THE MAGAZINE OF THE EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE
NEWS COMMENT features
In churches too Training the Church to tackle domestic violence
THE DEAF WAY
What church is like for deaf Christians
Should I let my children trick or treat?
The Alliance’s year in numbers
60 seconds with…
On the Job
In Your Words
A NEW WAY TO SHARE THE CHRISTMAS STORY THE ONLY CHARITY ADVENT CALENDAR WITH A FREE CHRISTMAS STORYBOOK The Real Advent Calendar is a great way to share the real meaning of Christmas. There’s a line of the Christmas story and a chocolate star behind each window. Behind the final window is a 24-page Christmas storybook. A charitable donation is made to The Children’s Society and it’s Fairtrade.
Available from It might be difficult to believe but recent surveys show that knowledge of the Christmas story is fading. Among 5-7 year olds, 36% don’t know whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas and 72% don’t know Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Among adults less than 12% know the full nativity story and 51% say that the birth of Jesus is irrelevant to their Christmas. This is a tipping point. The Christmas Starts with Christ campaign hopes to reverse the trend by telling the Christmas story in new ways. To support the campaign we have produced The Real Advent Calendar. The Real Advent Calendar is a new and fun way to share the Christmas story. Tesco have put the Christmas story at the centre of their range this year by stocking it. We hope you will buy one. You can read more at www.realadvent.co.uk *survey findings from ComRes 2007, 2010, 2012, Children’s Society 2010
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Tesco is the only supermarket that will be stocking The Real Advent Calendar this year as it has ordered enough to offer a national church in-store collect and home delivery service. It has supplies in most stores. Details of how to buy are below. Tesco - individuals From early October, individuals can pop in to virtually all Tesco stores and pick up calendars, but supplies are limited. You can also order online for home delivery. See www.realadvent.co.uk/shop Tesco - church, school bulk orders When you are ready to make a bulk order give your local Tesco a call to check stocks and pick up your calendars or use its home delivery service. Details at www.realadvent.co.uk/shop
Order by 1st November From 2nd September, churches with a Traidcraft rep can order through them or individuals can arrange for home delivery by calling 0845 330 8900 or online at www.realadvent.co.uk/shop
Select independent shops will also be stocking. For details visit www.realadvent.co.uk/shop
Chine Mbubaegbu: Our faith does have something to say about every area of our lives.
idea-torial Churches are great at Sunday Schools and youth groups. But what happens when you graduate to Big Church?
For many of us in our 20s and 30s, this is the crunch point. It’s when we choose to either stay the course or choose no longer attend. Maybe we choose to leave because church just doesn’t seem relevant to our real lives: our relationships, work, political views, or our identity. Sometimes the everyday humdrum nature of life is what causes people to become disillusioned with God. Sometimes, the Church seems to not have the answers to big life-quaking events that we go through: divorce, depression, eating disorders and death. Maybe such reasons display the selfish attitudes of the Millennial generation. Clearly, this generation isn’t perfect. But it’s also clear that something needs to be done. Church leaders need to address these issues and show young people that our faith does have something to say about every area of our lives, because as we read in Colossians 1, in Him “all things hold together”. That’s why the Alliance’s Council focused on addressing this at our ‘Missing Generation’ Council meeting in September 2009. Just over a year ago, the Alliance launched threads – an online collective of people in their 20s and 30s exploring faith and life. It’s been a real privilege to be editor of that. You’ll read in our Impact Report on page 20 that threadsuk.com had over 58,200 visitors in its first six months. And last summer, we won Best Christian Blog at the Christian New Media Awards. Here we have a vibrant collection of people who are really thinking about issues of faith and life. I’ve asked a few young people, including some of our threads contributors, to give their frank opinions on why church is a turn-off for many on page 34. If you’re a church leader, I hope you’ll read, take note, and prayerfully work out what we need to do – together – to see the missing generation return. Chine Mbubaegbu Head of Media
For fans of our annual Advent Prayer guide usually sent out in the next edition of idea, this year we are supporting HOPE’s prayer initiative rather than producing a separate guide. Turn to page 19 for more details about that.
We’re on Twitter! Follow us @idea_mag SEPT/OCT 2013
CONTENTS FEATURES 6 Exposed
Our former general director urges the Church to tackle global corruption.
16 Cover story
Why churches need to help end violence against women.
20 Our impact
Find out about the great work of the Alliance over the past year.
10 On the job: We meet a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot
Have you made your nomination for the Inspire Awards?
9 Good question
Should I let my children trick or treat?
18 Big interview
Roma Downey shares her hope for Hollywood’s Bible epic.
News from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
34 Next generation
Young people tell us why their friends are turned off by church.
36 In your words
idea readers respond…
30 About Time: Damaris explores this new film
32 Gungor: A different kind of worship Head Office Evangelical Alliance has moved:
176 Copenhagen Street, London N1 0ST tel: 020 7520 3830
(Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm)
fax: 020 7520 3850 email@example.com www.eauk.org Evangelical Alliance leadership team Steve Clifford, Helen Calder, Fred Drummond, Elfed Godding, Krish Kandiah, Dave Landrum, Peter Lynas
Email address changes to firstname.lastname@example.org Northern Ireland Office 440 Shore Road, Newtownabbey BT37 9RU tel: 028 9029 2266 email@example.com
Scotland Office International Christian College, 110 St James Road, Glasgow, G4 0PS tel: 0141 548 1555 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wales Office 20 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1PT tel: 029 2022 9822 email@example.com
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News from the Alliance
till time to apply S for Inspire Award An innovative project aimed at helping teenage girls recognise their worth, strength and purpose is just one of the projects that has been nominated for our Inspire Awards, in collaboration with Inspire magazine and Youth for Christ. And you have till 16 September to nominate your own inspiring projects, individuals or youth/youth worker. The Shine Project, now in its seventh year, aims to help teenage girls recognise, with confidence, that they have worth, strength and purpose. The Bournemouth-based project, a non-profit making registered charity, encourages these young girls to discover their intrinsic value, based on Christian perspectives. This helps them understand their capacity to make choices and to recognise they have an important role in society. Shine programmes are outworked
through 17 secondary schools across the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch areas and are enthusiastically received, with staff realising the desperate need to address these issues among girls. The main programme, an eight-week course, looks at issues including flaws of the media, respect and etiquette, understanding emotions, healthy eating and coping with bullying. Practical workshops run by local professionals include skin and nail care, hairdressing and make-up. The girls are treated to a meal at the end of the course. Jim Stockley, Shine project co-ordinator, said: “We want to invest in the girls’ futures,
Best of the web 4) JOIN US
The Alliance publishes guidance for Christians and church leaders following the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in the summer. eauk.org/marriage-faqs
If you’re reading this and not yet a member of the Alliance, come and join us! eauk.org/joinus
If you’re a church leader, sign up for idea for leaders – a bi-monthly resource providing insight, resources and inspiration just for you. eauk.org/idea/leadership
3) CHURCH GROWTH Black and ethnic Christians lead church growth in London, new research finds. eauk.org/church/one-people-commission
The Alliance is passionate about telling good news stories of how Christians are being salt and light in their communities. We would encourage you to nominate inspiring people and projects for this year’s awards, which will be celebrated at a ceremony in parliament in November. Visit the Inspire Awards page on our website to make your nomination. eauk.org/inspire-awards
1) MARRIAGE FAQs
providing a much needed source of support and inspiration. The majority of girls see a significant rise in their self-esteem and feel transformed during the eight-week course. We help girls understand they are created in the image of God.”
5) FRIDAY NIGHT THEOLOGY Sign up for a weekly theological reflection on a news story of the week delivered straight to your inbox. eauk.org/fnt
Why I’m a member “I love the Alliance and have been a member for many years. I think it’s so important for us all to join together as the body of Christ. And I love idea magazine too.”
Margaret Raisey, 89, New Community Church, south-east London IDEA MAGAZINE / 4
Andrew Green: The BBC journalists were sensitive and understanding, which helped. Twitter: @tandrewgreen
Voice to the voiceless by Andrew Green, Alliance press officer, Evangelical Alliance
Giving a voice to the voiceless has got to be one of the best reasons for Christians to engage with the media. Whether the media are interested is another thing. But should that stop us trying? Jim Stewart from Evangelical Alliance Wales explains how media coverage of a hidden problem in his home city of Cardiff has helped expose the exploitation of his local Eritrean community by kidnappers in Egypt. When Jim discovered that a criminal gang in the Sinai Peninsula had demanded a member of the Eritrean community in Cardiff pay a large sum of money to free a kidnapped relative, he asked if there was anything he could do. “Berhane (not his real name) goes to a local church and, as we became aware of the situation, it became clear he didn’t want to burden others with his problem. It’s not the Eritrean way.” But it wasn’t just his problem. It soon became clear that other people in Eritrean communities across the country were paying tens of thousands of US dollars to gangs who were kidnapping and trafficking vulnerable refugees as they left Eritrea. Jim took Berhane along to see Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West, who gave his support. They then made contact with the BBC who jumped at the chance of broadcasting a strong human interest story that was backed by the local MP.
The BBC broadcast an interview with Berhane and reported the story online. Jim and Berhane then spoke to the BBC regional news and the World Service, and Jim spoke to a local commercial station, American Life, and wrote an article for the Bevan Foundation website.
Has the media coverage helped the issue? “It’s been very positive for Berhane. Helping him to tell his story to a wider audience gets more people engaged in the issue but it’s also helped his own personal recovery from what was quite a traumatic episode. “The BBC journalists were sensitive and understanding, which helped. We now hope that other Eritreans in the UK who have suffered in the same way will tell their story, as this will put pressure on our government to do something about it.”
Get involved in Adoption Sunday On 3 November, join with churches throughout the UK to celebrate our adoption into God’s family and consider what we can do to support the thousands of children living in care. The Alliance’s Home for Good campaign knows how busy church life can be and the multiple demands there are on the time of church leaders. So here are some simple ways to make Adoption Sunday as simple as possible:
2. An adoption-themed service
1. The 10-minute slot Have a
3. Work with other churches
short slot during your Sunday service to draw attention to the need that exists in the country for more foster carers and adoptive parents. You could also think about interviewing a foster carer or adoptive parents.
Use our adoption Sunday Pack (on our website), including ideas for songs, suggested interview questions, liturgy and sermon outlines, to shape the whole service around the theme of adoption.
Team up with other churches near you to all take part in Adoption Sunday while building good relationships with local social services.
in the media The Alliance welcomes the following new members… CHURCHES Elim Pentecostal Church East Ham, London » Ascension Church Westdene, Brighton » Calvary Pentecostal Ministries, London » Elim Church Centre, Birmingham » Elim Pentecostal Church, Mitcham » Holy Ghost Zone, Coventry » Lighthouse Community Fellowship, London » Living Waters Community Church , London » Neighbourhood Church, Beckenham » Newlife Church, London » RCCG Covenant Restoration Assembly Perry Barr, Birmingham » RCCG Fountain of Love, Aberdeen » RCCG Fountain of Love Glasgow, Glasgow » RCCG Living Water Parish, London » RCCG Oasis of Life, Southampton » RCCG The House of Resurrection, Mitcham » The Emmanuel Church, London » The Light Church, Bradford » Word of Life Christian Fellowship, London » Airs Pierres Vivantes (Croydon), Mitcham » Bengali Christian Ministry, London » Christ’s Chosen Church of God, Edgware » Church of God World Fellowship, London W3 » Church of God World Fellowship, London N16 » Cornerstone Baptist Church, Thame » Ferndown United Church, Ferndown » Foursquare Gospel Church (Alithia Centre), London » God’s Mercy Revival Ministries, Southampton » Grace Church, Thame » ICM Ashford Pentecostal Church, London » Ramah Chapel International, London » RCCG Beautiful Gate, Glasgow » RCCG Beautiful Gate Battersea Parish, London » RCCG Bethlehem House of Worship, London » RCCG Bracknell Victorious Assembly, Bracknell » RCCG City of David Walworth, London » RCCG City of Faith, Cambridge » RCCG City of Favour, Leicester » RCCG City of Grace, Peterborough » RCCG City of His Grace, Gravesend » RCCG City of Zion , Cambridge » RCCG Inspiration House, Dartford » RCCG Jesus Pavilion, London » RCCG Lighthouse, Abingdon » RCCG New Life Assembly, London » RCCG Open Heavens London, London » RCCG Royal Connections, London » RCCG The Cornerstone » RCCG Winnersplace, Aldershot » Supreme Church, London » Ward End Elim Church, London » Blyth Family Church, Blyth » Centrepoint Church, Guildford » Junction Church, Eastleigh » New Hope Christian Church, London » New Life Masih Ghar, Hounslow » RCCG Comfort Haven, Sheerness » RCCG Eagles Christian Connections, Hornchurch » RCCG Everlasting Father’s Assembly, Leeds » RCCG Freedom House , Bexleyheath » RCCG Garden of Covenant , Tonbridge » RCCG Grace Chapel, Chesterfield » RCCG Great Beauty Tabernacle, London » RCCG Holy Ghost Zone Lambeth, London » RCCG House of Elyon, London » RCCG House of Joy, Slough » RCCG Jubilee Christian Centre, Coventry » RCCG Kingdom Life Chapel, Edmonton » RCCG Living Praise, Sunderland » RCCG New Gate Church Bedford, Bedford » RCCG New Wine Haven Eltham, London » RCCG Open Heavens, Glasgow » RCCG Overcomer House, Chippenham » RCCG Praise Embassy Slough » RCCG Revival Chapel Dulwich, London » RCCG Still Waters Clacton, Clacton-On-Sea
OrganisationS Christ Faith Tabernacle, London » Association of Christian Counsellors, Coventry » Reading Asian Christian Fellowship, Reading » The Stuart Hine Trust, Hailsham » International Aid Trust, Preston IDEA MAGAZINE / 5
Joel Edwards: Christians should not be selective in speaking out on moral issues alone.
A mandate to be mute? by Rev Joel Edwards, international director for Micah Challenge
Why Christians should care about corruption. Corruption. For many of us it’s one of those words that manage to evoke a sharp flash of righteous anger, which quickly fades to an eye-rolling inevitability. Our human nature both loathes and tolerates it in seemingly equal measure. There are a number of reasons why we ignore corruption, especially here in the UK: it’s too big, it’s too far away, it doesn’t affect me. But are any of these valid objections, and if not does our theology help us steer a path through this minefield? It is certainly true that corruption is pervasive. It’s everywhere from European boardrooms to Latin American courtrooms to African pulpits. And corruption is slippery – it defies definition, is often unethical rather than illegal and gradually becomes culturally acceptable through habit. The UK is slowly revealing its shadier secrets highlighted by the MPs’ expenses scandal, tax havens in The UK
trying to unravel. The relationship between corrupt governments, shady business deals, opaque practices and off-shore investments means governance is not a one-size-fits-all matter. As a result, complexity has inhibited effective response and postponed the biblical reflection that motivates people of faith to act. But perhaps Christians should be more visibly creating that effective response. We may not be policy experts or governance buffs, but we are people that understand biblical principles. The Bible is overwhelming in its concern for improper trading and God’s concern for ‘honest scales’ comes again and again. There are clear hints at honesty and transparent lifestyles from Matthew (5:14; 5:37) and in Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-9). Pivotal moments in biblical history reveal the effects of corruption and secrecy: humankind’s first mistake included a game of hide-and-
“Any Christian serious about the Bible is obliged to be serious about biblical advocacy.” Gold documentary and the huge corporate tax avoidance stories. But if it’s too big to tackle and it’s clearly in the UK, it stands to reason corruption affects us, even if we’re unaware of it on a daily basis. Big issues have never intimidated Christians, so why has the Church been slow to respond to this invidious systemic mindset? Maybe it’s because reflections on good governance are something of a theological wasteland. In the first instance biblical reflection is often just that! It responds to cultural, social and political realities rather than anticipating them. Theology has a habit of catching up with reality. And good governance is a complicated reality that academics and practitioners are still 1
seek (Genesis 3:8); Israel demanded a king because of oppressive greed and bribery from Samuel’s sons (1 Samuel 8:1-5); and Jesus himself was betrayed by a bribe (Matthew 26: 14-16). From a biblical perspective the agitation for good governance is not political action; it is written into God’s moral code. The mission to declare God’s goodness is integral to our mission in the world and integrated into our light-shining task. This is the only way in which a just God can really be understood to be good in His own world. And it’s the only thing that makes sense of the proverb: “Honest scales and balances belong to the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of His making” (Proverbs 16:11).
care about corruption. As is so often the case, those standing at the end of line when it comes to the consequences of corrupt behaviour are the poorest. The widow and the orphan, the vulnerable and the oppressed: the ones Jesus consistently challenged us to care for and to speak up for. Christians should not be selective in speaking out on moral issues alone. We have rightly lobbied about morality, and the education and health of our children and families. But we should also cast our net wider and wake up to the reality of the global systems that adversely affect millions. There is a common misconception that corruption is all about bad governments pillaging their nations. But in fact deliberate illicit cashflows account for three to five per cent of the global loss – between US$30-US$50 billion each year. The vast majority (about 50 per cent) is the result of illicit flows from goods and mispriced commodities. The fact that corruption has so often been identified exclusively as something bad governments do in Africa has made many Christians reluctant to get involved. We assume the issue is simple enough: stop giving our money to bad governments and let them sort themselves out while we look after the poor. Effectively this leads to poor advocacy on systemic structures (including the very ones that inhibit our own charitable work), undermining our philanthropy and social action. Worse still, it is an abdication of our prophetic task, an abdication of our global citizenship, and poor theology. Any Christian serious about the Bible is obliged to be serious about biblical advocacy. Corruption has devastating effects that we all have a responsibility to take seriously. God has left us with no mandate to be mute.1
But there’s another reason we should
See An evangelical Declaration on Government, the Poor and God’s Mission in the World, Wheaton, Illinois, May 19, 2010. The consultation was sponsored by Bread for the World, Wheaton College and Micah Challenge
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Lynn Green: We must be more missional in our core being, as well as increase diversity.
60 seconds with...
Lynn Green We find out more about the woman set to lead the Baptist Union into the future from September, Lynn Green. As a regional minister with the Southern Counties Baptist Association, she has been caring for 45 churches in Berkshire. “But they don’t have nuns in Baptist churches?” I thought as God woke me up in the night and said He had something for me to do. This happened after reading a Gideon Bible in my early teens, still not going to church. A year later I rang the minister to be baptised. I was never forced back to church but it did eventually dawn on me that I would have to return and my family came back with me. At 16 I was trying to work out what God had meant through the lenses of other people’s perspectives and my minister, from a Brethren background, was very supportive but didn’t know what to do with me. Was I called to be a vicar’s wife? A scary thought for my boyfriend at the time (now husband). It was only at Spring Harvest in 1987, while I was a marketing manager in London, that a pastoral deaconess actually said: “You have a calling to ministry.” I started to preach and enrolled at Regents Park College, Oxford, aged 26. It is an interesting time of transition for the Baptist Union. We have been through prayerful heart searching in the last couple of years and recognise that while it was money that prompted us to address issues, it is timely and much-needed. A renewed vision has emerged and someone needs to take it forward – this happens to be me. I am passionate about our national vision; to grow healthy churches, in relationship, for mission. I am trying to draw what is already established into a deeper reality and be accountable to our five core values – to be a prophetic, sacrificial, inclusive, missionary and worshipping community. For this role I was considered for who I am; and part of that is a woman, a wife and a mother. People may make a big deal of the first woman BUGB general secretary but this isn’t really a key thing. I feel deeply honoured, humbled and excited. It has partly become possible because people have been willing to think outside the box. That different thinking symbolises something hopeful for other women and, indeed, men. I see my calling as a minister and my commitment as a wife and mother as part of one ministry, rather than as conflicting demands. We want to stop talking about mission and simply get on with it. There is a danger in any national structure to get so involved in thinking what the future might hold that it draws energy SEPT/OCT 2013
away from actually doing it. Local church is a vital expression of who we are and we want to be releasing and supportive. There are many competing cultures and ideas. We all need a renewed confidence in the good news of Jesus, not in an arrogant way, but recognising we have much to bring to the table. Let’s be together as much as we can, not just to have a big knees-up, but to develop a pioneering mindset. When we became foster carers last November we had no idea such a move of God was going on. It is only over recent months I have been sent information on campaigns, such as Home for Good [run by the Alliance, CCPAS and Care for the Family]. We now have a Special Guardianship Order for our foster children so they are with us long-term. We believe God entrusted them to us and our teenagers were part of our family decision to offer them a home. It is a whole new world but also a painful journey because, with friends and family care, it means our friend lost custody of their children to us – a challenging dynamic. The experience provided a glimpse into situations in which many children and families find themselves – an eye-opener. It is an upheaval but it can, by the grace of God, make a real difference. I am an optimist, in a godly sense, and I am excited about the possibilities that come with tremendous challenge. We have many challenges but these are key: transitioning from inherited church into missional church; diversity and younger leaders. We must be more missional in our core being, as well as increase diversity. Importantly it is about integration and being connected and woven together. We want to grow younger, while valuing the huge contribution older people make. Unless we make space for younger generations we will not grow. Amazing things are happening but let’s not rest on our laurels. Interview by Lucy Cooper @lucyacooper IDEA MAGAZINE / 7
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Shedding light on Halloween. Join Pens as they celebrate God’s love while other people celebrate Halloween. A new, fresh approach to exploring the issues involved.
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STRATEGICALLY ERECTED CHURCHES TRAINING SLAVIC CHRISTIANS TO REACH THEIR OwN PEOPLE wITH THE GOSPEL The provision of suitable meeting places is a vital aspect of Slavic Gospel Association’s support of Gospel work in cultures where a church building is regarded as essential for worship. These buildings are a tangible sign of God’s blessing, a permanent home for believers and a strategic base for the evangelism of their local communities.
SPECIFICALLY LOCALLY FRESHLY TARGETED NURTURED CULTIVATED CARE LEADERS PLANTS IDEA MAGAZINE / 8
For more information please visit www.sga.org.uk call 01323 725583 email firstname.lastname@example.org Slavic Gospel Association, 37a The Goffs, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 1HF
Matthew Hosier leads Gateway Church, Poole – an Alliance member church – and contributes to the thinktheology.co.uk blog.
Should I let my children go trick or treating? by Matthew Hosier
Do we just go with the flow, and let our kids dress as ghosts and witches, without any kind of spiritual reflection? I am generally pro-American – I love the country, like the people, and could happily live there – but I do not like some American imports. I don’t drink Coke or eat McDonald’s and I am not that keen on the idea of ‘proms’. The school disco of my youth was bad enough, why ramp up the pressure with a prom?! And then there is Halloween. Before ET hit our screens in 1982, hardly anyone in Britain bothered with Halloween, but somehow the cinematic representation of a bug-eyed, reptilian alien, going trick or treating birthed a new social phenomenon. Fast-forward 31 years and Halloween is massive, economically and socially. What should Christian parents do in response? Do we batten down the hatches, lock our front doors, cut ourselves off from society, put our fingers in our ears, sing ‘la-la-la’ and pretend nothing is happening? Do we just go with the flow, and let our kids dress as ghosts and witches, without any kind of spiritual reflection? Do we hold alternative ‘light festivals’ and attempt the kind of takeover that an earlier generation managed when pagan Saturnalia morphed into Christian Christmas? Or, is there a better approach? When my children were very young I tended towards the ‘ignore and deny’ approach, not opening the door to trick or treaters and certainly not allowing my kids onto the street. I resented this American import on cultural and spiritual grounds, and didn’t want my children to have any part in deeds of darkness. Over time, however, my attitude has softened. Partly this has been for theological reasons, with an increasing appreciation of the Lordship of Christ over all things I have realised that I do not need to be nervous that my children might somehow be spiritually infected through Halloween. “Greater is he that is in us than he who is in the world.” The greatest con trick the devil can pull against Christian parents is to make them more afraid of his power than they are of the all-conquering power of Christ. I have also become more relaxed for SEPT/OCT 2013
cultural reasons. I might object to what Steven Spielberg unleashed in 1982, but for my kids that is such ancient history it is irrelevant. The world they and their friends have grown up in is one in which Halloween has always played a prominent part, and this means that if we are to engage with their culture we can’t just pretend Halloween doesn’t happen. My third softening has been the result of more missional thinking. We have worked hard at cultivating friendships with our neighbours but a lot of that goodwill could be lost if we shut our door to their children on 31 October. The reality is when they take their kids out trick or treating they are not deliberately entering into pagan worship – they are merely out for some fun. For us to shun them for this would look as weird as it would be to ban Guy Fawkes night. Practically, what this means for my family is this: we don’t send our kids out trick or treating, because fundamentally we still don’t much like it, and part of our Christian freedom is the ability to not enter into everything our culture promotes. But we do keep our door open, and we do have a stash of sweets to give away. Halloween is just one
more opportunity to build friendship with our neighbours, and we’re not going to close the door on that. Given the opportunity, we speak to our friends about spiritual realities and why we would not encourage our kids to make a big deal of Halloween. But we don’t get spooky about it, because we are confident in the power of Christ that is at work in us. As a Christian parent my job is not to scare my kids with how big the devil is but to disciple them in how great Jesus is. If they are clear on that they’ll be able to navigate the choppy waters of Halloween well enough; just as they will need to navigate many other social and ethical challenges in the years ahead. Lots of people enjoy a coke and burger, and proms are here to stay. These things are not to my taste but I’m not going to stop other people from enjoying them or be judgmental about their enjoyment of them. I do think there is a better way to live though, with healthier outcomes, and hope that I can be a witness to that in some way. Halloween feels pretty much the same to me. For resources and statistics on Halloween, visit the Alliance’s website eauk.org/halloween
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Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord
On the Job
pilot on A a mission Flying across Africa, Bryan Pill has been a pilot with Alliance member organisation the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) for 21 years. He talks to Lucy Cooper about the variety of life in the air, living his dream and bringing help, hope and healing… “I fly the influential, the un-influential, the healthy and the sick. I’ve flown kitchen sinks, Wellington boots, polio vaccines and play Postman Pat,” says Bryan. “Passengers might be going for a day’s business, be in desperate need of a hospital or a missionary family heading out to live in a remote community.” In more than 30 countries, MAF aircraft transport NGO and relief workers, missionaries or medical staff; enable medical or security evacuations and deliver critical supplies. They play a vital role in disaster response, often providing a gateway for smaller aid agencies to access areas in need. It is only a plane that can often make
out for real,” admits Bryan. A lover of adventure, travel and his faith, it seemed obvious to want to combine them. “Faith” and adventure should go hand in hand anyway, whether you stack shelves in a supermarket or go on mission to a distant country.” Bryan was in his early 30s when he and his wife felt God was calling them overseas. They worked four years in Hebron school in South India and after gaining his commercial licence in the US in the early 90s, they applied to MAF. Bryan recollects: “I was convinced I would never be accepted because I wasn’t an experienced RAF or British Airways pilot but we pushed the
“I don’t notice the difference between being a Christian and doing my job, they just blend together.” a journey that is too arduous or even impossible any other way. “The aircraft comes into its own when no other vehicle can do the job,” he says. “The vast majority of our aircraft are single crew so I’m not only the pilot, but also load master, air hostess and refueller.” As a child of 10 he spent Saturdays watching aircraft and after becoming a Christian at 17, Bryan read a book that sparked a mission interest. Jungle Pilot is the story of Nate Saint, a martyred missionary to Ecuador in the 1950s. “I remember passionately wanting to do what he did. But I never believed I would actually end up living it IDEA MAGAZINE / 10
door and tumbled through. It has been the most brilliant career. This is the best flying in the world! “In a stiff cross-wind, with a rough short runway and in a hot climate, there is something about bringing it down safely that is an adrenalin-pumping challenge,” says Bryan who is no stranger to difficult or hostile conditions. “If something goes wrong and there is jungle below you, it is not ideal,” he quips. On the ground tasks include counting pills in Karamoja or looking after a sick dentist in Chad. Bryan recalls a time in Zambia when he flew with medical staff to a clinic and
joined a prayer team for a while. “People were checked by a nurse, then a doctor, visited a make-shift pharmacy and then came to us – we covered the whole person. “We pray before we fly, but I always pray a blessing on my passengers, whoever they are. That is the one gift I can give everyone, apart from delivering them safely, even those who have been dying. I also love to listen to people’s amazing stories.” Bryan tends to return to Chad, Uganda, South Sudan, or Eastern Congo so may fly the same people and he continues friendships. “There are some remarkable people out there doing amazing jobs in the most obscure places in the world. Although the pilot gets kudos, it is a team effort and those at home who support my salary have a role that is just as important – I’m just at the sharp end. “I don’t notice the difference between being a Christian and doing my job, they just blend together.” said Bryan when asked about sharing his faith overseas and at home. “I know not every man is into aircraft but I find talking about my work with guys here in the UK is often a doorway to share Kingdom things.” Bryan is immediately off to Chad for a month covering in a team that is short of crew. “Our planes are small and we can’t fly or save everyone but we do make a difference to the people we can help.” maf-uk.org
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Dave Landrum: Alliance’s director of advocacy Twitter: @DrDaveLandrum
Marriage: Keep calm and carry on by Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy, Evangelical Alliance
Earlier this summer, parliament passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act which changes the meaning of marriage. In his comments in the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury summed up the scale of government’s actions: “Marriage is abolished redefined and recreated, being different and unequal for different categories. The new marriage of the bill is an awkward shape with same gender and different gender categories scrunched into it – neither fitting well.” The legal definition of marriage has changed to such an extent that it is now a very different thing than it was a few months ago. While the government have insisted they are not changing marriage but just opening it up to more people, in reality they cannot do it without first changing the definition of marriage. It is a bit like trying to add an extra storey to a bungalow and insisting that it’s still a bungalow and not a house. While it is a fact that legally marriage is now available to heterosexual
Nevertheless, it is also an opportunity and a challenge for the Church to respond, and model marriage to society, and show why it is such a valuable institution. The Church has an opportunity to demonstrate that, regardless of the vandalism done to marriage by the government, it still believes in marriage and will promote and teach of its goodness – albeit on a distinctively biblical basis.
The challenge ahead Only those churches and religious groups who choose to opt in will be able to hold same-sex marriage ceremonies, and initially at least, those who do not will keep the freedom to only marry opposite sex couples. However, there is significant concern that this protection will be challenged, both from couples seeking to get married and from churches and leaders who will want to hold
“It’s an opportunity for the Church to respond, and model marriage to society.” and homosexual couples, this fact has only been achieved by building on an invented definition of marriage. It is a legal fiction. As well as being deeply disappointing, these changes are testing for the Church in the UK. When the changes take effect there are likely to be a number of challenges to the freedom of the Church to maintain a different view of what marriage is, and also to be able to argue why that view of marriage is better for all of society. IDEA MAGAZINE / 12
such ceremonies within denominations that do not. The government claim that churches will be protected from being forced to hold same sex-marriage ceremonies, but this protection ultimately relies on the discretion of the European Court of Human Rights. This court has already deferred to individual countries to decide what marriage is, and there can be no guarantee that the protection intended for churches will hold against the legal cases, which are highly likely to follow after the law is implemented.
There is also a concern that the protection the government have designed is only for the conducting of wedding ceremonies and does not protect Christians or anyone else who might articulate their beliefs about marriage. This could make life difficult for Christians serving in public office, or working in the public sector. Teachers who do not support the changes that have been made could be forced to teach or approve of a view of marriage that is contrary to their beliefs.
God’s not fazed In the light of this new state definition of marriage, there is another perspective worth considering. While the changes are not what we hoped for, and may well present difficulties for the Church, God is not fazed by any of this. Although He’s the God of truth and justice, He is not limited by human laws, and we can have confidence that He will continue to work out His purposes in our communities and in our nation. Our trust must be in Him. Christians across the world are facing pressures far greater than this because of their faith. The pressure facing the UK Church is the pressure to secularise, and the redefinition of marriage is part of our challenge. Rather than allowing these changes to push us to margins in public life, we should see them as a challenge to raise our game – to become even more active and even more vocal. One immediate way to do this is for the Church in the UK to model what marriage should look like, and what marriage can contribute to all of public life eauk.org/marriage-faqs
The value of life
by David Smyth, public policy officer, Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland
Abortion is never far from the headlines on the island of Ireland these days. In the early hours of 12 July the Dail, the Republic of Ireland’s parliament, voted to legislate for abortion in certain circumstances. In the north, a consultation has just finished on guidance for health and social care professionals on the limited circumstances of lawful terminations. While the law in Northern Ireland is not changed by this guidance, the issue of abortion is squarely back in the spotlight. In a broader context, the World Health Organisation estimates that there are somewhere between 40 and 50 million abortions carried out worldwide each year. Closer to home, in England and Wales in 2011 there were 723,913 live births and 189,931 abortions. This means that for every four children born, one has been aborted. This data, collected annually in England and Wales by the Department of Health, shows that around eight million abortions have been carried out since the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act. This equates to the entire populations of Scotland and Northern Ireland combined. The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists estimated in 2004 that one in three women in the UK will have had an abortion by the age of 45. The difference between the law on abortion in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is stark. The number of abortions carried out in England and Wales under grounds “to save the life of the mother” or “to prevent grave injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman” i.e. under similar conditions as to those permitted in Northern Ireland, are so rare that the official statistics recorded none in 2011. It is thought to be less than 0.0001 per cent. In fact over 98 per cent of abortions in England and Wales are carried out on one ground – where continuance of the pregnancy represents a greater risk to physical or mental health than termination. Concerns have been raised by organisations like the Christian Medical Fellowship about a deliberate misinterpretation of this SEPT/OCT 2013
ground around mental health and the lack of objective medical evidence in most cases. This flagrant abuse of the law has allowed abortion on demand to creep in through the back door. This is a situation unrecognisable from that which was ever intended when a young MP David Steel introduced his Private Member’s Bill. It is still a serious criminal offence to carry out an abortion in England and Wales outside of any of the permitted grounds of the 1967 Act. Indulging my legal tendencies for a moment; it’s entirely possible to foresee a future police or government inquiry finding criminal culpability if social opinion changes towards these mass abortions. Back to Northern Ireland and you can read our submission to the recent consultation on our website. Working with Christian medical and counselling organisations we submitted a range of points on issues like conscientious objection, data collection, crisis counselling and the absence of fathers in the debate. Our overarching caution though was for the guidance to be robust enough to stop abortion on demand coming in through the back door as has happened in the rest of the UK. Life and the freedom to make choices are generous gifts from God. We believe in the intrinsic sanctity of life; that God is the creator of life even from before the “unformed body” (Psalm 139) in the mother’s womb. Choices around ending
life will always be agonising but it’s clear life should never to be ended at our convenience. Northern Ireland is too often portrayed as a rural backwater full of moral hysteria and ‘falling behind’ on this issue in terms of reproductive health or human rights. This is part of a narrow myth of progress – that every change is for the better and a trend towards individual rights trumping community wellbeing. It’s vital that we proactively counter this deceptive and dangerous narrative. We are delighted that Northern Ireland has robust laws that delicately balance the life and wellbeing of the mother and the unborn child. Our law underpins the value of life, family and community. This, together with our excellent record of maternal health should be celebrated as an example of worldleading relational policy. We can be a little dismissive about statistics, but sometimes the facts are just overwhelming – especially when you think about the man, woman and unborn child behind each one. If you live in the rest of the UK perhaps this will strengthen your resolve to reform abortion practices in the UK. If you live in Northern Ireland please join us in spreading our story of hope and life. For more information contact David Smyth on firstname.lastname@example.org eauk.org/northernireland IDEA MAGAZINE / 13
Action: Launch of our Faith in the Community report in Scotland
Good news for the poor Holyrood hears of evangelical action It was a significant day on 11 June for the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland as around 40 Christian leaders came together with MSPs and local council officials at the Scottish Parliament for the Scottish launch of the Faith in the Community report and to discuss evangelical social action in Scotland. Bringing together a wide range of organisations such as the Trussel Trust, Christians Against Poverty, Scripture Union Scotland, Tearfund, Care and others, as well as a range of churches, the event was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the good work being done by Christians across Scotland, to look at how churches engage with their communities, and how the Church can be the solution to some of Scotland’s biggest social issues. The event was a fantastic success with the main speakers, Andy Hawthorne of the Message Trust and Peter Crory, head of YMCA Scotland, illuminating the meeting with inspiring examples of what God is doing in some of our most deprived areas. Their real life examples of addictions being broken, crime coming down and long-term unemployed finding work was an inspiring reminder of the power of the gospel to transform the most broken life in ways that the politicians
present could not help but encourage. The event also provided an opportunity for the Alliance to launch Faith in the Community in Scotland. This report is making waves in Scotland with follow-up conversations already taking place with local authorities and meetings and events planned for the autumn to raise awareness of the report and its relevance to Scotland. With the development of Serve Scotland these are exciting times for evangelical social action in Scotland and we look forward to the Alliance being at the heart of these discussions. Kieran Turner, public policy officer for the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland, commented: “Good News for the Poor is
Fred said: “It’s good to get good news stories into the hands of Christians in Scotland. I love the sense of IDEA MAGAZINE / 14
Broadcasting hope One of the runaway success stories over the last two years in Scotland has been the development of Scottish Christian Broadcast – a free magazine designed to ‘Connect Christian Scotland’ with news, reviews, features and events showcasing what God is doing across the nation. Published twice a year Broadcast has gone from strength to strength with a print run that has doubled in less than two years and is now 15,000 per issue. Fred Drummond, national director for the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland, has worked closely with Ian Black, the editor and visionary behind the ministry, in the development of Broadcast and contributes a regular column to the magazine. The current edition (pictured) also features a major feature on Home for Good with an article by Krish Kandiah.
part of a wider effort to raise our profile in the Scottish Parliament and to raise awareness of what churches are doing in communities up and down the country, particularly with the most vulnerable in society. We recognise that many churches are already doing wonderful work and we want to be a voice for these churches in Holyrood to facilitate and support even more good work, and to demonstrate that the people of God truly are good news. We will always have areas we disagree on with the politicians, but events like this enable us to show them the importance of having a vibrant Church for the welfare of the whole of Scotland.”
Give thanks for the recent clarity that has come with regards to the future of CLAN and the exciting developments that are planned. Give thanks for exciting new initiatives such as 20 Schemes and Forge Scotland that are seeking to plant churches and bring life to large areas of Scotland where there is no active church. Pray also for the Alliance in Scotland’s work in stimulating conversations around church planting.
collaboration between Scottish Christian Broadcast and our own Evangelical Alliance Scotland Facebook page and website. The nation of Scotland needs a vibrant Church full of faith, hope and joy. It is a joy to see people with vision, like Ian, trying to make a difference.” scottishchristianbroadcast.com
Pray for evangelicals within the Church of Scotland, and those that have recently left, that God will grant them wisdom and direction for the way forward. Give thanks for the Scotland for Marriage petition reaching 50,000 signatures and pray for those working in and around the Scottish Parliament seeking to raise concerns about redefining marriage.
East is West
by Gethin Russell-Jones
The Christian scene in Wales in recent years has had an eastern twist. Not as a result of activity from our neighbours in England, or even Europe, but further afield in Asia. To be precise, parts of this small nation are experiencing significant financial and strategic investment from South Korea and Singapore. And it is likely that the partnerships being formed will set the missional agenda in parts of Wales for decades to come. Many pastors currently in training in Wales, as well as church planters, are benefiting from the strategic vision of Christians in the north of Asia. History is the common denominator between the projects now emerging. In 2012, the 60,000-strong SaRang Community Church in Seoul, South Korea forged a partnership with the Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST) in Bridgend. Until last year, SaRang had missionary bases all over the world, except in Europe. WEST is now its gateway and operations base for outreach into this continent. This investment will result in substantial scholarships to students and also a fund to develop church planting in the valleys of south Wales. This initiative, called Valleys Commandos, will create new expressions for the gospel in some of the most socially and spiritually deprived areas in Europe. The reason cited for this generous donation is rooted in a curious sequence of events in 1866. Robert Jermain Thomas, a young missionary from Abergavenny, was SEPT/OCT 2013
aboard an American ship on the Taedong River, working as an interpreter for the crew. The vessel came under attack from Korean troops and Thomas allegedly threw gospel tracts and Bibles to the shore. When the ship eventually ran aground near Pyongyang, the crew were assaulted by the locals and Thomas was murdered. Before his death, a number of accounts credit Thomas with handing a Bible to his assailants and crying out: “Jesus, Jesus.” His legacy however continues as Koreans today regard him as the man who brought Christianity to Korea. Forty-two years later, in 1907, Korean Christians were this time profoundly influenced by the Welsh Revival of 1904-5. This too resulted in rapid church growth and cemented the connections between the two countries. Twenty miles west along the M4 in Swansea is another eastern love affair with a Welsh Bible college. This time it’s Singapore’s turn; relaunching the former Bible College of Wales. Opened in 1927 by Rees Howells, it has been bought by Pastor Yanh Took Yoong, founder of the Cornerstone network of churches in south Asia. This Pentecostal leader believes the outpourings in Wales and then in Azusa Street are foundational to his spiritual journey. During a visit to Wales in 2011 he
visited the site of the now redundant Bible college in Derwen Fawr and sensed God telling him to buy it. The site has been purchased for £3 million and a further £2 million will be required to refurbish the property. It will host a church plant, a training academy and a place of intercession. Pastor Yoong says: “We intend to establish the Bible School, along the lines of the one that Rees Howells had established, and this is to be open to all who seek to come. We also seek to establish a prayer and intercession ministry, open up residential and hostel facilities, and most importantly, to make this heritage building a place accessible to the entire Body of Christ.” To complete the trilogy, this summer waved farewell to a 10-day worship and intercession event. Celebration for the Nations has been held in Llanelli since 2007, gathering hundreds of Christians from all over Europe and Korea. One of the organisers is an organisation called Revival Korea whose motivation for involvement is a desire to pray for the nation that brought the gospel to their land. A land that once inspired missionary activity is now in receipt of gospel zeal from the lands of the rising sun. The future’s bright and it’s partly eastern. eauk.org/wales IDEA MAGAZINE / 15
Domestic violence: In churches too Deborah Hawkins’s husband nearly killed her: three times. Chine Mbubaegbu finds out that Deborah is not the only Christian woman who suffers from domestic abuse; and finds that the Church needs to stand up for the broken. On the first occasion, which took place in the first year of their marriage, Deborah’s husband strangled her and left her for dead on the kitchen floor.
the man that had tried to kill me’. She said yes. That was the Church – no help at all. It was the harshest thing she could have told me at that moment.”
For Deborah’s now ex-husband, the catalyst for the abuse was her becoming a Christian at the age of 18. “It wasn’t just about a smack on the nose,” she says. “He tore up Bibles. He tore down anything Christian that I had displayed. He lifted a crucifix off my wall and threatened to stab me with it.”
There are thousands of women who go through the abuse that Deborah – who eventually left her husband – went through. Globally, women between the age of 15 and 44 are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war combined, according to the UN.
The third attempt on her life started when she told him she wanted out after having being subjected to years of torture from the man she had married.
In the UK, one in four women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, the Home Office has calculated.
“I told him I wanted a divorce,” Deborah told idea. “He went berserk and dragged me from room to room, smashed my head against a radiator, strangled me and left me for dead.” After this, Deborah suffered a complete psychotic breakdown for a year. One day in that year, she found herself wandering the streets; and walked into a church, where she had hoped she would find refuge and love. “They told me: ‘We don’t believe in divorce. Go back to your husband.’ I asked them if they really wanted me to go back to IDEA MAGAZINE / 16
And that therefore includes women in the Church. But traditionally, especially when trying to navigate biblical texts about marriage and often misapplying them within this context; some parts of the Church have not provided hope for women affected by violence. Restored wants to change that. The Christian organisation wants to bring an end to violence against women, educating other Christians and church leaders in how to tackle the scourge. Because domestic violence happens in churches too. “When we speak to Christian audiences
about domestic violence, we often meet Christian women who disclose that they are being abused.” The wives of church leaders and prominent members of local churches are not exempt,” says Peter Grant of Restored. “The reality for someone married to or in a relationship with an abusive perpetrator who is a church leader can be horrific. On top of the terrible abuse they are suffering, they feel a responsibility to the church or ministry their partner is leading to stay quiet and continue to suffer.” Why are some parts of the Church not seen as salt and light in this area? Mandy Marshall, who co-leads Restored, says: “Throughout history the Bible has been used by some to justify, perpetuate and propagate the abuse of women. The misuse of the Bible in this way not only gives perpetrators a false justification to start and continue abusing, it can cause those who are experiencing domestic abuse to be plagued with spiritual dilemmas about the abuse being inflicted on them.” According to Restored, Bible passages such as Ephesians 5:23 which says the husband is “the head of the wife” can be used to condone abuse, but only when applied unhelpfully. Instead, Restored encourage Christians to remember: “Submission cannot
F be forced, it must be chosen. Not submitting can never justify abuse.” The Church needs to speak more about the love and mutual respect that the Bible sees as the foundation for relationships. Women like Deborah have suffered when the Bible has been used as justification for their abuse. “I don’t think you should hang scripture above someone’s head like some kind of ultimatum,” she says. “The woman
who told me to go back to my husband was too quick to judge. She allowed the divorce angle to become a stumbling block instead of trying to understand my situation or trying to find me help. I was not someone who had committed a sin. I was someone who was the victim of abuse.”
wants you to be an open door for Him and not a doormat. And that’s what you’ve become.’ I eventually found the strength to leave.”
Eventually, as she remained committed to her faith and to church, she did find help. “A fellow Christian woman told me: ‘God
Restored has come up with a charter for churches to commit to and display in their buildings to show their commitment.
It is vitally important for churches to talk about domestic abuse; to be the kinds of places where those suffering from domestic violence can find refuge.
The charter. This Church -
1. Understands domestic abuse to be the abuse of a person physically, sexually, psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, socially or financially within an intimate or family-type relationship and that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include forced marriage and so-called ‘honour crimes’.
2. Holds that domestic abuse in all its forms is unacceptable and irreconcilable with the Christian faith and a Christian way of living. 3. Accepts that domestic abuse is a serious problem which occurs in church families as well as in wider society. 4. Undertakes to listen, support and care for those affected by domestic abuse. 5. Will always place the safety of women and children as the highest priority. 6. Will work with domestic abuse support agencies, will learn from them and support them in appropriate ways, and will publicise their work.
7. Will play its part in teaching that domestic abuse is a sin. 8. Believes in a God of love, justice, mercy, and forgiveness. 9. Will teach what it means to be male and female, equally made in God’s image. 10. Will seek to appoint advisors to encourage the use of good practice guidelines and keep the church informed about the implementation and development of these guidelines.
“In churches too” is Restored’s current campaign to highlight that domestic abuse is also taking place within churches. Restoredrelationships.org/inchurchestoo Restored encourages churches to get training to know how to deal with domestic abuse and offers such training. Contact email@example.com for more information. Deborah Hawkins (who writes under the name Debz Lowry) tells her story in her book Dark Seeds 3am miltoncontact. co.uk/dark-seeds-3am
First Man Standing
If violence is to be ended then men need to be fully involved alongside women. First Man Standing is a Restored campaign which encourages ordinary men to respect all women, challenge each other and pledge not to remain silent about domestic abuse. Men can sign up and get involved at restoredrelationships.org/firstmanstanding
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The Bible in Hollywood Chine Mbubaegbu meets Roma Downey, who along with her husband Mark Burnett, have brought the Bible to the small screen. Nearly 100 million people watched it in the US, and this autumn, it’s winging its way to Channel 5… How do you turn the epic story of the Word into a TV show? Roma Downey (pictured) – an Irish actress and producer from Northern Ireland, who played the angel Monica in hit US TV show Touched by an Angel has embarked on that challenge.
it very “of the now”, according to Roma, scenes such as the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus walking on water and battle re-enactments are brought to life – accompanied by a score by world-famous film composer Hans Zimmer.
World Evangelical Alliance. He has said of the series: “The World Evangelical Alliance stands fully behind this incredible Bible project. It could be one of the greatest gifts provided to the global church for this and future generations.”
Along with her husband Mark Burnett, an Emmy-winning producer whose work includes The Voice and Celebrity Apprentice, she has produced The Bible Series.
The series has received praise from within the Church. Alpha International’s Nicky Gumbel said of the The Bible Series: This series is stunning – superbly acted and beautifully produced. It brings the stories of the Bible to life in an extraordinary way.”
With the show about to hit UK screens when it comes to Channel 5 this autumn, there is hope that it will capture British hearts just as it has elsewhere in the world. Evidence suggests that it might. According to research by the Bible Society in 2010, 25 per cent of people said they would be more likely to engage with the Bible if it were on television.
The 10-hour mini-series has taken the world by storm, with more than 95 million viewers haven seen it in the US – even beating viewing figures for The Waking Dead in its season finale. When idea met Roma at a special screening held at the Bible Society, she gave some insight into why she and Mark set out on such a difficult challenge. “We wanted to breathe fresh visual life into a wonderful story,” she said. “With only 10 hours to tell the story, it became a question of which stories would make it into the arc of the series. What we did know from the beginning was that we wanted it to be a love story; that it was going to take us on that great epic journey that revealed God’s most amazing love for us. So, from the beginning from the Fall of Adam and Eve and the separation from God, the series really became a journey of how we get back to God.” Using the latest CGI elements to make IDEA MAGAZINE / 18
Last year, the Alliance held a preproduction special screening of the series for church leaders in collaboration with Geoff Tunnicliffe, general secretary of the
Photo credit: Bible Society
“People are hungry for God and hungry for hope and want to have these stories presented in a modern way, in a way that they don’t feel preached at or talked down to. We wanted to emotionally engage an audience so they could relate to the stories. Even though the story was written thousands of years ago, the struggles and hurts and hopes that the people had are the very same things we experience today. “The story of the Bible is exciting and dramatic and compelling. It has the greatest characters of any book every written. It has all the ingredients to make for wonderful TV, with heroes and villains and love and hate and loyalty and betrayal and sin and forgiveness and ultimately it’s a story of redemption.”
word alive 7–12 April 2014 12–17 April 2014 www.wordaliveevent.org
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Impact report 2012-3
Our year in numbers
176 Copenhagen Street, in the heart of London’s bustling King’s Cross, became our new home. The contemporary, open-plan resource centre means we’re working together even more effectively, and we’re proud to invite MPs, journalists, church leaders and organisations to meet with us here.
10,0 0 0
We worked with 403 different organisations, denominations or networks. From campaigning on issues such as gambling and human trafficking to playing a key role in theological forums and championing groups for Christians in a variety of industries, we know we’re more effective when we work together.
58,200 – the number of visits to threadsuk.com in its first six months. We launched the website, dedicated to Christians in their 20s and 30s, in August 2012 as a response to the decline in the numbers of young Christians in the Church. From relationships to justice, culture to work, threads relates faith to all areas of life and has had a brilliant response, winning the Christian New Media Award for best Christian blog in October 2012.
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An estimated 20million+ people read, heard or watched the Alliance in the media. Our press office continued to build on its strong relationships with journalists to place stories across print, broadcast and the web and ensure evangelical perspectives are represented in public debate. A further 10,000 people followed our two main Twitter accounts, @EAUKnews and @threadstweets.
Thanks to your support, 2012-3 was a busy year at the Evangelical Alliance, as we brought together evangelicals for mission. Here are some of the highlights…
155 local councils made contributions to the Faith in the Community report, produced by our advocacy team on behalf of Christians in Parliament, a grouping of Christian MPs and peers. The report, looking into the relationship between churches and councils, uncovers the barriers to them working together, assesses the situation and makes recommendations on how things can be improved.
200 200 potential fostering and adoption champions around the country were recruited by Home for Good – a campaign run by the Alliance, Care for the Family and CCPAS, which aims to mobilise the Church to respond to one of our greatest social needs by making fostering and adoption a significant part of church life.
We made contact with 90 unity movements through Gather, our initiative which networks, equips and resources clusters of churches who work together for the good of their communities across the UK. We’re actively working with 30 of the largest and most developed unity movements, and supporting the establishment of 10 new movements.
More than 650,000 people had signed the Coalition for Marriage’s petition to oppose the redefinition of marriage. The Alliance has been a key partner in the coalition – in Scotland, we took part in 30 meetings on the issue as part of Scotland for Marriage, with 48,000 people signing its petition opposing the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. The Alliance has also played a key role on this in Northern Ireland and has seen two motions supporting same-sex marriage defeated in the Assembly.
Income: Individuals £1,260,017
Gift Aid £184,3047%
Media and members £586,78125%
Organisations £115,3454% Trusts £107,5004% Advertising £155,3636% Programmes £130,6505% Legacies £200,1968% Rent £124,8375% Interest and other £9,5170% SEPT/OCT 2013
Governance £44,7252% Fundraising and publicity £138,2236% Advertising revenue £39,9572% Exceptional property and transition costs £178,2328%
of expenditure related to charitable activities IDEA MAGAZINE / 21
Raising families by Lucy Cooper
The World Bank reports that 1.3 billion people are living on less than £1 a day. Samaritan’s Purse UK is responding to this desperate need by launching Raising Families, an initiative expanding existing work in order to bring hope to 30,000 families living in extreme poverty. Working through local churches, the scheme provides families with access to healthcare, education, nutritious food, water and housing, helping them to build sustainable livelihoods and break the cycle of poverty. Supporters who give £10 a month for three years have the opportunity not only to help families but in doing so transform a community for Christ. The Alliance member organisation have halved costs of family sponsorship (previously £18 a month) by mobilising local Christians to help each other and through reducing workers, sponsor profiles and reports from the field to the donor. While many charities focus on children
or community, Raising Families deliberately looks at how churches can help the family unit – particularly supporting single-parent or broken families. “Healthy and loving families provide many of the essential building blocks for a strong and stable society,” said Simon Barrington, executive director of Samaritan’s Purse UK. “When you invest in a family by teaching them to grow food, you get families looking to the future and supporting themselves and ultimately they know they’re now part of an extended family, God’s family.” A special Raising Families Harvest pack features a creative idea encouraging UK churches to model the early Church, who shared resources ensuring there were no needy among them. An auction of promises builds a sense of community while raising money at the same time. It might be anything from offering babysitting, gardening, a skill or even use of a holiday home or caravan.
Working in groups, families in parts of Africa who could only afford one meal a day are growing crops, raising livestock and joining savings groups while helping neighbours too. Through this generosity, lives have been turned around. Cecile, an ageing grandmother, lost her children and found herself looking after five grandchildren. Through her local church group, where they share knowledge, save money and pool resources, she learned how to cultivate crops and rear livestock. “It is thanks to the encouragement of the church and community that I can earn money to pay for school fees and health care,” she said. “Pooling resources can look after the most vulnerable” explains Brian Bennett, head of communications at Samaritans Purse UK. “It is a way of thinking differently – looking not at what they don’t have but what they do have.” samaritans-purse.org.uk/raising-families
HELPING IN JESUS’ NAME
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me PHILIPPIANS 4:13 (NKJV)
WORKING TO GIVE
& FAMILIES A FUTURE part
s rty? r ur day.
To play your part in releasing some of the world’s poorest families from the chains of poverty, visit our website and request your FREE HARVEST PACK today.
www.SAMARITANS-PURSE.ORG.UK/RAISING-FAMILIES or use the QR code above. SAM-16409 CRE advert_A5 Landscape_stg3.indd IDEA MAGAZINE / 22
Imagine what can happen in 2014 as churches across the country pray and act together.
HOPE and God’s mission heartbeat The Bishop of Wakefield is giving every church in his diocese £100 to help kick-start a community initiative. The scheme aims to celebrate HOPE’s 2014 year of mission. Inspired by the parable of the talents, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten will hand out the money at a special service in Wakefield Cathedral on 22 September 2013 to mark his 10th anniversary as diocesan bishop. It will be up to each church how they use the money – but it has to be used for a community project that will touch as many people – young and old – as possible. Each church will be asked to submit their idea for their community project, to be recorded in pictures for everyone to share, to tie in with HOPE 2014. The Bishop of Wakefield said: “I want to encourage each church to look outward into their communities and use this money to provide something that will touch and connect with those around them for some time to come.”
Nationwide Wakefield’s enthusiasm for HOPE is being repeated in villages, towns and cities across the country. HOPE began as Hope08 as a one-year, mission dream; 1,500 churches took part. When the year ended denominational leaders asked HOPE to continue as a catalyst for mission. Now HOPE is working across an unprecedented range of denominations to see communities transformed. The distinctive emphasis is on local churches doing more, together in mission, in word and action in a year of united mission in 2014. Roy Crowne, who leads HOPE said: “Imagine what can happen in 2014 as churches across the country pray and act together. We are stronger together than apart. Yes, we’ve got to demonstrate the love of God, but we are also committed to telling the story of what Jesus Christ has done and our own faith story.” SEPT/OCT 2013
The 2014 year of mission will be launched in October with a church leaders’ forum at Lambeth Palace, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a night of prayer at London’s Excel Centre hosted by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) UK churches. Pastor Agu Irukwu, chair of the executive council of the RCCG, said: “The more seriously we approach prayer and fasting, the more serious the results we will experience in our missional journey.” Churches will be invited to use a 12week daily prayer plan from October 2013 into the new year, asking God to transform lives in our communities. Copies will be distributed with the November/December edition of idea.
A rhythm of mission HOPE is supporting local church mission by providing resources and training encouraging a rhythm of mission through the church calendar with activities focused on Lent and Easter, Pentecost, summer community-building events, Harvest, Remembrance and Christmas. HOPE – the Heartbeat of Mission, published in April 2013, is a directory to encourage churches to put faith into action in neighbourhoods nationwide. It brings together more than 150 tried-and-tested mission ideas, resources and funding links for food banks, homeless shelters, debt counselling services and more. Eighteen of the projects featured are backed with funding of up to £2,000 to start each new church-led initiative. Denominations are giving HOPE – The Heartbeat of Mission to church leaders to inspire action. The challenge to churches
is: how will your church and the churches together in your area do mission with words and actions in 2014? Endorsing the book, Bishop of Hertford Paul Bayes said: “We’ve bought a copy for every parish (in St Albans Diocese), as we seek to help each Christian community to live God’s love in its own way. I am committed to HOPE, because I believe it moves the mission agenda forward.” hopetogether.org.uk
Youth initiative Young people are taking a lead with HOPE Revolution Mission Academies to support the mission of local churches. For example, one Mission Academy learning together about word and action mission, ran three practical projects as a result of just one day’s training: • A senior citizens’ day linked to the local church, with a special lunch and activities from playing cards to Nintendo Wii Golf, run by five young people. • A fun-day for 130 local people in Burnley with a free barbecue, sports and music, all run by a small group of teenagers who were equipped to talk about their faith, why they were holding the event, and about the local church. • A cupcake giveaway in Bolton giving passers-by a simple message: “Because you’re loved.” The teenagers who ran the event gave away the cupcakes with a card pointing to a website for more information about faith in Jesus. Up to 50 areas are now signed up to hold Mission Academies.
hope-revolution.com/mission_academy IDEA MAGAZINE / 23
Confidence in the Gospel
Building confident churches by Phil Green
What can we do about the lack of confidence that exists among UK Christians? Take Mrs Average Christian. Most people know she is a Christian, but she’s only ever had conversations with about half of them about her faith, and she felt nervous and awkward doing so. It’s been almost six months since she last heard of someone becoming a Christian through the work of her church. Despite the majority of churches having an invitational model of evangelism, it’s been over a year since she has invited someone to a special event or evangelistic course. She feels like her church is great at helping her connect with God and other Christians, and at increasing her understanding of the Bible. But she’s not so sure it really helps her transform her life to be more like Christ, use her skills and gifts to serve God, engage in social action or equip her in personal evangelism. This is what our research has revealed, and that’s why we are working with 13 churches, of all shapes and sizes, to find out what small changes can be made to boost people’s confidence in the gospel and nurture a culture where evangelism happens naturally.
Learning These churches are part of a learning community being facilitated by Lead Academy. It’s an opportunity for them to meet together to refocus on their visions, be equipped with insights and tools and benefit from each other’s experiences.
Broughton Community Church Denomination: Church of England Context: Broughton is a suburban neighbourhood
How they describe themselves: “If you want an
informal friendly, Bible-based church, with a flavour of the Church of England, then Broughton Community Church is for you!”
Size: 40 adults, 15 children and young people Confident culture
People had become used to us rarely seeing any visitors coming to our church. The congregation’s response to this wasn’t to start inviting people. The opposite happened – inviting guests was no longer the norm. So we have taken steps to help people invite their friends. We’ve produced credit-card sized information cards which people are giving out. We’ve also created a new website so people can find out more about us before coming along. There’s a feeling in the air that things are changing. We’re seeing new faces each week now and the church has increased in size by about 20 per cent in the past year.
We didn’t have a clear vision, or a clear plan on how we could head toward that vision. A change in our leadership structure was required because there just wasn’t the capacity to talk about vision and strategy in a monthly PCC meeting with 11 people. We have now introduced a new leadership team, which will meet fortnightly, and will focus solely on vision and strategy. This team will report to the PCC – who will now only meet four times a year. broughtonchurch.org
Developing gospel-confidence is not just about equipping churches with evangelism techniques – it cannot be viewed in isolation. That’s why this programme is honing in on four aspects of church life – confident culture, confident leadership, confident discipleship and confident mission. We’re halfway through the process and with such a variety of churches taking part, we’re hoping that you’ll identify with one of them, and be able to learn from their experiences. Here’s a taster of three of the churches involved. Next year, we’ll report on confident discipleship and confident mission. In the meantime, could you encourage your church to become part of a learning community? eauk.org/confidence Jason Clark, leader of Sutton Vineyard, said:
Find out more about what you can learn from the churches taking part: eauk.org/confidence Why not join the next ‘Building Confident Churches’ learning community? leadacademy.net
“It’s one of the best things I have been to for a very long time. It has recaptured a love for and sense of all that is so exciting about our church. And we left with a new sense of all our church could become and do over the next few years, with a plan to progress that with them.” IDEA MAGAZINE / 24
Confidence: Meet some of the churches that are part of our learning community.
Confidence in the Gospel
Hoddesdon Baptist Church
Context: Sutton is an urban area in south-west London.
Context: Hoddesdon is a small town in Hertfordshire, a few miles north of London.
How they describe themselves: “We believe
that the purpose of our church is the investing of our lives together with God for the welfare of others.”
Size: 375 adults, 170 children and young people Confident culture
We have realised that our people are deeply and widely connected to people outside of church, but they lack the confidence to share their faith with those people. For the next three years we want to focus on the factors that stop people sharing their faith and encourage people to pray for their friends, build friendships, develop affinity groups for relationships, and bring friends to Alpha. We want to create programmes that help us to share our faith; so that we develop a culture where faith-sharing is something we do normally and confidently – regardless of programmes.
While we are good at identifying, training and releasing leaders, we are not good at our leaders being able to release other leaders. The same few people recruit and train most of our leaders. This is a major obstacle to growing beyond where we are at present as a church. We are therefore going to introduce a church-wide apprenticeship process (newthing.org). It’s a way to help all our leaders train other leaders and at the same time release those leaders to train their successors. vineyardchurch.org
How they describe themselves: “We are a group of ordinary people, who are learning to love and trust one another as we explore what it means to live out the Christian life in the 21st century.”
Size: 70 adults, 20 children and young people Confident culture
We lacked a clear shared vision, or indeed any concrete hopes for the future. There was little confidence that God would do much through us. To change this, we invited the congregation to imagine what the future could look like. We then took this and created an action plan, which has helped us focus and move forward together. However, it hasn’t just been about the big plans, it’s also been about increasing confidence in everyday life. We’ve encouraged people to share stories of the small steps of faith they have taken and how they have seen God work. Gradually we are growing in confidence that God can work through us!
Linked to our lack of a uniting vision, over recent years the church has been pulling in slightly different directions. There haven’t been major differences, but we recognised that despite the subtleties of these differences, they were significant. To address this we are identifying core team leaders who we believe can become vision sharers – those who are able to represent their teams to the church meeting and embody the vision of the church in their teams. The aim is to bring about unity based on shared vision, not on centralised control. hoddesdon-baptist.org.uk
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a setting before where everything we did was so completely focused and relevant for exactly our situation. ”
“ This has genuinely been the
best thing our leadership team has done for our development in the last 15 years ”
“ Probably the best training
/facilitating event I have ever been on ”
IMAGINE WHAT YOUR CHURCH COULD BECOME...
LEAD ACADEMY - EQUIPPING LEADERSHIP TEAMS TO FULFIL THEIR CHURCH’S VISION
Visit www.leadacademy.net for more information and to discover what leadership communities are available Lead Academy is pleased to be serving church leaders across the nation with Evangelical Alliance IDEA MAGAZINE / 25
Unity through the decades: Rev Molliston Madison Clark As we celebrate Black History Month in October, Chine Mbubaegbu delves into the Alliance’s history books to find an inspiring story… There have been times over the past three years I’ve worked at the Evangelical Alliance when I’ve been overcome by the privilege of working for an organisation with such a deep, rich history of being good news to this nation and with such a passion for uniting the Church. There are times when we have been amazed by some of the things we find in the archives that tell the story of our 167-year history. But for me, personally, the story of Rev Molliston Madison Clark – an African American – has been my favourite so far. Rev Clark, born in 1807, caused a great deal of excitement when he arrived at the Evangelical Alliance’s first conference in 1846. Having survived a shipwreck on his way from New York to the UK – and therefore having to return to the Big Apple before beginning his journey to London again, he arrived at the conference late. Writing in The Evangelical Alliance, published in 1847, J W Massie wrote: “His life had been spared, and his desire had been filled, that he should meet with the assembled servants of God. “Mollison Madison Clark excited a deep and powerful interest in the conference. His personal appearance was as impressive as were his circumstances and his history. A figure tall and erect; a complexion superficially almost sable, but in its substratum tinged with the hue of the red Indian; his hair a strong black, but not fleecy; a countenance bearing the outline of a noble profile; every feature deserving the epithet handsome.” The description of the colour of Rev Clark’s skin in a report of an Alliance conference seems totally alien reading at a time when our Council is full of leaders from diverse backgrounds and I’m privileged to be part of the One People Commission, which celebrates diversity while promoting unity, bringing together key national leaders IDEA MAGAZINE / 26
from diverse ethnic groups. But things were different in 1846; and reading through the description of the meeting I am struck by the sense of excitement and the welcoming spirit of the Alliance at a time when it was uncommon for black and white to mix. Rev Clark was a freeborn native of Delaware and was sent to Philadelphia as teenager because in theory at least, black children were offered the same opportunities as white children in the Philadelphia public school system. He was sponsored by the Presbyterian Church to attend the college they founded – Jefferson College. He went on to teach in a school for black children in New York. He moved to Ohio and again worked in a school for black children and he was instrumental in establishing schools for black youngsters who were moving into the area from the southern states. He campaigned against the Ohio Black Codes which restricted the movement and opportunities for black people, including the requirement for black people to have legal documentation to prove they were “free” before they could settle in Ohio. In 1852, Rev Clark became the first editor of the Christian Recorder – which is the oldest existing black periodical in America. He pledged that the magazine would focus on religion, morality, science and literature. The Christian Recorder was a strong and vocal opponent to slavery and repeatedly addressed the biblical and moral issues of slavery and encouraged and nurtured black consciousness. In front of a captivated audience, Rev Clark gave an address. Some of the words he spoke in 1846 still resonate with me and give me goosebumps as I read as a black person and a woman 167 later at the Alliance. In his words are the message of hope and unity and familial love that we as
the Evangelical Alliance remain passionate about. I’ll leave you with his words: “Representing as I do, over seventeen thousand professing Christians in the United States of America, members of the African Methodist Episcopal Denomination – and more or less remotely three million of my race, I feel the sacred and high honour as well as the great responsibility. “They are men possessing, in common with the rest of the human family, great interests both in heaven and upon earth; and, though they may for a time be deprived, by frail human policy, of some of the privileges of the latter, yet they have faith to believe, that, through the everlasting Atonement, they will for ever enjoy the glory and happiness of the former. “The Church has this great work to accomplish, and that all she wants to effect it is, that her concentrated energies be brought to bear, with wisdom, prudence, and discretion, upon the enlightened consciences of the World; and, under the guidance of the Divine Hand, the work will steadily and safely go forward, till it shall be perfected. “Feeling very thankful for that kind and Christian reception with which I have met, I subscribe myself. “Your fellow labourer in the vineyard of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” M. M Clark
Research by Kim Walker, senior information officer, Evangelical Alliance
Christmas Starts with Christ
Leading denominations unite to save Christmas by Chine Mbubaegbu
The Alliance is getting behind a campaign aimed at putting Christ back into Christmas. Up and down the country during the most wonderful time of the year, churches bring light into their communities. But the reason for the season is being forgotten; and the motivation which underpins the Church’s goodwill is largely unknown among the wider public. Just 12 per cent of adults know the nativity story; and 36 per cent of children do not know whose birthday is being celebrated during the festival. Christmas is being lost to secularism and the expectation is for this to get worse. Some 51 per cent of people now say that the birth of Jesus is irrelevant to their Christmas. This is a tipping point. Christmas is becoming simply … ‘mas’; a consumer-fuelled and family-filled happy holiday which is meaningless – albeit enjoyable. Now a movement made up of some of the nation’s leading Christian groups, including the Alliance, the Church of England, and the Children’s Society, is coming together because they recognise something must be done. The Christmas Starts with Christ campaign is a rallying call to the Church
to save Christmas; to put Christ and the amazing story of his birth back as the focus of the nation’s favourite time of the year. Because he is where it all begins. Leading the campaign is ChurchAds.net – the group behind the annual Christmas advertising poster campaigns. This year, recognising the urgency and importance of bringing the Church together to save Christmas, the group has taken a new direction. Part of this will be the first ever nationwide Christmas Starts Sunday on 1 December which kicks off the campaign and starts Advent. The Christmas Starts with Christ campaign launches this autumn with new branding and a new logo for churches to use on their Christmas material and to also show their commitment to the campaign. Church leaders are among those who have put their support into the campaign. Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: “I’m excited by this campaign, which really seeks to show that the Church is good news for the nation
in every season; not least of all at Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our saviour. The world needs to know that’s why we do what we do. The strong, united, vibrant and diverse voices of the Church in the UK coming together as part of this campaign will help to tell the story.” A recent survey conducted by the Christmas Starts with Christ campaign at the Christian Resources Exhibition found that 73 per cent of Christians think Christmas needs saving. Christians were most concerned with findings which reveal that children know very little about the story behind Christmas. Four in five Christians said they would be motivated to act on the findings that most adults do not know the Christmas story. Around two thirds were concerned that just one in 10 thought the religious meaning behind Christmas was important. If you would like to download resources for your church, find out more about the campaign or help save Christmas, visit www.christmasstartswithchrist.com
Help keep Christmas Christian Sign up to the campaign at christmasstartswithchrist.com
IDEA MAGAZINE / 27
Church: D/deaf perspectives You long to mix, develop friendships and be part of conversation, but no one speaks your language. Lucy Cooper explores what church life is like for D/deaf people. You are among an excited crowd, but you cannot make out words, it’s muffled. Communication breakdown is isolating and frustrating for anyone. Hearing people are often unaware that inside the Church there are D/deaf * Christians who feel like outsiders. Often in the hearing world, we unintentionally fail to consider their needs. While we aim to welcome all cultures and backgrounds, many feel so excluded they leave the Church altogether. The challenge to the mainstream (hearing) Church is not only to recognise the need for accessible content but to challenge attitudes, creating a positive understanding and dialogue that enables D/deaf people to feel a valued part of the Church. “A D/deaf person can’t just walk in to any church and gain access to what is going on. I see time and time again that it is a real struggle and that breaks my heart. The gospel is for all, D/deaf and hearing,” says Laurence Banks (D), director of Go! Sign. In Laurence’s experience, awareness of Deaf culture is rare, but even a little understanding can make information accessible and begin to build genuine relationship. “It’s a serious issue and we all need to work together to focus on the real causes and support the local Church to engage and appreciate D/deaf people as a part of the body of Christ.” Among D/deaf people there are varying degrees of hearing loss, English, speech, BSL and preferred communication methods. It
cannot be presumed that D/deaf people have the same needs or want the same support. However, attention to simple details and adjustments can transform a D/deaf person’s experience of church. Churches are encouraged to provide qualified interpreters as needed and ensure the hearing loop is working correctly, for instance. Having a welcome team and leaders who have learnt basic sign language, good use of the PA system, advance sermon notes, clear visual presentation and uninterrupted lines of sight (for lip-reading or signing), can make all the difference. The UK Deaf community are British Sign Language (BSL) users, and have a unique culture, language and strong sense of identity. Deaf churches worship entirely in BSL, and are often a place of belonging where D/deaf Christians express their worship freely without barriers. Within some hearing churches, D/deaf ministry is a sub-group with regular integrated services. Others have BSL interpreters to provide access to church life. “D/deaf people are often a swamped minority, not speaking the language of the majority,” says Rev Bob Shrine (D), chair of Deaf Anglicans Together and a minister in the Deaf community. “Providing interpreters and access is a good start but it is not inclusion. Meaningful inclusion is D/deaf people moving from passive spectator to active participant. This happens through two-way interaction, awareness, valuing differences and allowing D/deaf people space. This gives confidence and empowers D/deaf people to bring their contributions forward.” For many, trying to follow English word order in a sermon or conversations is exhausting and disheartening because the meaning gets lost. Several talk of the emotional and illuminating moment when the gospel was presented clearly to them in BSL for the first time. Penny Beschizza (D), chair of Signs of God, explains just how empowering being able to worship in your own language is. “BSL is a fully linguistic, distinct language. Sometimes hearing people
IDEA MAGAZINE / 28
FIND OUT MORE
• Go! Sign (previously Deaf Christian Link UK): gosign.org.uk • Signs of God: signsofgod.org.uk • BSL Daily Bible Devotions: bsldailydevotions.co.uk • Deaf Anglicans Together: sites.google.com/site/ deafanglicanstogetheronline/home • Christian Signs: christiansigns.co.uk • The Church and the Deaf community by Rev Bob Shrine (D) • Deaf liberation theology by Rev Hannah Lewis (D) view sign language as a ‘lovely tool’ but it is so much more. It helps us communicate, gives us creativity and freedom in worship – conveying meaning and emotion that we may not grasp otherwise.” “The Church does sometimes undermine the gospel for D/deaf/disabled people and there is more to be done together in raising awareness of cultural, inclusion and language issues. But we are beginning to see encouraging change,” adds Laurence Banks. “Fellowship is vital and contagious. When we have it, we do not feel isolated. To move forward we have to work in partnership.” Gill Behenna, national Deaf ministry adviser for the Church of England, says: “There is much work to be done but I love hearing the good news stories and the marvellous work that is being done by chaplains among D/deaf people. We enable consultation with D/deaf people and explore ways in which their faith can be encouraged and grow.” One of the most effective things we can do to encourage and involve D/deaf people in our churches is to ask them what they need and “be a friend, in the same way you would get to know anyone from a diverse culture”. “Allow them to make their own decisions, without force and meet them halfway,” says Penny Beschizza.
Capital D refers to BSL users who identify themselves strongly as part of the Deaf community. Lower-case d refers to people who may be hard of hearing, prefer to use English, lip-read or use hearing loops.
“Many feel so excluded they leave the Church altogether.” D/deaf perspectives: “I love it when I am participating and not just seen as a deaf person sitting watching the interpreter.”
“I feel upset when people treat me (albeit unintentionally) in a patronising way.”
“It can be difficult if e is I want prayer and ther ” e. no interpreter availabl
“It’s difficult when people talk too fast, drop their voices, look down, walk away from the microphone or play videos without subtitles.”
“My pastor can use sign language, which enables me to continue my faith, without it, it would be much more difficult.” “We have struggles with ignorant society everyday so we need extra welcome in church – friendly people who are not afraid to talk to a deaf person.”
“Hearing people misunderstand and think I’m rude when I am direct with what I say, if I try to visually catch people’s attention or interrupt to clarify something. This is just the deaf way.”
“People are so wrapped up in themselves that they find it difficult to make adjustments to my communication needs, despite knowing me very well.”
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Sophie Lister: is a writer with Damaris which provides free resources for Damaris Film Clubs as well as the Damaris Film Blog. See damaris.org/filmclubs and damaris.org/filmblog.
About time “Sooner or later there will come a time when our perfectly maintained self-image falls apart.” Like most people in their early 20s, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) feels like life isn’t quite going the way he wants it to yet. Though he adores his family, including his bumbling dad (Bill Nighy) and quirky sister Kat (Lydia Wilson), he can’t get the thing he wants the most: a girlfriend. And then, on the night of his 21st birthday, he finds out a secret which will change everything. Tim’s dad tells him that he has inherited an extraordinary ability passed on between the men in their family. Whenever he wants to, Tim will be able to wish himself back into past moments and live them all over again. He can make different choices, seize missed opportunities, or alter his actions repeatedly until he gets the desired results. It seems the perfect solution to his romantic dilemma. After all, surely a man who can write the rules of his own life can win over any woman he wants?
Painful pressure Of course, it’s not that simple. It’s not that simple when he develops an unrequited crush on the gorgeous Charlotte (Margot Robbie) – and it’s not that simple when he finally meets the woman of his dreams, soulful wallflower Mary (Rachel McAdams). Time travel can achieve some amazing things, but it can’t actually make anyone love him. When it comes to romancing Mary, Tim’s gift actually causes as many problems as it solves. The temptation to hide insecurities in the early part of a relationship is always strong, and Tim makes the most of his ability to replay any scenario at will. A bad chat-up line, a failed date or an awkward IDEA MAGAZINE / 30
first night together can all be undone, and honed until they’re perfect. It’s a reflection on the pressure we all feel to present a flawless face to the world. Whether it’s with a romantic partner, with family, friends or colleagues, we exercise whatever power we have to airbrush out our imperfections and manage every facet of how we’re perceived. About Time successfully plays this kind of personal perfectionism for laughs, but many of us will also recognise it as a painful source of pressure. In the absence of grace for our failures, performance becomes everything, and our energies are spent striving for control. In the end, it’s an exhausting way to live.
God complex Tim isn’t just determined to be the one at the wheel in his own life. When his sister goes off the rails, he takes it upon himself to try and rewrite her story too. It’s here that he encounters the more difficult consequences of his gift, and comes face-to-face with its limitations. However much he interferes, Kat’s life isn’t going to run exactly the way he wants it to – and neither is his own. Growing into adulthood means learning that, ultimately, we can’t control everything about our circumstances any more than we can dictate the direction of those around us. Sooner or later there will come a time when our perfectly maintained self-image falls apart, when events take a turn against our will, or when we have to give those we love the freedom to choose for themselves. Life is simply bigger than we are, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think we can contain it all. At one level, these truths could
become a source of great anxiety and fear. Relinquishing our god-complex might leave us feeling exposed, liable to be rejected when we’re finally seen for who we really are. We may experience a sense of powerlessness once we acknowledge that life’s circumstances won’t always go our way – that no amount of striving can banish the hard truths of our brokenness, weakness and mortality. But looked at in a different light, this loss of control becomes life-giving. If our control was only an illusion in the first place, then letting go allows us to interact more meaningfully with reality. Genuine relationships can’t happen unless we show others our imperfect selves, and unless we allow them to change out of choice, not by force. Spiritual growth can’t happen unless we receive God and his grace where our plans and performance used to be. Jesus offers rest when we’re weary of trying to get it right, and comfort for when it all seems to have gone irredeemably wrong. Perhaps when we stop trusting our own ability to make life turn out the way we want it, we might place our trust somewhere more secure. About Time is released in cinemas on 4 September. For free official resources, see www.damaris.org/abouttime
Reviews: What’s new in books and music?
AM I BEAUTIFUL? by Chine Mbubaegbu (Authentic) By weaving together strands of wisdom from the scriptures, sociological study, historical writers, and her own experience, Chine Mbubaegbu has crafted a fascinating and frank reflection on female beauty. In a media and marketing era with its relentless unattainable images of ‘beautiful people’, she anchors the idea of ‘beauty’ firmly in the character and design of God. The riches of thought contribute to the renewing of our mind so that we can discern His good, pleasing and perfect will for our life. Reading Am I Beautiful? is like having a good look in the mirror and walking away changed – for the better. (See below for special offer). Reviewed by Marijke Hoek
THE SACRED DIARY OF ADRIAN PLASS: ADRIAN PLASS AND THE CHURCH WEEKEND
by Adrian Plass
Have we gagged Jesus? Do we tame his words to make them more palatable? Based on a popular sermon series, this book is fascinating and readable but certainly packs a provocative punch. Moore goes as far as to say that if we are not offended then we have not fully grasped the implications of what Jesus says. Chapters explore things Jesus said that we wish he hadn’t about himself, family, porn, anger, other religions, sex, hell, possessions and more. Many irreligious people are intrigued by a controversial Jesus, so this could spark conversation. Jesus told it like it is. Discover the real, outrageous, ungagged Jesus.
by Phil Moore (Lion Hudson)
(Hodder & Stoughton) Adrian Plass has aged well, or at least his Sacred Diaries have. Now father to a vicar and with a teenage grandson the laugh-out-loud lines are a little more spaced out but delivered with as much weight as ever before. Adrian, in his own inimitable style has volunteered himself (and his wife Anne) to lead the church weekend, which provides the canvas for a cast of returning and new characters to playfully poke fun at some of the Church’s more quirky traits. Leonard Thynn spends most of the book arguing with his SatNav while newcomer Minnie Stamp tries to resolve Adrian’s deep perpetual crises. The humour is also balanced with passages of profound reflection, and in this the last instalment of the series, it ends not with humour but a sign of hope. Reviewed by Daniel Webster
Reviewed by Lucy Cooper
THE ART OF CURATING WORSHIP by Mark Pierson (Sparkhouse Press)
ALL SONS & DAUGHTERS – LIVE (Integrity/Columbia) This, the first live recording from the Tennessee-based folk-country duo, is one of the best worship albums of the year so far. There’s the occasional veer into middle-ofthe-road Christian rock, but generally it’s ambitious, varied and, crucially, lyrically excellent. There’s an earthy realism in the words, lacking in many of the songs we sing in church, particularly evident on Brokenness Aside and Called Me Higher. With only two new songs among the 13 tracks, it’s probably one to be Spotifyed rather than bought if you’re a long-term fan, but it serves as a great introduction for the uninitiated.
Described by Brian McLaren as the “most important and helpful book on worship written in at least a decade”, Pierson’s insight into the Church and how we create and curate worship events is an outstanding resource. Inspiring and encouraging, The Art of Curating Worship gives us the theory and theology behind Pierson’s thinking but also leaves us with some excellent practical examples that we could use in church services of all backgrounds. Highly recommended, not just for musicians, but church leaders of all disciplines. Reviewed by Nathan Jones
Reviewed by Nathan Jones
“A life-enhancing, challenging gem of a book that tackles the scourge of society’s obsession with a woman’s appearance.” - Michele Guinness
Am I Beautiful? by Chine Mbubaegbu Available now from your local Christian bookshop or authenticmedia.co.uk
GET 25% OFF WHEN YOU BUY ONLINE To receive your 25% off enter the promo code AIB13 when you order online at www.authenticmedia.co.uk or www.wesleyowen.com. Offer ends 31st October 2013.
Join the conversation SEPT/OCT 2013
/amibeautifulbook IDEA MAGAZINE / 31
A different kind of worship Denver-based Gungor isn’t your typical Christian worship/music band. Claire Musters meets them at Big Church Day Out and gets behind their music. Having released three albums and had multiple Grammy nominations there is obviously something about the group, or ‘collective’ Gungor. Headed up by Michael and Lisa Gungor, something seems to be drawing people to their hard-to-describe music. Even their own Twitter bio reads: “It’s kinda hard to explain… Imagine if a cello and a banjo had a baby, and then you put a pedalboard in the crib!”
write music I automatically look for what is happening in my soul. That’s why I write a lot about faith, spiritual aspirations, and spiritual failures. Music for me has always cut right to the core.
Can you describe the collective? We are based in Denver, Colorado, and the rest of the collective is people from all over, mainly the US but a few people play with us now and then from international places. We refer to ourselves as a collective because it is not always the same kind of set – sometimes it is a small acoustic set, sometimes a full-on seven-piece band. As we don’t all live near each other it helps that we have such a high calibre of musicians who can simply pick up our music and get playing.
Your latest album, released last year, is Ghosts Upon the Earth – could you tell us what inspired the title, and what the ideas found within the album are? Music doesn’t have to fit the mould to move people’s hearts, and at the end of the day, that’s really what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make honest music that opens people’s hearts. The concept for the album came from the title song. There is a line in the song ‘Nothing, There is nothing in its truest form, we walk like ghosts upon the earth, the ground it groans’. A lot of it was inspired by C.S. Lewis – what if God and heaven and love, are the most real things and we’re more like the ghostly, walking upon the earth longing to be real and God is the ultimate reality?
How did you first get involved in music? Michael: I have been singing as long as I can remember – my dad was the pastor but my mum sorted the music so that was my world and has greatly influenced the kind of stuff that we write. My spiritual formation and music formation happened at the same time. So music was always very spiritual/soul-ish. Often when I go to
What are your thoughts about the partnership between worship and social action? That’s been something I’ve been really encouraged over the last couple of years about seeing the Church reconnecting with the world. Sometimes worship can become this almost gnostic, spirit world rather than physicality. People can sit
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around singing trying to get goosebumps but for me worship needs to be grounded as it is an offering in your body – that’s what Romans 12 says. It is a physical way of living, so social action and making the world a better place is a natural response. I don’t know how you can pray ‘let your will be done’ and then let that be disconnected from the pain and suffering in the world. Seeking the Kingdom of God to come is why we get together and worship, and you can’t separate that from social action if you actually are in for God’s will and work in the world rather than just some transcendental experience for a moment. Do you sometimes write intentionally for congregations? I know you’ve blogged about congregational songwriting and wanting songs to actually mean something… Yeah there can be times when we are trying to teach something in our church and we need a song for it so we write one. When we are writing songs for that setting we obviously always try to stay theologically true, but we also try to keep the whole person engaged on some level. We all talk about worshipping in spirit and truth – I think some camps can err towards the spirit and others on the truth but we try and keep the heart and the head engaged.
Celebrate Bible Sunday 27 October 2013
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One True Vine
Top 100 Praise & Worship Songs 2012
Let It Be Known
Hillsong Live (Hillsong Music) Mavis Staples (Anti)
Hillsong United (Hillsong Music) Matt Redman (Six Steps) Maranatha Music (Maranatha Music) Worship Central (Integrity Music) Hillsong Live (Hillsong Music) Rend Collective Experiment (Integrity Music)
Homemade Worship By Handmade People
God’s Great Dance Floor Step 01
This Bible Sunday
For The Sake of The World
encounter the Bible’s message of freedom and raise funds for Bible distribution in China.
Sing Like Never Before
Through The Woods
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Rend Collective Experiment (Integrity Music) Chris Tomlin (Six Steps)
Martin Smith (Integrity Music) Bethel Live (Integrity Music)
Matt Redman (Six Steps)
Philippa Hanna (Resound Media)
Let The Future Begin
Passion (Six Steps)
How Great Is Our God
How Mercy Looks From Here
Chris Tomlin (Six Steps) Amy Grant (Decca)
Kim Walker-Smith/Skyler Smith (Jesus Culture Music) Darlene Zschech (Integrity Music)
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IDEA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE //33 29 IDEA
What puts young people off church? The UK Church is losing young people. Under-30s who attend church are in a tiny minority, making them an anomaly among their friends. The Evangelical Alliance’s threadsuk.com online collective, launched last year, has been seeking to re-ignite vibrant faith among young people – to show that the Christian faith has something to say about all areas of our lives. In a departure from our usual Leaders Questions feature, we asked young people what puts their peers off church and what the Church needs to do to attract their friends… Joe Ware, 30, church & campaigns journalist, Christian Aid The Church needs to have a stronger voice on issues of social justice. Many young people are passionate about tackling poverty and injustice yet are disillusioned with politicians. There is a great opportunity for the Church to be a radical voice for the ‘widows and orphans’ of our day in the tradition of William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King. Too often we dwell on the entrenched arguments that dominate the current religious agenda and turn off young people. A unifying vision to practically transform the world for the better would be a powerful witness and engage young people more.
Ruth Dickinson, 31, editor, Christianity magazine I genuinely think it’s the fact that most church still happens at 10.30am on a Sunday morning. If you’re living the slightly chaotic life of your average 25-year-old, you’re just not available for respectable interaction of any sort at that time. It’s probably less of a problem as you get into your 30s, but by that time, you’re more likely to have established a pattern of life and if you haven’t worked church into it by then, it’s harder to start. It really irritates me actually – 10.30am might work for the average ageing church congregation, but it really isn’t attractive for the rest of the population. Will we respond by inconveniencing ourselves and changing the time, or expecting those we want to reach to conform to a pattern of life which doesn’t work for them?
Anthony Ogunbowale-Thomas, 25, chief dreamer and doer at new funding platform GOODFRUIT A lack of faith and support in the face of dreams and faith is very disheartening. No one is perfect and no one has perfect faith, but when those in our generation show passion, aptitude, action and risk-taking we should encourage, not discourage, them. Are we fully investing in this generation? Has our love for thinking, words and doctrine hindered our faith and action? Do you really believe in this generation? Let us grow this generation not stifle it. While holding onto truth let us be challenged by the faith, calling and energy of this generation. We can raise this generation by practically supporting it to love, believe, have courage and do.
Sheila Mburu, 24, reformed pessimist, reluctant scientist and proud Christian The song Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns asks: “Are we happy plastic people under shiny plastic steeples with walls around our weakness to hide away our pain?” In that one sentence, therein lies what I believe to be the biggest turn-off regarding the Church. Many churches seem to perpetuate the notion that Christians should portray a veneer of perfection and hide away any weaknesses, imperfections or brokenness. Too many churches have stopped being a home for the broken. No one wants to cut themselves on the messy pieces of another person’s broken life. We’ve turned church into a stained glass masquerade…
Eleanor Ward, 15, Bless Community Church Churches all have similar routines, whether you start at 10am, or 6pm, on a Sunday. There will most likely be worship and a ‘talk’ of some kind. Don’t get me wrong, the worship is great and that’s not the area that is not engaging. But in this day and age people of my age just want to do things that interest them. Quite a lot of preaches are strictly biblical and not necessarily aimed at youth. If preachers included anecdotes, maybe video clips or props, and made more of an effort to shape their talks to interest and engage youth as well as the older generations, then so many more of my friends would be going to church. IDEA MAGAZINE / 34
threadsuk.com HANNAH MUDGE, 28, DIGITAL COMMS OFFICER FOR DEVELOPMENT CHARITY Young people commonly feel the Church is boring, irrelevant and out of touch with 21st century life. They see the centuries-old beliefs and practices; they feel the Church spends most of its time debating issues (such as women bishops and equal marriage) that make its members come across as oldfashioned and prejudiced. Sometimes, if they’ve grown up in the Church, they feel as if their opinions and concerns have been dismissed or ignored and that church leaders have no time for their generation.
Ruth Garner, 29, co-ordinator & writer at threadsuk.com Being a 20-something churchgoer can be hugely challenging. No longer part of the youth or student ministries, we’re left to fend for ourselves with the grown-ups. (When in reality we’re still floundering around, trying to carve out our identity and work out where life is leading us.) But 20-somethings are passionate about so many things: God, social justice, hospitality and mission, to name a few. Churches have the amazing opportunity to tap into these passions, as we seek to find our place, by letting us know our voice is valid, heard and appreciated.
Seb Turner, 15, HTB st Paul’s Onslow Square, Westminster Community Church I think the answer is simple: the average church is not a pleasant place to be for the average teenager; pews and chairs full of adults giving odd looks during worship, a preacher that is either inaccessible or patronising and the guy singing cliché songs on an acoustic guitar. Of course this varies from church to church and depending on the denomination but if each church could at least try to provide an environment that younger people can fit in to I believe many more teenagers would be gong to church.
Alexandra Khan, 27, digital marketer for Stewardship Nothing turns me off more than a church that tries too hard. We all know the type: the worship is a rock concert, the preach includes hashtags and six punchy points, and the leadership team look like movie stars. It’s over in exactly an hour and a half, because they’ve got six other services to fit in. It’s like the McDonald’s of churches. I think that in the struggle to ‘be relevant’ to our generation, some churches have forgotten that Jesus is the most relevant message of all. Church should be intimate and messy sometimes.
IDEA MAGAZINE / 35
Letters: Have your say.
IN YOUR WORDS
In your words
e love hearing from you, so have your say on any W of the issues raised in idea or any comments about the Evangelical Alliance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Relevant I wanted to write to you and express my thanks for the content of idea magazine. I appreciate it must be very difficult to produce something which is up to date and relevant but in your recent issues you seem to have been able to do this. Your recent article on contextualisation of the gospel and the feature on suicide rates among young males are cases in point. In the case of the suicide article, I was able to share this fascinating piece with my fellow directors in the business I work in (none of whom are Christians) following a discussion we had had about stress and depression in the workplace. They were all very positive on their feedback related to this article which, I think, speaks volumes about the quality and interest in the items appearing in idea. I hope you will accept this short letter of thanks as an encouragement to your editorial staff to keep on producing high quality, clearly focused and well researched articles which caused this reader in particular to stop and think! As you can see from the below my ‘ministry’ is in the workplace and although I am an active member of Welton Baptist Church in Midsomer Norton near Bath, my primary work is ‘secular’ and therefore I appreciate the real-life attention given by idea and the Evangelical Alliance.
Paul Evans, managing director, Blom UK, via email
Shared lives I wanted to write in response to the Alliance’s Home for Good campaign. I am really encouraged by the article by Krish Kandiah and his experiences of fostering and adoption. However, if you don’t feel you can offer children a home, it may be that you can offer hospitality to vulnerable adults in your home. I am part of my local authority Shared Lives scheme – and the joy of this is that I can share my life for short periods with a range of people who need some extra support
or respite. We have had older people with Alzheimer’s, younger people with autism, middle-aged people with mental health issues, and others with physical disabilities who have needed a place to be for a few days or weeks. We have often been matched with people who have a Christian faith and who have enjoyed coming to church with us, or sharing prayer with us in a crisis. All you need is a spare room and a willingness to be hospitable. There is a vetting process similar to fostering and ongoing training is provided. You can read about the different ways the schemes operate from the website: sharedlivesplus.org.uk
Patricia Ware, Sheffield, via email
Good news I read your article Reflections on pastoral support in nursing homes (May/June). It is important that we share the good news of Jesus with elderly people who are may be facing bereavement, illness, loneliness and losing their home. With little left in this life it’s important that they know about eternal life. The charity Outlook Trust reaches out to older people and their members hold fellowship groups in care homes and sheltered housing. It would be wonderful if a network could be set up by churches so that when an elderly person has to leave their own home and go into residential care – perhaps in a different part of Britain – someone from a nearby church could visit them. Most areas have more churches than care homes, so it could be possible to arrange this. There’s encouraging news from Sussex. The charity PARCHE (Pastoral Action in Residential Care Homes for the Elderly) hold Christian services in almost all Eastbourne’s elderly care homes and this idea could be extended throughout Britain. Many older people appreciate having Christian fellowship – and the Bible tells us that older people are precious to God.
Ann Wills, via email
Are you reading this, but haven’t yet signed up to become a member of the Evangelical Alliance? What are you waiting for? Join us! eauk.org/join IDEA MAGAZINE / 36
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If only John and Hilda had taken time to talk outfits before the photoshoot. We all believe in working together to get the best outcome, that’s why we’ve been talking to like-minded companies. Fortunately we’re all on the same page, so now, when you switch your electricity supply to Ecotricity, they’ll make a nice, generous donation to Tearfund. Now that’s worth having a chat over. What’s more, they’ve promised to double their donation on every sign up before 31 October 2013. Call Ecotricity on 08000 302 302 or visit www.tearfund.org/photoshoot to sign up.
Registered Charity No. 265464 (England and Wales) Registered Charity No. SC037624 (Scotland)
IDEA MAGAZINE / 37
Steve Clifford: The general director writes... Twitter: @stevemclifford
For King and Kingdom As I write this article we are coming to the end of the parliamentary process that could fundamentally change the way marriage is defined for generations to come. While challenging the coalition government, our motivation has been a conviction that the historic orthodox view of marriage as outlined in scripture was not simply about God’s plans for His people but is in the best interests of society as a whole. It’s how we were designed to live. Reflecting on the last few months (it really has been unhelpfully rushed), it has been sad and deeply frustrating how difficult it has been to engage in this conversation in a reasonable, considered and nonconfrontational way. The secular humanist, individualistic, worldview which has come to dominate so much of Western European thinking, particularly in key places of influence such as the media and government, has proved unwilling or unable to consider that there could be any other ‘reality’ that could shape how we build society. As Roger Bolton, the presenter of Radio 4 Feedback commented, if a Christian is interviewed by the BBC about their objection to abortion on religious grounds, they are treated as though they are a bit ‘barmy’. The Ridley Scott film 1492: Conquest of Paradise opens with Christopher Columbus (played by Gérard Depardieu) on the beach with his son watching a sailing boat disappear over the horizon. Columbus, who is about to embark upon a great voyage, IDEA MAGAZINE / 38
turns to his son and with passion declares “it is round…..the earth is round!” For most people alive at that time, Columbus’s conviction was ‘barmy’ as everyone knew the world was flat. But they were wrong and his subsequent bold journey across the ocean would eventually prove him right. While Columbus’s declaration to his son (assuming it really did happen as the film suggests) has profound significance, the declaration of Jesus as recorded in Mark’s gospel carries even greater importance.
He’s certainly in intensive care and unlikely to survive’. And, of course, the Church is boring, irrelevant, homophobic and has no significant contribution to make into 21st century life.
Mark records Jesus’s very first sermon in this way: “Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1: 14-15). This was a powerful, provocative and dangerous statement, challenging the established political, social and religious worldview of his day. ‘There’s a new King in town,’ declares Jesus and all other authorities’ mindsets need to adjust to this Kingdom of God. The political authority of Caesar, the philosophical influence of Athens, the religious leaders in Jerusalem, would all at some stage bow to King Jesus.
This is the challenge of faith as Wayne Cordeiro puts it in his helpful book Leading on Empty. “Faith is living in advance what we will only understand in reverse.” It is through faith that we see God at work, not only across the nations of the world with the Church growing in places and with numbers unprecedented in the 2,000 years of Church history, but also in our own nations. Yes, there are challenges to be faced, but people are coming to Christ, churches are growing and are being planted – the good news is being expressed both in words and in actions (food banks, debt counselling, Street Pastors, schools, youth clubs, care for the elderly – you name it, the Church is there getting its hands dirty); and churches are working together in an unprecedented way. It is almost as if the great John 17 prayer of Jesus is being answered.
As we consider the landscape of the United Kingdom at this time, where you are positioned will dramatically affect your view of the world in which we live, your ‘reality’. The world looks so different standing at the bottom of a three-metre hole. Looking from side to side, the walls are dark and damp with an occasional worm. Looking up, there’s sky, clouds, perhaps a passer-by looking down, but little else. How easy it is for our worldview to be shaped in this hole. As I talk with colleagues or friends, watch or listen to the BBC or surf the net, the overwhelming message from the hole is ‘if God’s not dead
Let me tell you, there are other places to observe the landscape of the United Kingdom. Standing at the top of Snowdon or the London Eye, the world looks very different than from within the hole. One of the great challenges facing Christians, particularly in the West, is seeing things as God sees them and agreeing with His outlook on reality.
God hasn’t given up on the United Kingdom. The words of Jesus still ring true today – “the Kingdom of God has come near”. There is a King who is not to be found in Downing Street or Google HQ or the BBC. This King and His Kingdom define reality for His people. So we are called to live our lives humbly, challenged and shaped by this King and called to fulfil His purposes in His world.
Europe’s leading Christian Resources Exhibitions CRE Midlands
NEC BIRMINGHAM 2013 NEC Birmingham, 3 & 4 October CRE Scotland
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Christian Resources Exhibitions EQUIPPING AND EMPOWERING YOUR CHURCH
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idea: the magazine from the Evangelical Alliance. In this edition: 'Domestic violence: In churches too', 'Should I let my children go trick...