Example Given An LICC Resource
No. 35 June 2013
A TALE of TWO HATS
Godâ€™s faithfulness connects two women across the centuries Antony Billington encourages us to tell our testimony as part of a bigger story. Neil Hudson on the different sort of leader heâ€™s been meeting on the road.
A new look for EG You may have noticed that something has changed. Following our feedback survey in September 2012, we have been working to ensure that EG will release people for fruitful ministry on their frontlines and equip church leaders as they lead whole-life disciplemaking churches. We’re launching this new size EG, or Example Given to give it its full name, so that you might have examples given of how to read and handle the Bible well and apply it to the culture around us; of leaders in action equipping their people for scattered mission; of true stories of people living faithfully and fruitfully on their frontlines; and of great resources for you, your churches and your frontlines. This issue Antony explores how our own stories connect with and are sustained by the bigger story told in Scripture, of which we are a part; Mark sees God’s faithfulness connect two women through the centuries; Sarah-Jane spoke to a lady who sees her
hydrotherapy classes very differently now and I got to chat to a Headteacher who ended up being rather thankful for the proverbial day from hell. On top of that Neil describes the different sort of leader he’s been meeting on the road and how focusing on people’s frontlines helps leaders to really “know what they are there for.” Do feel free to prayerfully photocopy, share and distribute these articles to those who might be interested, encouraged or equipped by them. However, please do drop me a line before reproducing an article in another publication. So I do hope that you enjoy this new look EG (it’s also a lot more portable) and please if you have any thoughts, comments or stories to tell of how God is working through you on your frontlines, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Jay, EG Editor & Communications Manager
Explore the EG archives by visiting www.licc.org.uk/eg Editor Jay Butcher Designer Brett Jordan, X1
Registered Charity No. 286102
Print & Distribution www.x1.ltd.uk
Letters/ Editorial Office EG Magazine, LICC, St Peter’s, Vere Street, London, W1G 0DQ email@example.com
News End of Year Appeal Thank you so much to all our supporters who made a donation towards our End of Year Appeal in March. We are delighted to announce that we broke even for the 12th year in a row during a year in which we increased our expenditure by 11%, because of the launch of exciting new initiatives such as the Work Forum. We thank God for his faithfulness and we thank you for your generosity and continued support for LICC’s mission.
We’ve been working to make sure our website is more accessible, so that you can find the resources you need more easily. There you will find: • Our Word for the Week and Connecting with Culture emails. • A number of Bible series including Daniel, Hezekiah, the parables of Jesus, Proverbs and the Lord’s Prayer – excellent for reading or shaping a sermon series.
New Resources Zone
• Resources on living faithfully in the workplace – topics include Ethics and Values, Markets and Money, Redundancy, Success and Failure. • Resources for church leaders and their churches – casting a whole-life discipleship vision, small group resources and stories of churches making tiny shifts in their culture and seeing big change. For more information visit www.licc.org.uk/ resources.
livestreaming LICC EVENTS It was a pleasure to welcome Alister McGrath back to LICC HQ to launch his new book CS Lewis: A Life. Over 100 guests joined us in St Peter’s and excitingly over 20 remote groups connected to the event as we livestreamed the evening over the internet – it was great to engage with groups across the UK as well as in Sweden, the Netherlands and as far away as New Zealand. We do plan to livestream all future events and we will upload the footage to our YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/liccmedia, and Resources Zone, so you can always catch up, watch the event again and share the footage on social media.
Prayer Journeys PrayerWorks has gone from strength to strength this past year. So far we have run four 40-day PrayerJourneys and over 4000 people have joined us for one of them. The next journey begins in the Autumn but you can still take any of the other journeys. Visit www.licc.org.uk/prayerworks to sign up.
Summer Festivals 2013 Have you dusted off your camping stove and found your wellies yet? LICC will be visiting the summer festivals over the coming months and we’d love to see you if you’re on site as well. Paul Valler and Charles Hippsley will be leading the WorkPlace Stream at New Wine North and London & SouthEast respectively; and Sarah-Jane Marshall will be at Momentum giving seminars for young adults already in the workplace and for newly graduating students. Come by and say “Hi!” 3
Bible & Culture 4
The Power of
humans have always passed on stories around the campfire or over the table – stories of origins, of adventures, of heroes, of love, of redemption, of happier times and darker days. Stories embody and transmit the values of the families and communities to I was six years old when it happened, which we belong. We explain but I can remember it to this day. Already an avid and entertain ourselves reader, I was sitting up in bed one night leaning over a through stories. book when I should have been asleep. There had been a And we all know a good power cut (this being the early 1970s, after all) and my story when we hear one – not only light was a candle, also on my lap. So engrossed because it ticks particular was I in the story that I didn’t give a thought about the boxes on a narratologist’s list, proximity of a naked flame to cotton pyjamas – until, but because it connects with us and communicates in a that is, the inevitable happened. way that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. Stories are My father seemed to bound up the stairs four at time ‘sticky’. In their apparent simplicity and concreteness, in response to my screams, burst into the bedroom, in the way their unexpected turns take us from suspense ripped the burning top from my body in one movement to anticipation to relief, and in the way they provoke of a hand, and trod it out on the floor. I’ve never lost my our imagination and engage our emotions, stories stay love for stories, but this might explain why I’ve always with us long after facts and figures have been cautious around candles. One generation faded from our memories. We all have and tell and are Telling our stories commends submerged in various interconnecting ‘Tell me a story.’ ‘Once upon a your works to ‘stories’, all of which shape our lives in time.’ A four-word request and a profound ways. four-word opening. Both phrases another; they capture something of the universal tell of your Embodying The Story impulse for stories. Indeed, one of mighty acts. For Christians, of course, the most the characteristics that mark human crucial story for determining our beings out as distinctive is that we are Psalm 145 identity, for shaping the way we think story-making and story-telling animals. and live, is the biblical story. Often, when we get into a conversation with someone, Prevalent among the Bible’s varied genres are many what we hear is their story – of their day or week, or individual and interconnected narratives – Abraham, even something of their personal history. Every day of Jacob, Moses, Ruth, David, Daniel, Esther, Peter, Paul – our lives we do things or things happen to us, or other which show us what God values – faith, obedience, love, people’s lives intersect with ours, and – often without loyalty, faithfulness, service, sacrifice. But the Bible also even thinking about it – we link these ‘events’ and tells a grand sweeping story, from beginning to end. From ‘characters’ together in a sequence which makes sense the garden of Eden to the city of the New Jerusalem, the of them, which gives meaning to them, and which – if we whole Bible can be seen as an epic narrative: a story were asked to do so – we could relay to others. which begins with God as Creator, which tells of Israel No matter the culture or era, stories are ever-present. as the people who will bring God’s blessing to the An essential part of the fabric of relationships, they nations, which the New Testament declares has come to hold groups of people together – through inside jokes, its promised fulfilment in the redemption brought about shared experiences, and lifelong memories. So it is that
Antony Billington on how stories shape us, move us and point to a bigger story…
Encountering other stories Still, our story instinct has a darker side, as Jonathan Gottschall points out in The Storytelling Animal, for it makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, manipulative advertisements, and damaging national myths. That there are ‘helpful’ stories and notso ‘helpful’ stories requires us to be careful listeners of other stories as well as competent tellers of our own. As Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sandford point out in their 2009 book, the stories people tell betray
Bible & Culture
through Christ, the one in whom God’s purposes for the ‘hidden worldviews’ about what counts as significant. cosmos will be consummated. Worldviews don’t exist as disembodied systems but as So, the significance of story shouldn’t come as a stories which appeal to the gut as well as the intellect. surprise to Christians, for whom there is an Author As such, snippets of conversations in the coffee shop who stands behind our stories, imbuing or Facebook status updates are often them with his grace in a way that points enough to betray the stories that are Our own back to him. Correctly understood, part of the cultural air we breathe, true stories our stories don’t compete with God’s stories which embody worldviews that story, but gesture towards it. C.S. Lewis, are unconsciously absorbed rather than connect J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton were with and are consciously adopted. convinced that all our stories of journeys For Christians, though, Scripture sustained by provides and heroes, of sacrifice and redemption, the control story for how we the bigger speak of humanity’s quest for identity, understand and engage with other purpose and hope. stories on offer. Inevitably, we run the story told in There can be a tendency for us to Scripture, of risk of accommodating the biblical begin with our stories, and then fit the to surrounding cultural stories which we are story biblical narrative into the world of our – whether of scientific materialism, a part. experience. As it is, however, the ‘world’ se cu l a r hu m a n ism , new a ge created by the biblical narrative takes mysticism, individualism, tribalism, priority over the world of our experience. Our own true or consumerism. Indeed, since we are embodied, stories connect with and are sustained by the bigger economic, psychological, political, moral, social beings, story told in Scripture, of which we are a part. The there is likely to be some truth in those stories which desire to ‘tell our stories’ is thus valuable in all sorts we will want to affirm, even though none on their own of ways, but especially if our telling is calibrated by will be sufficient. Our task, then, is to show that the the biblical narrative of what God has done in Christ Christian story not only offers more complete and and is now doing by his Spirit through his people in satisfying answers to the questions and dilemmas of the world. What should our stories look like in the life but also contributes to greater human flourishing. light of that story? Our own stories carry significance We do this not necessarily by a set of arguments insofar as they reflect and are aligned with that grand (though they have their place) but by telling a different scheme of things. story about the origin of the universe and the nature
Bible & Culture
and destiny of humanity; a different story about who is in charge of the world; a story which claims to take precedence over other stories, through which other stories are to be read, heard, and understood. The gospel account is not one more variation of the story that we can fix our problems if we are creative or courageous or clever enough. Instead, Scripture tells the story of the God who goes to great lengths to redeem through sacrifice those who don’t deserve it and then draws us into his story, a story which is going somewhere – providing identity, purpose, and hope in the process. For our part, as those convinced the Bible has a better story to tell, we seek to live in its light and pass it on to those who will listen. One of the ways we can do this is by telling our own stories in ways that resonate with it, which reflect God’s redemptive work in our own lives and in a way that points others to his grace. While arguments don’t always succeed in challenging someone’s framework of values and ideas, a personal story can establish some common ground or open up fresh ways of seeing things, or provide an opportunity to take the conversation in a different direction. Within the context of the Christian community too, stories of God at work in our lives encourage others, and allow all of us to see our lives on a bigger tapestry. Our individual stories will take different forms – from the dramatic to the domestic, from the marvellous to the mundane – but, if we look closely enough, we will see God at work in our daily lives and relationships, through the highs and lows, for us and for the world. Antony Billington, Head of Theology
Antony Billington, Margaret Killingray, and Helen Parry, Whole Life, Whole Bible: 50 Readings on Living in the Light of Scripture (BRF, 2012). Christopher Booker, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories (Continuum, 2004). Gene C. Fant Jr., God as Author: A Biblical Approach to Narrative (B&H, 2010). 6
Telling Your Story Psalm 145, a great song of praise, tells us that “one generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” Let us get into the habit of sharing what the Lord is doing through his people . Your true stories of faithful and obedient listening and living can encourage believers and touch those who do not yet know Jesus. Start With Prayer: Take time regularly with God to ask him to show you where he’s been working in, around and through you. Just Be You: Whilst you may not feel like a natural story-teller you certainly don’t need to be Michael McIntyre or J. K. Rowling. We each have compelling stories to tell and noone else can tell them quite like you. Avoid Jargon: We can easily use words that can confuse and isolate the listener. The more you can tell your story with ordinary words the clearer your message will be. Stay Focused: Try to be as clear and succinct as possible – don’t go off on tangents or get sidetracked. That story about the neighbour’s dog that was barking all night can wait for another moment. Be Honest: Be authentic – there’s no reason to sensationalise about what God is doing in and through you. Be confident that God will use your words to reach and encourage others. Tell Us: We would LOVE to hear what God has been doing on your frontlines – drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Further Reading Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Daniel de Roulet, Finding Your Plot in a Plotless World: A Little Direction (Brazos, 2007). Annette Simmons, The Story Factor:
Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling (Basic Books, 2006). Robert E. Webber, Who Gets to Narrate the World? Contending for the Christian Story in An Age of Rivals (IVP, 2008). Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sandford, Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives (IVP, 2009).
Telling the Story The Word’s Out: Speaking the Gospel Today David Male & Paul Weston (BRF, 2013)
RRP £8.99 You’re not alone. That is, if you struggle with evangelism, you’re not alone. At the same time that our non-Christian friends, neighbours and colleagues know less and less about the biblical story, we feel less and less able to convey it to them. In some cases, it comes down to a fear of rejection (even litigation) or risk of embarrassment. We don’t consider ourselves clever enough to answer all the tricky questions that will come our way, and sense we will only feel like we’re letting Jesus down (again). Best to stay silent. So it is that David Male and Paul Weston combine their expertise and experience in a desire to see evangelism reinvigorated in today’s church. Two opening chapters explore the changing shape of evangelism, and the impact of contemporary culture on the way we do it. The two main parts of the book then reflect on evangelism from a biblical perspective, and evangelism and the local church. What emerges is the encouragement to see evangelism as ‘the natural overflow of an authentic Christian life’ – not as a ‘bolt on’ Christian activity, but as organically connected to the whole of life. I particularly appreciated the prompt to be ‘insideout’ evangelists, those who seek to demonstrate the claims of Jesus from within the Christian ‘narrative’ itself rather than trying to establish the truth of that narrative on some other grounds (science, logic, etc.). Here the call is to follow Jesus’ own practice of engaging with those around him, with the aim of leading the discussion back to Jesus himself, where replies to people are along the lines of: ‘It’s interesting you say that... Jesus was asked a similar question and he said...’ Here and elsewhere, I found the book to be biblically rooted, insightful, challenging and encouraging in equal measure.
Training Days for Leaders
Throughout 2013 in a town near you Join members of the LICC team as we share what we’ve learnt about how to create a whole-life disciplemaking church. Working with churches of different sizes and denominations over the last eight years, we’ve discovered a range of fresh, simple ways of doing church, which integrate a concern for neighbourhood and overseas mission, with opportunities for being fruitful on our daily frontlines. · Bradford · Dartford · Corfe Mullen · Inverness · Barnsley · Yeovil · Woking · Sunderland · Cheltenham · Bury St Edmunds Further venues will be added at:
www.licc.org.uk/iotr Tel: 020 7399 9555
Antony Billington 7
More than Recruiters Twitter recently turned 7 years But what happens if you fail? The entire As church old, and it’s becoming a mainstay mission is lost. And what a loss that would leaders focus on of the media world. Sometimes be. Who can carry that load? the frontline a a total distraction – a constant Being a leader in a whole-life different type of disciplemaking church does require heroic stream of disconnected, random thoughts that breaks your leadership, but heroism of a wholly different leader emerges. attention, and robs you of time kind. It’s about leaders understanding that and peace. Sometimes utterly brilliant – connecting they have an equipping role; that their gifts, graced by you with remarkably creative people pointing you to the sovereign Spirit, are for the sake of others. These new resources, a wider world and new thoughts. others are the people they worship with, the people of Recently I was floored by 96 characters, tweeted God, for the sake of the world, the world that the Father from a church planting conference: has always loved so very much. ‘It is the job of the senior leader to assemble the Over the past twelve months I’ve spent a lot of resources required to accomplish the mission.’ my time with church leadership teams on Imagine So many questions ran through Church training days around the my head: Is this true? Is it the job country. I’m now too long in the tooth of one person? What do we mean by to believe that there is any ministerial resources in church contexts? Was ‘silver bullet’ out there, I also have it referring to people? Is this what it a keen enough sense of my own has come to: people are resources? inadequacy to know that if one did Is there only one mission? Is it the exist, it would not consist of Imagine job of the senior leader to establish Church! But after meeting so many the mission? Is there any room leaders, it is interesting to receive for divergence here? What about feedback that suggests that so many equipping? And so it went on. leaders appreciate the reorienting And I thought of the person who that happens on the day. Leaders are posted the tweet. Maybe they agreed encouraged to lay down the burden wholeheartedly with it. Maybe they want it to be true. of defining the mission and assembling people to Maybe they are a frustrated senior leader wishing it engage in it. The central questions become: ‘Who were as easy as it sounded. Maybe they have such a is here with me in this community of God’s people? heart for mission that they just want to get it done, and Where do they spend the bulk of their time? What will do whatever it takes. But just imagine the pressure opportunities do they have to serve God there? Can I that this kind of thinking places the leader under? offer them any help?’ One of the exercises includes pausing midway Heroic leadership through the morning, identifying someone out there The senior leader needs to be certain. Clear-sighted. on the frontline, praying for them and then texting Visionary. Persuasive. Mission aware. Tenacious. them to let them know they have been prayed for. Some Persevering. If they get it ‘right’ they will be the hero. recipients are quick to catch on to what is happening
Want to do things differently but not sure how? Here are a handful of ideas for you or your church leadership team to make some small changes that could have a big effect.
How do you do prayer as a church? Include prayer for people’s frontlines as part of the church’s ongoing intercession ministry - during services, lifegroups and in bulletins.
TTT and Frontline Testimonies
As part of your service why not make it a regular feature to interview
Next Steps someone about where they will be on their frontline “This Time Tomorrow” – how can we pray for you, what are the challenges and opportunities? Over time let this grow into sharing of testimonies of what God is doing in, through and around them on their frontlines.
Spend some time with each of your midweek lifegroups, or invite your pastor to join you. Where are the church’s people spending most of their time, how might they need to be equipped to live faithfully there?
Commission New Jobs
When people change jobs or organisations why not commission them for their new ministry and mission on their new frontline.
Capture and Share Stories
Think of how you can capture and retell the stories of fruitfulness on people’s frontlines to encourage others to see God in action on their frontlines For more ideas check out the Imagine Church section on www.licc.org.uk/resources
and text back with the insightful comment ‘Are you received thanking us for our ministry, because the at that LICC conference, then?’. But there were other minister ‘now knew what he was there for.’ replies thanking that they had been remembered No longer the recruiter of resources, they saw because they were just coming out of a particularly themselves as part of the equipping of the saints for stressful meeting. Or in one case, the leader who texted the work of the ministry; playing to their strengths and a non-Christian friend to say that they were being according to their gifts, and offering both for the sake prayed for, receiving the intriguing reply, ‘That is so of the ministry of the people of God in their frontline good, I have been thinking about prayer a lot recently. situations. We must talk when next we meet.’ This is of course what many of us have always It was a simple, 5 minute pause in a day. But as a intended. Every leader in their right mind wanted symbol it was so much more. A symbol of how easy it is their offering of ministry, be it preaching, spiritual to pray for those who are in the frontline of God’s world. direction, praying, to make a difference for people in A symbol of the church behind the frontlines supporting their everyday lives. But what whole-life leadership is the church on the frontlines. A symbol about taking what was implicit and making No longer of how do-able it is. A symbol of the role it explicit. of leadership moving from recruiting for the recruiter Once we take seriously the call to be mission to supporting in mission. of resources, whole life leaders, a different sort of leader emerges. A more relaxed leader; one more but the A different leadership willing to trust that the Spirit is at work One leader went back and met with two of equipper of in and through the lives of his people; a his church’s small groups just to find out leader less worried about corralling people saints... where their frontlines were. He reflected into fixed mission programmes and more that those visits were the best two hours he had passed concerned about equipping for the whole of life. in ten years of ministry in the church. Why had it taken It will change everything. so long for that to happen for him? Possibly because he It will need courage, determination and vision. had found himself in the situation that so many find Ultimately it will need new vision: themselves in: a chaplain to a congregation, and a a vision that sees that God, this representative of the church in the wider community; wonderful God of mission, wraps us pressured by the demands and expectations of everyone all up into his missional purpose. And else around him. the best thing about all of that is that It’s this new way of seeing themselves that is so he invites us to work in step with him. Neil Hudson, Imagine Project Director crucial. It was what so encouraging about a card we
for the Frontline IMAGINE IMAGINE– –LEADERS LEADERSON ONTHE THEJOURNEY JOURNEY
WHERE WHEREWE’VE WE’VEBEEN BEEN
WHERE WHEREWE’LL WE’LLBE BE
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ISLE ISLE OFOF MAN MAN BRADFORD BRADFORD MANCHESTER MANCHESTER
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So Sofar far1200 1200church church leaders leadershave haveattended attended an anImagine Imagineon onthe theRoad Road training trainingday. day.
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for forinformation informationon on booking bookingvenues venuesand and ticket ticketsales salesvisit visit www.licc.org.uk/iotr www.licc.org.uk/iotr
2000+ 2000+ By Bythe theend endofofthis thisyear year we wewill willhave havetrained trained over over2000 2000church church leaders. leaders.
IMAGINE – FRONTLINERS ON THE JOURNEY
copies of Life on the Frontline currently in circulation. This includes 4000 sent to LICC supporters in November 2012.
It’s been life-changing to recognise my calling and mission.
60,000 Each DVD could be seen by a small group of 8 people... that’s 60,000 frontlines seen differently if everyone were to use their DVD.
3 million Each person might connect with 50 people on an average week on their frontlines…that’s 3 million people touched with the love of Christ.
This is the exciting potential of this DVD. Join the journey – don’t forget to use your copy of Life on the Frontline.
Since the publication of Imagine in 2003 we have been championing the cause of creating wholelife disciple-making churches, and thousands of Christians and their leaders have been exposed to the vision of Christians living faithfully and fruitfully on their frontlines. Over the last year, we have been running training workshops all over the country for church leaders to help them actually realise this vision in their own contexts, whilst the Life on the Frontline DVD-course is being widely used to help people to see their frontlines with missional eyes. Join us on the journey…
Hydrotherapy, Hiding & Housebound Friends “A shy, timid, little mouse.” it is here that I have earned the right to Over the last year That’s how Chris (60) was be able to share with people something Chris’ views of her described by her manager of my faith.” frontline, disability only a year ago. Chris has Rather than seeing her hydrotherapy and character have lived with considerable hearing class purely as a place to receive loss for most of her life and shifted dramatically. treatment, Chris began to see the it’s a disability that has done opportunities she had to give out to great damage to her self-confidence. “Because it’s her friends there. a disability that is not particularly visible,” Chris So when one lady required surgery on her foot and explained, “people can think that I’m either very was rendered housebound for several weeks, Chris stuck up, or disinterested if I don’t respond to offered to give her lifts to and from the hospital so that something they say; when actually I simply just she could still join the group for coffee after the class. haven’t heard! It can be very isolating.” It wasn’t long before her generous actions provoked Chris has also suffered with arthritis since her questions. “One day she asked me why I was going late teens, needing numerous joint replacements out of my way to help her like this. I said that I knew over the years and regular hydrotherapy that the social side of our classes was treatment. It’s not surprising then, that just as important as the therapy itself Chris tended to feel most comfortable and that I saw helping her in this way as “behind the safety of the kitchen counter” an outworking of my Christian faith. It’s at church functions, leaving other tasks to fair to say she was a little bit amazed!” those more mobile. That was, until, the Since that time, many more deep Queen’s Jubilee weekend when Chris’ conversations have followed. Chris’ friend small group were involved in hosting has felt able to share about how she lost a tea party for the local elderly. Quite her faith when her husband died young. uncharacteristically, Chris spent the afternoon going Chris has listened lovingly, and, even to the most from table to table chatting to the guests. And she pain-loaded questions, God has always provided the loved it! That day a seed was planted; perhaps this words for her to respond. ‘shy, timid, little mouse’ didn’t have to hide away in “The change in my life this year has been the kitchen after all. remarkable”, says Chris, “Because I’m not as able Not long after the bunting had been put away, bodied as most, I used to think that I didn’t have Chris’ small group began the ‘Life on the Frontline’ anything to offer. God has been teaching me that it course. And Chris began reflecting on where her doesn’t matter what we think of ourselves, he really existing personal frontline might be. She knew values us – we are his masterpieces that it wasn’t at the Christian conference centre and he can use us in our everyday where she works part-time, as she doesn’t often meet circumstances. non-believers there. “Suddenly I realised that my We each have so much to give. hydrotherapy classes are a fantastic frontline,” Chris When you realise that, life is so explained, “because we’ve been in this together and exciting!” Sarah-Jane Marshall, Project Officer, WorkForum our relationships stretch back as far as fifteen years
Judith is the Head Teacher at a village primary school. She has managerial responsibility for a workforce of around 45 people – teaching staff, teaching assistants, caretakers, administrators and cleaners; overseeing what goes on in the classrooms, dealing with budgets and parents as well as ensuring that the 285 children who attend her school have everything that they need to grow, develop and thrive. For Judith, like many at work, no two days are alike and often, despite there being many meetings in the diary and a to-do list chock full of items that haven’t been crossed off, situations and circumstances arise that demand a reactiveness and flexibility of which an Olympic gymnast would be proud. There are, of course, times when Judith feels discouraged and she nails her courage to the mast and presses onwards, because she knows that God wants her to grow and to be fruitful. “The trouble though,” Judith told me, “is that I often make it hard for him to mature me because I focus on the negatives of the day rather than looking to see where the Spirit is at work.” As Judith arrived, early one cold Monday in February, she noticed a chill in the air... and not just outside the school building. The caretaker arrived a little later and confirmed that the boiler had fused over the weekend and the heating system was broken. Emergency engineers were called, but there was no timescale on when they would arrive nor indeed when they might be able to fix the problem, and time was ticking. Decisions had to be made. Does the school open or not? If so, how do we start warming the rooms? If not, when do we warn the parents that their plans to go to work will be altered? Judith made calls to other nearby schools and corralled enough portable heaters to create an appropriate, albeit temporary,
AVery Cold Monday
environment for the children and staff. The school would open. Throughout the day there were, as you might imagine, all A Head manner of very important things Teacher that required Judith’s attention, engineers, planning meetings, has the returning borrowed heaters and proverbial everything else she should have ‘day from been doing with half the original hell’ time available. And to top the day off, it culminated in the exclusion of a child whose reckless behaviour was endangering themselves and those around them. “It’s a decision no Head Teacher wants to make, but sometimes it’s a decision that simply needs to be made,” Judith reflects. As she mulled these things over on the drive home Judith caught herself by surprise. “I was rather amazed,” she said, “to find myself thanking God that he had trusted me to handle all of those events.” And trust her he did, just as he trusts all of us with our own frontlines, wherever they may be and whatever may be happening on them. In the Genesis creation narratives we see that we are created in the image of God so that we might act as stewards of the world around us. There are jobs for us all to do, just as Adam was tasked with tending the garden and naming the animals, and Judith is tasked with leading this school and caring for all who are part of its community, so too are you tasked with living faithfully where you find yourself day in and day out and dealing with all that happens. But just as God walked with Adam in the cool of the garden, we are not alone on our frontlines – Christ himself promised that his Spirit would be with us forever (John 14). So this week, may you see with more clarity that our heavenly Father has trusted you with all that may happen on your frontline. As Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Jay Butcher, Communications Manager
ATale of Two Hats It happened on the 18th day God’s of October in the Year of our faithfulness Lord 2012 in the London Borough of Islington – a connects two glimpse it was of God’s hand women across working across the centuries. But we’ll come to that. the centuries. We don’t always get to see the ways in which God honours our prayers or how something we did, oh, so many years ago, is now bearing fruit in extraordinary ways... When the wealthy, childless Shunammite offers the itinerant Elishah a room, does she have any thought that her generosity will lead to her having a son who will die young and be raised from the dead? (2 Kings 4:8ff) Similarly, only very rarely do any of us get to see the role we might be playing in God’s long term plans… Does Rahab have any inkling that hiding two Israelite spies on the roof of her brothel will lead to her becoming the progenitor of the Messiah? (Joshua 2) Of course, we, with the benefit of hindsight, can see it, can see what God can do with a seed, or a word, can see too that God keeps his promises. It happened about the same time as I found myself reflecting on Psalm 105. The writer is living in the land God had promised and provided, a member of a nation that may not yet be as numerous as the sand on the seashore but already numbers well over a million. And he rehearses the history of his people that he calls “the descendants of Abraham”. Indeed, one of the main themes in the psalm is the reminder of how the story began small, with one man, and then how they were but few in number, how a lone foreign slave becomes master of Egypt and how the few turn into the many, the nomads into landowners
because the Lord “remembered his holy promise to his servant Abraham.” God working over the centuries to fulfil his promises. But, we may wonder, does God still work like that today? In the Year of our Lord 1561, a London girl called Alice Wilkes is walking in a field in Islington, wearing a hat, as girls would have done at that time. She stops to watch some cows being milked. Over in another field some men are practising archery. One of them clearly needs the practice because a stray arrow ends up lodged in Alice Wilkes’ hat. She is an inch or two from death. In gratitude for sparing her life, Alice Wilkes makes a vow to the Lord. If one day she has wealth, she will do something for the poor. So she marries. And her husband dies. And she marries again. And her second husband dies. This is perhaps a dangerous woman to marry. Undeterred, Judge Thomas Owen becomes her third husband. And in the course of time he dies. By this point Dame Alice Owen has acquired quite a lot of money and she decides to fulfil the vow she made when she was young Alice Wilkes. And so she endows a school for 30 scholars and creates alms houses for poor widows, women who were not so fortunate as to marry rich men. And when Alice dies it is all put in trust with the Worshipful Company of Brewers. Over four hundred years later, the school she founded in Islington still educates children, though on a site in Potter’s Bar, and the land she gave has, for over 400 hundred years, been used to generate income to bless the poor. And so in the Year of our Lord 2010, the Worshipful Company of Brewers decide to assign a building project
might be – though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches. All our small things now, over time, who knows… who knows… Bernadette Cunningham God is at work. And on site 400 years later. God has been at work in his people, in his church, in this land. And, no doubt, in you, in a myriad ways. We may not get to see the outcome in our lifetimes, but God is at work. And so may the Lord be with you, whatever hat you wear. Mark Greene, Executive Director
TOOLBOX Bernadette was a delegate on LICC’s Executive Toolbox course in 2012. Designed as three separate 24-hour training seminars across 6 months for Christians in mid to senior level positions of influence, Executive Toolbox is uniquely structured to help you have a significant impact on the way you work, the people you work with and the organisation you work in. Could this be for you or someone you know? Visit www.licc.org. uk/executivetoolbox
— 2014 DATES — 23-24 January · 28-29 March · 19-20 June
to Thornsett Group, a smallish development company in London. Their assignment is to develop some mixed residential and commercial property, offering roughly half social housing and half private housing on the land that Alice Wilkes once walked across. And so it was that on Thursday October 18th 2012 I find myself in Islington going to meet the Project developer who had been on one of our courses, walking on the land where the cows once grazed, and good Englishmen practised their archery. And the person in charge of that overall development is called Bernadette. She just happens to be a Christian who comes from a family devoted to building good buildings so that people might flourish. When I meet her she just happens to be wearing a hat, although it’s a much harder hat than the decorative tissue that Alice Wilkes would have worn. Perhaps Bernadette Dame Alice Owen made was mindful of the fate a vow to bless others. of her predecessor and concerned about archers in Islington High Street or there again perhaps she was just following health and safety guidelines. And as I look at Bernadette in her hat working to bless the poor of Islington, I realise that God is still honouring the vow that Alice Wilkes made over four hundred years before, still working through his people to bless others. And I got to see it. We don’t always get to see how God may be working in us or in others, how a word here or an action there might produce fruit for years to come. We don’t always get to see how we are participating in the purpose of God or how we might be the answers to other peoples’ prayers… we don’t get to see all the ways God might work through us. The kingdom of heaven is like what? The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and planted in his field and, though it is a small thing – a vow in a field 400 years ago, a little action today, a kindness, a decision, a word, a gift, whatever it
the graduate alphabet: An A-Z For Life After University Let new and recent graduates thrive not just survive I’m keenly aware that I write this as a team member of LICC about a product that LICC has recently produced. That said I am also keenly aware of the journey that I have been through in the first 10 years of my career. I became a Christian in the second half of my final year of university – I wasn’t really a Christian Union-goer but I was deeply involved with my church and part of their student and young adult service. It was a great church, with a great student worker with a great vision and desire to deepen our relationship with Christ, go deeper into the Word and be sent out into the world. However I, like ma ny responders to an online survey LICC conducted in 2012, recall that we weren’t really equipped or prepared by church for the massive changes in life that come
during the transition from education to job-seeking and employment. And so, LICC and Fusion have teamed up to publish The Graduate Alphabet: An A-Z of Life After University. It is a quirky, light-hearted book, providing shor t entries to both celebrate the opportunities of this new stage of life and also to flag up the hard bits and offer practical wisdom to equip graduates for the challenges that are ahead. No doubt you will know someone who is about to make this transition. Your own son or daughter, someone at church, yourself. So as summer approaches and exams end and mortar boards are tossed in the air for that obligatory photograph please consider buying them a copy and help them not just survive in their next chapter of life, but thrive. Jay Butcher
Look Inside The Guide covers over 90 topics from Approval to Ross Kemp and KitKats to Work Experience. Here’s a sample entry by LICC WorkForum Associate James Featherby. SUCCESS: Don’t be afraid extraordinary. May your life be a things can produce extraordinary of it. Be the best you can at everything you do, including your work. The world of work does not exist in a vacuum. Working well is as much a spiritual endeavour as praying. Listen to the voice within. Trust your dreams. Embrace your ambition. You are the future; make yours count. Do something 16
light, especially at work – after all, over the coming decades, you’re going to be spending a large chunk of time hard at it. And if you’re thinking: “What have I got to offer?” think about this; whether it’s a baby born in a stable or a small boy with five loaves and two fish given over to God, small
results. Remember, in God’s kingdom ‘success’ is judged by a different set of values. Like John the Baptist, be wary of taking all the kudos for yourself, and be ready to pay a temporal price for heavenly rewards. No one said the way of the cross would be easy, but it leads to true success.