This is about that

Marriage, Paul says, refers to Christ and the Church. This video has been produced by Kings Church Eastbourne to show at the beginning of our wedding ceremonies, illustrating how the symbolism of marriage reflects the Christian gospel.

There are two versions available. Featured above is the cinematic version which doesn’t feature a presenter and is more ambient in nature. The second version below does feature one (in the form of Andrew Wilson) which may better suit teaching contexts.

 

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Available through Vimeo On Demand.: vimeo.com/ondemand/tiatcinematic

Both versions are included and are made available to download in 4K, HD and SD. Purchase removes the watermark and the information slide at the end of the videos.

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Cinematic preview: vimeo.com/213717865
Presenter preview: vimeo.com/213720278

Trapped behind the glass

Mum didn’t have much money on benefits with five kids. More times than I could remember we would sit around the table at dinner, with nothing on it. Mum would say grace, and then there would be a knock at the door, and someone had brought us food. No lie!

Mum had a great faith for this sort of thing. She would pray about a bill she couldn’t pay and the exact amount would get posted through our letterbox. It was just part of life.

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Seeing all these little magical things that God did for us I thought ‘he’s just so good’. When I was 14 I asked Jesus into my life, and got baptised. But I didn’t know much about the relationship side of things. I sort of thought ‘God’s just going to make me perfect now, my sins are gone’. But it’s not that easy.

I was at school in Harrow, West London. Being dyslexic I found school hard, got in lots of trouble and was put down a year. I found it difficult not having a dad around to guide me, to show me the way and how to get things done.

At 15 I was introduced to marijuana. School was hard. Half the time I was bunking, and it was just something to do.

At 16 I was smoking cannabis every day and later went on to speed, ecstasy and a bit of cocaine. I started several courses at college but dropped out, not being able to concentrate because of the drugs I was taking. At 18 we used to sell pills at Camden Palace in London making £10,000 on two nights work. But we’d be eating them like Smarties and one night I landed in hospital.

“You don’t realise when you take heroin that it grabs you and there’s no way out.”

I got married to Joanne at 21, but she didn’t realise the extent of it — how messy it was when I went clubbing. One night we came back and I was rushing off my face. My brother and his friend had some heroin, which does the opposite to ecstasy. After rushing all night at the clubs on pills they would use it to relax back down. So that was my first encounter.

Heroin is incredibly addictive. After taking it for three or four days in a row you become hooked. Your body stops making what the heroin is giving you, which is endorphins. And without them you just feel ill. Within a few months things changed, from going clubbing to sell pills to just “I need heroin, I need heroin…”

Things kept disappearing from our flat as I’d take them down Cash Converters. I got nicked a number of times for shoplifting, where I would sell items on to punters. After about a year of marriage Joanne legally separated from me. I got kicked out of the flat and lived in a shed for six months, and then slept out of my brothers old car. I did a lot of sofa surfing and went to rehab about six times. But I could never get more than a day through cold turkey.

I wasn’t a comfortable heroin addict, if that makes sense. Because I’d been baptised and seen God’s goodness, there was a real conflict and struggle within me. It was like the drugs and the addiction didn’t fit. But I had got into something I didn’t know how to get out of.

“I’d seen people overdose so it wasn’t unfamiliar. But I put it in my arm and nothing happened. Nothing at all. I should have passed out.”

You don’t realise when you take heroin that it grabs you and there’s no way out. And if you’re sleeping in a freezing shed with the rain pouring, half the time you need heroin just to help you crash out, to get you through the day.

Life got very complicated and hard. One time I got very low and decided I’d had enough. Normally you would put £10 worth of heroin in your arm, but this time I put £50 in to see what would happen. I thought ‘If I go, at least I’ll go high.’

I’d seen people overdose so it wasn’t unfamiliar. I knew this was good stuff as I’d been using it for the last few days. I knew it worked. But I put it in my arm and nothing happened. Nothing at all. I should have passed out. I know that something should have happened. I can’t explain it — and there’s been a few other occasions since where God’s just blatantly saved my life.

Because I got so desperate and was in such dire straits, the Drug and Alcohol Service in Harrow said that if I stayed off heroin for two months, and just took methadone, they would send me to Ealing Hospital where I would be medically detoxed — a very expensive treatment. So it was my one chance.

I managed to stick with it, but it took months before my body recovered. I felt like a baby, my body was so weak.

From there I went to rehab where you talk about ‘issues’. I talked about how I hadn’t had a dad to bring me up, but soon realised the extent of other people’s problems. Like backgrounds of abuse and violence — some very major stories — and you think ‘grief, I’ve got no excuse for being here’.

The question came: “so you’re a heroin addict, at the same age as your dad when he left your mum with five kids… what makes you better than him?”. And I realised history was repeating itself. I had become just like my dad.

“All through the drugs it was like I was trapped behind a pane of glass. I could see God but I couldn’t get to him.”

I knew I couldn’t go back to Harrow, because all I knew was drugs and addicts. So I packed my bags and went to work in Scotland at the Abernethy Trust, a Christian outdoor centre where my sister worked. I worked for two years on general jobs: cutting hedges, mowing lawns, that sort of thing, and then learnt to cook in the kitchens.

Every morning they would have a prayer meeting, and we would have to take it in turns to say something. So that got me closer to God and I would say that it was there that I started having a relationship with him.

When the drugs had cleared it was like God said “there you are”. All through the drugs it was like I was trapped behind a pane of glass. I could see God but I couldn’t get to him.

I stopped worrying about not having a dad around, and realised that God would be my dad instead. As soon as I made that link it transformed my life.

When you realise God’s your dad, you realise he feels just the same way as you do about your kids. Whatever they do, good or bad, you love them anyway, and you pour yourself out for them.

I was eventually reunited with Joanne, and we went on to have our two daughters and also foster other children. I’ve always loved kids, and I’ve been helped so many times that I thought ‘let’s help some others’.

When I was 14 I believe my faith was real and I was a Christian. But you’ve got to take that next step, to ask for the Holy Spirit and develop a relationship with God. That’s what changes your life and gives your faith that depth.

One of my favourite verses is Matthew 18:2-4, that we must become like little children. The people Jesus used weren’t great scientists, mathematicians or anything. They were very normal blokes and the gospel is a very simple story: Jesus died for you, for your sins to be forgiven, so you could walk with him and have new life.

Joe West

Jesus is a nuisance

Jesus is a nuisance inasmuch as he’s hard to ignore and he isn’t easy to categorise.

Call him a ‘nice man’ and you’ll read about him cutting an opponent down in a discussion or insulting someone of high standing. Call him a ‘cruel man’ and you’ll find him including outsiders and healing helpless lepers. Instead if you insist that Jesus is a normal man, with a mix of good and bad like the rest of us, you’ll overhear him making claims to divinity.

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Jesus believed that when he spoke, he spoke with the authority of God and when he acted he acted on behalf of God. He told people to forget their dead, give up on their family and follow him instead. We might call him a ‘religious nutter’, but then what about the wisdom he spoke with and the care he extended to people? The claims Jesus made and the impact his followers have had on the world are simply too big to be ignored or pushed aside.

What shall we do with Jesus?

The historical existence of Jesus is widely attested to. Not only are his life and death documented in the New Testament but non-Christian historians acknowledge his existence as well. In around 93AD the historian Josephus records for us:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.

— Book 18, chapter 3:3 of the Antiquities

No credible historian today would doubt the historic existence of the man Jesus of Nazareth. So Jesus existed in history, but what was he like?

The historic references outside of the Bible tell us almost nothing about what Jesus was like. For this kind of information we need to turn to the Bible itself.

In the Bible the New Testament begins with four books, each of which is an eye witness account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. They record in detail some of the things Jesus did, with a special focus on his death and supposed resurrection.

Can we trust the Bible?

Can we trust the Bible as a source of accurate information? The straightforward answer is a simple ‘yes’ and here’s why.

The New Testament stands in a category of its own among ancient documents for its reliability. We trust the authenticity of other documents written around a similar time despite having very few documents at our disposal.

Take, for instance, Julius Caesar’s recorded history documenting his battles in Gaul (modern day France). We have only 10 manuscripts documenting this, the closest to the original being 950 years after the recorded event took place. Yet with the gospels we have over 20,000 copies dating as close as 50 years after it was written (a partial document) and 270 years for a complete manuscript. We can assert with confidence that what we have in our New Testament is what was written in the first instance.

Did Jesus rise from death?

The claim of Easter Sunday, that Jesus had risen from the dead, if untrue is the most outrageous stunt and deception ever pulled on the human race. It’s become the cornerstone of faith for over 2 billion Christians alive today. Let’s consider it together for a moment.

The tomb that Jesus was buried in no longer held his body on the Sunday following his execution. So what happened? Because the precautions the authorities took to guard his tomb were so extensive, only five feasible options have ever been put forward:

1.
Fearing how Jesus’ followers might react to his death the authorities took the body and kept it for themselves. But when Jesus’ followers started telling everyone Jesus was alive, the authorities were unable to produce the body to quell the disturbance.

2.
The women who found the tomb empty went to the wrong tomb. As did everyone else, including the rich man who had recently purchased it. The original tomb was never found.

3.
Jesus was close to death but didn’t actually die. In the middle of the night he revived, rolled back the stone blocking the entrance to the tomb, over-powered the guards and then headed for the hills. Then, a while later he appeared ‘alive’ to his disciples.

4.
Grave robbers stole the body. But they left behind the only thing in the tomb of any monetary value, his clothes.

5.
The disciples stole the body. Grief stricken and not wanting to admit he was gone the disciples over-powered the guards (professional Roman soldiers), broke in to the tomb and took Jesus’ body. After which they spread the rumour that Jesus was alive and well, and the world’s true ruler.

The death and resurrection of Jesus is one of the most well-documented events in history. Because of this, these are the only options that offer any explanation; but there’s significant problems with each. There is of course one more, but it’s an option with dangerous implications. It’s an option that few of us are bold enough to entertain since it forces us to question what we’re living for. The final option of course is that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive. It’s an option that validates all of his previous claims to power. It’s an option that changes everything.

Jesus’ message

Jesus’ message was that you are loved by the creator of everything. You’re so loved in fact, that before you were even born he sent his son to die for you. We have all ‘sinned’ — there’s no shortage of evil, injustice or selfishness in the world. Jesus died on the cross to take all of the punishment we deserve. Jesus died to show you that God loves you. Jesus died so that you could be set free, released from the fear of death. He died so that you could know God as your father, and receive everlasting life.


To find out more discover The Alpha Course, chat to us on a Sunday morning, or find our online resources in the Exploring Christianity section of our website.

Inkosi Newsletter: February 2017

What an amazing time Dave and I have just enjoyed with our friends from Thembalezizwe Church, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. They were so pleased to see us and receive greetings from our church to theirs.

The school was buzzing with 21 new children pictured above with their teachers Uncle Mathias and Aunty Samu and wearing their new track suits we bought them while we were there. It is usually quite warm in January but this year the rains have been very heavy and the temperature was only about 17 degrees. The older children are pictured on the left with Aunty Ma Phiri and Aunty Tendai.

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Some of my time there was taken up with talking through the new curriculum recently drawn up by the government and by trying to help the staff to make some sense of it and understand the changes they will need to make. As well as this, I was also able to have fun playing with the children at every opportunity!

Inkosi Kids

As you may know, the economy of Zim is in a very bad state, which means that people who had very little to begin with are struggling to survive on a daily basis. Through the generosity of Kings members we were able to help several families with food and medical bills and in some cases, money for uniform and books for school.

We were very keen to catch up with the old pupils from ECD, all of whom are now in the local Primary School, so we invited them to a tea party after school one day. All but about 5 came and it was lovely to see how they had grown. They sang for us and really enjoyed their food. We also visited their Primary school and were very proud to hear from the Head teacher that the highest achieving children in grades 1, 2 and 3 are all from our ECD.

Inkosi Kids

We were very sad to hear that a few of our sponsored children are not attending school as regularly as they should, so we called a meeting of parents (see below) so that Taurai, the pastor, could set in place a few ground rules. The parents were very open to the suggestions and the staff will liaise with school on a monthly basis to find out if children are not regularly attending and they and the pastor will home visit, if necessary, to establish the reason. Sometimes it is simply that they genuinely cannot afford pencils and books although at other times it can be that a Dad is spending their money on beer or they are sending the child to work somewhere for extra income!

Inkosi Kids

It was lovely to see the children at ECD being able to play with some new toys provided by the members of Focus who make and sell cakes every term specifically for Inkosi Kids.

The pushchairs were a great hit as were the new dolls and puppets. Some lovely contacts of the Inspire group also knitted dolls clothes and blankets for the children to play with.

Even the teachers were given a puppet to help them teach in a fun way!

Inkosi Kids

All that remains for me to say is thank you so much for your monthly contributions to this work and also for the gifts that you send to the children personally. It means such a lot to them. The parents always come to thank us when we are there and I only wish you could all see what a difference you are making in the lives of these children and their families. The play equipment in the playground is being updated as we speak by one of the parents who is not working but has welding gear and volunteered to do it free of charge because he values what the school has done for his two children.Your monthly giving not only provides for the ongoing costs of the school but also healthy snacks for the children and a warm winter tracksuit.

Inkosi Kids

Please keep praying for the children that they will keep healthy and flourish socially, emotionally and spiritually. That their families will appreciate what you are doing and make sure their children have what they need to attend school and that the community recognises that God is working in and through His Church.

All the gifts you have so generously sent for birthdays and Christmas seem to be getting through so here is a reminder of the address.

Please remember to put the child’s full name on the front so that the teachers know who to pass it to without having to open it.

Child’s full name c/o Mr & Mrs X Ndlovu Private Box N.E. 12, Northend, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Pastor Sithole (pronounced Stolly) and family.

Inkosi Kids
 


To find out more about our child sponsorship program in Zimbabwe visit our Inkosi Kids webpage.


Stories from Alpha

“What Alpha offers, and what is attracting thousands of people, is permission, rare in secular culture, to discuss the big questions — life and death and their meaning” — The Guardian

The Alpha course is an opportunity for anyone to explore the Christian faith. It’s relaxed, low key, friendly and fun. We asked 12 people who have been on the course to share their experience. Here are their stories:

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The Alpha experience was just brilliant. No question was dismissed as ‘silly’ and I felt completely comfortable being there and not being a Christian. I didn’t feel pressured at all to change that either. Alpha definitely helped me to understand Christianity but it let me do that at my own pace. I didn’t know what to expect but I got so much more from the experience than I could have ever imagined.


I did Alpha on the recommendation of friends at Kings. I came with an open mind and no preconceptions. Over the weeks I discovered Christ and I left a Christian with a thirst for more knowledge.


I was intrigued to see what happened on Alpha. So I went along and made some great friends. The course helped answer some of my questions, but ultimately understand myself and the feelings of my soul. Towards the end of Alpha I became a Christian and gave my life to Jesus. I was baptised the same year!


I was encouraged to try an Alpha course by my wife and daughter, who are both practicing Christians. I was unsure about the idea at first and only agreed to go to get some peace and quiet at home. To my surprise I enjoyed the whole experience, met some lovely people and gained a useful insight into both Christianity and the working of King’s Church. Alas, I, personally, remained unconvinced. But I would encourage anyone with questions about Christianity to go on an Alpha course.


I found Alpha was the perfect platform to ask questions about Christianity from a very basic level. It was an opportunity to question my beliefs about the very existence of God and the accounts of Jesus and the Bible itself. We tackled those perceptions and with the help of friendly and extremely patient group leaders we could talk openly and I felt completely at ease. I was so inspired by the experience I have continued in my learning and have made long term friends.


I attended an Alpha course after seeing an advert on a church building, “Find the meaning of life” it said. I was looking for something, but just not sure what it was. I now believe in Jesus, but I’m still figuring out all the other stuff. One thing I do know is that I feel better for attending Alpha.


Since falling away from the church and losing my way I was led to Kings and then Alpha as a way of understanding Christianity again. This time I made the decision on the Alpha Away Day to become a Christian. Alpha has led me to some of the most beautiful friendships; it has allowed me to grow as a Christian and has encouraged me to accept new gifts from Jesus.


My husband and I had only just made a decision to become Christians so Alpha was a great introduction in getting to know what Christians believe. Week by week we made new friends and heard more about how God speaks to people. It was the most significant decision I have made in my life.


It was a very special experience to meet with people who had found great strength and comfort in their faith, and also others who were searching for some meaning in their lives. The course showed me that God’s love as a heavenly Father is eternal, unconditional, forgiving and supportive in all aspects of our lives.


I always thought of myself as a believer but never committed to why or how I believed. For me, Alpha at Kings welcomed me from day one and their malleable approach meant that knowledge gaps were filled, facts replaced fiction and the message became clearer.


I was intrigued to find out more about Christianity and if indeed it was for me and to dispel myths and find the truth about Jesus Christ. Alpha answered numerous questions I had, whilst building relationships with Christians and non-believers. Each week built my trust as questions were answered and in November 2014 I put my life in God’s hands and became a Christian.


I’d felt that there was something missing, that I had a hole for most of my adult life and tried to fill it with relationships that never worked. Coming to Alpha I was welcomed with open arms, I felt at home, and I learnt so much from everyone about Jesus, his teachings and about the sort of person, and parent I wanted to be. My Group Leader prayed for me each week and slowly but surely the hole and that feeling of emptiness disappeared. I knew, with certainty that Jesus was Lord and I wanted to follow him. I was baptised on Easter Sunday, and it was the most amazing day of my life.

 

Discover Alpha

There lots more information on our Alpha web page where you can sign up online. For dates of our next Alpha Course see our events page. You can also get a great taster of what Alpha is all about through episode one of the film series:

Surprising stories of God’s Kindness

God in the Old Testament is cruel, mean and aggressive; whereas the God in the New Testament is loving, kind and forgiving.

That’s an opinion held by many people, but it’s wrong. For the next three months on our Sunday mornings we’ll be going through the first book of the Bible and discovering how surprisingly kind, forgiving and loving God has always been.

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Genesis isn’t just the name of a popular band from the 80s. It’s also the book that opens the Bible’s story and it’s known to many only as being the book that records how God created the world and the story of Adam and Eve, but it’s a book with so much more on offer. Written thousands of years ago it documents the lives of some of the most well known figures in history.

Each Sunday together we’ll be exploring the stories and situations through which God first introduced himself to the human race. We’ll meet some people who made a mess of their lives and some who never stood a chance. We’ll watch to see how God treats the outsiders and the undesirables, the dishonest and the shameful. We’ll delve into themes of regret and romance, family and failure and throughout it all we’ll watch on amazed at the kindness and wisdom of God. It’s a book packed full of surprises.

If you’ve ever made a decision that went dramatically wrong, or if you’ve ever wondered at how you could ever repair the damage you’ve caused — Genesis is for you. If you’ve ever wondered what you did to deserve the good things in your life or if you’re amazed at your good fortune — Genesis is for you. If you’ve ever felt overlooked or devalued, abandoned or cheated; if you’ve ever despaired about the future or complained about how unfair life is, then Genesis is definitely for you.

It’s an ancient book, one of the first in human history, but it’s packed full of punch for modern life. Join us at any of our three venues to explore for yourself just how surprising, unexpected and consistent God’s goodness has always been. Join us as we show how Jesus’ life and death wasn’t a one off display of kindness but the latest in a long line of God being good to us.

We hope to see you there!

We’ll be working our way from Genesis chapter 12 all the way through to chapter 50. To get a head start why not read it for yourself and see what you make of it all?


Update: Our Genesis teaching series is now complete and you can watch the entire series online here.

Help Raise a Child

As far as I can remember, I have only ever known one Paulette. She was already old when we first met. That was when I was eight. So I imagine now she’s very old. In fact, I have it on good authority she’s very much alive and still living with Stanley in a small seaside town just outside of Blackpool.

I first met Paulette in Sunday School. We had recently moved to the area and ‘me and me brother’ were pulled along by ‘me parents’ the first Sunday we were there. And that’s when we met.

Paulette was the Sunday School Superintendent. Week in week out she prepped, cut, stuck, painted, smiled, prayed, encouraged, read and served. And in the words of Mr Moon the vicar, ‘did a little job for Jesus’.

To be honest, she did more than a little job for Jesus. She did an amazing job for Jesus.

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For more than three decades she invested into the lives of the children of the little seaside town just outside of Blackpool. And after many years, she’s still asking “How’s Graham? How’s he getting on? Such a handsome young man” (OK, I made up the last bit, but genuinely she still asks after me).

What I am, and who I am today is partly down to Paulette.

“For more than three decades she invested into the lives of the children of the little seaside town”

And then there’s Derek and Barry. Derek now a vicar himself up north and Barry, a civil servant in Blackpool, led the youth work. I made a decision to follow Jesus in my teens. Derek and Barry coached, discipled, nurtured those early years. They led me in to the ‘things of the Spirit’. I remember every Friday night in Derek’s lounge, worshipping and having fellowship together (in fact, I think it was called Friday night fellowship, which seems a very appropriate name). Just a handful of teens wanting to meet Jesus. They helped us meet Him.

It was Derek and Barry who encouraged me to lead worship for the first time (aged 16), to preach for the first time (aged 16), organise a March for Jesus on a double-decker bus through the parish for the first time (aged 16). Along with Paulette, they also did an amazing job for Jesus.

Proverbs 22:6 says this, “Point your kids in the right direction — and when they are old they won’t be lost”. They did a great job in pointing me the right way.

When Belinda and I spoke in the recent Citizen’s series, we used this passage to encourage parents in their role as ‘parents’. There’s a million websites already available on Google letting us know how to be more successful, more loving, more caring, more releasing, more controlling, more forgiving and generally do a much better job than we currently are. Being a parent is really tough. Even harder when we consider the iTech world in which we live. Most parents probably think they are letting their kids down. (There was a lovely moment last year, having just finished Facetiming our son, we turned to each other and said ‘after 19 years of thinking we have failed as parents, he’s turned out OK’ and we high fived each other, and had a cup of tea to celebrate).

At the time, we didn’t want to deliver a talk simply confirming what many already thought, that they were pretty hopeless parents. It really is tough. So we only had two points (it took us forty minutes to say them, but they were really good points). DO try and bring your kids up to love God. And DON’T try doing it on your own.

As parents, we should try wherever possible (with every opportunity that comes along) to model priorities, model making decisions and model mission in a way that points kids in the right direction. Some of that will be about going to church even when it seems you are forever sitting in the crèche looking after everybody else’s children as well as your own. It’s about modelling good choices in life in line with what Jesus would do and what the Bible says. It’s about catching them up in God’s adventure, not just a mum thing, but what God is saying to the family.

And then there is this critical key idea. Don’t try doing it on your own. Whether you are a lone parent, a married couple or a blended family, you don’t have to do this on your own. We are family.

“there is this critical key idea. Don’t try doing it on your own. Whether you are a lone parent, a married couple or a blended family”

There is an old African proverb that says ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. It takes the whole community with everybody buying in to the same belief that we are in this together. In the individualistic society we live in, this idea can easily get lost. But if we genuinely want the best for our children and want to see them grow strong in faith and character, then we shouldn’t be thinking it’s simply down to the parents, it’s down to all of us playing our part, a supporting role with a genuine interest in every child. Why? Because every one of them matters.

If the UK stats for church attendance are accurate, then in ten years time, most of our current teenagers at Kings will not be following Jesus at all. Something like 70% of the children in our crèche will be nowhere near church by the time they reach the age of 20. What do we do? Simply accept it? Hope for the best? Hope we do better than most?

Perhaps we need a more radical response. So by the time our children finish school and head off to university, they are strong and confident and tough in their faith. For that to happen, we need to dramatically rethink our ‘parenting’ strategy with a huge increase of time and resources being intentionally diverted towards them.

I recently read the findings of a three year study which had been undertaken by the Fuller Youth Institute in Pasadena, California. They were looking for the crucial factors that helped young people develop a mature faith. They came up with three key elements:

1.
Involvement in all-church worship during high school is more consistently linked with mature faith than any other form of church participation.

2.
The more teenagers serve and build relationships with younger children, the more likely it is their faith will stick.

3.
More than any programme or event, what made kids more likely to feel a significant part of their local church was when adults made the effort to get to know them.

If these findings are true in our culture as well, then it’s really important as to how we develop a church that is appealing and relevant to young people and at the same time incredibly intergenerational. How do I need to adapt? What preferences do I need to reconsider? What am I going to do to make a difference?

If it’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, then perhaps in our UK context the ‘church’ should be the village. It takes the church to raise a child.

Jasmine

Have you noticed? Young people love to be involved. I recently spoke with Jasmine. Jasmine is now eight. She has the biggest smile. And because she is now eight, I said her big smile needs to be seen by everyone as they enter on Sunday morning. So she’s now joining the welcome team with her dad.

At Centro you’ll often see James with a bunch of keys. James is thirteen and he knows the Hippodrome better than most. Along with his dad (who pays for the cooked breakfast afterwards), they unlock the building together. James is great at unlocking buildings. It allows hundreds of people every week to meet God. It’s his amazing job for Jesus.

We need to give lots of opportunities. And take lots of risks. And allow for lots of mistakes. And see where they might be in five years time if we give them the chance.

That’ll need huge amounts of encouragement and support, cheering them on along the way. Rooting for them, shouting their name and genuinely wanting the best for them.

It will also need huge amounts of resources and time. And this is where I think we need to get even more radical. Why? Because of a dream.

I’d love to see over the next five years, one hundred new families added to this church. People who don’t know Jesus yet but will have their lives impacted and blessed by Him in the coming years. At the moment, we have two hundred families on the waiting list to come to our parent and toddler group. Wouldn’t it be great if we could open up more doors so they could come in? And then there’s the HUB. A new youth venture started by a handful of Kings members in Shinewater wanting to make a difference in their community. Now every week fifty or sixty young people turn up. What would it begin to look like if we could reproduce this across other parts of Eastbourne and Seaford?

For this to happen we will need to be thinking differently.

It’ll need more volunteers. We’ll need more grandparents, aunts and uncles to many of our children. I love the story of Ann. It’s so inspiring to see the difference one person can make in a young person’s life.

We also want to line up our finances with our vision. In September, we made the decision to divert more of our resources towards kids and families. It turns out we were spending more money on ‘Tea n Biscuits’ on a Sunday than we did resourcing our entire 0-11’s kid’s work. I thought to myself, ‘do we want more cookies or kids?’ If all it takes to be radical is for me to stop eating a biscuit then let’s do it.

We have also made the decision to invest an additional £40,000 per year in the area of families and at the moment, we simply don’t have this money. But we genuinely hope that people will respond to the vision and in faith. If the members of Kings currently not giving started to give just £20 per month (the price of a takeaway) we would double this amount straight away. Seriously. We could double the investment overnight. Imagine the impact that could have.

I look back over the forty plus years and recognise that many people have played a significant part in my life. They showed they believed in me and believed in the gospel. And they believed that I mattered.

I want our kids at Kings to know that they matter. Every one of them.

Not many will have the privilege of meeting Paulette, Derek or Barry. But I did. And looking back, I am very grateful. They invested hugely in me. They saw very little in the way of return. I never thanked them. Probably never showed any appreciation. At eighteen I simply got up and left. But now, nearly thirty years later, I have this opportunity to express my gratitude to them and to the many others who have helped me along the way. And in some small way, I also hope it will inspire the next generation of Paulette’s and Derek’s and Barry’s to do exactly the same, and do an amazing job for Jesus.


by Graham Marsh