 

How do we bring what one startling coalescence of contrarieties?

Here we are making a choice in one of the most powerful countries ever. Rome is no less significant and clever than the original story.

 

He found a point of reference

He talked to Festus about righteousness.  What is it about the listener where you can find a point of reference?  At the time arguing from Causality was a strong argument, now they will laugh at you.  So then we always assume intelligence.

 

Moral reasoning

There is one argument that they all use now, trying to eliminate the ultimate cause, designer and we wonder how we split.  Joseph Stalin killed 15 million people, he was once a seminary student, when asked how long people

 

Point of relevance

Paul was a Hebrew by birth and a student of Rome.  Night, lightness, God has caused to shine light on Festus’ weaknesses.  Our current biggest issue is pornography.

 

Pont of disturbance

We cannot win crowds.  Young people are ready to pick it up when you are.  But we have compromised the gospel so much there is no gospel left.

 

General Romeo Dare said a key government leader kept the engines running had a quick look and as he left said he didn’t know it was so bad in a Middle Eastern war zone.  You didn’t know, you can’t simply Pontius Pilate 800,0000 people.  How do you reach a place like that?  You are talking about a womb, a womb so large it will hurt.  1 pulled muscle changes how you view everything, your life is changed.  When 800,000 are killed you are speaking through gaping wounds.  The only one who can do that is for the wounded to hear a wounded saviour.  Forms can change but substance cannot change.  If you can reach the youth they are the ones who can be game changers.  I like the idea of Nick’s gatherings.

 

Wesley was in a burning house.   The family and neighbours thought he was outside, men stood on shoulders to get him, none of them knew they would be standing on his shoulders to get to heaven.  When the disciples met Paul they didn’t realise he would be writing a third of the New Testament and planting churches.  You never know what that one person saved might do.

Reboot: Youth Apologetics

Reboot: Youth Apologetics

Once a year, REBOOT meets in the centre of London to explore questions such as ‘How can we know God exists?’, ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ and ‘Hasn’t science disproved God?’. REBOOT provides a place for young people, with or without any faith or church background, to raise their objections and investigate different perspectives.

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Photographs from RZIM Reboot Conference in London by John Cairns (www.johncairns.co.uk)

Through its annual conference, online resources, and speaking invitations, REBOOT aims to equip young people to understand and be able to answer some of these big questions for themselves.  Run by the Zacharias Trust and the OCCA [the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics] they want young people to have confidence in what they believe, and the chance to be honest about their doubts.

 

Reboot 3.jpgWhen? Saturday 24th September

Where? Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3DW

Cost?  Youth: £8 per ticket  Youth Worker: free with 4 youth tickets

What should I bring? Yourself, a notebook and pen, a packed lunch

REBOOT Youth Apologetics Day

Reboot 2015

Once a year, REBOOT meets in the centre of London to explore questions such as ‘How can we know God exists?’, ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ and ‘Hasn’t science disproved God?’. REBOOT provides a place for young people from 12-18 years old, with or without any faith or church background, to raise their objections and investigate different perspectives.

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Through its annual conference, online resources, and speaking invitations, REBOOT aims to equip young people to understand and be able to answer some of these big questions for themselves.

Our team from the Zacharias Trust and the OCCA [the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics] want you to have confidence in what you believe, and the chance to be honest about your doubts. Since its launch in 2013, REBOOT has welcomed over 1000 young people, and this year we are excited to see more of you than ever!

When?

Saturday 26th September, All day, timings to come!

Where? 

Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3DW

 

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.

REBOOT Youth Apologetics Day

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REBOOT is RZIM’s Youth Apologetics strand for ages 12 to 18.  They launched their first ever REBOOT event last year:

I’m looking to bring the Dibden youth along to this event.  Book now for REBOOT 2014 on Saturday 27th September at St Mary’s Bryanston Square, London W1H 1PQ.

Text your questions to be covered on the day to 07981973740.

Youth Leaders: You can advertise this event in your church! Download the A4 poster here or download the A6 poster here.

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Listen to Amy Orr-Ewing talk about REBOOT 2013 on BBC Radio here.

Listen to Michael Ramsden talk about REBOOT 2013 on UCB here.