Justin Bieber to Manchester: ‘God Is Good in the Midst of the Darkness’

This weekend, pop stars including Justin Bieber joined Ariana Grande for the One Love Manchester benefit concert, an event that honored the victims of a recent terror act at one of her shows and raised money for organizations helping them.

After playing an acoustic version of the song “Cold Water,” Bieber told the 50,000 in attendance to hold on to faith and hope even in the aftermath of tragedy and violence:

I’m not going to let go of hope. I’m not going to let go of love. I’m not going to let go of God. Put your hand up if you’re not going to let go. God is good in the midst of the darkness. God is good in the midst of the evil. God is in the midst, no matter what’s happening in the world, God is in the midst and he loves you and he’s here for you.

More than half of secondary school pupils think people have souls and life has a purpose

secondary-school-pupils

New research has been published showing that more than half of secondary school pupils believe that people have souls, a survey has revealed.

The majority of those questioned (52 per cent) also said that they agreed with the statement “I believe that life has an ultimate purpose” and 45 per cent believe in God.  But a an equal number – 45 per cent agreed with the statement “the scientific view is that God does not exist”.

Prof Berry Billingsley, of Canterbury Christ Church University, surveyed 670 pupils aged 14 to 17 across eight English secondary schools, asking them 43 questions about science and religion.

The survey found that 54 per cent of pupils agreed with the statement “I believe humans have souls”, with a further 24 per cent neither agreeing or disagreeing. The remaining 23 per cent disagreed. The proportion of pupils believing in a “soul” is larger than the number who believed in God.

Prof Billingsley said it may reflect the fact that many people believe there is more to their identity than what they may be being presented with in science lessons. The figure for young people believing in god, 45 per cent, is lower than the proportion of adults who described themselves as religious in the last census – 67 per cent.

The findings are being presented at the British Educational Research Association’s annual conference today.

 

Faith leaders call for revised refugee policy

 

rowan-williams

More than 200 leaders of faith communities have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May calling for urgent changes to the government’s refugee policy, particularly to allow families to be reunited.

The signatories are headed by Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a speech on Monday in front of an audience of faith leaders and refugees to reiterate the letter’s demands.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the former lord justice of appeal, has added her name to the letter, which is also signed by leaders and representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities.

The interfaith letter follows similar initiatives by 350 judges and lawyers, who wrote to the then prime minister, David Cameron, last October; 120 senior economists in January; and 27 humanitarian and refugee organisations, also in January.

Discussion starter: Muslim teen cuts off hand to prove faith

Mosque

A couple of weeks ago there were a series of articles about 15 year old Mohammad Anwar.  He was accused of blasphemy after mishearing a question at a mosque, and so went home to cut off his own hand. Since then, he’s become a local hero.

Youthministry.com have written a helpful discussion starter on this for you to use with your youth group reflecting on faith, commitment, and blasphemy.

 

 

The Queen’s Christian faith

 

HOPE - The QueenIn her 2014 Christmas broadcast the Queen said:

‘For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role-model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.’

It is the most recent of many public references the Queen has made to her Christian faith.

In 2016 people around the county and throughout the Commonwealth will gather in their communities to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Her actual birthday on 21 April will be celebrated with

  • four days of celebrations in Windsor 12-15 May;
  • a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday 10 June;
  • the traditional trooping the colour ceremony – the Queen’s birthday parade – on Saturday 11 June in Horse Guards Parade, and
  • a massive street party for 10,000 people on The Mall on Sunday 12 June.

The whole country is invited to join the celebrations in our own villages, towns or cities. HOPE is working in partnership with Bible Society and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity to publish a very special book focusing on the Queen’s Christian faith.

The Servant Queen – and the King she serves: This beautifully illustrated short book uses the Queen’s own words to draw out the central role of her trust in Jesus Christ, offering us all an inspiring, multi-faceted insight into a life well-lived for others.

Find out more here.

YC15 Blog: Main session 3: Andy Hawthorne

412YC YC15 Live Blog Images

Andy Hawthorne spoke at tonight’s Big Room session using Ephesians 4:1-16

Made a commitment to Christ aged 12, now aged 55. Started gunning for God aged 18 years old. My passion has never dried. What excites me the most is reaching out to the broken and the marginalised. That’s one of the main ways we will see revival in this country.

Young offenders giving their life to Jesus is like shelling peas, so easy, discipleship is a different challenge. What does it look like for them to become the centre of kingdom life, the epicentre of the kingdom. One person never gets saved, they are put in the epicentre, and we see the ripples.

Nick was put on my heart. He was well and truly off the rails, heavily into drugs, gangsterism, tried to commit suicide several times. Must have picked him up 50 times to hear him preach. Would see loads of people come to faith but never respond. Annoyingly he came to faith at Nigerian speaker! Now working with the Message, seen over 400 people come to faith. Still trying to disciple him whilst he’s still living with his girlfriend. Andrea isn’t for God but then a lady from the Message takes her to Uganda and she meets the Holy Spirit in the slums. They got married, and I was the best man. Last year, 10pm on a Sunday night, after the birth of Niko, with Alexis I was high on drugs and didn’t know how to treat Andrea and Alexis. Andrea is leading a charity sponsoring 300 children in the slums of Uganda. Yesterday she was running a marathon in the heat of Uganda for these children. The gospel can turn these into prince and princesses.

We celebrate the stories but some don’t go well. A month out of prison he came into the bike shop where he worked he said I need the afternoon off to go to a sexual health clinic. Asked whether he was sleeping around, he said I’ve been in prison for 3 years of course I have. Sat him down and discipled him, realised hadn’t told him about no sex outside of marriage. Now in the course they do tell them this!

2 cocaine addicts, beautifully transformed, and winning friends for Jesus. Both had some seemingly small stuff happen and went back on the gear and died. Kingdom breakthrough and then Satan kicks you in goolies.

Video of Message Trust including The Higher Tour for 2016 onwards.

Ephesians 4, after 3 chapters of unfolding what the gospel is and how it transforms this new society in Christ, he comes to chapter 4 where the rubber hits the road. Moving from doctrine to duty. Romans, 1-11 of doctrine, the gospel of free grace, then chapter 12, therefore. Exposition to Exaltation. We are about understanding the book but not just understanding the book but applying it.

Sometimes the way we do youth ministry the impression is about the thrill of the fill, but Paul says there’s a duty of serving the king from understanding who amazing he is. Present company accepted scared how little time youth workers spend studying the Bible. If you want to see your youth ministry transformed, get into the Bible, it’s all there to lead the best ministry in town. Paul gets it better than any theologian in history.

The goal of our youth ministries is disciples, and no one is better at telling us how to make disciples than Paul. How do we preach the gospel, release evangelists, of course we need to do food banks, debt relief, refugees support, if you remove the gospel it goes wrong.

18 months ago had a phone call from an amazing Ugandan guy called John who leads 24/7 across Uganda. Andy the Lord will take everything to a new level, everything will go through the roof, and you need to get away and seek the Lord. Managed 2 days in the Lake District staying at my mates 4* hotel enjoying hospitality. God is so good! Driving there thinking what do I listen to, pulled a CD, and heard a man speaking about Isaiah 60 and the work they’ve built in Manchester, India, Africa. If we could sell the house, ex-offenders had done it up, looked amazing, trying to sell for 14 months, killing cash flow, reduced it by £10k, and thinking wouldn’t it be amazing to give him the money. Phone goes off seconds later. The estate agent had a full asking price, in cash, before you reduced it by £10k! The Lord saying get ready! Walking in the hills, knelt down by the bed, was going to look at Romans but it fell open at Isaiah 60, had an amazing time with God. Felt like the last 25 years of ministry came before his eyes. Assemble my people, the gates will stay open. Timing is open in the kingdom, you can kill yourself doing something and then the Lord just makes it happen. Going home, put a CD in, and heard another sermon on Isaiah 60. Going to gather young people, preaching a gospel to

A calling to a King

Young people are being born wrong, come to Jesus and have the best life, come to Jesus and he will sort your problems, come to Jesus and he thinks your beautiful. But that’s only half, what about come to Jesus and take up your cross, come to Jesus and be a living sacrifice, come to Jesus and make him king. If you’re worthy of the call then live it, it’s what we have to do and help our young people to do – make God king.

Rather than calling young people to serve at whatever cost. We call them to serve the Queen, she’s a sister of the Lord, she is doing better than Billy Graham, although he might have delivered it better, could you imagine doing an altar call! 60 years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury knelt down and gave her a bible and says here’s the oracles from the Bible, and it is the most precious thing she can own. The most precious thing she owns isn’t the Bentley’s fabulous jewellery or the estates, but this Bible, the living word of God. Imagine if we had young people who were passionate to live out the word of God. We love the Queen but she doesn’t really affect the way we live, the way we spend our money, when she dies we will mourn, but she doesn’t affect the way we live.

The Eden teams are so prophetic, 41 teams living in communities around the country. The decisions about where’s the best schools for my children, where’s the best shopping centres, or even the best churches. What about where are the poor and the broken hearted? That is kingdom thinking, he’s the boss, he’s in charge,

Bill Bright founded Campus Crusades for Christ. In 1951 he was broken by what he saw the students doing and so set up a student ministry as a business man. As they were planning, they made a contract between them as a couple and Jesus. The contract said this: “From this day forward I am a slave to Christ”. 14th October 2014 signed a similar one . He came up with a tract called the 4 Spiritual Laws, but 1.5 billion people have read it, he produced a film, the JESUS Film which has been seen by more people than any other film, it’s not even the best film! Not saying if you become a slave to God that

A calling to holiness

A call to see this messed up youth culture changed. You can sniff how godly people are within minutes of walking into a youth group. Do you expect young people to watch the right stuff on their computer if you can’t. Do you expect them to get on and be united if you as a leadership team isn’t. But the opposite is true we can see groups who are changed because of their youth leader living out God’s calling. God wants to call us to repent so that we can see our young people truly repent.

A calling to unity

Do you think Paul’s quite obsessed when 7 times in 2 verses he writes about unity and the body of Christ. You can’t multiply the church, there is only one church, that’s why it is so cool to come together like this – all these different denominations here, the Lord is a lot less chipped up than we are. People used to stand outside my meetings with placards, my sin was ecumenicism, I wanted to smack them in the face. 3,500 young people going to a gig, 1,000 came to Christ and this little group were saying “Don’t go in, he’s ecumenical.” Another time they had TV cameras to create an anti-Andy Hawthorne youtube channel accusing his mum of being an ecumantic.

Dad died singing his way through mission praise, singing, “turn your eyes to Jesus”. He went to be Jesus, mum had vision of dad being carried into the garden, and Uncle Ken, and his mates were there. Because of that his mum was accused of being an ecumantic who speak to the dead. Won’t do it, so going to pursue living it out now, going to be embarrassing if get to heaven and we’ve spent all our time on earth hating each other and now we have to hang out together for eternity. It’s not just you get it, but make every effort to pursue unity. What would it look like in your situation to obey that heart cry. We could have formed our own church but we don’t need more denominations. If the 40,000 had not spent time arguing but united the great commission could have been completed. It’s tough when you see churches not doing a great job and you see you could do something better.

Two things: spend real time getting into this book. If you would make every effort to work with other youth leaders. We haven’t got this gathering together next year, God loves this, so you need to make more effort to bless youth leaders in your neighbourhood, those who are struggling, those who have less, give them some money, resources, buy them dinner. If you made every effort obeying the word of the lord to maintain unity you’d be staggered to see how it comes in your youth group. Not into prosperity gospel, but am in to sowing and reaping. Do stuff that you can’t do on your own. In it together and God turns up, it’s his idea that unity is so important.

Dennis Rigley leads the Maranatha prayer movement, he died this week. If there’s anyone in my life that embodies what I’ve talked about, it’s him, this isn’t a eulogy. Dennis when he was 18 become the youngest ever Liberal Party candidate. He stood at every elections between age 18 and his mid-60s. He never got in but invested in a young man, David Alton, for 40 years investing in justice, the persecuted around the world, unborn and so much more. Dennis great grandfather was a missionary to Ghana, when the average lifetime for a missionary in Ghana was 16 weeks. The only other Christian was a Catholic and they put stuff on together and saw revival. That’s why he was so keen to work with David, a Catholic. He set up prayer meetings all over the world. Several times he was healed, but finally time to be with the Lord. Texted Simon, his son, who works with the Message, he said back “Dad has been comforting the Doctors, when given the bad news, he told the Doctor it was good news, and broke into song, the nurses in tears, amazing moment” On Tuesday he was carried into the garden of heaven. For the first two million years can you imagine what a party of people saying thank you for his perseverance for unity. Why would you not want to live out for Jesus, turn your back on all the crap, pursue unity in this generation, it’s our only chance, this is not a trial run. I want to live large for Jesus, don’t you?

Decide what to do to get into the book, decide to be united as a leadership team, even if it’s 10% you and 90% them, bless youth leaders in your community.

Children wide open to God says survey

Great snippet from an article in the latest Connecting You from Scripture Union

Children are open to spirituality and have a natural inclination for prayer, whether or not their parents have an active faith, says a new piece of research commissioned by Scripture Union as part of the Guardians of Ancora project.

The survey of children aged 8 to 12 years old and their parents backs up what SU have always known – that children have enquiring minds, big imaginations and an innate desire to reach out to God and, given the right stimulus, will do so naturally.

Data gathered from children’s use of the game will also feed into the largest ever longitudinal study of the faith development of 8 to 11 year olds, in turn helping Scripture Union to create more effective tools for Bible engagement with this age group.

Ministering to Children conference: Q&A with the speakers

Just before the end of the conference there was a Q&A with the speakers

How much do you refer to the parents, in resourcing them to disciple their children?
Colin: Who is Israel in Deut. 6 is it parents, God, the church, the nation, all of the above. It is a partnership from all. Anyone who is involved sees it as a partnership between church and parents.
Andy: a leader who was a mum told another child off, and the parent complained, had to work through it. We have to see all God’s children as our children.
Pete: primary role for looking after children is me, and if you’re being paid then people assume you will do it. The more we can do to help parents the better.
Helen: Parents are desperate to hear feedback at parents evening, what opportunities do we give.
Jane: remember the non Christian families as they don’t have parents to help them. Church can provide a safer community, helping families to connect with 20 mums doing toddler groups, become a Christian through Alpha, and now have tough challenges moving forward.

Do you have a stance on non-Christians helping to lead children’s work?
Andy: a bunch of non Christians who were in worship group but not leading, all of them were involved in a mentoring relationship moving forwards toward faith, so no problem so long as in that relationship and have boundaries.
Helen: need to be very clear in boundaries and relationship, and you would never want into be outnumbering the Christians, and sympathetic to Christian faith. Seen many volunteers come to faith, and equally how we do know that our “sound” Christians aren’t having crises of faith etc.
Colin: is it on God’s heart or yours, is it because you don’t have enough people to fill the roles. Anyone can paint but to what standard?

Love the idea of integrating children more fully into church but what does that actually look like?
Pete: that is the heart of Messy Church, an all-age group that meets midweek or Saturday. Don’t go to Sunday church as am a member of the Messy Church.
Jane: preached in a church, did the singing and liturgy, and the Vicar said we will go to groups, if want arty and crafty go here, if film go here, if discussion go here, and if want to listen to Jane go here. As started preaching someone interrupted with a question and ended as a dialogue sermon.
Teresa: a common theme from all-ages in Godly Play is that they have their own spirituality, it is visual and so they taken in from where they are.
Andy: don’t need to dumb it down, too many parishioners don’t attend as think it will be dumbed down,
Colin: what is church, a relationship with God and each other, a discussion with church leaders sounds important.

Ministering to Children: Spirituality Development

Andy de Feu, from Moorlands College is leading this seminar.

Pets don’t last long and so they give us a chance to talk about death. Child lost her hamster, came with a ppt with all the stages of life, sisters share their experience, dad share his bit. This was a significant moment but we could have missed it as we deemed it not important. As Amy shared it she felt secure in asking, and she was validated in her experience.

Get asked a lot of questions. How do you explain the Trinity to a seven year old:

  • Water, ice and steam but it can’t be all 3 states at the same time
  • Egg – yolk, white, shell all egg but need all 3 to be completely egg – but what does the shell represent
  • 3 piece suit – one item clothing, but three items, also made up of the same material.

Why use abstract models to children who need concrete models?

Bryn Hughes: “believe your children into greatness”, don’t ask how can I teach the bible more effectively etc., but ask what do you want the children to become.

When asked what is the biggest decision teenagers have made a lot in Andy’s group talked not about being Christian but living out a Christian faith in front of their friends.  What would we want to see in a group of children and young people with a mature faith:

  • Caring
  • Confident in themselves, in others, in faith
  • Be secure in self-esteem
  • Identity in Christ
  • Have faith
  • Right choices
  • Positive view of church

Your vision will give you permission to stop doing things you are doing, are the Duggy Dug Dug songs helpful or just entertaining, just because I have fun doesn’t mean it contributes to the faith development of children.

Kanon Tipton, the four year old preaching, gained over 4 million hits on YouTube. He started at 21 months, he is mimicking but there is also a calling according to his dad.

Development theories
What stages of faith do we all go through, Fowler believes not many people get to the universal faith – stage 6 e.g. Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi. Imagine if you exposed Santa to your children’s work! Children get confused as parents had said Father Christmas and Tooth Fairy don’t exist so as they haven’t seen God they think he doesn’t exist either.

Aged 8-11 they see ideas as concrete so tell them that God exists as they trust authority figures. Synthetical Conventional encourage them to lie down and look at the stars, what if there were two of me and the other one is in parallel family looking at us but we can’t see them.

Can children achieve a mature faith?

Westerhoff says look at content development. It implies owned faith can’t happen until later, but equally you can add rings to the tree, you can re examine issues of faith. Asking questions, having crises of faith is fine, everyone has a belief system even if it is an atheistic structure.

Christmas crackers can show difference between faith development and Christian spiritual development. We know what is there a bang, hat, joke, present but we don’t know exactly what they are.

Need to pray and seek what God is doing in this child?

“Children are like sponges. They absorb so much, not just from what you teach, but who you are.” James 3 teachers will be judged more seriously, we can distort and confuse the teaching. Children aren’t a blank piece of paper, but a wrinkled ripped broken piece of paper they have issues, scars, hurt and so on. Spiritual development is messy.

The Greeks did us no favours
Dualism of higher sacred and lower secular has been bought into and we have 1 in 168 hours a week to do spiritual development. Did an analysis of children’s and youth work we spent 5 minutes quality time one-on-one as so much of what we do is in big groups. We hope by osmosis they learn about faith and connect with God. How can you develop the soul in five minutes.

Biblical worldview says that God can input across all areas as can Satan and it is seeing who operates the influence.

Creative Spirituality
The least effective way is to teach through purely verbal speech, was 10% probably less now. Visual symbols and simulated experiences by adding in actions and sounds to the bible story. Direct experience are likely to remember 90% of what they are taught, want them to be generous in Spirit, asked them two guys to help clear rubbish to help stewards, chief steward says thanks, they felt amazing. The next night did it again but no chief steward, challenged them to serve but not to be served, to be praised or not, but God knew, it is for the audience of one. That’s spiritual development.

The concrete principle – don’t get abstract, but do relate, e.g. we don’t keep sheep or camels but we know cars so feel free to reinterpret, the important thing isn’t the metaphor but the message.

The Travel Agent Principle – allow Tweens to influence the topics you study, and become more issue based, find the crises in their life and speak from there

The Rotation Principle: a proportion of every module has to be taught outside as boys learn best outside. Pray on the hill outside the village for it, or create an atmosphere of awe and wonder.

Final question
Simon Peter do you love me, do you love me, do you truly love me, Simon is hurt, and Jesus says to feed the sheep (children). Do I love enough to go beyond our norms, for what we are doing, wrestle with John 21:15.

Above all pray for the children, young people and understanding.