Page 1

Is the Church

missing a generation?

Building ďŹ t lives Reading the Bible in a heart language Is the Church relevant? Young people speak out ea u k . o r g / i d ea • ja n ua r y / feb r ua r y 2 0 1 0


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idea

contents

january/february 2010 eauk.org/idea

Editor’s Note

E

ven before arriving at page 3, you've no doubt already noticed that idea is looking rather different this year. The editorial team has been working on this revamp over the past six months, and this issue's new structure represents a significant first step in a process that will probably never end. And check out our new website as well. It's the nature of the business that editors must respond continually to changes in their readership, whether that means superficial design shifts or adjusting the basic point of view. We've done both here, although hopefully it's still recognisable as the same idea you've been reading for years. It's not easy to reflect the wide-ranging interests of Alliance members, varying opinions and shades of political and theological views, but we're trying. And hopefully we'll continue to get better at it. This is a principle that echoes in the cover story, as the Church in the UK tries to adjust its ministry to young people in light of the changes in our culture. They say that 50 is the new 30: people are feeling younger far longer than previous generations, marrying and having children later and never settling into a career. So the question is whether the Church needs to make changes in the way it approaches ministry, or whether people need to return to the old values. Through a vox pop (p16) and our cover story (p18) we are offering a range of voices on this important issue. And we also have stories about how young people are using the internet to make Christians heard (p23) and also a look at how we can be better at keeping physically and spiritually fit (p26), something that's always on our minds in a New Year.

14

18

Sami teens get a Bible they can understand

Do we need to redefine youth ministry?

Editors must respond to changes in their readership

Features

23

Badgering Government to keep their promises

26

How do we build fit lives?

14 The Bible makes sense Putting the Word into a heart language

16 Is the Church relevant? Young people express their views

18 Cover story: A missing generation? The changing face of 18-30s ministry

23 Superbadger An effective way to make yourself heard

26 Keeping fit Tips for physical and spiritual wellbeing

General Director Steve Clifford

Registered Charity No.212325

Head Office 186 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BT tel 020 7207 2100 fax 020 7207 2150 info@eauk.org • www.eauk.org

Public Policy Executive Director Dr R David Muir Finance & Operations Executive Director Helen Calder Churches in Mission Executive Director Krish Kandiah Conference room bookings conference@eauk.org Email address changes to members@eauk.org

30

Making a moral choice against all odds

Regulars 4 Your voice idea readers talk back

7 A voice in Parliament Big issues that need Christian attention

28 Talking points Pop culture that sparks discussion

31 The basics Developing real Christian unity

34 Last word General Director Steve Clifford speaks

Northern Ireland Director Rev Stephen Cave 440 Shore Road, Newtownabbey BT37 9RU tel: 028 9029 2266 • nireland@eauk.org Scotland Director Rev Fred Drummond 29 Canal Street, Glasgow G4 0AD tel 0141 332 8700 • scotland@eauk.org Wales Director Rev Elfed Godding 20 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1PT tel: 029 2022 9822 • wales@eauk.org

idea jan/feb 2010 • 3


your voice

idea@eauk.org

The bandwagon is rolling

An unholy mess?

Hazel Southam (It’s a Justice Issue, Nov/Dec) writes, “Scientists agree that we are already feeling the effects of global warming.” Sir John Houghton’s article (A Challenge for the Church) speaks of “compelling evidence” that the world is warming. I have to declare my scepticism about this global warming bandwagon. Apparently scientists do not agree on this matter. Climate has always been changing, and it is considered by some scientists that CO2 emissions are not responsible for the most recent increase in temperatures. But the bandwagon is rolling like a religious revival, and any voice raised to contradict is ridiculed as a heretic. I feel very uneasy about the Church joining this campaign to “save the world”, when its scientific veracity is in doubt. Surely there are other doubters out there. John Bristow, Castel, Guernsey

It was surprising to find in an evangelical magazine the arguments used (The Basics, Nov/Dec) to ask us to “respect the diversity of ... doctrinal understanding that God grants to His people”. That is hard work for me because the Bible nowhere says that our differences are “given by God”. But it is worth celebrating that we have a God who is working hard to negate all the wrong

Looking after creation Thank you for taking such a fresh approach to the issue of climate change (Nov/Dec), looking not at the causes and “solutions” but at what is actually happening and what can be done to help those most affected. However, I suspect many evangelicals will miss the point in their rush to rubbish the claims of climate scientists and the whole global warming movement. I honestly don’t understand why Christians (of all people) deny this issue, arguing either that mankind is the keeper of the earth so should be able to do whatever he wants, or that God is in control so why should we do anything? But this misses the fundamental point that people are suffering and need our compassion and care. And it also ignores the fact that we have a responsibility to look after what God has created – both people and the planet. And we’re not doing a very good job. Arthur Curtis, Richmond

idea Editor Rich Cline • idea@eauk.org Contributing Editor Hazel Southam Contributing Writers Lucy Cooper, Nicole Holmes, Krish Kandiah, Alexandra Lilley, Tony Watkins, Daniel Webster Head of Communications Miles Giljam Advertising Manager Jack Merrifield • j.merrifield@eauk.org Design Domain Printer Halcyon Print & Design

4 • idea jan/feb 2010

idea uniting to change society

Simplify Christmas p18

november/december 2009

that in it you perpetuated the myth that visiting from door-to-door necessarily means “collaring someone on their doorstep” and is not relational. There are many people who may never meet a Christian or visit a church, and the only way to introduce them to Jesus is to knock on their doors and become involved in their lives to whatever extent they will allow. The London City Mission, for example, states that it is going “boldly, sensitively and patiently to the people of London, to tell them about Jesus and bring them into His Church.” And visiting from door-todoor is an important way of doing this. Talking about “collaring people” makes it harder to encourage Christians to meet their neighbours for Jesus’ sake. Philip Bowdler, by email

Stop the silence Addressing the injustice of climate change theology and mistaken ideas that we all seem so prone to, and who can produce something good out of the unholy mess we make of it. Before evangelicalism sinks into the oblivion of liberal theology, piously repeating the mantra that we are scripturally based, could we stop long enough to check that we are still sufficiently in touch with the Bible – with what it says and with what it does not say – to ensure that our thinking and behaviour match it? That would offer to break down our current divisions and give us some solid unity. John King, Wymondham, Norfolk.

Meet the neighbours I enjoyed reading the article E Is for Evangelism (Sep/Oct), but I was saddened

The serving of noise abatement notices against All Nations Church in Kennington and Immanuel International Christian Centre in Walthamstow shows that persecution of Christians in Britain is now reaching a new level. Not content with harassing Christians in their workplaces and trying to push Christ out of public life altogether the atheist/political correctness lobby is now targeting individual churches in an attempt to silence them altogether. It is time to stand up for our rights and freedoms before they are eroded altogether. What is needed most in this situation is a united call to action from our leaders. Sadly, the silence is deafening. We are fast approaching an election, and our leaders must use this opportunity. I urge the Alliance to join with other Christian leaders to maximise the effect of the Christian vote. Every Christian adult must be registered to vote. I also urge evangelicals to work at the local level to fight back against the evil that has taken hold in our land. Matthew Humphries, Cardiff

idea is published bimonthly and sent free of charge to members of the Evangelical Alliance. Formed in 1846, the Alliance’s mission is to unite evangelicals to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. There are around 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK, according to a 2007 Tearfund survey. idea is published in accordance with the Alliance’s Basis of Faith, although it is impossible in every article to articulate each detail and nuance of belief held by Alliance members. Articles in idea may therefore express views on which there is a divergence of opinion or understanding among evangelicals. Letters and story ideas from members are welcome, and will be considered by the editorial board, which reserves the right to edit letters and stories for length and style. We regret that we are unable to engage in personal correspondence. Unsolicited material will only be returned if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. idea accepts advertisements and inserts to offset printing costs. Advertising in idea does not imply editorial endorsement. The Alliance reserves the right to accept or refuse advertisements at its discretion. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from the editor.


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Peter Caton/Tearfund

news

UK church rescues Ugandan children

Bijon Bayen, 10, helps with the fishing after his dad was hit by lightening in a severe storm and died. Bangladesh is constantly battered by cyclones and floods.

Demanding action on climate change Christians continued to protest for strong action to be taken to combat global warming right up to the eve of the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen on 7 December. Thousands of Christians took to the streets in London on 5 December following an ecumenical service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, at Methodist Central Hall. The event, which was called The Wave, drew Christians from across the country, sparked by news that the chances of success at the long-awaited meeting did not seem hopeful. In November, President Obama and other world leaders said that they could only hope for a tentative climate change agreement at Copenhagen. Christian development agency Tearfund criticised the US and other Western nations for “doing their best to dampen hopes of a good deal” in Denmark. “Rich countries cannot duck the

Emilie Bailey

In brief...

6 • idea jan/feb 2010

challenge,” said Tearfund’s climate policy adviser Sara Shaw. “All the main elements for an ambitious, just and binding agreement are on the table. All we need is political will from world leaders, [but] The US seems to be slipping back into its old role of being a major blocker of progress. “The world cannot be held to ransom by one country. All eyes are looking to them to show leadership and to prioritise the needs of the world’s poorest people.” Many experts have long said that, if an agreement was not reached at Copenhagen, catastrophic and unstoppable climate change could be the result for the whole planet. They warn that without stringent reductions in carbon emissions of more than 40 per cent by 2020 on 1990 levels and money for adaptation to help poor countries in their response to climate change, hopes of a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal start to fade. tearfund.org

CHILD HEALTH NOW. UK schoolboy Tanner Scott, 9, fetches dirty water from the Thames, helping World Vision to draw attention to the 1.5 million children around the world who die every year from diarrhoea. At least twothirds of these deaths are preventable, and World Vision is urging Christians to apply pressure on politicians to urge world leaders to keep their promises as stated in the Millennium Development Goals. worldvision.org.uk

A Midlands church has given over £10,000 to develop a life-saving project helping children living with HIV/Aids in povertystricken north Uganda. Children's charity Global Care supports more than 600 children from very poor families across Uganda through its child sponsorship scheme. However staff members have become increasingly concerned about the lack of support for children suspected of having HIV: often they don't receive any help until they are already seriously ill with Aids. The gift from St Matthew's Hayfield, near Buxton, Derbyshire, will be used to counsel and test children in the Soroti district of northern Uganda; to educate guardians, families and schools in the care of children with HIV; to help families access services; and to ensure that HIV+ children receive the nutrients they need. Rev Hilary Edgerton said, “It's part of our Christian commitment at St Matthew's Church to give a percentage of our income to people who need it more than us. When a recent bequest came as a gift to our church, we wanted to share that gift too. When we heard of this project in Uganda it seemed the best way to show our own thanks for the blessings we've been given.” More than 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV/Aids – 22 million of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. globalcare.org.uk

QUESTION TIME FOR WALES. The Alliance’s team in Wales will launch the Cymru Institute for Contemporary Christianity (CICC) as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations this year. The new initiative, which enables Welsh Christians to engage in a range of issues relating to politics, science, the arts and work, will launch in March with a series of events around Wales, including one based on the BBC TV’s Question Time. “The call on God’s people to understand the culture in which we live, and engage biblically with contemporary issues and people has never been greater,” said Rev Elfed Godding, the Alliance’s director in Wales. “Our ability to competently and confidently share the gospel, relating it to our modern day world, has a major bearing on the spiritual health of our nation.” cicconline.org


a voice in Parliament FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Before the Coroners and Justice Bill passed into law, the Government attempted to reinsert a clause that threatened Christian freedom of expression. Earlier in the year the House of Lords had rejected the Government’s proposal to remove a safe-guarding protection for the criticism and discussion of sexual conduct. The Government did not initially accept this amendment, attempting to remove the clause, which had first been introduced by Lord Waddington into the Criminal Justice Bill in 2008. However, in

November the Lords reiterated their support for freedom of expression by once again voting to protect open debate about sexual conduct. On this occasion, on the eve of the Queen’s Speech and the end of the parliamentary session, the Government conceded to the Lords and the Bill passed with the safeguarding clause intact. CHILD POVERTY. In 1999 Tony Blair announced that the Government was committed to eradicating child poverty by 2020, and last year Gordon Brown

BIBLICAL JUSTICE DOWN UNDER. At Parliament House in Canberra, Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd helped launch The Poverty and Justice Bible, calling it an “extraordinary” book that draws attention to “the challenge facing us all”. The inspiration of Bible Society Chief Executive James Catford, this special edition Bible was developed at the charity’s headquarters in Swindon and first published in Britain in 2008. It features more than 2,000 texts highlighted in orange to show God’s attitude to poverty and justice. biblesociety.org.uk

FAITH-BASED CHARITIES. The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has published a new guide for faithbased charities to help them establish strong trustee bodies and good practice. Produced as a result of ongoing work with faith-based charities, Faith in Good Governance is aimed at trustees, staff and volunteers of charities established with a religious purpose whose main focus is religious worship and related activities. charitycommission.gov.uk

followed this up by seeking to enshrine poverty reduction in UK law. The Child Poverty Bill set out a framework for measuring success in tackling child poverty and monitoring progress locally and nationally. The interim target for 2005 of a reduction of a quarter was missed, and the level of child poverty has since risen. In response, the Government sought to redouble their efforts to ensure that the final goal is met. As well as making the target legally binding, the Government will have to publish three-yearly UK child poverty strategies. The strategies will set out steps to improve wider outcomes for children, broadening the scope of poverty assessment from the simply financial. A Child Poverty Commission will also be established to advise the Government on the implementation of these targets. EQUALITY. The Government’s Equality Bill continues its passage through Parliament in January when the House of Lords begin their consideration. Throughout its discussion in the Commons, various amendments were proposed to ensure that the quest for equality does not lead to problems for churches and Christian organisations. In particular there is a concern that Christian organisations might struggle to retain their distinctive identity. The proposed Bill includes a clause that would require public sector organisations to consider the impact of their activities on all the different strands of equality. The same requirements may also be asked of churches and Christian organisations that carry out services for public bodies. The Alliance continues to be involved in the development of the Bill. The focus will continue to be on ensuring that the rights of minority groups are protected, but that these rights should not place an undue restriction on the activities of other groups. eauk.org/pq DW

Toybox

LAUGHTER, FIGHTS AND FUN. Alliance member Toybox has opened a new refuge for street children in Cochabamba, Bolivia, rescuing high-risk children who can then be returned to their families or fostered. “Despite the sadness of the children’s stories, the refuge is such a happy place,” said Toybox’s Emily Fyson. “There is something about a house that is filled with children – their laughter, fights and fun. The noise and mess – happy and sad – make a place come alive.” toybox.org

PREPARING TO VOTE. As a General Election must take place before 3 June, the Alliance is encouraging churches to engage with the political process over the coming months. During the past year, trust in Parliament has been dealt a severe blow, and it is critically important that voters take their responsibility seriously. One way churches can get involved is to organise hustings, where the candidates for a constituency come together and answer questions from the public. The Alliance has recently launched an online guide to holding election events. For information, visit: eauk.org/elections

idea jan/feb 2010 • 7


news

e Bible hits the road A team from the Alliance will travel around the UK over the next three months, consulting with church leaders about the upcoming Biblefresh initiative for 2011. The goal is to share the vision for this year-long focus on the Bible, helping Christians gain confidence in the scriptures, skills in interpreting God’s word and new appetite for reading the Bible. The Biblefresh campaign is being run by a coalition of more than 50 agencies, publishers, colleges, denominations and missions working together to help the UK

church to be encouraged, challenged and inspired by the Bible. Support for the initiative is also coming from conferences such as Keswick, Spring Harvest, Summer Madness, Leading Edge, Children’s Ministry and Christian Resources Exhibition, which will all be helping Christians to go deeper into scripture in 2011. The Alliance team will be in Nottingham, Glasgow, Durham and Cardiff in late-January; Belfast, Exeter and Manchester in February; and Liverpool, Christchurch and London in March. biblefresh.com

Churches unite in wake of flooding

As part of a Biblefresh campaign, Phil Prior shares how the Bible has changed his life.

ENGAGING YOUNG MINDS. In partnership with the United Nations, the Christian charity Stop the Traffik has launched a new campaign that helps students take action against human trafficking, a crime that affects young people around the world. Start Freedom is a web-based initiative offering resources that can help empower and help keep those most at risk safe. The campaign will culminate with the Greatest Freedom Show on Earth in March. startfreedom.org

8 • idea jan/feb 2010

Local Christians stepped forward to assist victims of November's devastating floods in Cumbria, offering food, shelter and comfort where needed. In the days immediately following the flooding, church leaders in the hard-hit towns of Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington met to co-ordinate how to assist people and to support work in neighbouring areas. The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Rev James Newcome, praised the flood victims for their resilience and spoke of pride and gratitude to local Christians who stepped in with assistance. “One of the most encouraging things about all of this is the way in which people have worked together to help the unfortunate people who have been most affected,” he said. Jeremy Bond from Kings Church Keswick commented that local people, despite their shock, were amazingly sacrificial in their support and care for one another. He went on to say, “It will be particularly valuable for us, as people affected by the floods, to know that we are remembered and prayed for long after the media hype has died down and the reporters have left our streets.” For information about the recovery fund, visit: cumbriafoundation.org

BUFFALOS FOR CHRISTMAS. Operation Mobilisation challenged the commercial nature of Christmas with its Just Christmas? campaign, inviting Christians to spend less on presents for their families and friends and instead invest in the lives of impoverished people around the world. Through this project, OM was able to buy several buffalos for poor families in India. Buffalo milk can supply both nutrition and income for those without access to well-paid jobs. Projects were also funded in Bangladesh and Sudan. uk.om.org

REACHING YOUNG OFFENDERS. Reflex, Youth for Christ’s ministry to young offenders, is expanding its vision to reach out to every young offender in the UK through regional partnerships with groups like The Message Trust (in the North East) and Salvation Army (South East). Reflex works locally with young people in custody and in the community, helping them achieve success through accredited programmes in music, theatre and sport while reflecting on issues such as crime, family, society and faith. reflex.org


Coaching emerging leaders Established and emerging Christian leaders gathered in London in late-October for a pilot coaching programme facilitated by Claire Pedrick (pictured), CEO of 3D Coaching. The goal for the one-day session was to learn how to develop leadership potential through one-to-one coaching. “A united Church, which has invested in the next generation of leaders, is surely what God wants for us,” says Dr Krish Kandiah, the Alliance’s executive director for Churches in Mission. Leaders came from a variety of backgrounds, including Tearfund, Chinese Churches and Scottish Baptists, as well as Alliance staff. The next stage of the project will involve the younger leaders spending a day shadowing an established leader from another organisation, putting coaching skills into practice. “It is great that evangelicals are ahead of the curve on this kind of coaching,” said Pedrick. “I was doing some work recently with public sector leaders who had independently come up with the same idea, and it was really exciting to be able to say that Christians were leading the way in this.” Feedback from delegates included reports that it provided “really helpful new tools for developing people and being developed”. Many wanted to encourage others to join the programme: “This is a life-changing course, make sure you sign up.” Kandiah added, “We think this idea really has legs, and we would love to see other organisations making use of it for growing leaders.” 3dcoaching.com

Tapping into biblical power

Ryan J Lane

The Alliance is collaborating with the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) to produce inspirational video reflections for the upcoming lent season, which begins on Wednesday, 17 February. The series, based on MRDF’s study resource What Does the Bible Say About Power?, will help us to think about the power we have to impact the lives of others. The three-minute video clips focus on the successes and failures of biblical figures – such as Samson and Jesus – and what each did with the power in their hands. Audrey Skervin from MRDF said, “Lent is the perfect time to think about Jesus and the power He set aside in the name of love. We are in an amazing position to positively influence our local communities and some of the world’s poorest people, and the videos will inspire us to make the most of this.” To order MRDF’s group study pack, visit: mrdf.org.uk/power - while video reflections can be downloaded from 17 February at: eauk.org

Livability

PRIEST CLIMBS SANAI. Rev Canon Roger Royle (pictured, fourth from right) completed a challenge to follow the footsteps of Moses by reaching the peak of Mt Sanai in Egypt as part of a fundraising project for the Christian charity Livability. Royle was joined by 10 Livability supporters, who together raised £18,000 for services for disabled people around the UK. livability.org.uk

idea jan/feb 2010 • 9


news

South Asian Alliance established In response to a desire to unite for encouragement, equipping and support, the Evangelical Alliance is setting up the South Asian Evangelical Alliance as an

integral part of the larger Alliance but with its own officers and steering group. There are around 75,000 South Asian Christians in the UK representing the eight countries of the region and its range of languages and ethnic backgrounds.

media matters

by Charis Gibson, Senior Press Officer

A

ppearing in the media is always something of a gamble. The furore over the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech and BBC interview on Sharia law in February 2008 was probably not what he would have wanted. Of course, it’s not just Christians who can find themselves in the firing line. When Jade Goody went on Big Brother for the first time, she had no idea of the level of stardom it would bring her, but neither did she predict the notoriety she would receive from her second appearance. So when we are approached by the media, we always have to think very carefully about how we might be portrayed, and never more so than when we are getting people involved who are not used to media coverage. Recently, the BBC approached us to ask if we could recommend churches to be involved in a documentary about the growth of evangelical churches in Wales. We worked very closely with one of

Leaders from these churches felt an urgent need to come together as part of the whole Church in the UK to represent the concerns of South Asian Christians to Government, media and the wider Church. As a “minority within a minority” they are looking to provide a voice to respond quickly and with unity on such issues as persecution of some Indian Christians; pressure on Christians in Pakistan and the ongoing fragility of the country; and the intense suffering caused by the divisions in Sri Lanka. Members of SAEA – churches, individuals, organisations, networks – will also be members of the larger Alliance, with a proportion of their donations allocated to the development of SAEA. For information, write to: saea@eauk.org

the church leaders, who had no media experience, to prepare her for the interview. We thought of the questions that might come up – particularly difficult questions – and asked the pastor to think about how she would answer them. We talked through the main messages she wanted to get across in the interview about her church and God, and how she could relate these messages to a variety of questions. This preparation was very effective. Not only did it make her feel more confident about doing the interview, but it also enabled her to talk about her ministry in a positive, genuine way, rather than being

When approached by the media, we have to think very carefully thrown off course by a difficult question and giving an answer that she later regretted. The Alliance press office is happy to offer this kind of advice and support, as well as an in-depth media-training course for people who are likely to be interviewed. But the most important suggestion is to stop and take five minutes to think about what you really want to get across in the interview, because a good media appearance is a powerful way to share your message.

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Living on a little Andy Reed, Labour MP for Loughborough, took the Simplify challenge to live for a month on a budget of £5 a day and give the rest to charity. Lucy Cooper asked him about his experience... idea: Why did you decide to do Simplify? Andy: I have been on a journey to simplify my life for God for a few years now with the aim of developing a more environmentally sustainable, healthy and generous lifestyle. This initiative fit perfectly and helped me to understand what it might mean, practically, to live on so little. What hit you hardest? What struck me straight away was how organised I needed to be. Walking and cycling was a key element of the challenge, especially after giving up the gym, but it required factoring in extra travel time. I had to think about prices of products as well as considering the ethical dimension, which before was my first thought. The cost of socialising was a shock - especially sport. I have played at my local rugby club for years and never really thought about the expense. The match fee of £6 suddenly looked overwhelming on £5 a day; even the £3 unwaged category would still have been a large chunk of my allowance. I did discover, however, that those who wash shirts get let off the fee. Were there some difficult decisions? Simplify poses a series of dilemmas. I needed to eat within budget but was still desperate to eat sustainably, healthily and ethically. We started growing our own vegetables a few years ago and have taken

Resourced and Equipped to Serve 29-31 Jan, St Anne's on Sea, Lancs The Association of Christian Counsellors North West has assembled a programme of professionally led workshops looking at issues and needs of Christian counsellors. Keynote sessions will focus on the interface between pastoral care and counselling. acc-uk.org

On the Verge of Chaos 12-14 Feb, Scarborough Subtitled Transitional Living in a Time of Collapse, this conference aims to help the Church respond to climate change by examining faith and doubt, grief and hope, through worship and fun as we look at ways we can get involved. christian-ecology.org.uk

360 Degrees: Building whole communities 26-28 Feb, Enfield, London

an interest in sourcing meat and eggs locally from people we know. Suddenly faced with a very tight budget I was forced to re-evaluate my options and my levels of appreciation increased tenfold in just a few days. Wondering how to afford the next meal puts everything into perspective. How did you feel at the end of the month? A month is not nearly long enough to experience what it would be like to really live on benefits, and there are large bills I would need to save for that didn’t crop up then. But I am glad I have done it, enjoyed giving the money away to benefit the poor, and in a way I will miss the discipline. I am now endeavouring to continue good habits.  Read Andy’s blog at simplify.org.uk

Trans World Radio God’s Word in today’s world Trans World Radio in the UK produces and broadcasts a huge variety of quality Christian radio programmes for teaching, encouragement, entertainment and outreach. The schedule includes daily Bible studies, family programmes and slots by many well known preachers and evangelists. You can listen to TWR on digital television, on your radio or on-line. Tune in today, or call 0161 923 0270 for your free listening guide. Trans World Radio, PO Box 606, Altrincham, WA14 2YS Telephone: 0161 923 0270 Email: info@twr.org.uk Web: www.twr.org.uk

Hear from inspirational speakers, activists and theologians – including Brian McLaren, Steve Chalke, Nims Obunge, Ruth Dearnley, Jeff Lucas and Jill Rowe – as they unpack the theology and practice of community engagement. faithworks.info/conference

Homelessness & Poverty Action Sundays 31 Jan & 7 Feb, nationwide Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action are encouraging churches to hold “Cup of Tea” events after services, asking everyone to pay £1 for coffee or tea, then sending funds to projects to help people who are homeless or living in poverty. actionweek.org.uk

Naturally Supernatural 24-26 Feb, Watford Soul Survivor will explore the Bible’s teaching on miracles, signs and wonders as well as practical learning on how to minister in the gifts of the Spirit. Speakers will include Blaine Cook, Bishop Sandy Millar, Mike Pilavachi, Jeannie Morgan and Andy Croft. soulsurvivor.com

Jesus in the City 12-14 Mar, Belfast This three-day event is for anyone with a passion to live, work and share the good news of Jesus in urban areas. The event will feature time for sharing experiences, worship and hearing from specialists in various areas of ministry. jitc.org.uk

Listen to TWR TODAY in your own home ... On the TV:

Satellite channel 0138 Freesat 790 On-line: www.twr.org.uk Call 0161 923 0270 for a free listening guide 1467 kHz MW 9.800 & 6.105

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BGEA

Boosting the Church’s mission

Turning a generation towards God Young people across the UK face extreme pressure to find fulfilment, and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association believes that churches must reach out to them. In response to this challenge, BGEA has launched Epicentre, a seven-phase programme bringing local churches together for 10 months to engage, challenge and minister to both Christian and non-Christian youth. BGEA’s Youth Ministries Project Manager, Anita Darasha-Borman, believes that, because church leaders in her hometown invested in her, she is now equipped to serve youth of the next generation. “I realised that God was using

INTERACTIVE MAP LAUNCHED. Global Connections has created an interactive online world map to help Christians pray intelligently for the world. Users are able to zoom into specific countries to get specific prayer topics that are updated regularly by Global Connections member mission organisations. worldprayermap.co.uk

Torch Trust

CONNECTING SISTERS. Tearfund is inviting women in Christian leadership to take part in a trip to Malawi in February to spend time with women affected by poverty and HIV/Aids. “We know that poverty always disproportionately affects women, and that they are very involved in caring for others and in finding practical solutions to issues in their communities,” said Yioula Taliadorou, church relationship manager at Tearfund. “It’s important that, as women with responsibilities to lead and mentor others, we grasp the scale of need around the world and allow ourselves to become passionate about being part of the solution.” connected.tearfund.org

those years of confusion after leaving school and working to grab my heart and give me His dream for my life,” she said. “That time of uncertainty had given me a deep understanding of what it feels like to be young and full of potential – and needing some guidance on how to realise oneself.” While Epicentre reaches out to young people, the BGEA simultaneously trains adults in the church to continue mentoring their youth after the 10 months are over. The aim is to create multi-generational churches where each generation blesses each other. For information, email: anita@bgea.co.uk

Churches are reporting positive results to the Alliance’s Square Mile initiative, which was piloted around the UK this autumn. Kay Cathcart (pictured), pastor for discipleship and training at Morningside Baptist Church in Edinburgh, said that the DVD and workbook sparked “the most and best feedback I’ve had on any small group resource.” Cathcart heard about Square Mile in an edition of Slipstream, the Alliance’s free resource for leaders, and was intrigued by the range of contributors. “When I saw you had Tim Keller, Shane Claiborne, Bishop Tom Wright, Elaine Storkey and Mark Greene involved,” she said, “I knew that this would be really helpful to the Church, as everyone would see someone on screen that they knew and trusted but also be exposed to people that would be new and fresh for them.” Cathcart believed that Square Mile was a great way to help the Church “to think missionally”, adding that “all different kinds of small groups were reporting how helpful they had found the material.” The Alliance's Executive Director for Churches in Mission, Dr Krish Kandiah, has been travelling around the UK helping churches engage with Square Mile’s “fourdimensional mission” thinking. He said, “I have been really encouraged as I have spoken to leaders from a wide spectrum of UK evangelicalism. I am finding a real enthusiasm for Square Mile, not only as a resource for a lively study, but as the Church in the UK seeks to demonstrate the transforming power of the good news of Jesus through real people in the Church to real people in the community.” eauk.org/squaremile

A DOWN-TO-EARTH VISIONARY. Christian pioneer and founder of Torch Trust for the Blind Stella Heath died in lateSeptember aged 89. Over five decades of ministry, Stella and her late husband Ron touched the lives of tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted people. She recently contributed to the book 50 Steps Forward, a collection of Bible readings, comments and prayers from 50 contributors published to celebrate Torch Trust's 50th anniversary. torchtrust.org

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news

e Bible makes sense At the northernmost point of Europe, Christians can finally read the Gospel in their native language. Intrepid reporter Hazel Southam writes...

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Dag Smemo/Bible Society

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nger Anne Triumf is stoking the fire inside her family’s lavvu, or tent, on the side of a mountain in northern Norway. Outside a fierce wind is blowing and it’s -20C, colder than a British freezer. Her husband is outside in the sub-zero whiteness tending to the family’s reindeer. Meanwhile, as sparks fly up from the birch wood fire, 47-year-old Inger Anne is preparing reindeer stew for her five daughters. There are 40,000 Sami people who live in Finnmark, Norwegian Lapland. In their village of Kautokeino, 10 per cent of the 3,000-strong population earn their living from reindeer herding. The Sami are an intensely Christian people. Their churches are flourishing, according to local clergy. But for more than 100 years they struggled to read an ancient translation of the Bible. Today, Bible Society has translated the New Testament into a modern version of the Sami language and is working on the Old Testament that is expected to follow in 2015. I travelled to Finnmark to find out why the local people wanted the Bible in their own language and what difference it has made to their lives. “Our children couldn’t read the Old Sami Bible,” says Inger Anne (pictured right), “so they couldn’t understand it. Having the new translation means that they can read the Bible and keep up the Sami way that we have had. Without this, it would have become a closed book to our children. It isn’t interesting to read something that you don’t understand.” Every 11-year-old Sami child is presented with a copy of the modern New Testament. The Triumf family has three copies and takes them with them as they travel hundreds of miles with their reindeer herd. “It was nice to get my own New Testament,” says 14-year-old Elen Anna, sitting with her mother in the lavvu. “It’s important that it’s mine. I can read it whenever I want and I don’t have to

borrow it from someone else. I wouldn’t have read the old Bible; I couldn’t understand it. But my Bible makes sense.” She is “excited” about her confirmation, which will take place at Easter, a time of great religious and cultural celebration among Sami people. “I’m looking forward to it,” she says.

Safety equipment It was for children like Elen Anna that the Bible is being translated into Sami, says Bible Society translator Britt Rajala, who

‘When the Bible is in your heart language, it speaks directly to your heart’

has been working on the translation since 1987. “The translation came about after a call from the school teachers,” she says. “The children couldn’t understand what they were reading in the old Sami Bible [which dated back to the 1850s]. “We wanted the Bible to be accessible for future generations. The Bible is the gateway to faith. For Christians, what they learn comes from the Bible. It’s the source of their belief. Without a Bible in your language it’s harder to get into Christianity. But when it is in your heart language, it speaks directly to your heart.” David Smith, international programme manager for Bible Society, explains why it is so important that the Gospel is available to the people of Lapland: “When people read the Bible for the first time in their own language they understand it and they realise that the message is for them. Jesus is speaking to them in their own language,” he says. “We can take that for granted because we are used to it. But it makes a profound difference to have Jesus speaking to you in your language. I believe it really makes a difference in helping people come to faith.” Inger Anne and her family take the New Testament, a hymnbook and a lectionary with them wherever they go. They view the Bible as “safety equipment” – just as important to their lives as rope, knives and incredibly warm clothes. “The Bible is very important for our whole lives,” she says. And thanks to the New Testament, she believes that the Christian faith will be centrally important to her children too. biblesociety.org.uk


Eden goes national An initiative to reach young people on the UK’s toughest estates is expanding nationally. Eden was developed by The Message Trust in 1997 with a vision to transform lives in Manchester’s inner-city neighbourhoods and council estates. The project takes a radical, incarnational approach, as workers move in long-term alongside young people and their families. Eden is now taking its experience to a national stage, establishing regional hubs around the country to target the most socially deprived neighbourhoods (according to the Office for National Statistics) in London, Sheffield and Bradford.

“It’s important to recognise that what we have with Eden is a framework, not an offthe-shelf solution,” said National Director Matt Wilson. “Eden provides a really helpful starting point, offering a set of values that we’ve learned living and working among the poor, and we know are tried-and-tested. But of course it will evolve in new contexts. It’s about people, not projects, so every new Eden will be locally distinctive.” With around 10 Eden partnerships in development around the country, the demand for people to join and lead the teams is greater than ever. Eden applicants must go through a rigorous selection process in order to be accepted as part of a team. eden-network.org

Alliance pays tribute to Sheena Gillies Well-known Christian leader, author and speaker Sheena Gillies died unexpectedly in October aged 61. She had been an Alliance Board and Council member since the early 1990s. General Director Steve Clifford said, “Sheena was a wonderful role model of a female Christian leader. Her death is a huge loss to the evangelical world.” Gillies undertook some of the preliminary work for the Biblefresh initiative (see p8) and served in a number of

THE LOO SEAT PROTEST. Comedian Tim Vine handed 20,000 postcards to Gordon Brown demanding urgent action in tackling the sanitation crisis in the developing world. The letters from Tearfund supporters were delivered to mark World Toilet Day on 19 November, drawing attention to the fact that 2.5bn people worldwide do not have a decent toilet, while 900m have no access to clean water. “This situation is out of order,” said Vine. “Going to the toilet and having clean water are basic necessities, something we take for granted. We cannot sit back and allow what is a basic human right to be denied to millions of people.” tearfund.org

Eleanor Bentall/Tearfund

The Message

Encouraging leaders After two years of planning, the Kingdom Come conference will take place in Belfast 1-4 February with a goal to refresh, restore and revitalise the Church. The programme is built around both meeting the needs of and inspiring leaders, and this will be the focus for keynote speaker Gordon MacDonald, an international Christian leader who has experienced the highs and lows of ministry and the reality of his own weakness. On 31 January, there will be a free audience with the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. A retiring offering will be taken to cover costs, but all who have registered for the full Kingdom Come conference will receive a reserved ticket as long as they request it by 15 January. In addition, the worship will be led by Robin Mark (pictured), with Bible teaching from a range of Irish and UK Church leaders on such issues as courageous leadership, spiritual disciplines, managing change and growing a culture of discipleship. Sessions will also examine “sex, power and broken dreams” and grapple with questions like, “Is the Church an obstacle to mission?” kingdomcomeireland.com

churches including All Souls Langham Place, involved in discipleship training, pastoral work and cross-cultural mission. She was also director of missionary development and care for SIM UK, worked for UCCF, Capernwray Hall and London Bible College, and was a trustee for a number of Christian charities. Gillies co-authored the books Get the Most Out of Church (Scripture Union) and Single Issues: A Wholechurch Approach to Singleness (CPAS).

OUT OF REACH? A staggering 1.35bn Muslims will never have the opportunity to meet a Christian. According to an October report from Christian charity Frontiers, 86 per cent of the world’s 1.57bn Muslims are currently out of reach of Christian workers and less than 1 per cent of Christian giving supports work in the Muslim world. Frontiers is working to change this. “Our aim is not to impose Western Christianity,” said UK Director Phil Goodchild, “but to see locally led communities worshipping Jesus, exploring their own dynamic expression of faith and making the real Jesus real to others.” frontiers.org.uk

IDEA EXPANDS ONLINE. The web version of idea is being enhanced to make it easier to find past articles and to read the entire issue online. In addition, in between the bimonthly printed issues, there will be regularly updated news stories about the Alliance and its members. To check it out, visit: eauk.org/idea

idea jan/feb 2010 • 15


first person

Is church relevant to your life? What do people in their 20s and 30s think about the role of the Church in their everyday life? Lucy Cooper asked them the above question... field: Yes. Mark, 20, Shef y tegral part of m Church is an in in sed to be life and I'm bles munity away m co t such a grea s certainly from home. It ha on e into the pers helped form m I am today. Chris, 31, Leeds: Although I am only an infrequent participant in group worship, I am very fond of the Church’s traditions and cannot imagine a world without the Church to officiate in key moments in a community’s life.

Lucy, 27, Crawley: I personally feel churches place too much emphasis (and often time and money) on Sunday services, when they should be helping the community. This has baffled me from a young age, and therefore I've never been a regular churchgoer. But my faith and commitment has stayed strong.

Martin, 36, Bristol: As a child my mum and dad didn't go to church, therefore I have no church ties as an adult.

Tamara, 23, Enfield: No. As an atheist I do not believe in the Church; however, since it is an institution of power in society I feel it should be more proactive in world problems such as poverty and war, and not just give messages of peace and rhetorical speeches.

Dan, 29, Romford: Yes and no. The biblical model will always be relevant with its community, fellowship, and teaching. Church as it is all too often perceived by outsiders can however appear quite irrelevant. Church needs to love overtly; the world needs to see what it’s missing.

ole: William, 20, Po cause It’s relevant be nt to I make it releva is myself. Church u give, about what yo t. not what you ge t getting lt that if I'm no I have often fe nged or being challe fed somewhere it, mething about I need to do so or e or m ed lv invo whether to get e. bl Bi y m actually pick up

16 • idea jan/feb 2010

Rick, 25, Antr im: Deep within m e, a longing exist s to be part of a community of people who love me for who I am, ye t challenge me to keep becoming more like Christ. For all of its falterin gs and failings, the Ch urch is the only place on the earth that I have discover ed that does this on a consistent basis .

Wan-Phing, 23, Manchester: Yes. I am with the church when the service runs on Sundays, but it is also when I go for a coffee with my brothers and sisters in Christ who encourage me in my faith, teach me, disciple me, are friends with me, hang out with me, care for me and love me.

nitely Chloe, 28, Cardiff: I defi me and for t think Church is relevan es this tim at my generation, though re mo ed vey could perhaps be con ctly dire re mo d clearly and outworke for this age group.

Alice, 20, Keswick: I don’t understand much of what is said in people’s sermons but I am too old for Sunday school, therefore apart from worship I feel quite inadequate going to church. For me church has its relevance, but I know in my heart what’s more important in my relationship with God.

Wacera, 27, York: Church is relevant to me because where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is with them (Matthew 18.20). It provides an opportunity for me to worship God with other fellow Christians and to learn more about Him.

Will, 21, Durham: Church doesn’t seem to provide the practical Proverbsstyle wisdom I need for dealing with my daily struggles. In trying to be relevant to everyone, church teaching has become over simplified and ultimately empty for me. I want to be coached in life, not just the doctrines of eternity and salvation.

Beth, 26, Winchester: Church is a crea tive vibrant commun ity celebrating the existence of Go d. I feel that I am “in church” if I am with people in an art gallery, at a bu s stop or in a co ck tail bar in Mumbai.


cover story

A missing generation? They’re skint, they’re single and, in what Soul Survivor’s Mike Pilavachi calls the Church’s “guilty family secret”, a lot of them are turning their backs on church. Charis Gibson looks at the changing face of youth work...

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elcome to the world of Brits in their 20s. With education almost or already behind them, they’re catapulted into adulthood in the face of high unemployment levels and, more often than not, shouldering a mountain of debt. They’re marrying and having children later in life than previous generations – the average age to get married is now 31 for men and 29 for women – while mortgages seem further out of reach than ever, leaving nearly 3 million of them still living with their parents. And the numbers of 20-somethings attending church is in steep decline, falling 62 per cent from 520,000 in 1985 to 230,600 two decades later. So perhaps it’s no small wonder that youth leaders who spoke at the Alliance’s council symposium The 18-30s Mission: A Missing

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Generation? made a strong case for churches to extend their youth work focus far beyond the age of 18. As Youth for Christ’s Gavin Calver put it, “To see Christian youth work as a success, you have to take young people through to 25. I think from a youth point of view we look at it too narrowly. We say: ‘They’re 18, they’re Christians, yeah! They’re 19, they go to church, fantastic!’ But I think we have to start thinking about people up to 25, maybe 29.” Gavin was one of a number of youth workers at the symposium who responded to an Alliance survey taken of 800 young people at Soul Survivor’s Momentum event for students and 20-somethings. The young adults surveyed were from a specific demographic, so the symposium was told the results may not hold true for everyone, but that it was useful to confirm trends and spark a conversation.

Attracted to church The respondents said they were most attracted to a church by the resources it provides to support their own personal faith. Relevant preaching was ranked as the characteristic that would most attract them to church, followed by excellent worship. People they can relate to came in third. Less important were whether the church is mission-oriented or a safe place to invite friends. And only one-third of the under-30s said they see themselves as leaders in their church.


‘For some, it’s actually a choice between surviving as a Christian or not’

The Alliance's Head of Communications Miles Giljam said this focus on individual benefits over mission shows a “me-focused” attitude to church. Mike Pilavachi echoed this concern, saying that 20-somethings are influenced by a culture of consumerism, individualism and entitlement. He and other youth workers at the symposium suggested a number of ways to help young people negotiate this culture, including mentoring and discipleship from childhood and empowering young people to take more leading roles within the Church. Jason Lane, executive director of Innovista, a ministry that develops young leaders for relevant mission to their generation, said, “In our experience, people from this age group feel they have to make a choice between a church that’s for me and a church that’s about mission. For them, it’s actually a choice between surviving as a Christian or not. “We need to give them both, where church can support you as a Christian and help you live for Jesus, which involves and includes mission.” Ness Wilson, who runs Open Heaven church in Loughborough, gave a powerful example of this by talking about her own experience leading a student-focused church, which she started with some fellow graduates in 1993. She said that over the past 16 years, 800 students have been part of Open Heaven and around 200 have become Christians. As well as discipling the students in church, Open Heaven is mission-

idea jan/feb 2010 • 19


cover story orientated. It has built such strong, relational links with Loughborough University that the Student’s Union has given them two rooms to care for drunk students and invited them to advertise student Alpha in freshers’ packs. “There’s openness to exploring faith and other world views, and it’s at that age that the desire for meaning and purpose and destiny really comes to the surface,” Ness said. “So you just have to add some prayer, some fired up students who know they’re missionaries into a post-Christian, post-modern culture, and some relevant models of student mission and – bang! – it all can happen.”

respondents believe social action and evangelism are equally important. He said that over the past decade – with initiatives like Message 2000, Festival Manchester, Soul in the City, Merseyfest and Hope 08 – the Church has re-educated a generation of Christians to see social action and evangelism as totally integral to one another. “If you get rid of that divide, you’ve got the kind of dangerous generation that might just change the world,” he said. “That shows me we’ve got to set the bar high, not to give people the kind of Jesus who’s a self-help guide, but a Jesus who’s to live for and, if necessary, to die for.” The four short essays below explore a range of different opinions about this challenge and look at the way forward...

‘This is the kind of dangerous generation that might just change the world’

Mixing action with mission Gavin Calver said he was also very encouraged by the response to one of the Momentum survey questions, which showed that 76 per cent of

Focus on friendship

Challenge the culture

There’s a lot of stuff thrown at you as a young adult. Suddenly, after the relative seclusion of living at home or being a student, you’re thrust into the real world to make life-shaping choices about Lindsey Sisk, 29, relationships, careers, finances co-ordinates Care for the and parenthood. Family’s Looking at Life As 20-somethings, we’ve project: lookingatlife.org.uk grown up in a consumer era and a time of economic growth. We’ve been labelled Generation Y, never satisfied and always shopping around for the perfect job, partner and lifestyle. While this may be true, young adults also crave ongoing relationships, and we also value the opinion and wisdom of older people with life experience. It’s difficult to make a generalisation on what young adults want. Most 18-30s would not define themselves by age, but by their role or life-stage. At 25, you can be a single student living at home with your parents or married with your own children. You could be a homeowner, have a high-flying career or be unemployed looking for your first big break. Generally 18-30s rarely congregate anywhere as a defined group, so the idea of belonging to a church is alien. Rather, 18-30s associate in friendship circles. To connect with them, churches may need to emphasise social or communal activities, rather than the traditional group structures. For those of us in our 20s who are already part of the Church, we want to know how to apply God’s truth practically to our everyday lives and our big decisions. Engaging with the needs of young adults would result in growth, both for us and the Church.

It’s clear to see that the church has been haemorrhaging 20-somethings in recent years. The statistics are frightening, and so we’re now in the process of trying to understand what’s going on with this age group so Mike Pilavachi, 51, that we can better love and is co-founder and serve them. head of Soul Survivor: I’m certainly not saying I soulsurvivor.com/uk have the answers, but one thing I think is key is the culture of consumerism, individualism and entitlement that I believe is eating into the psyche of many 20-somethings. It’s incompatible with commitment to community, because if you’re in this culture it’s all about you and all about what you receive. It can also lead people to struggle with commitment to the key areas of their lives: relationships, careers and church. Often, this stems from a huge fear of getting involved with something in case it’s the wrong thing, or in case something better comes along at a later date. Our culture also tells 20-somethings that they deserve things to be perfect. But of course life’s not like that, so they become disillusioned when they see churches that are flawed. And often there's lots of support for teenagers when they are part of the church youth group, but when they go into the workplace or to university, they can feel that their support network is suddenly taken away. We have to work out how to support 20-somethings better in the challenges they face in their different life-stages. We’ve got to love them, we’ve got to listen and we’ve got to respond to them. But also, we’ve got to find ways to work with them to gently, lovingly but definitely challenge some of the things that come from today’s culture.

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DesignPics

Simply socialise

Look forward

My first response when faced with writing this was to change my Facebook status to: “Gareth Ward is attempting to write 250 words on how the church can connect with people in their Gareth Ward, 24, is a 20s. Suggestions please!” Royal Navy lieutenant Then it hit me: people who attends Southampton my age have become so Community Church. expectant that things happen instantly and only for them that, instead of actually engaging people to ask their opinion, I simply Facebooked. Some people at our church in Southampton have started a 20s-30s monthly get-together that is simply socialising – going for a curry followed by a club, or a walk and sitting in the pub chatting for the evening. Now that’s sheer brilliance, because we don’t really need more spiritual stuff. In my opinion, what we need is to reconnect with each other over a beer, coffee, meal or, even better, all three. And I’m talking about people in our age group from all walks of life. We don’t want to bring them to meetings; we want to bring them into a group of normal people who, far from being perfect, just chat, connect and live. The challenge is to ensure our conduct and conversation mirror Jesus, even when we are not directly referring to Him. The problem with my suggestion is that it isn’t instant; it isn’t a programme we can strategise or implement. Real connection can’t be forced and it won’t be quick. It happens slowly and naturally in pubs and curry houses. And have you noticed the theme of eating and drinking together?

The Missing Generation symposium is just one example of how to challenge the Church to raise up and support godly, fired-up young Christians with a passion for transforming their communities. Clearly we need Krish Kandiah, 38, is the a debate in congregations Alliance’s executive director around the country about for Churches in Mission: how best to reach and disciple eauk.org/slipstream 20-somethings. Meanwhile, the Alliance has been implementing grass-roots programmes that invest directly in younger leaders. Slipstream is one of these, using a monthly e-letter, podcast and Facebook presence to help younger leaders stay informed, connected, stretched intellectually and equipped for ministry. We also need to continue planning face-to-face opportunities for youth ministry organisations to partner to encourage, mentor and coach younger leaders. For example, in Wales, the New Generation Leadership event has for a number of years brought together groups of churches and organisations to offer specific and focussed assistance for leaders. And the Just Generation event in Scotland saw more than 100 younger leaders gather to seek justice in their lives, communities and the world. So how can you help? If you know a young leader, encourage him or her to check out Slipstream to connect with others. Talk to your church leadership team about how you can proactively minister to the 20s in your church, or simply take the initiative to befriend and mentor someone in that age group. I believe we won’t just see their lives transformed, but our congregations will be re-energised to speak with relevance into the lives of countless numbers of young people searching for spirituality and identity in these uncertain times.

idea jan/feb 2010 • 21


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feature

By appealing at a grass-roots level, Tearfund is using the internet to badger corporations and politicians into being more responsible. Hazel Southam reports...

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hen Rev Andy Herrick returned from a sabbatical in Zambia he was both “frustrated and angry”. The poverty that he’d seen had made a great impression on him; he wanted to do something about it but didn’t know how. “The house I was staying in had a full fridge and running water,” he recalls. “But outside the door people were walking miles to fetch water. They lived with no access to clean water and little food, just struggling to get by. “When I came back I felt so angry that Western nations have the means to do something about this, but not the will. I felt powerless to change what I had seen. What on earth could I do?” Andy, a team vicar with the Church of Wales in Aberystwyth, tried all the traditional routes. His church raised funds for Zambia, enough to build a church, a school and provide flushing toilets and showers. He joined protests. But he still felt like a small voice in a hurricane. Then Andy discovered SuperBadger, an initiative from Alliance member Tearfund. Launched in 2007, the scheme allows people to “badger” companies or members of parliament about key issues through the networking sites Facebook and Twitter by sending emails written by Tearfund. “We wanted to use Facebook for something more useful than poking

people and throwing sheep,” jokes Ben Niblett, Tearfund’s head of campaigns. “We could see the demand was there and we thought people would love it if there was campaigning on the internet. We weren’t sure if people would give a monkey’s, but we decided it was worth the risk.” Two years on, Tearfund’s hunch has proved correct: people did want to campaign; they just didn’t know how. SuperBadger seems to have galvanised not only the internet generation, but people of all ages, into taking social action on issues that matter to them, from clean water to Fair Trade chocolate. So far, 20,000 people have taken part in SuperBadger. That means they’ve sent an email asking for action of one sort or another to a company or MP. And they have recently marked their one thousandth campaign, while three new campaigns involve calling on world leaders to stop the trade of Zimbabwe’s so-called “conflict diamonds”, asking European Commission President Manuel Barroso to fight corruption, and asking Gordon Brown to provide some toilets. “It’s a scandal that around the world almost 900 million people are still waiting for access to clean water, and 2.5bn lack a decent toilet,” the badger says. “More needs to be done to address this crisis. Badger Gordon Brown to be a sanitation and water champion and act to end this injustice.” By clicking on the email link and pressing “send”, you’ve campaigned in your lunch hour. For Tearfund, SuperBadger has changed the face of campaigning, as people can respond on the day that something happens rather than waiting the weeks or months it takes to organise an event. “I’d done lots of traditional campaigning but, with SuperBadger, if I come across an issue I write and say something about it,” says Andy Herrick. “It’s not vitriolic or

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feature judgemental; it just holds the issues up and encourages people to do more. Tearfund gives you the information you need and it’s given me a voice.”

Politicians notice In the run-up to December’s crucial climate change summit in Copenhagen, Tearfund used SuperBadger to ask both Gordon Brown and Barack Obama to do more on the issue and to go to Copenhagen themselves. “Politicians really take notice of SuperBadger, particularly if it’s combined with something else,” says Ben Niblett. “That’s powerful.”

So before the Climate Change Bill came into force in the UK, Tearfund’s supporters badgered Hilary Benn MP. “We got our three asks,” says Tearfund’s Campaigns Officer Alisha Sanvicens, “emissions cuts increased to 80 per cent, specific targets for aviation and shipping, and annual milestones. It was fantastic.” But she’s careful to add that the credit doesn’t rest at the door of one online campaign initiative. “There was a lot of campaigning that went on and we were just part of that,” she says. However, there are occasions when SuperBadger has been the main catalyst for change. In March 2008 it badgered Thornton’s to start stocking Fair Trade chocolate and Fair Trade Easter eggs. Six months later the chocolate was on the shelves, and the eggs were included in 2009’s range. “We thought they just weren’t pulling their weight,” says Ben Niblett. “We’d spoken to them about it and they didn’t say anything very helpful. So we asked people to badger them and say that they’d love to

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buy Fair Trade products in their shops. It was positive. It wasn’t attacking them. Six months later they’d done it and we thanked them afterwards.” Andy Herrick recalls that campaign well. He’s currently SuperBadger’s most trenchant campaigner with hundreds of badgers to his name. “I think I’m an addict now,” he jokes. “I’ve introduced friends to it and they’ve found it empowering. They were thrilled to see that things were being done about issues that they had a conscience about.” He goes on to note that a sense of social justice is an important part of our faith. “Jesus is our model. He took time to spend with the downtrodden and those on the fringes of society,” he says. “Jesus calls us to do something for people, to stand with them. We have a culture of rights, but if we want to have the right to clean water, we need to do

something to ensure that right is shared by everyone else. “The students I work with here in Aberystwyth are much more conscious of these issues than I was at their age, and they are more determined to do something about it. But they are also pulled in a consumer direction, even at church. So something like SuperBadger is a real challenge because it’s not about them.” Through SuperBadger, Tearfund plans to continue to badger companies and politicians over the coming years. And this is good news, says Andy, whose “frustration” from Zambia has gone because it’s been channeled into positive action.

‘We wanted to use Facebook for something more useful than poking people’

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how to

Shape up

your

whole le

life

Thinking of joining a gym in January? Spend time in prayer as well if you want to see really good results. That’s the advice from Beryl Bye, the national trainer for Fit Lives, a Christian organisation that places chaplains in gyms across the UK. Already they have teams working in gyms from Bournemouth to Birmingham. And this year Fit Lives plans to place chaplains in some 100 DC Leisure gyms across Britain. January is a busy time for Beryl and her team. In a 2002 report, market research agency Mintel said that up to 1 million of us join the gym for the first time in January. But statistics show that just a month later 80 per cent of us will have given up and returned to the couch. So if you want to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, try following Beryl’s handy how-to guide:

Leah Warkentin

After all the big meals and late nights over the Christmas season, it’ll take more than just a diet to get us back into shape. Hazel Southam finds out more...

we need to exercise both parts. People want to get fit thinking it will solve all their problems, but it doesn’t. Everyone has different ways of doing this, but just a few minutes with God can impact your whole day.”

Do exercise that you enjoy “Choose a class that fits what you like doing,” she advises. “I hate the gym with the cross trainers and all those machines. I would never go and if I did I’d be depressed and miserable. But I love the body balance class, so I choose that instead.”

Eat healthily “Eating more fresh fruit really makes a difference to your energy levels. Just add some frozen fruit to your porridge or throw some blueberries

Start small “If you like swimming, don’t say to yourself, ‘I’ll do 50 lengths.’ You’ll go once and never go back. Do two lengths the first time and then have a coffee. The next time do three lengths. That way you’ll feel encouraged by your improvement.”

Make exercise a regular part of your week

Be friendly “A lot of people are quite lonely and may feel intimidated by joining a gym where they don’t know anyone. You may feel like that too. The first week you can smile at people. The next week, try saying ‘hello’, and before you know it, you’ll have new friends.”

Don’t separate the physical and the spiritual “The Victorians used to separate the physical and the spiritual and we still suffer from that today. We are physical and spiritual beings and

26 • idea jan/feb 2010

Chris Knorr

“Once you’ve chosen what you’re going to do, go every week. You’ll see the same faces and soon you’ll make friends. Exercising regularly and socially will help you to keep going. The endorphins released in exercise will make you feel stimulated, inspired and generally better.”

‘Fitness means looking at the physical, spiritual, mental and creative’


into a yoghurt. Then try eating a bit less of the things that we all love like Danish pastries, garlic bread and chocolate. Drink more water and cut back on the caffeine. It will all give you more energy.”

Keep your mind active “Whether that’s reading a good book or joining an evening class, it’s important to keep your mind active and inspired. Keeping your brain energised is just as crucial as getting physically fit.”

Be creative “Taking an holistic approach to fitness means looking at all sorts of areas: physical, spiritual, mental and creative. Being creative keeps our spirits up. I love water-colour painting. I’m not brilliant, but I do love it. You may choose to re-arrange a room or be creative about the way you dress – like simply buying a new red jumper.”

Manage your expectations “Don’t set your expectations too high. Don’t say to yourself, ‘I’m going to do five hours of exercise, read a book of the Bible a day and have a social evening once a week.’ You won’t manage it and then you’ll feel rubbish about yourself. Set achievable goals. You’ll enjoy the changes that you’ve made more.”

Give some things up “Don’t push yourself into doing everything, especially things that you don’t like. You have to be focused, making sure that you are in tip-top shape so that you can give out to other people.”  To find out more, visit: fitlives.co.uk

idea jan/feb 2010 • 27


talking points

Matt Nettheim/Miramax

Navigating a new road

T

he beginning of a new year is a time to pause and reflect on things in our lives that need to change. We long to jettison old habits and replace them with new, healthier ones. Most of us, though, fail to achieve a fraction of what we hope for. Occasionally we long for a fresh start, and we purposefully make some choice that might give us one. We marry, relocate, retrain or de-clutter. But the most far-reaching changes in life often come unlooked for and unwanted.

Paramount

Films

UP IN THE AIR (opens 15 Jan) It feels like this role was written specifically for George Clooney, but it's actually the true story of a man whose job should be soul-destroying (he travels around America downsizing companies), so he focuses instead on earning frequent flier miles and having meaningless trysts along the way. But things change when two women enter his life: a colleague (Anna Kendrick) and a lover (Vera Farmiga) who force him to re-evaluate his priorities. This is an entertaining, often very funny film that has a sharp sting in the way it reveals the emptiness of independence and ambition. RC

28 • idea jan/feb 2010

Many people have faced redundancy in recent months; others have experienced serious illness or bereavement. Such things come out of the blue, leaving us reeling and wondering how we will ever adjust. This is the experience of Joe (Clive Owen) in The Boys Are Back, based on the memoirs of Simon Carr. It’s the story of a man whose wife dies of cancer, leaving him at a loss to bring up his two sons. It is a particularly traumatic situation, but the emotional rollercoaster he finds himself on is, to some extent, familiar to many of us. Simon says that, though parts of his story were changed for the film, he was “stunned” to see “some of the most devastating and most wonderful moments of his life” on screen.

PRECIOUS (opens 29 Jan) Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, this film has an unmistakable ring of authenticity in its story of a troubled 16-year-old (the remarkable Gabourey Sidibe), pregnant with her second child and subject to the most horrific parental abuse imaginable. But with the help of a social worker (an unrecognisable Mariah Carey) and a special teacher (Paula Patton), she begins to see some strength and light inside her. This is an unforgettable, wrenchingly emotional drama that doesn't shy away from grim reality as it explores how being truly human means looking outside ourselves. RC

A SINGLE MAN (opens 12 Feb) Colin Firth won best actor at the Venice Film Festival for this delicate, provocative study of repression and bigotry in 1960s America, almost too-exquisitely directed by designer Tom Ford. Firth plays a university professor unable to publically express his grief when his long-term male lover dies, so he struggles to find a reason to carry on living, turning to an old friend (a particularly gorgeous Julianne Moore) for help. Despite the incendiary theme, the film finds resonance and even a hint of hope in its look at how society treats people it views as different, for whatever reason. RC Icon

Looking for conversation starters, Tony Watkins finds relevant themes in popular culture...


“yes”, reasoning that so many of the rules parents impose are petty and lead to unnecessary stress and conflict. The mischief that results from this “free-range parenting” is exuberant and good-natured rather than malicious, and it creates strong male bonding. It may also create some problems but, crucially, Joe’s attitude enables him to be positive about parenting, rather than letting it become an additional pressure. Simon Carr recalls a moment, which is dramatised in the film, when his younger son jumped from a window sill into the bath creating an enormous splash. Simon’s first instinct was to stop him, but he didn’t. Now he says, “On my dying day, I will ... remember the exhilarating joy on my son’s face.” Joe gets many things wrong, but one thing he does get right is to change his priorities. He begins to put relationships first — at least,

We can’t simply sit by the roadside of life; we must somehow keep going

George MacKay, Nicholas McAnulty and Clive Owen in The Boys Are Back

In the film, the change in Joe’s life is cataclysmic, and he has no option but to move forward. In an opening voiceover, he says, “I wouldn’t be the first to say that life is a journey that must be travelled, no matter how hard the road.” He learns quickly that we can’t simply sit by the roadside of life; we must somehow keep going, even when that means only being able to think of putting one foot in front of the other.

he puts the relationship with his sons first. For a time he labours under the misapprehension that he needs to do everything singlehandedly, but gradually he learns that he needs to work at relationships with others, too. And that means accepting their help. Joe’s determination to make life as positive as possible and his admission that he needs others’ practical and emotional support are vital in enabling him to navigate this rough stretch of life’s journey. They don’t by any means make the road smooth, but they are key in helping him get through them. For Christians, these factors have even greater significance because of the experience of God’s grace. Grace enables forgiven people to be positive because the biggest of all life’s problems has been dealt with. Grace teaches us that we can’t do it all on our own; we need others and, even more importantly, we need God. Above all, grace doesn’t simply help us cope with change; it transforms us.  The Boys Are Back opens in UK cinemas on 22 January. Further discussions of Christian themes in pop culture can be found at: damaris.org

Just say “yes”

Books HOME by Marilynne Robinson (Virago Press) Both intimate and reserved in its scope, Home explores the inner-world of Jack Boughton, prodigal son to a Presbyterian preacher in small-town Iowa. Haunted by his past, Jack wrestles with guilt and regret, and Robinson leaves the reader wondering if, despite Jack’s obvious longing for redemption, it really is possible for him to find salvation. Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, Home is full of opportunities for us to counter sorrow with grace and disappointment with hope – a chance to show our friends that God is waiting for us with open arms. NH

THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown (Transworld) The Da Vinci Code’s symbologist-hero Robert Langdon returns in this new bestseller, racing against time to decipher Masonic arcane symbols, crack codes and solve puzzles. The book is, unsurprisingly, full of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. Brown presents his stories as being based on little-known facts, but many of these are at best spurious. He wants us to believe that he’s showing us the true shape of the world, and here he tries to suggest that genuine wisdom and spirituality are found within every religion and that each of us has the potential to be divine. TW

Tony Watkins is managing editor of Culturewatch.org

Transworld

Joe’s high-flying, pressurised career as a sports journalist in Australia means that he has been away from the family more often than not. He relied entirely on his wife to look after the home, so his approach to dealing with his boys is unconventional. He decides to just say

HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger (Scribner) Julia and Valentina are American twins who are perfect mirror images of each other. When they inherit their aunt’s flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery, they find that her ghost is still in residence. As in her first novel, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, Niffenegger reflects on major themes such as loss and grief. The central characters are selfish and self-absorbed, yet the narrative is still emotionally engaging. It’s a haunting, sometimes shocking gothic tale full of the inevitability of decay and death. It also explores questions of identity, love and, above all, obsession and the longing to be free. TW

idea jan/feb 2010 • 29


talking points

Carrying the fire

B

idea: What drew you to such a dark story? Viggo Mortensen: There's a line that Cormac McCarthy wrote in the book about “the frailty of everything, revealed at last”, and he's referring to nature and to people. And I liked that; I liked the journey, the tough landscape and everything. It was so real, so gritty, so truthful – as an actor I couldn't hide at all emotionally. And Kodi Smit-McPhee [who plays the 10-year-old son] is extraordinary. He was joyful every day at work like a kid and then he could focus and deliver what his character required: the sorrow, the doubt, the fear. And the journey, as hard as it is, has to be that difficult to earn what happens at the end, which I think is strangely uplifting and quite beautiful. There is a remarkable glimmer of hope in there. I think any story that has a chance of inspiring you to think that this life, no matter how complicated, and this world, no matter how messed up it is, is good and beautiful in some way and you wouldn't change it for another even if you could – that story's done its job. The boy works as the audience in the sense of responding to terms like “carrying the fire”. And he asks, "Are we still the good guys?" and

If you take everything away, human beings still have a conscious choice

Rich Cline

ased on the acclaimed novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road opens in UK cinemas on 8 January, packed with provocative ideas that are worthy of continued discussion. It’s a bleak parable, set after a natural calamity has reduced humanity to its most basic elements, following a father and son across a barren landscape as they cling to hope against all odds. Rich Cline caught up with the film's star Viggo Mortensen in London...

"What's fire?" By the end of the story the boy understands probably even better than the man does what it means, and hopefully the audience does as well. Is this the story’s central theme? You take everything away, stripping everything until we have nothing, and there's no hope apparently. And yet as human beings we do have a conscious choice. You choose compassion, kindness and love, or you choose fear and all the things fear provokes – contempt, mistrust, cruelty. And it is that simple. But to get to that simple conclusion you have to go through a tortuous journey mentally and physically. The film’s screenwriter, Joe Penhall, says the central question is whether it's better to be cynical and self-absorbed or to be naïve and hopeful. I think the boy actually takes it a step further than his father. The father can only keep him from seeing things for so long, and it's a measure of real humanity to make a choice when everything’s against making the choice and you do it anyway. Knowing how bad everything is, he understands and is able to choose between “I'm going to shoot the first person who comes near me” or ”I'm not going to”. That's carrying the fire. “In spite of everything I know” – that's what’s beautiful.

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the basics

In our series relating the Alliance's Practical Resolutions to the task of mission, Justin Thacker looks at the fourth resolution...

We urge all Christians to pray as Christ prayed, that we may be one in the Father and the Son, and so by the Spirit promote personal relationships of love, peace and fellowship within the Body of Christ, His universal Church.

T

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

In that prayer, Jesus is explicit that a visible demonstration of unity is one of the factors that God uses to convince the

CCC

he purpose of this series is to draw our attention to the way in which the Alliance’s Basis of Faith and Practical Resolutions are foundational to the central task of mission. Nowhere is this clearer than in this particular resolution, which draws on Jesus’ prayer from John 17.20-23:

world that Jesus is the Messiah. But why is our unity so important to effective evangelism? This passage suggests that it is because our unity is far more than mere group agreement and far more than just mutual love. It is in fact the body of Christ imaging the Trinity here on earth. In other words, when we are truly united in Christ we are representing, even revealing, the very character and nature of God. Jesus begins by praying that we, those of us who come to believe in Him, would be one. But then He goes on to describe the nature of that unity in these words: “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” So our unity is, in some sense, a representation of the unity that is evident in the Godhead. That is why it is far more than mere agreement or mutual love; it is a witness

When we are truly united in Christ we are revealing the very character of God


talking points

Resources

Jesus goes on to pray that we would be in God so that the world may believe: “May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” But what does this mean? I have noted that God calls us to be one in the same way that the Father and the Son are one. But here Jesus is going further and suggesting that our unity will only be achieved as we also participate in this divine unity. In fact, the strong suggestion is that it is only as we participate in divine unity that, as a body of believers, we also can be genuinely united. If we reflect on this, it is truly a profound thought and it further demonstrates why Christian unity is a unique phenomenon. Fundamentally, what it is suggesting is that true Christian unity is not just unlikely but actually impossible if we are separated from God. Our unity is only possible as we somehow participate in Him. In other words, doctrinal agreement and mutual love are not by themselves the kind of unity that is being talked about here. Any group can find themselves agreed on some topic, but that is not true Christian unity even if the topic they agree on is a set of Christian doctrines. And any group can find itself in deep mutual admiration, even love. But that is not true Christian unity even if the motivation is the love of Christ. No, real Christian unity comes from our participation in the unity of the Godhead, so that we derive our unity from that participation. Of course, when we are united with God in this way, we will also be in doctrinal agreement and express deep mutual love, but those things will not happen independently of God. Rather,

Disney

TV/DVDs

CCC

Divine unity

What is actually required is simply far more time on our knees we will have them as the outflow of our participation with God. It is because we are united with God that we will believe the same and have love for one another. All of this suggests that if we really want to be united and thereby witness to the world, what is required is not so much more hours in discussion trying to thrash out our theological differences, nor is it an increased human effort to try and love one another a bit more. Rather, I would suggest what is actually required is simply far more time on our knees, pressing into the One who demonstrates the nature of real unity, and finding our joint identity, and therefore unity, in Him.  The Practical Resolutions of the Evangelical Alliance can be found at: eauk.org/resolutions

Justin Thacker is the Alliance’s Head of Theology

LOST: Seasons 1-5 (Disney) As preposterous as this series is, there's a reason it has been so hugely successful: it forces viewers to consider that everything happening around them might be part of some master plan. The show spirals into pure fantasy with time-travel, resurrections and unreliable flashbacks and flash-forwards, but its vivid cast of ethnically diverse characters (all very well-played) give us plenty to latch onto with their private and public problems and their continual crises of faith. And as the final series begins its broadcasts soon, the sense of an impending "day or reckoning" gets even stronger. RC

32 • idea jan/feb 2010

DISTRICT 9 (Sony) This year's break-out sci-fi thriller hit is also an astute examination of heroism and justice, as it centres on a government manager (Sharlto Copley) who's forced to revise his casually racist views when he's thrown into the middle of a population of stranded aliens that he's trying to relocate further away from Johannesburg. Yes, the Apartheid parallels are extremely strong, as is the callous inhumanity displayed by the multinational corporation contracted to deal with the alien population. But while the film is entertaining us with big action scenes and groundbreaking effects, it's also making us think. RC

FRIENDS AND HEROES GOES INTERNATIONAL. More than 680 children around the world can now follow the adventures of Macky and Portia in their language with the release of a new international version of the Friends and Heroes DVD. This edition features fully dramatised soundtracks in 10 languages, including Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi and Korean, all translated and voiced by native speakers in their home countries. The DVD follows Macky and Portia through a series of Bible stories and includes extra material and quizzes to help Children interact with the biblical lessons. friendsandheroes.com ONLINE SHOP BENEFITS CHILDREN. A new internet-based Fair Trade shop has been set up by the charities Jubilee Campaign and Ethic Trade to raise money to help trafficked and exploited children. Customers who buy the clothing, jewellery, household items and garden accessories will see 20 per cent of what they spend (pre-VAT) go to projects that help children. jubileecampaign.co.uk STREET PASTORS BOOK LAUNCHED. A new book tells the story of one of the most innovative Christian ministries in Britain. Street Pastors (Survivor/David C Cook), written by founder Rev Les Isaac, examines how the initiative started six years ago with a small group of Christians who started working in the crime-ridden streets of Brixton in South London. Now, Street Pastors has more than 3,000 Christians working in teams around the UK. streetpastors.co.uk  For more resources, visit eauk.org

GREY’S ANATOMY: Season 6 (Five) In episode 8, Invest in Love, the attending paediatrician on a risky case says to her colleagues, “In paedes, we have miracles and magic. Anything is possible.” When 10-year-old Wallace dies of sceptic shock, it would be easy to despair that a miracle didn’t happen. But this episode also offers hope as Wallace’s father displays sacrificial love in the midst of pain, giving the hospital a large donation to find a cure for short-gut syndrome. His action beautifully mirrors that of a merciful God who watched His only son die so that others may live. NH Five

to the unity of the Father, Son and Spirit. And that is also why our unity is so pivotal to the task of evangelism. For in being united we are actually demonstrating not just what love is like or what group agreement looks like, but rather what God Himself is like.


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last word

So what happens next? General Director Steve Clifford discovers that it’s sometimes important to take a risk...

I

was raised in a Christian family, but by the time I was a teenager there wasn’t much faith in my life other than a belief that playing football was the greatest possible way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Then in the middle of my A-levels I ended up working at a Christian centre (Capernwray Hall) for the summer. One evening I sat in the chapel listening to the ever-familiar Easter story. But that night, deep down, I just knew it was true. And because it was true it changed everything. I prayed the prayer, and I knew that something was different. Over the years, through my involvement with Soul Survivor, I’ve seen hundreds, even thousands, of young people make that same response at the summer events, usually accompanied by the enormous cheers of their friends welcoming them into the family. It is great to be there to celebrate the moment with these new Christians. But what comes next? This was the question asked at a recent gathering of leaders from across the evangelical community. And if we're being honest, what’s next has often been: “See you next Sunday” or “We’ll get you into a small group”. And also: “By the way, don’t forget to read the Bible. I know it’s not easy but it’s important. And do remember about giving, won’t you?” I know this is a stereotype, but there’s truth in it. As I look back on my experiences as a new 17-year-old Christian, there are certain keys to my development for which I am grateful to God. Most importantly, someone took me seriously. Pastor Evans who led the independent Methodist church where I somehow (I’m still not sure how) ended up, gave me his time. I remember long hours sitting and talking in his study surrounded by books. Over those early years, there were a number of people who took me seriously, and through those conversations I came out wanting to love God more and serve Him better.

account in such a way that it gave God space to do work in me. But that experience encouraged me to learn even more. My calling was to church leadership, so off I went to study at London School of Theology. For others, their call might be to business, media, teaching, politics – any area of influence in which God is placing His people. For every new Christian the “what next?” question comes as a challenge to all of us. I love the insight Luke gives on Jesus’ discipleship programme (see Luke chapters 9 and 10). Jesus calls an unlikely gang of Galileans to follow Him – they’re perhaps not the first team on the rabbinic selection list, but He saw something others didn’t. And a pattern emerges: first is observation, as they watch how He deals with the stuff of life, then there’s explanation, as Jesus’ teaching often came out of questions the disciples asked. There were keys they needed to find, there was a Kingdom they were called to announce and good news for them to proclaim. Eventually, Jesus sets them loose – that’s participation. He took the risk, knowing that watching and listening isn’t enough. And the instructions were clear: “Whatever you see me do and have heard me say, it’s your turn now. And by the way, you have my authority.” After a time the disciples return and tell the stories of what’s happened. It is a time of reflection and, for some, a time of readjustment before being sent out again. Yes, Jesus took these young Galilean disciples seriously, took the risk, held them to account and whet their appetite to learn much more.

They must have been mad. Or maybe they were just willing to take a risk.

Taking a risk In fact, I had decided I wanted to change the world, and by age 18 I was helping to run a Youth With a Mission coffee shop in Copenhagen’s busy pedestrian centre. Within a few months I was leading the team. What were they thinking? They must have been mad. Or maybe they were just willing to take a risk. I’m not sure that we are willing to take risks these days. Sure, there was someone there to pick up the pieces and they held me to

34 • idea jan/feb 2010

Playing a small part I first met Linda Ward when she was 16 and had just become a Christian. She had attended a short training course I was running and eventually stayed on to complete a year of discipleship training. Returning to her home church, she became an effective schools worker and after a few more years joined a church plant where she became a member of the leadership team. Eventually the team leader who had planted the church moved on to other work, and it was agreed that Linda should be asked to become the church leader. Three years ago, Ann and I moved to London and joined the church that Linda is now leading. I can’t express how delighted I am to be part of her church and to know that I had a small part to play in seeing her develop into all God has called her to be.


SE FO E IN R D SER ETA T I LS

Is there mission beyond evangelism? The Apostle Paul certainly thought so. His first priority was to preach the gospel and plant churches. But then he worked tirelessly to make sure they grew in depth and maturity. He spent nearly three years in Ephesus teaching that church the whole counsel of God so that it became a source of evangelistic expansion to the whole region (Acts 19-20). And alongside Paul there was a whole network of other leaders whose primary task was in mission beyond evangelism. Here are some of them and what they did. O

O

O

O

Timothy (2 Tim. 2:2). His work was training others to be able to preach the truth of the Scriptures, as he himself had learned from Paul. Mentoring and training multiplies those who can handle the Bible well and teach it to others.

Langham Preaching: establishes movements for biblical preaching in many countries, training people in how to study and preach the Bible in their own contexts, and helping them to train others in local Preachers Clubs. Just like Timothy.

O

Tertius (Who?) He was the one whose job was writing down the great letter of Paul to the Romans (Rom. 16:22).Writing was a special skill, and people with something to say needed the help of good writers. Peter needed Silas for that job too (1 Pet. 5:12), and commended him as a faithful brother for doing it.

Langham Literature: distributes evangelical books to pastors and seminary libraries all over the majority world, and multiplies the creation of such books by training indigenous writers and editors in their own local languages, to teach and encourage their own people by their writing. Just like Tertius.

O

Langham Scholars: provides funding for gifted leaders to study for doctorates in Bible and Theology, and return to their home countries to teach future pastors in seminaries and strengthen the church in other forms of equipping leadership. Just like Apollos.

Apollos (Acts 18:24-28). His work was teaching the church. He was already well-educated, but he received even better biblical instruction from Priscilla and Aquila and then he went and used his gifts for the strengthening of the church through Christ-centred biblical teaching.

Training, writing and teaching - all of it equally necessary. Paul did not think his work was more important than Apollos’s. “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants… I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (1 Cor. 3:5-6).

Langham Partnership follows in the footsteps of these three biblical models.

Is there mission beyond evangelism? Jesus certainly said so. Great Commission Line 3. “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” That’s how disciples are formed.

That’s what Langham Partnership cares about.

www.langhampartnership.org.uk • info.lpuki@langhampartnership.org


idea January / February 2010  

In this edition: 'A missing generation?', 'The right kind of pest', 'Shape up your whole life', 'Navigating a new road', 'The Basics: Pray a...