Monthly Archives: June 2009

Who’s responsible for killing God?

Teenagers say family, friends, money, music and even reality television are more important than religion according to a recent survey of a 1,000 13-18 year-olds by Penguin books undertaken to mark the publication of Kevin Brooks’ novel Killing God.  What have we done when six out of ten 10 children (59 per cent) believe that religion “has a negative influence on the world”?

The survey also shows that half of teenagers have never prayed and 16 per cent have never been to church. The controversial new book  is about a 15-year-old girl who questions the existence of God. Kevin Brooks, the author, said: “I can’t say I am surprised by the teenagers’ responses. “Part of the reason that I wrote Killing God was that I wanted to explore the personal attitudes of young people today, especially those with troubled lives, towards organised religion and the traditional concept of God. “How can the moralities of an ancient religion relate to the tragedies and disorders of today’s broken world? And why do some people turn to God for help while others take comfort in drugs and alcohol? “These are just some of the questions I wanted to consider… And I wasn’t looking for answers.” The research also found 55 per cent of young people are not bothered about religion and 60 per cent only go to church for a wedding or christening. Only three out of 10 teenagers believe in an afterlife and 41 per cent believe that nothing happens to your body when you die, but one in 10 reckon they come back as an animal or another human being.

A the Church of England  is looking to cut its budget for youth mission work a spokesman said: “Many teenagers aren’t sure what they believe at that stage of their lives, as is clear from the number who said they don’t know whether they believe in God. “On the other hand many of these results point to the great spirituality of young people today that the Church is seeking to respond to through new forms of worship alongside tradition ones.”

Today a new site Make Jesus Famous is launched- http://www.makejesusfamous.org.uk/. Let’s help it generate the ideas, commitment and inspiration to reach out to to those who really don’t know or care about Christ. Let’s give them a message of hope, new life, love and transformation. Let’s be the miracle to them.

For the full article on this story  see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5603096/Two-thirds-of-teenagers-dont-believe-in-God.html

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Make Jesus Famous

jesus-imagesAndy Warhol said we could all be famous for 15 minutes, but what could you do to help make Jesus better known? A new website Make Jesus Famous launches tomorrow Tuesday – 30th June. It would be brilliant if everyone who read this blogchecked it out and registered  their ‘idea’ for sharing faith in their neighbourhood. All you need to do is briefly describe your everyday work … easy! You can then upload your photo or a suitable image, and make it part of the homepage ‘image wall’.

You can pre-register at www.makejesusfamous.org.uk right now, and you will be sent a reminder email on the launch day.

Hopefully,  Christians who will inspire each other withtheir ideas, achievements and comments to spread the Good News . This in turn will build an ever-growing evangelism resource, harnessing the Christian creativity at work throughout the nation.  If you ask why does Jesus need making famous?- the answer was given in a piece of research published only a couple of days ago when it was reported that a fifth of the population  have no idea about the death and resurrection stories of Jesus.

Give it a try! Please help us Make Jesus Famous by pre-registering today. Many thanks – you will make a huge difference if you take part.

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Breaking out

Jewish Christian Steve Maltz the author of ‘How the church lost the way’– is passionate about  how the roots of our faith have been damaged by the influence of Greek philosophy and culture. He suggests that the church needs to recover its roots if it is ever to fulfil its destiny, and see true and sustained revival. He makes some interesting arguments, but one thing I certainly agree with him on is his passion for the church to break out more and have a real impact on our culture, right here and now. Steve makes the point well in this passage from the chapter Redoing Religion:

” The question I now ask is, if we follow such a big God why do we cram Him into such a small box? We should let Him loose, let Him roam freely, let Him act according to His awesome nature. Of course He already does, but we act as if He lived just in ancient buildings, sports halls on a Sunday hire, or in front rooms swept clean of profane literature and embarrassing relatives…God doesn’t just live in church buildings for a couple of hours every Sunday. For a start nowhere in the bible is Church ever meant to be a building. It was the Greek Church fathers who changed things, leading to an idea that any expression of Christianity is best confined to a meeting place rather than the people who meet there. Whereas Jesus tells us to go out into the world to preach His Gospel, we have ending up telling the world to come into Church, to find Jesus there. And what does the world really find when it goes there?”

This morning I am off to talk to a group of Christians meeting in a hired-community centre who want to have their own Church building..interesting.

My earlier blog about Steve’s work can be found at https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/losing-our-way/

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Help for heroes

Whatever you think about war and military service- the people who serve the country of our behalf need our prayers and support. Too often this takes place only when we honour the memory of the dead in November- for the last two years we have had the chance to celebrate their achievements as much as the memory of those lost. Today is the Uk’s second annual Armed Forces Day . It’s an opportunity for the nation to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families, and from veterans to recruits.

Across the county people are getting involved: communities are holding local events, businesses are showing their support through promotional offers, and to kick off the proceedings and early this week some local authorities held-raising ceremonies.

For the National Event, The Historic Chatham Dockyard opens its doors, so you can learn more about the Army, Navy and RAF, meet members of local units and lunch out surrounded by history. Chatham is just one event being held in support of Armed Force Day. You can find out more at http://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/Default.aspx

I have never had to serve my country in a theatre of battle and I thank God for that. Others put themselves at risk so that I and millions of my countrymen never have to face the pressure and challenge of armed conflict. I pray that all servicing armed forces personnel remain well-equipped, safe and ethically and morally certain of their role and the job they have to do. I pray also that the chaplaincy services of the church provide the support our soldiers, sailors, air force and other military personnel need.

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Michael Jackson- the man in the mirror

I awoke today with the shocking news that Michael Jacksonhas died suddenly. The news will stun millions of his fans and is one of those  moments in music culture similar to that of the death of Elvis, John Lennon or Buddy Holly. Jackson was loved by millions and worried just as many more with his strange person life, but there is no doubt that he had a heart for others and wanted to heal the world and make a difference. The world loved Jackson but many were uncertain of his motives and lavish lifestyle which seemed at odds with some of the values of hope, trust, love and togetherness that he often wrote and sung about. I’m not sure any of us really understood “the man in mirror” who never got the chance to say his last musical farewell to the people of London. His music and legend will live of  so let us today not focus on his eccentricities but let the genius of his music do the talking. Michael wanted his music to evoke these images and get us to change and understand how child-like qualities could really heal the world::

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Carrying on

During weeks like this faithfulness and stamina are hard to come by.It’s been a tough week for me. I am juggling a couple of projects, with key members of the team away or posts vacant. There has been a great deal to do in a fast-shrinking time-frame and sometime it feels just as the top of the hill is being reached ,the clouds come down and time is spent just finding out exactly where I am as visibility becomes challenging and the hope of making the summit in good time slips away. Thank God for friends, family and hard-working colleagues at times like these. Once again I take encouragement from Nick Fawcett’s Daily Prayer as he writes:

“Lord God, you know that life isn’t always easy. There are times when I feel exhausted, overwhelmed and defeated.Remind me then of those who have gone before, keeping the faith, and running the race with perseverance. Remind me of Jesus, his willingness to endure the cross for my sake. Remind me of my responsibility to those who will come after me…Lord Jesus Christ, inspire me through your love and the great company of those who have gone before me, to persevere and run the race, to the glory of your name. Amen.”

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Time to leave Jerusalem

In the opening  chapter of Acts the resurrected Jesus tells his followers not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for the promises of the father- The Holy Spirit. The disciples are excited at the prospect of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel- they still don’t get it! Only a few verses later Christ tells them to be his witnesses on Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria and the ends of the earth and then he disappears! As my friend George Lings would say, the message may have reached the ends of the earth but the church has set up a number of mini-Jerusalems. How many Christians effectively reach out beyond church walls other than through blitz events like Hope and Soul in the City and specific ministries like Street Pastors?

Some would say that the church is obsessed with Jerusalem and making it look better, bigger, slicker and brighter- when the real need is to set up camp in Samaria or even venture to the ends of the earth. As a church we tend to focus on people who are like us- Churched- those comfortable to be our people. What about the de-churched on the fringes of Samaria who are at least 3 times bigger than we are and many of whom don’t like who we are? What about the non-churched where we could come into contact we a group amongst the under 45s who are 6 times greater than that age profile in our churches? There is some excellent news and stories around the Back to Church Sunday initiative for which we should praise God, but we can’t ignore the facts that around 40% of the populations have had some experience of church yet have not returned- was it really their fault. My friend George suggests that the complex DNA have the church has  dominant Anglican genes called worship and pastoral care and that evangelism and mission genes are recessive. For a national church, the Church of England, the number of people who appear to be deeply alienated from us is disturbing. It’s time to leave Jerusalem.

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