Summer Christians and Discipleship

soul-survivor-worship

Jo Dolby, a brilliant youth worker from Bath and works for Bristol CYM as a youth and community work lecturer has written a fantastic response on the importance of discipleship over at Youthwork Magazine’s site to Will Jackson’s blog on new Christians at Soul Survivor.  Here’s a snippet:

 

But (you knew a but was coming!) there is something Will said in his blog that I can’t not respond to, something actually quite dangerous: “Sadly some of these young people probably won’t still be walking with God later down the line [i]but these things are not for us to worry about; that stuff is all in God’s hands”[ei].

In my opinion, these are exactly the things we are called to worry about. These are the things God has placed in our hands as his body … We were never asked to make people into Christians or converts. We were commanded to go and make disciples, and how do we do that? Baptising and teaching… or initiating them into the family of God and helping them live out everything Jesus taught. That’s our call, that’s our commission and we absolutely must stick to it, and not get distracted with the easy, adrenaline filled, fast-food business of convert-making.

Let’s be honest, getting converts is actually quite easy. We all know the emotional persuasive power of a room full of thousands of your peers, away from home, with the lights, the music, the talks – getting hands in the air and bodies to the front is not that hard.

But while making Christians is easy, making disciples is messy and difficult and takes flipping ages. In fact it takes forever. Hear me right on this: I’m not dissing Soul Survivor. I’m not even saying that emotive music, lights and altar calls are bad things, but they are bad when they are isolated, when they are not part of a bigger plan, a more concerted effort, a strategy and passion for the ultimate goal of making lifelong disciples of Jesus. They are bad when that is what we aim for, when the decision is the end goal rather than the beginning of something amazing.

So let’s have a giant party, let’s laugh, dance, celebrate and rejoice. But let’s remember that while these moments feel good, they are just a small part of the bigger mission we’re called to …

 

Youth Evangelism Officer appointed

jimmy_dale__002_Jimmy Dale has been appointed as the Church of England’s first national Youth Evangelism Officer.

In response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s focus on evangelism. Jimmy will take up the role in October. He will hold a national remit to develop and disseminate models of evangelism among 11 – 18 year olds.

This new role aims to promote the mission of the church to and by 11-18 year olds. In collaboration with Dioceses, Jimmy will develop, pilot and evaluate effective models of youth evangelism that enable young people to reach their peers with the Gospel. Working alongside bishops, clergy, youth advisers and youth workers, he will then ensure that parish leaders have ready access to those models.

Speaking after his appointment, Mr Dale said:

“I’m so excited to be starting in this new role and the potential that it brings. It’s brilliant to see young people as they evangelise to their friends and support them in that, and helping churches reach young people with the good news of Jesus. I am really looking forward to working alongside people across the country as we seek to support and promote where youth evangelism is working well, as well as dreaming together of new ways to reach young people with the gospel.”

Mr Dale will work with both the Mission and Public Affairs Division (MPA) and the National Education Office of the Archbishops’ Council, as part of a small team focussed on youth evangelism.

Jimmy Dale comes to the post having worked as Centre Director and founder of Newham Youth for Christ and with previous experience in youth work. He holds a BA (Hons) in Youth Work and Applied Theology from the University of Gloucestershire.

Welcoming the appointment, the Director of MPA, the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, said:

“I am very pleased that we have appointed Jimmy Dale to this important new post. It represents a creative response to the priority of youth evangelism which combines the resources of the Education Office and the Mission and Public Affairs Division and will start to address the challenges of reaching out to a generation which can confound our assumptions about how they see the world, the church and the gospel.”

Chief Education Officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, added:

“The priorities set out in Going for Growth include every young person having a life enhancing encounter with Jesus Christ and the Christian faith and recognises the vital need to enable the capacity of young people as agents of change and transformation. We are delighted to welcome Jimmy to bring a specific focus on youth evangelism to this work and look forward to working with others across the church as we seek to enable young people to reach their peers with the good news about Jesus.”

Information about Going for Growth can be found here

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.

Leaving evangelism to ‘professionals’ is missionary suicide

Leaving evangelism to ‘professionals’ is missionary suicide

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury told Premier that any church that leaves evangelism to the ‘professionals’ is committing missionary suicide.

Speaking about the need for everyone to invest in sharing their faith, he said:

“Any church that leaves things to the ‘professionals’ is committing missionary suicide basically.  The responsibility of demonstrating in word and works the love of Jesus Christ, in a way that is deeply attractive is the responsibility of every single Christian. Always. Everywhere.”

Archbishop Justin spoke out about how the Church has failed to equip people to share their faith for too long.

He said:

“If you go back to 1944/5 there was a report for the Church of England called Towards the Conversion of England prepared for William Temple.  It said there will never be a conversion of England until every Christian disciple is equipped to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  That has always been one of the greatest weaknesses in many churches – not just Church of England churches. We do not spend enough time equipping people to share their faith.”

 

Evangelism is ‘our duty, privilege and joy’, Archbishop told Synod

Evangelism is ‘our duty, privilege and joy’, Archbishop told Synod

Evangelism and witness is ‘not an app, it’s the operating system’ of the church, Archbishop Justin Welby told the General Synod.

Introducing a presentation on a report by the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group, the Archbishop said:

“Evangelism is the proclamation, the setting forth, the holding out of the Good news of Jesus Christ, in ways that do justice to the beauty, integrity, joy and power of the one who was dead but is now alive. . . It is from God, about God, with God and because of God. Above all, He calls and enables us to be his heralds.

“All Christians are witnesses of the love of Jesus Christ. The Spirit comes to us for precisely this task. And as witnesses of Jesus we then become witnesses to Jesus, relaying what we have experienced to others.”

Read the text of the Archbishop’s opening remarks

“I’d like to start by thanking the members of the Archbishops’ Task Group [on Evangelism and Witness]. The Archbishop of York is not here because he is on sabbatical going round his diocese on an evangelistic pilgrimage. And I think we would want to acknowledge at this point his extraordinary commitment to evangelism in his own province, the way in which he has led in mission and evangelism in his ministry, and what he is doing at the moment; doing an on-foot pilgrimage around the whole of the Diocese of York is a typical example of the way that he leads. So we pray for him and for blessing on his ministry in these months. . .

“The high points of the calling to serve God in His Church are the times when he works to draw people to himself. The times when hearts begin to thaw with his love, eyes open to his light, and shoulders lift as He comes alongside to bear burdens, as those who have carried around guilt, like in the Pilgrim’s Progress, that has weighed down memory with regret and shame know a freedom and release they never dreamt possible, as those who assumed that they had no worth realise their inestimable and infinite worth to God.

“God works through his Spirit to draw people to open their hands to receive his love and transforming power – and we have the huge privilege of seeing this happen. For me some of the most memorable and grace-filled moments of the last three years have been seeing God at work in the lives of those who would not call themselves Christians, but who I have had the privilege of seeing gently and profoundly drawn to Jesus Christ.

“This is our duty, our privilege and our joy. There is nothing like it.

“For too long the ministry of evangelism in the church has been viewed as an app on the system. I don’t know what kind of apps you have on your mobile device. . . but some of you will know that apps are simply add-ons, optional extras, suited to those with particular interests and activities. As I said, for many it seems that evangelism is such an app – simply to be used for those who are gifted, who don’t mind being out of their comfort zones, who are happy talking about faith with strangers, and have a clever way of explaining the mysteries of God’s love.

“But evangelism and witness are not an app. They are the operating system itself.

“Evangelism is the proclamation, the setting forth, the holding out of the Good news of Jesus Christ, in ways that do justice to the beauty, integrity, joy and power of the one who was dead and is now alive. The one who lived for us, died for us, rose for us, ascended and prays for us. It is from God, about God, with God and because of God. Above all, He calls and enables us to be his heralds – those who proclaim the Good News.

“All Christians are witnesses of the love of Jesus Christ. The Spirit comes to us precisely for this task. And as witnesses of Jesus we then become witnesses to Jesus, relaying what we have experienced and what we have known to others.

“The Archbishop of York and I set up this Task Group because we want to recall the Church of England to the operating system of the love that overflows in evangelism. Many have been engaged within the church for many years in evangelism. This is not new to many, if not most, of those sitting here today and indeed in the Church of England. It was set out in “Towards the Conversion of England” in 1945 that every local church should live to see those who know nothing of God’s love hear, see, taste and accept his gracious presence in their lives. This commitment is seen in our prayers, our budgets, our diaries, our resources and our planning.

“In the presentation that follows, drawing on the history of commitment to evangelism that has existed in the Church of England and in God’s church globally, we will highlight three particular areas of attention, which the Task Group has seen as urgent. Bishop Paul Bayes will then lead through a ‘Take Note’ debate, something we felt, in liaison with the Business Committee and having carefully listened to comments from the floor in November, that would enable members of Synod to participate fully in discussing how we might be increasingly devoted as a church, without exception, to evangelism and witness.

“I hope we can be very clear about one thing. A commitment to evangelism and witness comes out of love, not out of fear. It comes out of obedience to Chris, not out of a concern at the latest figures on church attendance. It is a sign of our discipleship, not a church growth strategy or a survival technique. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15: ‘For Christ’s love compels us’ – or, in the King James Version, ‘constrains us’ – ‘because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’

“A prayerful, sensitive, respectful, love-filled renewal of evangelism and witness will renew the whole church. It will renew each of us deeply. For as I said a few moments ago, there is nothing as wonderful as seeing God at work leading people from darkness to light.”

Archbishop of Canterbury to lead huge evangelism project

justin-welby

Christian Today is reporting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is to lead the biggest evangelism project in the UK so far this millennium:

Every cathedral, church and clergyman and woman in the land is being urged to share their faith and win new converts to Christianity.

Cathedrals and churches are being urged to set aside the week before Pentecost as a week of prayer for evangelism.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu, are calling cathedrals and other churches to use the week running up to Pentecost Sunday on May 15 to pray for new followers to Christ.

The entire Church is being urged to pray throughout the week for “all Christians to deepen their relationship with Jesus” in order to have “confidence” to share the faith. The aim is for “all to respond to the call of Jesus Christ to follow him.”

The two Archbishops are currently writing to all 11,300 Church of Engand clergy inviting them to “engage” with the project. They are being asked to organise round-the-clock prayer marathons, one-off events and other meetings and gatherings to help towards the evangelisation effort.

Five or six cathedrals will hold “beacon” events with services and events led by both Archbishops and some bishops, evangelical worship leaders such as Matt Redman, Tim Hughes and Martin Smith and in collaboration with 24-7 Prayer.

There is no Plan B – why the church must help children disciple other children

No Plan B

An article from Aim Lower Journal:

At the 4/14 Global Summit in New York in 2010, Reverend C.B. Samuel of India indicated that our Christian teens are in need of ideals—a cause worth living for and dying for—but the church is giving them more and more entertainment instead. What is the real solution?

This article draws from There is no Plan B – a document sponsored by the 4-14 movement and Compassion International (click to access your FREE copy)

Erikson’s Theory of Psychological Development postulates a significant shift in development when one reaches adolescence (11-18 years old). Preceding adolescence, development depends on what is done to a person; at adolescence, development depends primarily upon what a person does. At this stage, adolescents begin to develop strong affiliation and devotion to ideals, causes and friends.

Recent Barna Group research on reasons why young Christians leave church focused on those who were regular churchgoers during their early teens and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15. The research revealed that the number one reason our youth leave church is because “churches seem overprotective.”

At the 4/14 Global Summit in New York in 2010, Reverend C.B. Samuel of India indicated that our Christian teens are in need of ideals—a cause worth living for and dying for—but the church is giving them more and more entertainment instead. Churches thought that teens left the church because of the Xbox and the varied entertainment available to them, so, to compete, more resources were invested on entertainment only to discover that the exodus continued. What children and youth need is a personal connection with high ideals, causes and worthy challenges; to be a force they believe can change the world.

Just recently, Catholic Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña of San Juan, Philippines, urged children and youth to actively participate in the missionary endeavors of the church:
You young people and children have the energy, enthusiasm, courage and the ability to take the risk to step forward and say, ‘we want to be in that boat also; we want to be with Jesus and respond to the challenge of mission,’ said de la Peña, who is also chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Mission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The prelate also told the youth that as the future of the nation, this is the right time for them to take the opportunity to engage actively in the mission of the Church. (CBCP News, Monday, February 11, 2013)379.

You can read the whole article here.

Books I have read: Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

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.

Archbishop Justin Welby’s lecture on evangelism

Justin Welby lecture

Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury has set out his vision for a Church in which every Christian shares “the revolutionary love” of Jesus Christ.  He begins with an incredibly simple and powerful statement:

I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.

Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.

You can read the full text of his lecture here.

YC14: Big Room 3: Andy Croft

Andy Croft

You know it is Christmas as the John Lewis advert is out. Have learnt over the years that it is better to get a present for Beth than none. Often leave it to the last minute, Christmas Eve. Once tried to buy a Christmas jumper, which Beth wanted from Topshop. Couldn’t remember what is was, cocoon slouchy jumper. Saw a shop assistant but decided to ignore the help and instead became cave man hunting for woolly jumper to bring back to cave. Looked everywhere, after 20 minutes, and the same shop assistant is now looking slightly smug. Eventually the pride gives way and Andy asks for help. Eventually in the right one but it is the wrong colour so wanted to burn Topshop down. Had to buy something from Zara in despair which she took back. Found out the cocoon jumper didn’t exist in navy!

 

Been looking for the silver bullet in evangelism and yet its never appeared. Looking for that formula where young people spring out of the ground. The silver bullets where everything becomes instant and easy doesn’t exist. The urgency is becoming more – it is getting harder and the situation for young people is increasingly desperate. At Soul Survivor looked at relationships, and tried to make space for people to encounter God through the Holy Spirit. Staggered by the pain that came out. Had a word that someone said to a family member they wanted to commit suicide the day before they came to Soul Survivor there were scores of young people. Those are the ones in the church!

 

There are less young people in the church than ever before. There are less young people in the church than when Soul Survivor started. The Christian story doesn’t exist in society any more. They’re fed dreams and aspirations that they can’t realise and/or are empty promises that never quench desires.

 

Although that is the context, never more confident that the gospel is the thing they need to hear. We don’t rejoice that the situation is becoming increasingly serious, we grieve in that, but we know Jesus is who they need to meet.

 

Matthew 12:21: In his name the nations will put their hope

 

Hope

Type “Am I Ugly Be Honest” – young people as young as 11 years old are asking the question. Some people in the comments say I’d shoot myself or put a bag over my head. We try to find a secure bedrock to build our self-worth on it. We tell the young people that God is the only solid ground, if you try with sport, exam results etc. it doesn’t work.

 

In youth ministry sometimes we lose confidence, we forget we have the medicine – unconditional love – it doesn’t get more powerful or simple. All love in the world is to some degree conditional, but Jesus’ love on the cross is unconditional. Let’s use every method, every course, every formula to help them somehow realise the unconditional love of God.

 

When we talk about peer mission it’s true, but only if they get it themselves otherwise they’re talking about a reality that isn’t in his core. Little girl has a pillow fight with her dad, during which this china doll gets broken. Daddy offers to buy a new one, she wanted that one, so he got all the pieces and glued it back together as best as he could. He gives it back to the little girl, she says “It’s ok, I want that one, just because she’s broken doesn’t mean I can’t love her.”

 

Just because you’re broken doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Our young people are broken and they need to know more than ever they are loved.

 

Hope that something can change

Hope it doesn’t have to be the same. Some young people are really messed up. Sometimes it can be I doubt that the Lord can do anything. We lose confidence that He can do anything.

 

If you hang around anyone for long enough you become like them. How much more so when you hang out with the king of the universe. Of course we change, of course no one is irredeemable. Youth group after one of the services chatting, and one of the guys spoke about how his brother was murdered when he was 7. Brought to Soul Survivor and wouldn’t go into the evening meetings but punched a post until his knuckles bled. On the last night he asked God to speak to him. He felt all his anger was ripped out of him, and that’s all he’d ever felt. A year later he was so much softer. When people encounter the living God they can be changed. And we know that as he’s changed us.

 

Andy was dumped when he was 16 and so decided not to show vulnerability, didn’t want to get hurt again. Tried to change himself, grit his teeth to become more joyful but it didn’t work. But meeting after meeting God softened Andy. It worked itself out in really practical ways. Never had a relationship with his older brother who wasn’t a Christian, never really spoke. Realised that wasn’t normal and so decided to try and form a relationship with his brother. Went into his room, “Paul I feel like we’ve always had a superficial relationship and I’d like to get to know you is that ok?” he said yes, so Andy then walked out! Jesus has changed us in lots of different kinds of ways.

 

We can’t bring change but we can be a channel for that. A lot of it is speaking hope into the situations. We need to bring a message of hope and change, but we have to help young people go out with brokenness, the healing is in the going and the doing, empowering them in mission. In mission their friendships with God come alive in a whole new way.

 

At the Great Commission he says surely I am with you always. Young people get mission when they do it, they see their friends lives changed. We need to equip them that friendship with God is stronger when we go and do what he calls us to do.

 

Speaking at Oxford University CU mission, and had to speak at the Carol Service. The night before Psalm 71 came to mind and was encouraged. The next morning nothing was coming, it was quite stressful. Got in the car and didn’t have any talk. Was thinking “I could pray but what would that do!”. Marched off to the theatre where he was due to speak and sat on the toilet wondering why did God not give it earlier. Kept opening up to Psalm 71. Texted dad asking him to pray for him, dad texted back and said the holy spirit is resting on you and driving out fear, great but where is he! The deadline came and had to speak with a scrap of paper with a few notes. It went okay in the end. Driving home thinking what was all that about. The next morning sent dad a text, it went okay in the end, check out Psalm 71; he texted back it is a good one, that was in our lectionary reading last night in chapel! There was the Lord – you were there all along.

 

There is an urgency but there is confidence.

 

Hope they are worth something

Hope their lives can be changed

Hope they can be part of something bigger

 

The only way we can communicate that is with the power of God. A.W. Tozer “I sometimes wonder about those who fancy themselves as important evangelicals will discover at the end we have been busy harvesters of stubble.”

 

Classical concert waiting for the famous pianist to arrive on stage. Little kid ran onto stage and was playing chopsticks. The pianist arrived and instead of telling th child to stop, the pianists put his arms either side and wove a beautiful piece of music from the chopsticks. If we play our chopsticks over and over again then the Father will weave his eternal spirit around and he will bring the change our country needs and with that we can be confident that the tide will change in this nation.

 

So we’re going to ask the Lord to give us that power.

What is the meaning of life?

The meaning of life

On Thursday as part of the Arrow Course, my peer cell did a street survey asking people on the streets of Woking what they thought about Christianity, the church and more.  One of the questions that seemed to make people pause was:

If you were asked by a teenager ‘What is life all about?’ What would you respond?

The concept of what is life all about is what the Alpha course bases all its advertising around, and yet most people were flummoxed by being asked that question.  It got me thinking about how do we get people to consider the Christian faith.  Asking the question doesn’t seem to be the right place to start, and yet that is where so many churches in the UK seem to start their evangelism efforts.

I was struck by one of my friends on the course who shared about a church she knew that had done away with any evangelistic programmes, as people in the church just didn’t commit or invest in them, but instead as part of their church membership, each person was challenged to eat and drink once a week with a non-Christian – to live life with them.  Over the course of a couple of years the church had seen much more growth through this relational approach then it had ever had with any evangelistic programme.

I think there are two reasons why this has happened:

  • People don’t have a confidence in the gospel – they don’t know their bible or theology to be able to give good responses to their friends questions about Christianity
  • They’re worried they might fail – and yet the Bible is full of tails of failure and success – we don’t need to worry about this.

So the challenge I’m wrestling with is how do we encourage people to live life together, to help them discover together what is the meaning of life. Any thoughts?

Books I have read: One Generation from Extinction: How The Church Connects With The Unchurched Child

one-generation-from-extinction

I’m a big fan of Mark Griffiths’ work around children having used FusionImpact, and Detonate several times, and so recently grabbed hold of a copy of One Generation from Extinction: How The Church Connects With The Unchurched Child.

Mark’s PhD thesis for the University of Nottingham was focussed on examining child evangelism in the UK trying to understand both what theology and best practice is needed for successful children’s evangelism and ministry to take place.  To do this Griffiths takes Robert Raikes model of child evangelism through the formation of the Sunday School movement in the 1780s and compares that with examples from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Griffiths then examines four key projects from Fraserburgh, Leeds, Hastings and Liverpool before going on to look in more detail at the Slough and Windsor Project – focussed on what they do on a Saturday morning, how they support that ministry through home visits, schools visits and small groups.  None of this section is revolutionary, it highlights best practice, and shows with the right vision and volunteer resources what can be done.

Part 2 focusses on the theory – the theology, the sociology and the practice of connecting with the unchurched child.  Here the book can be a little academic at times for the average volunteer, or sadly, even children’s minister, but these findings are critical to helping us think how we shape church and children’s activities for outreach.  There are ideas and concepts, insights and nuggets of truth on almost every page in this section.  In Mark’s conclusion, there are recommendations that deserve more notice than a quick read of my review – they deserve close attention and prayerful action – if we are to grow the church and make sure the title of this book is not prophetic.

If you’re reaching out to under 11s in the UK you MUST read this book – it will give you a great overview and really get you thinking about how you connect with those children.