Transition: Mission Weeks

PlymCUMission weeks or events week are where the CU puts on a week of events that give everyone on campus the opportunity to hear about Jesus. It is an intense week. You spend most of the year planning for it, making sure you have speakers, venues, themes, talk titles and fliers.

I think I have been involved in about 12 mission weeks since being a student. This includes going as a student, staff worker and going along as a guest to a mission week in another Uni. It is a hard week and you end up really tired but it is totally worth it. Here are some reasons why I love it:

  • Seeing students really step out in faith and invite their friends along to hear about Jesus
  • Hearing great talks from mission speakers
  • Meeting to pray every morning and seeing prayers answered
  • Seeing students accept Jesus for the first time
  • Reaching people who may of never have come across a Christian or CU or church before
  • The energy from the students
  • The way the students work together in unity to achieve a week of events
  • Watching things go wrong but then discover that the Lord has used it for good
  • Fliering in the rain… (ok that isn’t one of my favourites…)

I think University provides a great platform for events week and it has been wonderful to be a part of these weeks. I remember it was during a mission week that I led a student to Christ – it was amazing and such an exciting time. I learnt so much through that.

It is strange to think that I won’t really be a part of that process any more, but it is probably a good thing as I don’t think that kind of pattern of ministry is sustainable for the whole life of the church. The model works well at University where terms are short, it’s a quick fire paced life and people are living in very close quarters.

But church is a much slower pace, inviting people in from all walks of life and backgrounds, different situations and questions. The whole CU model of mission couldn’t be mapped on to church life, some of it would, but not all of it and I am looking forward to a different pace of life, with different people, rhythms and questions.

I have learnt so much through mission weeks and I have seen the goodness of the Lord where he has sustained me and provided when we have been in need. If you ever get a chance to be a guest in one, then do – it will open your eyes to some exciting student mission that the CU’s are doing across the UK and the world!

We are all Human

love-actually-to-me-you-are-perfectI find people really fascinating and I quite enjoy sitting in coffee shops watching people go about their day. Sounds a bit stalker-ish, I know. But what I love about it is watching how people react, find out what makes them smile or frown. Watching how people interact with each other, how they say hello and how they talk to each other. I find it very interesting.

In the film Love Actually the opening scene is that of an airport and Hugh Grant comments on how people relate to each other in the airport. He says:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.”

At the airport you see glimpses of humanity at its finest. Hugh Grant is right, love is all around as people receive their loved ones safe and sound. People are reunited again and the ache of longing is dissolved. It’s very interesting to watch. In some way or another we all have similar reactions, it’s not often you see an angry face at the airport.

I have recently been watching a show called “Gogglebox”. It’s a show about people watching TV and their reacts to the programmes they watch on TV. It sounds pointless, you are basically watching people who are watching TV… However I love it. The reason I love it, isn’t because I love trashy TV, but it’s because I love watching people. How these families and individuals respond to certain programmes is fascinating to me.

What I have noticed is that at the basic level we are all the same. We are all very human. We laugh, squirm and cry at the same things. There was a TV program called 999:Emergency where a man in his 80s lost his wife whom he had been married to for nearly 60 years. The ambulance came in and tried save her but they couldn’t. The husband was in tears. And so was the audience.

Couples were holding hands, tears rolling down their faces because they knew that this reality of death would hit us all at some point. We will all feel that void at some point in our lives if we haven’t already.

We are all human. We cry and laugh and get angry at the same points in the story. Our needs are the same: to be loved, cherished, respected. Our fears are the same: loneliness, failure, death.

It’s funny though, when I think about Christians and the way we talk about the world, we make a divide of “us” and “them”. In a sense it is true, there are those that are in Christ and those that are outside of Christ. But with that “us” and “them” it sometimes feels like a divide so large we have started to become scared of “them”. We start to see them as less human and ourselves as super spiritual, living beyond and above our humanness. We see ourselves so different from “them”.

But on the very basic level, at the starting point – we are all human. Our needs are the same. We need to eat, drink, sleep, love, be loved, we are scared of the same things, we need to worship, we need to work etc. We all have stories we can share with each other. We can relate to each other.

When we share the gospel with people, we are sharing a true story with human beings just like us. Human beings that need Jesus, just like we do. And when we approach evangelism or apologetics we have to remember that there are people, real people behind every question. They are not “them” or aliens, they are not sub-human or simply floating brains. They are real people with emotions, dreams, fears, desires and searching for hope.

Every human is broken and needs Jesus.

When we view it like that rather than an “us” and “them”, we may find sharing the Gospel easier. We may find less barriers because the person we are asking is our friend, someone we enjoy being with and someone we want to share our story with. This person has the same struggles and fears as we do. This person is broken just as much as we are. This person needs to be loved just like we do.

This person is human, just like we are.

Christmas: The Way Prepared

GospelAdvent Day 20:

In Luke chapter 1 we are preparing the way for the offspring to be born. The writer Luke has been gathering evidence about what he has seen and heard. He knows his scriptures and he begins to share the story of the one we have been waiting for, the one who breaks that silence.

But before we get to the offspring, we are told another baby is to be born. A baby who will prepare the way. This baby when he is grown up will herald good news and will point to the one who is Good News for all of us.

An Angel appears to Zechariah and declares:

 “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news”. Luke 1:19 ESV

This promised child, one who was promised in Malachi will:

” turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:14-17 ESV

John the Baptist prepares the way for the Lord, he prepares the people of Israel and speaks the good news to them, he speaks to them about Jesus and turns their hearts away from evil to make them ready for the Lord. John the Baptist is a preacher and evangelist, speaking of Christ and getting people to look at Christ.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. “John 1:6-8 ESV

Christmas is about preparing the way to the Lord by preaching the good news of Jesus Christ.

Collection of Webs (24)

So what has caught my eye on the web over the last couple of weeks? Well let’s have a look:

“You can’t have a child” – facing the consequences of infertility or singleness – a great blog post over at Woman in London. A real heart-rending issue and she writes really well about it.

Preaching in a Vacuum – a Post by Mike Shaw about how Preachers are preaching to a certain culture and group of people.

The God who Gives to Give – Dave Bish posts about “the Father who gives authority to his Son, and the Father gives people to his Son, and then the Son gives Eternal Life to people.”

Evangelism: It ain’t Rocket Surgery – Written by Glen Scrivener on why Evangelism isn’t actually that hard.

And for the last link, I found this video on the Power of the Pentatonic scale – its is truly brilliant:

 

The need for christian artists

A wonderful quote from Tim Keller that I would like to share with you:

The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world. The simple fact is that the imagination ‘gets you,’ even when your reason is completely against the idea of God. ‘Imagination communicates,’ as Arthur Danto says, ‘indefinable but inescapable truth.’ Those who read a book or listen to music expose themselves to that inescapable truth. There is a sort of schizophrenia that occurs if you are listening to Bach and you hear the glory of God and yet your mind says there is no God and there is no meaning. You are committed to believing nothing means anything and yet the music comes in and takes you over with your imagination. When you listen to great music, you can’t believe life is meaningless. Your heart knows what your mind is denying. We need Christian artists because we are never going to reach the world without great Christian art to go with great Christian talk.

I think Keller highlights something really important here about Christians and Art. He is echoing CS Lewis and Francis Schaeffer on this as well. But great music and great art can’t lead you to believe life is meaningless because they express something of the reality we are in – the need of a saviour. What better people to show them the true saviour then christian artists in our churches?

Yet we often celebrate those that can stand up and preach, those that can stand up and lead sung worship on Sunday and those that do cold contact evangelism. I am drawing a distinction between those that lead sung worship and those that play in pubs/clubs etc because I think the audience is different and perhaps the purpose as well. Although they are both artists. But what I am really thinking about is what about our artists in the world? Those that draw, take photographs, cook great food, write poetry, write novels, sketch, make models etc for the world to see…yet they often get the back seat. But the church needs them, because these people are speaking into the culture we are in and they are engaging with it in a different way. The are reaching people who the preacher alone could never reach.

But it’s also not about creating a christian sub-culture with your t-shirts and wrist bands, but it’s about creating art that speaks truth and hope into a culture that needs and wants a saviour.

Lets celebrate our christian artists and encourage them. Lets get the church releasing them into the world so that they can speak truth through their art.

A Tedious God and a Meagre Salvation

Just been reading the online magazine Credo which is worth a read, and I came across Mike Reeves article on Inclusivism (faith in Christ isn’t the only way to be saved) and Reeves speaks into our Western culture with some interesting insights about the effect of not really believing that we need to tell people of Christ for them to be saved. Here is a quote from the article he wrote:

And this is just what I see in Britain today: where faith in Christ is considered inessential for salvation, there people are left with little more than a boiled-down religiosity – a tedious God and a meagre salvation. It may wear Christian clothing – as Arius did – but anyone that thinks that knowing Christ is superfluous simply cannot have grasped how different the God he reveals is, the nature of his salvation, how great the assurance to be found in him. In which case, no wonder their Christianity seems lifeless and dreary.
At first glance, of course it seems more generous and attractive to ‘lower the bar’ of salvation and make knowledge of Christ unnecessary. But the joyless, unassured lives of so many Christians in Britain testifies to the fact that when knowing Christ is considered insignificant, there is no truly good news left.

Knowing Christ is not just important, but wonderful. And to share Christ so others may know him is the goal of evangelism (not for them to join some religious club that never gets a lie-in on a Sunday)… I wonder if that’s where we fall down a bit, we don’t really think that knowing Christ is so important? Which may be why I don’t want to read my bible or pray, because I see it as a religious exercise instead of knowing Jesus and knowing the Father. There is great joy in knowing Christ. Have we forgotten?

There are other articles in this magazine which are great and thought provoking.

The King’s English Resource

I was given an evangelistic resource the other week by a friend who ordered loads. This little booklet is from the King’s English website, written by Glen Scrivener. I read through this last week and thought it was brilliant – possibly one of the most enjoyable, non cringe worthy Gospel resources that I would gladly give my friends. It paints the story of the bible in an engaging way that goes through some of those well-known phrases we know and say (the video below says more). Its fast paced but it is also true to the Gospel and true to who God is. I think this resource would be worth using in Christian Unions, as we open the Gospel with our friends, why not get them to read this little booklet and let them see an overview of the bible and see how this all fits together? It would also be brilliant in church and outreach. Why not go over to the website and support this and buy a copy and then buy lots of copies for your friends and watch how they discover the true character of our loving Father, our sinful hearts and how Christ is our saviour.

Watch this video to get a flavour of the King’s English: