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Letting the darkness point us to the light – why I’m running a Halloween trail this year

We live in an area that loves Halloween. Each year hundreds of kids get dressed up and walk around the street trick or treating. Families decorate their gardens and really embrace this event. Until this year we’ve done the complete opposite. We’ve closed our curtains, told our girls we don’t get involved and had an early night.

We live in an area that loves Halloween. Until this year we’ve done the complete opposite. We’ve closed our curtains, told our girls we don’t get involved and had an early night.

A couple of things have changed my mind, firstly my kids are getting older and asking more questions about why we don’t get involved. Secondly I’ve realised afresh that there is no need to be afraid, there is still light and hope. I am trying to, in the words of Charlie Mackesey “imagine how we’d be if we weren’t afraid”.

“imagine how we’d be if we weren’t afraid” Charlie Mackesey

I’d been reading an excellent book earlier in the summer by Rachel Denhollander who comments on the theme of light and darkness. Rachel says “the darkness is there, and we cannot ignore it. But we can let it point us to the light.” COVID19 has brought up more of humanity’s darkness and put it at the forefront of our every day lives. This, of all times, is a time to be like porch lights in our communities, offering welcome, hospitality, light and hope. We can do this because we know there is someone who can make our dark world light and a little less scary.

This, of all times, is a time of be like porch lights in our communities and offer hospitality, light and hope.

I’m a mum of two young kids, we love our school, our friends and our community. I invited all the year 1 parents to help me set up activities for our kids at this time, two responded, so we met for coffee and started planning. One of them said to me, Nay we need strong community leadership at this time, you need to take a lead. So together we set up the Bitterne Park Community facebook page. Fully aware that there is little for families, we decided to run COVID safe trails and activities. I was secretly hoping they would run the Halloween trail, but in the end it came back to me!

Going from never having celebrated Halloween to fully organising a trail has been quite a surprise. We’ve now got a team of 17 parents from the school and together we’ve planned and created the trail. My friend Rachael designed the map and we’ve all decorated our gardens. Each garden has a hidden clue that spells out a secret phrase.

For those that can’t get out we’re running a pumpkin carving and colouring competition with prizes from local businesses. Each person uploads a photo of their artwork and then judging will happen on Sunday by two local artists. Our page so far has 200 people following and a reach of 8000, we’re really excited to see who will submit photos and take part.

So what did we decide to do as a family? Well, inspired by Glen Scriveners excellent video Halloween Trick or Treat? We’ve gone for a house of light and a house of humour. Glen says “While Halloween can often be a time associated with ghosts, devils and darkness, this is a time to share the good news that Jesus is the light of the world!” In the video he continues to say…

“The future is futile for forces of evil, the bible begins with this fore resolved fight, a moment of darkness then let there be light, first grief in the gloom, then joy from the east, first valley of shadow, then mountain top feast, first wait for Messiah, then long promised dawn, first desolate Friday and then Easter morn, the armies of darkness whilst doing their worst can never extinguish this dazzling sun burst. So ridicule rogues if you must play a role, the triumph is not with the forces of night, it dawned with the ones that said I am the Light”

So we’re going for humour because we know the one who beat death, evil and suffering and light because we know the one who says ” I am the Light”. Each day this week we’re creating #funnypumpkins. We managed to find some whopper pumpkins, our first theme is swimming pumpkins. We’ve also covered the front of our house in fairy lights. To go alongside this we wanted to clearly communicate why we were the House of Light on the trail. So I’ve written a very simple, invitational flyer with a story of Alfie the little boy who was scared of everything (see below). We’re giving out bags with a sweet, sticker and light stick and then a link to this page House of Light, on the page families can find out more.

If you read this in time and haven’t already made plans, would you like to join me? You don’t need to run a trail, you could simply cover your house in fairy lights, or give out little bags with this flyer in. If you’d like any of the Alfie flyers or stickers, then please get in touch and I can send you some in the post or email you the pdf.

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Why the Rule of six could help your friendships

Coronavirus: What are the social distancing rules? - BBC News

We’d been round at a friends house for food and a catch up. Most weeks after the school pick up, we get invited and simply turn up. There’s usually between six and eight of us, from two families. There’s always great food and lots of fun, to be honest its just really easy company. This is a regular occurrence in our life and we love it… until recently.

A recent update from the UK Government meant that people can no longer socialise in groups of more than six (the “rule of six“). This announcement has scuppered the previous hope that the rules on social distancing could be lifted by the end of the year. In this blog I’m not taking an opinion or sides on this rule, rather reflecting on it in relation to friendships.


For some, this rule has had a limited impact. One comedian joked that this rule didn’t affect him. He said “I’m not really in that place, my social circle is so small, I couldn’t even get six mates to my funeral if Champions league was on”.


For others it was far more challenging. Large families unable to socialize in coming months. The moral dilemma of snitching on your neighbours. The reality that stopping and chatting with a group of friends (greater than 6) was now seen as a crime. For some friends it rubbed salt into a wound of loneliness that they’d been feeling for months.

For some friends, the #ruleofsix rubbed salt into a wound of loneliness that they’d been feeling for months.


For me, the one word I came up with was “inconvenient”. It wasn’t awful, I was sad my extended family wouldn’t be able to meet together. But I was also hopeful that it wouldn’t be for too long. On the whole, I’m creative and enjoy lateral thinking. This was a fresh challenge for me to grasp. There was no way we were not seeing friends and family again. So I just had to work out how we divide families into two, or focus on seeing friends in smaller groups.


But this attitude of inconvenience bubbling up from within really bothered me. I’m aware that many of us are on the edge, and anything stressful just adds to our already fragile nature. But I stopped and asked myself, are my friendships based on convenience or they are intentional? Are my friendships driven by love, self sacrifice and generosity, able to weather through the storms of life?

Are my friendships based on convenience or they are intentional? Are my friendships driven by love, self sacrifice and generosity, able to weather through the storms of life?


I’d been reading a book this summer called “Made for friendship”. The book starts with a quote from CS Lewis. “To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it”. Over the summer I began to question what friendship really was. But to be honest in the busyness of life I’d not taken these thoughts any further. Ironically, as socialising is being limited, I think I might be beginning to learn afresh about the concept of friendship. In this season there is a unique opportunity to commit to friendships in a fresh way.


As I began to think through some of the implications on my life, I remembered that the number six is pretty good for friendships. I’m sure the number was chosen to slow the spread of COVID (and not based on friendship), but please hear me out on this one. I’d been reading an excellent book in the spring called “The Art of Gathering”. Priya Parker, the author is a “professional gatherer”. She says that when gathering people together there are magic numbers, one of them is six. Groups of six create a high level of sharing and intimacy. Compared to groups of twelve which offer some level of sharing but are far more diverse in opinions. (Groups of thirty begins to feel like a party, its has its own distinctive quality, but a single conversation is difficult within a group this size, and one hundred and fifty is an audience). This struck me that now, in this season, its a time for deep friendship, with high levels of sharing and intimacy.


So rather than fighting against what we don’t have, I want to be able to adapt and flourish with what is possible. This is a season where we can gather in smaller groups. According to Priya that group size is perfect for creating an atmosphere where genuine, real friendship can grow. For me, even in this strange season I’d love to learn to live like the Ancients “where friendships are the happiest and most fully human of all loves”.


If you’d like to read more about how we’re adapting to the Rule of six and seeing it as an opportunity to dive deeply into rich friendships in our church homegroup then click here. IFES student groups are focusing their strategy using small groups read more here

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Refuge for Student Workers

This blog post is written by Helen Taylor. This is part of a series of blogs written for weary gospel workers, see here for previous blogs.

September is a big month for a student worker – filled with trepidation at everything to be done before term starts, and buckets of excitement.  

Showing new students it’s possible to have a conversation that doesn’t start with, “Where are you from and what course do you do?” and maybe even introduce them to Jesus for the first time is a joy.  

Older students returning, bringing fresh energy to church life and opportunities for discipleship is what I live for.  

But if you’re anything like me the last few weeks haven’t been filled with joy and anticipation in the same way. Maybe instead you’re already exhausted, already heart-weary and the prospect of an academic year on zoom – well you’re just not up for it. 

Students can throw anything at you and we’re going to need to be more ready than ever to extend grace, to call people to repentance and to comfort. 

Let’s be real though. That’s only going to happen if we’re willing to ask for help with those same things ourselves.  

I’m yet to meet someone in ministry who’s not tempted to self-sustain, to become the rock to which everyone else clings, to be indestructible. 

But that temptation, well, it’s out to kill us, and out to kill our ministry.  

Zoom-fatigue is real.  

Distance-fatigue is real.  

Change-fatigue is real.  

If we keep pretending we’re the only ones who don’t struggle with these things, we’ll crash.  

If we don’t adjust ministry accounting for these things, so will the people we’re trying to serve.  

Our well-being, our flourishing and the fruitfulness of our ministry this term is dependent on us being… well,  dependent.

Psalm 61 

1 Hear my cry, O God; 
    listen to my prayer. 

2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, 
    I call as my heart grows faint; 
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 
3 For you have been my refuge, 
    a strong tower against the foe. 

So, will you go? If you’re lead to the rock that is higher than you, will you follow? Will you go? 

What’s it for you? Netflix? Your spouse? Trashy food? Going on another run? Wherever you escape, there’s always something that will promise to be your refuge.  But there’s only one place that will take your cries, your fears and the weight of your soul.  

So will you go to the rock that is higher than you?  

Will you celebrate and live within your limits? 

Will you be careful to set zoom boundaries? 

Will you have someone ask you about your mental health? 

Will you take time for things that bring you joy?  

Will you be diligent in protecting time in God’s Word and in prayer? And time for rest? 

Will you ask for help? 

Will you let the Lord take your full weight as you walk through this next season of ministry? 

The students you’re walking alongside this term are not the only ones dealing with grief and confusion and anxiety and loneliness and fear, are they? Why bother pretending? 

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor is married to James and works for UCCF with students in the Midlands. She loves to feed people good food and dance to good music.

Continue learning

Read. If you’d like to think more about student work and mental health then read this months Connect. A regular mailing for student workers created by UCCF.

Listen. Catch up with this recent event run by Passion for Evangelism and Community in a Crisis with Dr Kate Middleton on Anxiety, depression and Jesus.

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Encouraging female evangelists

In the ‘Passion for Evangelism’ (PfE) termly book club, we have been reading and discussing Aimee Byrd’s excellent book Why Can’t We Be Friends? Aimee reminds us that the way to stand against culture’s inadequate and over-sexualised word around men and women is by not allowing it to drive us apart.

“the way to stand against culture’s inadequate and over-sexualised word around men and women is by not allowing it to drive us apart”

Rather, she says, ‘It is by seeking the brother-and-sister closeness we are privileged to have as Christians. True, godly friendship between the sexes that embraces the family we truly are in Christ serves as the exact witness the watching world needs.’ As women and men proclaim the gospel together, we have an opportunity to show the world to show what restored, sibling relationships look like. Men and women working together in evangelism adorns the gospel and points to a better story!

“As women and men proclaim the gospel together, we have an opportunity to show the world to show what restored, sibling relationships look like. Men and women working together in evangelism adorns the gospel and points to a better story!

A word in season

There’s a particular need for this emphasis today. In recent years I’ve met many men and women that view Christianity through the lens of oppression rather than life-giving liberation. Through shows like Spotlight, The Handmaid’s Tale and His Dark Materials, many are hearing that the gospel is restrictive and controlling.

Karen Soole recently put it like this in her excellent blog post Equipping women to reach others for Christ: ‘Secular women, in particular, are suspicious of the Church. They hear church leaders arguing about women’s roles but what they see is an institutional church which has been guilty of abuse. They suspect that the Bible has an oppressive and misogynist view of women and are convinced its message is of no value to them. If the Christian message is presented only by men, then at first glance at least, this suspicion goes unchallenged.’ 

Raising up female evangelists is particularly important in our universities

The majority of students on campus are women. Some female students prefer to hear the gospel spoken by a woman, including many from global cultures. These cultures would probably include those of Muslim-majority countries, where it is difficult for women to attend a meeting which is perceived as being primarily for men. Amongst male students too, there is growing demand to hear female and BAME voices. If we want to reach our universities, workplaces and communities for Christ, we vitally need female evangelists working alongside male evangelists.

If we want to reach our universities, workplaces and communities for Christ, we vitally need female evangelists working alongside male evangelists.

Fears around public evangelism

Though many of us may wholeheartedly agree with these comments, consider: how many evangelistic events you’ve attended in the last year have had women speaking? How many women do you know that are confident and who have opportunities to speak evangelistically? Why are so few women speaking in this context – and what can we do to help women be courageous? 


For many, the idea of public speaking is terrifying. American comedian Jerry Steinfield says: ‘According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy!’


This quote aptly reflects the attitude many of us have around public speaking. And because public evangelism is a daunting task, and because there are so few female public evangelists, we set up the Passion for Evangelism conference and network in April 2019.

Introducing PFE

There are now 450 women in the network. Our aim is to encourage and support one another, to share prayer requests and give feedback on talks. We have a new mentoring scheme called The Greenhouse, through this two month scheme 8 women are equipped to communicate the good news of Jesus. It’s been exciting to see women from all ages and professions giving talks for the first time. At last year’s conference we had sessions on taking risks for the gospel, communicating Jesus to a weary world, an overview of women in the Bible and what they teach us, and how we might engage with feminism. Our hope was that each guest would go home and find opportunities to speak.


 One guest tells this story: ‘Off the back of Passion for Evangelism, I approached my workplace and asked if I could run and speak at three evangelistic talks at work through the workplace CU. I suggested it as a summer series and the rest of the group were keen.


Passion for Evangelism conferences feature main teaching sessions, you can listen to the 2020 conference here. The bulk of the remainder of the conference is spent in small groups, where each delegate will present a ‘Passion Talk’ and receive feedback. Passion Talks are 15-minute evangelistic messages in which we speak about an aspect of the speaker’s own passion: why they do what they do, why they care, and how this flows out of knowing Jesus. Passion Talks allow us to show why and how following Jesus makes a difference in real life. There is an open door in many university, work and community contexts for sharing this kind of attractive and trustworthy gospel hope.

If you are a woman – or there are women in your network who’d benefit from this fellowship, please encourage them to join the Passion for Evangelism Facebook network.

3 tips for investing in female evangelists 

  1. Help emerging women evangelists get some experience
    Could you ask a woman who’s never spoken in public before to share their testimony or be on a Q&A panel? Give them the encouragement they need and be sure to debrief with them afterwards.
  2. Encourage them to read and listen widely
    Rebecca McLaughlin’s Confronting Christianity is a multiple award winner and is a great place for women growing in evangelism and apologetics to point them to first!
  3. Expose them to more experienced female evangelists
    You could share these YouTube videos of Kristi Mair speaking on sufferingAnn Brown on whether the Bible is anti-womenSharon Dirckx on neuroscience and belief in God or Ellie Cook on whether Christianity inhibits freedom (see below). 

This article was originally published in UCCF Connect Newsletter for student workers.

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Community in a Crisis survey

Online Church experience Survey in English.

Community in a Crisis is an initiative that has been set up as a response to the pandemic. We’re passionate about relational church online. We’ve been helping churches get set up online through events, blog posts and training videos. We would like to find out what the experience of online church has been across Europe so are conducting a study starting on May 31st.

Church online experience survey

What has your experience of church in lockdown been? We’d love to hear from you, whether during this time you joined church for the first time, or whether you’re a regular attender or church leader. Our survey will be shared across Europe and our hope is that we can learn lessons from lockdown that will shape the future of the church.

The survey is anonymous and the data will not be shared beyond the Survey team.  Survey results will be published only in aggregated form where individual respondents cannot be identified. The purpose of the survey is to help churches understand how they can best serve their congregations and visitors. It is anticipated that, in some countries, restrictions may persist for some time. These insights will also help church leaders to make decisions about routes out of lockdown which will best serve the needs of their congregations and visitor as restrictions are partially lifted. The survey has been translated into many languages so that we get a whole picture of what is happening across Europe.  

Albanian

Bulgarian

Croatian

Czech

Danish

Dutch

English

French

German

Greek

Hungarian

Italian

Latvian

Norwegian

Polish

Romanian

Russian

Serbian

Swedish

Links to publicity in different languages.

Translations coming soon Maltese, Portuguese and Ukranian.

The survey team are:

Nay Dawson

Nay has been a staff worker, Team leader with UCCF and co-ordinated the Science Leadership Network, she now works for IFES as the Regional Training Co-ordinator setting up a network of Seeker Bible study trainers across Europe. Together with her husband they wrote Uncover Mark and were part of the team that created and launched it. Nay has set up Passion for Evangelism a network of female public evangelists. In lockdown as a response to churches being closed Nay with a team of friends has set up the initiative Community in a Crisis.

Dr Martine Barons

Dr Martine J Barons is the Director of the Applied Statistics & Risk Unit and the University of Warwick, UK and vice chair of the Christian Postgraduate and Staff Network, Warwick. Martine started her career in accountancy and after 20 year full time at home bringing up her family, she took a degree, Masters and PhD in mathematical sciences. Martine’s key research interest is quantitative decision support for decision-making under uncertainty and she has published  research on health, food security, pollination and expert judgement.  Martine has been part of Emmanuel Church, Leamington Spa since 1986.

Supported by

Jo Rogers

Arie De Pater from European Evangelical Alliance

Press release

Protestante Digital

Evangelico Digital

Evangelical Focus

A really big thank you to our translators

Igors Rautmanis

Morten Birkmose

Eirini Panteliou

karolina van Wijk

Li Bell

Cat Senior

Beata Szrejder

Janka Sotáková

Birthe Birkbak Hovaldt

Ela Magda Džafić

Veronika Hylánová

Tim and Nicky Sandell

Rebecca Davies

Redona Pjeçi

Heledd Job

Neeman Melamed

Andrea Storhaug

Gunn Elin Vage

Ela Magda Džafić

Lucy Higson

Rachel Wadhawan

Gergely Pasztor Kicsi

Alan Andrioni Fernandes

Roberta Grixti

Bianca A. Dia

Andru Modol

Raluca Arba

Raquel Medina
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Learning from the experts in the new normal

Can you think of a situation where you’ve tried to learn something new without taking the advice of experts? This is me all over. My lack of patience plays out in many ways. One of these is an unwillingness to read instructions. This has resulted in many failed attempts at new recipes and DIY projects. My latest disaster was a lockdown hair cut for my husband 3 days before he preaches on Zoom. I’d confused number 1 and number 10 on the clippers, leaving an accidental Nike stripe in the back of Jon’s hair. The children were crying and the house was covered in hair. My daughter looked at her father and said Dad are you actually going to leave the house looking like that? At that point we went back to the instructions and started all over again.

We’ve had to think through how we do church and mission in a pandemic for the first time. But now the UK is over its peak. We’re beginning to see other countries coming out of lockdown. Questions are beginning to emerge about church online after lockdown. What has God been saying in this time of intentional interruption? When this is over can we go back to normal? Is there a new normal?

I really want to think about this. Do we even want to return to normal?

We know that the “old normal” is a long way off. Open air cafes might just open in the summer. Schools might open with a staggered approach with the youngest going back in October. Churches in Germany will open soon but they might ban singing. There is a lot of uncertainty. But in this space of uncertainty I’d like to ask a few questions. Do we really want to return to normal? Was normal really that great anyway? Could we even have a new normal that far more reflects the body of Christ than before?

I’ve read many articles about church life after lockdown. In each of them I hear a repeated sentiment that seems to hint that this hasn’t been real, that this hasn’t been church and that this couldn’t be permanent.

Here are some examples of these statements

Billy Kennedy in his excellent post on 3 reasons to stay online says this: “Church is community and community is expressed when people meet together… Sure, we can do some of this online but nothing beats the face to face interaction, the hug, the handshake or the huddle.”

Tim Hughes talks in his interview about The Blessing and online church. He says “If our only interaction is online, that’s not great, because that’s what I’m missing as a pastor. There’s so much nuance you miss. Body language and just being around people. And I miss the joy when you’re in church and hundreds of people are all united singing these songs. That’s powerful and you can’t quite replace that through endless Zooms!”

I agree with so much here. But what about for those for whom this isn’t the new normal, they’ve been doing online church for decades. And for these, after lockdown has finished, they still won’t be able to leave their homes and go to church  because they haven’t yet found a church that is accessible. 20% of the population have disabilities and yet many of our churches are not accessible to this people group. Lausanne tells us the most unreached people group in the world is the disabled community with 94% unreached. 

I think , the established church could learn so much from this community about how to do church online. For this community churchessuch as Disability and Jesus, London Internet Church, Pixel Church and iChurch have been doing this for years.

Here are two questions I’ve been asking as I’ve thought about this:


1. Was normal really that great anyway?

I’ve begun to see that the body we had, just really wasn’t that much of a body after all. I’m not yearning to return to a building, I’m yearning to be together as a body.

I’m not yearning to return to a building, I’m yearning to be together as a body.

One of our church is housebound due to disabilities. This is what her daughter said after our first online church service:

“Bringing the church service to our home has meant that mum has been able to be ‘at church’ for the first time since before Christmas. Wonderful. This is amazing. Thank you. Praise God”.

Initially I thought that was wonderful, a way in which online church was working to improve church. But as I look back I am sad that it took a pandemic to wake me up. When one of our members can’t be part of the body, the church gathered, there is something not right with our body.

Emma Major writes about her own experience with church and how she and others have felt: “Many thousands of disabled persons have been excluded from so many churches for so long. We’ve been church online for years. This is because the established church often isn’t a place where disabled people can meet together in person with other Christians”.

Malcolm Duncan, now pastor of Dundonald Elim Church in Belfast, says in a recording made some years ago for an Enabling Church conference: …“A church that doesn’t have disabled people in, is disabling itself”

2. Could we have a new normal that far more reflects the body of Christ than ever before?

The disabled community are 20% of our population. And yet I wonder if they make up 20% of our churches. I wonder too if our churches and events are accessible, warm and welcoming to all?  Would you join me and listen to Malcolm, Kay, Emma, and others and learn from them at this time about being the body of Christ?

Kay, told me that social media posts about disability are shared 1/3 less than other posts. I asked her what it would look like to listen to the disabled community. She said: “I long for people to have the ears to hear, and by ‘hear’ I don’t mean a nod of agreement. I mean a hearing that leads to action and a church where all can belong.”

Emma Major writes about the irony of lockdown and the churches response. She says “The fact that physical churches are now exploring how to find relationships online without thinking to ask those who’ve done it well for years is intriguing.”

On a similar theme Kay Morgan Gurr says “It’s taken a pandemic for the church world to catch up with this. Yet today I still see ministers and congregants alike saying that online is second best and they look forward to getting back to ‘real’ church.”

The disabled community have been doing this for years and could teach us about church online, if only we would listen.

Right now I want to repent that I was and am so unable to see to an entire people group.

Right now I want to listen. Malcolm Duncan talks about how we’re all broken and marred, that even Jesus himself limited his capacities in becoming human. I want to listen and be taught by those who are the experts in thinking through being the body online.

Right now I want look at accessibility issues in the areas I have responsibility. 

What about you?  What will be your new normal?

Here are a few guides on how to make your church and events more accessible https://www.throughtheroof.org/forchurches/churchresources/

https://www.throughtheroof.org/events-for-all/

Read more here

Emma Major – Church online nothing new

Watch here

Kay Morgan Gurr sharing about offering hope in a Crisis

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Offering hope in a time of crisis

This post was written in April 2020, but it seems as important now as it did then. Enjoy…

For extroverts lockdown is a testing time. I’m a 98% extrovert I love people and I love community. I am really grateful for technology and how it is being used to build genuine community during lockdown. I run daily chats on conference apps for my daughters and their friends. This took a few days to get used to it, but now they love it. The 5 year old generally plays Pictionary, makes silly faces or does an extensive show and tell. My 7 year old and up to 15 friends natter for over an hour every day. Here is what some of the parents have said…

“Daily chats have helped my seven year old stay positive over these last very strange weeks. Thank you for organising daily zoom calls for her and her friends. I can’t thank you enough”

“It’s been so great listening to Aria chatter with her school friends. She has come out of her shell it has been such a help for her, it has given her a freedom of friendship even when stuck at home xx”

So for me being salt and light has taken a massive U Turn during COVID19. I’ve become an online party host on most days. But this seems to be what my friends need right now. The country is in isolation and we’re lacking real community. We’re unsure and afraid about what the future holds for each one of us. Yet as Christians we have something to say and now is the time to say it.

Priya Parker has written an excellent book called “The Art of Gathering. In this she says “I have come to believe that it is the way a group is gathered that determines what happens in it and how successful it is”. In this article I’d love for us to pause and think. I’d like us to think both how we gather and how we communicate our message online.

Eamon Holmes journalist and broadcaster was at the races in Cheltenham in 2009. He was chatting in a box with his friends. In the box were 11 men, 1 woman, all in their 50s. He says this. “They were all very confident and all very well fuelled with alcohol. They were chatting around my wife – who’s not my wife at this point. She’s loving it, and I thought ‘why isn’t she my wife?’ I thought ‘why have I not got that tied up” This annoyed him and inspired him to propose. So how did he propose? A man with money, influence and connections. Wait for it…Eamon wrote his girlfriend a six page text message.

Now stop a moment and ask yourself how would you feel if you received a marriage proposal by text? Or even worse if you sent a marriage proposal by text? What is it that doesn’t sit right with proposing by text?

How we communicate shows something of the message itself. How we communicate during COVID19 says exactly the same.

How we communicate shows something of the message itself. How we communicate during COVID19 says exactly the same. We’re going to explore some ideas here about relational online communication. I’d like to look at offering hope in a time of crisis. I want us to dream big. Remember what life was like before COVID19 and push technology to its limits. Relational online events done really well will push social distancing to its boundaries.

Friends are asking so many questions. What do you believe? Where do you find hope? Do you get angry? Friends genuinely seem to be interested in these questions that are so central to what we know in Jesus. But how do I communicate with them when I am in lockdown? Lets go back to Eamon Holmes’ proposal. For me personally it lacks humanity, it lacks relationship and its deeply unsatisfying. I would have been so disappointed not to have been asked in person.

I wonder if some of the ways we’ve previously thought about communication and online events have lacked a human element to them?

There are some excellent resources out there on reaching out to friends and offering hope in a crisis. Many of these are high quality, one directional live video communication. There are many benefits to this platform, you can have breadth and reach in a way that you might not have otherwise. I’m conscious though, that with online saturation being at an all time high, we need something more than this.

A huge felt need in COVID19 is for relationship and gathering. We’re experiencing isolation, a lack of community and physical contact with people. It would be a shame if in our attempt to offer hope, we miss out on the best that communication technology can give us. Our events, friendships and conversations could be even better. Let me give you some examples of this. Firstly I’m not saying that you need slick, top notch equipment. In many ways my friends think that its a complete joke that I’m responsible for our new church COVID19 tech team. Jamie Haxby captures the same point in his blog post:

“I’ve done devotional thoughts live on Facebook from the treehouse in my garden amongst other weird places; it’s never well-produced: it’s just shot on our phones, but it does engage with people….we are not a big church, we are not well equipped with tech equipment, quite the opposite.  But, we are creating 8000 engagements a week on Facebook alone: this is comments, likes, shares, reaching 50,000 people in the last 28 days. The result has been many new people watching on Sundays and telling us that they have been watching, people getting in touch asking us to phone them up to tell them about Jesus from a variety of backgrounds.  There are some amazing testimonies starting to come to the surface.”

Through Community in a Crisis I’ve heard stories from many churches. God is opening a new door. Churches across Europe have seen an increase in guests at their services, this is surely good news. William Wade from Life Church says this “Online presence for services have trebled/quadrupled. We use pre-recorded videos and put them on our Facebook page at 11am each Sunday (with daily encouragements throughout the week). One of the best outcomes of moving online has been to ask church members to send in a 1 or 2 minute video of encouragement. It has really served to remain in some small way connected. It also serves to give a voice to the many rather than the few”.

There are so many ways that we can creatively and publicly engage with our friends. My favourite to date was a facebook watch party that we held. Two friends came along both of them thanked me for the opportunity to hear more. One messaged afterwards “It reminded me of church as a teenager, I knew something was missing in my life, but I didn’t know what until tonight”. The other friend and I ended up chatting on zoom and doing a Seeker Bible study. These watch parties are so simple and a great way to go from attending an event with anonymity to engaging your friend with the person of Jesus.

We have the most incredible reason to believe in and offer community and relationship at this time. We believe in a God that is relational to the core, from the very beginning of time he was Father, Son and Spirit.

I’m encouraged as I write this that I’m not alone in seeing this open door. There are some really helpful articles in Christianity Today talking about this opportunity and open door at the moment. One that really stood out was one entitled The Pandemic lockdown is a Godsend for the Indian church. Issac Shaw says “I believe the church has been ushered into a new age of growth and engagement with each other and with the world around us. We are witnessing a huge turning after God.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if church online could provide this in increasing measures. We have an open door to invite friends to our church services during this time.

In the rush and pressure of this new online life, lets not forget something essential to the gospel. The incarnational, human, relational aspect of sharing this good news with our friends. If the way the message is being communicated says something about the message itself. Then, maybe we need to rethink how can we use technology to its best potential? How can we create the most relational, warm, welcoming events and church in this season? How can we be praying daily for our friends? How can we love our friends and care for them at this time? We’ve not (in our life time) had to think about our ecclesiology or missiology during a pandemic. We’ve not had to think about public evangelism in a pandemic. What a great opportunity to learn some lessons and even take them into life after COVID19.

In this time of need this exhortation rings clearly from 1 Thessalonians “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well”. Lets be people that love our friends, share our lives with them and speak the good news of Jesus.

Never before have my friends been so open with me, never before I have been so open with them. COVID19 is changing all of us and is changing our relationships too. I have had more opportunities in the last few weeks to show love to my friends, to pray with and for them and to speak of the good news of Jesus. Its been a great time for honest conversations between friends.

Other ideas for online evangelism

Listen: Offering hope in a time of crisis Q&A panel (Please register here) We had a panel of church leaders and evangelists sharing their ideas.

Read: Communicating Hope during #COVDI19 – ideas from across Europe

Watch: Community in a Crisis Youtube channel – Jamie Haxby from Hope Church Lancaster shares about his experience of how they are seeing many more people engaging with their church since being online.

Community in a Crisis

At Community in a Crisis We’re passionate about building #relationalonlinechurch during #COVID19. Visit our facebook page or on Twitter. Register here for our training materials, recordings and events. We have training on; Offering hope in a Crisis – Evangelism in the local church, Multi-Platform worship training for worship leaders and Getting your church online through Zoom.

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Not the end of the story…

Itchen Bridge - Wikipedia

I feel each day like I am living in a dream. I hope that one day soon I will simply wake up and return to my old life (termed by my husband as life BCV).  Each day feels like ground hog day with attempts to bring routine and order in the absolute chaos.

It was a hard day today and tonight I have had enough of humanity. In the space of a few days I found out that some of the nearest and dearest to me have lost their jobs, been thrown out of their flats, had their car stolen and been scammed. At least three families I know have crossed the poverty line. How can all this be possible in the UK in 2020?

The sad reality is that today we are broken. We are isolated. And we are in a complete mess.

My attempts at home schooling failed within a week, our girls are virtually feral and things that don’t normally go wrong are going wrong every day. But tonight I decided to venture out.  I cycled around the ghost town of Southampton, crying, and sobbing at the state of our world. Angry in many ways that we are where we are. It all just feels so surreal, as if I’m on a movie set of a film. It’s simply enough to make you want to give up on humanity. As I cycled I had so many questions; How can we be so cruel? Is there anything beautiful left in this world? How can we stock pile when elderly, vulnerable and key workers don’t have enough? Why do I care just for my small family and forget those friends I once loved? As I cycled over the Woolston bridge, the highest bridge in Southampton, I saw the Samaritans number. It was at that point I came to the conclusion that if man is the measure of all things, then there is not much point in keeping going.

As I raged around Southampton, it was dark and empty, eerily silent, yet strangely beautiful. As I cycled over the crest of the Woolston bridge it suddenly hit me, I heard God say to me. Nay…

this is not the end of the story. Man is not the measure of all things. I am the measure of all things, I love this world and I love you.

I heard him say I faced self- isolation for you. I was rejected for you. I was abandoned by my friends for you. At this point a sense of freedom entered my mind. I recollected what I knew from the eye witness account of Jesus life. Jesus in his life chose self- isolation, rejection and death in exchange that we might enjoy community, acceptance and life. I heard God say Nay you’re not in control. Nay this is not the end of the story.

Jesus in his life chose self- isolation, rejection and death in exchange that we might enjoy community, acceptance and life.

As I cycled home I felt freer, I felt that Its ok to wake up, however dreadful the situation. I remembered that Jesus was the one who existed before anything else and the one who holds all creation together.

I arrived home an hour later, parked my bike, still weeping. But noticed a friend with her teenage daughter carrying a large bag of food, we chatted (2m apart) and shared, with tears still in my eyes. I went into my home and shut the door again.

The coronavirus shows the very best and worst in each one of us. We’re not just broken but if we’re honest we break others too. The following evening on my daily exercise I cycled through the streets at 8pm for the first NHS shout out. As I cycled I joined in wooping and cheering with the hundreds of local families. My daughter couldn’t quite understand what was happening, she asked “Mum how will they know that we’re thanking them? They’re not here, on the streets”. I told her they’d know,. That our good friend the internet would tell them. So I cycled, celebrating friends and family who sacrifice for us and are fighting for us.

I was overwhelmed with the noise of pots and pans and again cried my way through another bike ride. But this time questioned. How can humanity be both so life affirming and so desperately low at the same time?

How can this virus expose more genuine love for friends but also an inner desire to control and hoard?

How do we recover from this even bigger problem? I don’t watch much of the news, as its so overwhelming. But the bit I look to each day is the recovered stats, 135 recovered today, 2,921 have sadly passed away. Imagine the relief of recovering from this virus. Finally this dreaded thing and potential death has now passed.

But there’s another recovery that I think we all need. I wonder if something deeper than this is happening in humanity right now. I wonder how we recover not just from the Virus. But how we recover from a self centredness that hoards and lashes out. An inward focus that retreats from those around us in need. How do we learn to love generously to anyone in need?

We can’t do this on our own, however hard we try. How do we recover from the deeper virus within our hearts? There is one who sustains and upholds the Universe in his hands and he is saying right now, this is not the end of the story. He gives us a clear offer, Jesus gave away all his privileges, he became vulnerable, he even gave his own life. And all of this for us. As we turn to him, confess this problem. We trust him to give us new life. So that we might recover from this deeper problem we all face.

“In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.” Keith Getty

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Building a team for online church – God is at work in new ways

After leading our first ever Zoom church service I went away feeling happy. We’d gathered 80+ from our church together. We’d cared for those who found it a struggle getting online. We’d scrambled together a team and in the midst of crisis we built community.

We love our diverse International church. We have a high percentage of elderly folk from a South Asian background. We knew that if Zoom was going to work, we needed to work hard. Of course there were funny moments, much laughter and many mistakes. But I never expected the email I received a few hours later.

To put this in context. I’m passionate about raising up female leaders and evangelists. I’ve been praying and working hard for two years on a project called Passion for Evangelism. It’s strange to say, but the Lord is answering prayers in a way I never anticipated. The email I’m referring to was from our dear friend, a respected member of our church.

Dear Nay, as I’ve reflected a little bit on this morning. Two things impressed themselves on me quite strongly: 1. It’s wonderful to see a ‘generational shift’ taking place at church. Which is such good news for the future of Kingdom ministry in the church. The leadership, spirituality and confident assurance of the team, all come from a big shift down in the generations from a year or two ago. This is exciting and deeply encouraging. It poses the question for those of us nearer my generation. How we encourage and support you well as you take the reins more and more.

2. Secondly the majority input (at least in numbers) were of women. I’m certain that if we listen to the prompting of the Spirit. and release the God-given potential and gifting of our women, who are passionate in their love for Jesus, the church will flourish in new ways.”

So as you think about growing your new team to run online services. Be encouraged that the Lord is at work in fresh ways. I’ve written here on how to get your church together online. But I wanted to go into the details of building a team and what that might look like.

Like any service you need a team but in this season you need a bigger team

If we work on 50-70% of the population getting COVID-19 at some point then we need to plan this into our services. Potentially at any point 50-70% of the service planning team could be ill or looking after sick family. It maybe that someone’s work changes last minute or they’re struggling with suffering, anxiety or depression due to the current situation. I’ve lost count of the number of people who say they are now busier than ever before. So let us care for our church by preparing well. We’ve moved on from churches being run by a few people, we need to reconsider team leadership and grow our teams.

On Sunday we ran a service with 7 people; Speaker, Host, Musician, 1 Tech Host and 3 tech Co-Hosts. Working on the 70% statistic…

If you have a team of 7 then 5 will get COVID 19 at anytime. This leaves you with 2 to run the service online.

If you have a team of 14 then 10 will get COVID 19 at anytime. Then this will leave you with 4 to run the service.

If you have a team of 24 then 15 will get COVID 19 at anytime. This will leave you with 7 to run the service.

So multiply all your teams by 4 in order to care for your church.

So this week we’re going to be extra prepared and aim to recruit a team of 24. 7 of those will be put on the rota once a month with 17 on standby every week.

The document below shows our new team roles and job descriptions with a sample running order. Have a read of it now, what do you notice that is different?

You’ll see we had a shorter sermon, breakout rooms at two points, short testimonies from a key worker and a mum at home. You’ll need to rethink the structure of the service to adapt to being online. According to recent Zoom training by Intervarsity staff

“Its 10 times easier to tune out during online calls than in person”.

One way to prevent this dynamic is to make the meeting as interactive as possible. Change the learning style/engagement every 15 minutes. Encourage participation through the group chat. Encourage guests to respond visually with the interactive white board. There are some excellent resources here written by Intervarsity staff.


This has implications for the length of sermons, notices and singing. Make use of the breakout room function you’ll need to enable it in your settings. Group conversations work best with 4-5 people, so keep your groups small. There are many interactive functions for group discussion too.

By breaking into small groups, you not only keep attention but you encourage participation. We had a short sermon with small groups afterwards. Most of the groups worked really well. We thought it was important to check how they were going. So one of the co-hosts visited each room for 20 seconds to check everyone was ok.

When you split into small groups you can do this in a few ways. 1. Pre-assigned 2. automatic or 3. manual (all the info is here). For me as a 98% extrovert Its great fun entering a room, you have no idea who is in there! For those who are more introverted I have some more thoughts, but will save these for another post. Please keep the groups small so that everyone can chat. For those who struggle in this setting, you can opt not to join a group.

Zoom has some excellent resources to help you.

1. Online tutorials are here – watch these first

2. FAQ section is here

So do these groups work? Why is actual interaction better than just transmitting a message online? Here is some feedback from friends at church about the breakout rooms.

“Thank you all I really enjoyed that, especially enjoyed the discussion”

Wonderful time and great opportunity to talk to two others I’ve never chatted with before! Thanks guys! Be blessed and positively ‘infectious’ this week”

Great to have an opportunity to reflect on what has been shared in the service. Such a helpful way of engaging with the talk and helps for the message to stick in our heads.”

COVID 19 is changing us as people. Online church is changing our relationships. In this space of change and uncertainty there is an opportunity to build community in the midst of a crisis.

We all now face physical isolation. Yet as believers WE ARE NOT ALONE. We have the Spirit living within us an ever present help in times of trouble. Once again, as at various points in the church’s history, we are a scattered body (1 Peter 1:1). Isolated, yet not alone. Afraid but full of joy. There are so many opportunities we have now to build community and offer hope.

A time of crisis reminds us of our fragility and brings a new awareness of how things can change in a ‘twinkling of an eye’. When it feels like the end of the world we can remember that the church since Pentecost has always lived in the last days. This is the time during which according to the prophet Joel:

“Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).

So let us continue to meet together in such a way that allows the voices of men and women, young and old to be heard – and all the more as we see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).




We’d love to hear how you have done online church services. How have you encouraged participation, discussion, interaction in your church? Please send us any comments so we can learn from each other.

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Engaging online seminars

Dozens of conferences around the world have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. It’s hard to imagine the amount of stress and frustration that event organizers, vendors, and participants must have felt. While some conferences were completely cancelled, others postponed, and still others went remote. 


But what about you as a speaker? As a speaker you maybe wondering if your seminar can still have an impact now that it is online. As you begin to reimagine your new online seminar its important to remember the context. The world has drastically shifted from when your gathering was originally planned. So take into account the current situation and the impact that this will have on your guests.

When considering your content, reflect on some of these things…

  • You’re 10 times more likely to switch off during an online conference call than an in person conference
  • According to Facebook, 15 minutes is the optimal time for watching a video online
  • Screen fatigue is a real problem
  • We live in a world that is isolated and desperate for community
  • Optimal group conversation is groups of 4
  • 70% of communication is non-verbal

Having read these points, what might you need to stop doing? What might you need to continue doing? What might you need to start doing?

Its so easy to forget the human, relational aspect of a conference online. Here are some tips to help…

  1. Keep your seminar engaging – use interviews, cut your original content by 50%, use images, rhetorical questions and stories.
  2. Screen fatigue is a real problem – Using the 20-20-20 rule can prevent this problem. Using the 20-20-20 rule can help you prevent this problem. The rule says that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, you take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away, which relaxes the eye muscles for 20 seconds and gives your brain a much-needed respite.
  3. Encourage audience participation – we live in a world where we want genuine interaction with others. Work hard to bring the seminar together in collective real time. and create a sense of learning together. You may well be watching the training content as a pre recorded video, but encourage guests to engage with each other. This can be done in the chat, a shareable Google Doc, an app like Sli.do or ask them to send in questions for the live Q&A. We have limited access to collective meetings working hard on this could be precious and profound for your seminar.
  4. Maintain eye contact – this study showed that during video calls, eye contact greatly increased the likelihood of the participants retaining what was said. The same goes for church – where should you look on your computer to ensure maximum eye contact with your audience? Your screen? Camera? You may want to video yourself and see. Ensure if you are using notes that they do not cause you to look down too often, or too dramatically.
  5. Challenge your ideas of ‘non-verbal’ communication – When I teach, I do a lot of my teaching with my hands – but learnt quickly that on camera this is potentially distracting. If you see me with my hands flapping around, this will be magnified on your screen. This means I have to do those non-verbal cues in another way – focus on your facial features. Smile often.

Become a House of Light this Halloween


Halloween is the one time in the year that people knock on your door wanting something from you. And yet as Christians we close the curtains, switch off the lights & tell the kids we don’t believe.

There are so many things that we do engage with and yet Halloween and Harry Potter seem like Christian taboos. Why do we retreat and run a mile? Why don’t we engage? What has happened to our understanding of Matthew 5?


Read here and remember the simple call of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” I can’t think of a better time to do this than Halloween.


Instead of streets of silence imagine if thousands of houses lit up this Halloween and offered warmth, generosity and hope?


Instead of streets of silence imagine if thousands of houses lit up this Halloween and offered warmth, generosity and hope?


This year, like last I’m running a Halloween trail in our local community. I’m delighted that 45 families and some local shops are getting involved. Within an hour of creating a Facebook event over 100 said they were coming along. Its been great to get to know the team and I’m looking forward to growing friendships as we get closer to the event.


As a family we’ve been thinking through what we want to do. Its been a great chance to sit with the kids and discuss together. A lot of Halloween focuses on fear, Kids spend weeks preparing their scary costumes and houses are decorated with ghouls and monsters. So we decided to take the opportunity to explore this theme of fear. We wanted to see if the Christian message has anything to offer.

Levels of fear are at an all time high, being a mum of two kids our life feels like one big game of snakes and ladders. At any moment we could get a text home from school to say a child has tested positive for COVID. The kids are off for a week, all after school clubs cancelled and another week of work goes down the drain. Maybe for you its the general, free floating anxiety and fear thanks to 18 months of lockdowns and isolation. Or maybe it comes when reading a newspaper article of the impact COVID is still having on all levels of society. In all of this, do we have anything to say to our friends? 1 John 4 says “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear”. Imagine if friends and neighbours grasped the truth and beauty of these verses. Could it be that this love is what we all need?


As a family we want to raise curiosity about the person of Jesus Christ and we want to give people space to stop and chat. And over time and friendship, we want to communicate something of Jesus’s perfect love. As Blaise Pascal say “make religion attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is”

I’ve written curious stories with my neighbourhood in mind. They’re stories that raise curiosity and interest in the person of Jesus Christ, I’m selling them on my Etsy shop here. Like last year, we’re giving out gift bags which include sweets, glow sticks and one of the curious stories. We’re going to be making and giving out spider web candy floss and we’ve got a spider web assault course too!


We’d love you to join us and become a House of Light. Here are five ways to make the most of Halloween…

  • Share how Jesus is the light of your world on social media
  • Decorate your home as a House of Light
  • Give away something that point to Jesus
  • Invite friends to a light party
  • Join in a local trail

If you’re interested to read more. Then read this blog with Faith in Kids Five ways to make the most of Halloween.

What ever you do, don’t retreat, do something and take seriously the call to let your light shine before others.

Listen

I recently spoke on this podcast with Faith in Kids on “Doing Halloween for Christ”.

Give away

Have a look at my Etsy shop, I have stories that you can give away to friends at Halloween.

Read more

Here is what we did last year here.

She can’t find a way back into ministry

This is part of a series of life stories written in response to the #SheNeeds series. She Needs is a series of blogs that encourage conversation about what women need to flourish in the church. This post is written by a friend in response to the blog She needs you to fix the leaky pipe.

Life in my mid twenties

It all seemed so simple in my mid-twenties. The world was my oyster! I had done two years of a Ministry Apprentice scheme, spent 2 years abroad doing student ministry and 3 in the UK. I loved it and lapped up all the training I could get. I appreciated the training I received and I could see myself, 10 or 15 years down the line passing on what I had learnt. I could imagine speaking at training courses, supervising staff or writing training material.


When the student job came to an end, there was nothing obvious for me to move on to. I did apply for a student worker job in a church, but nothing came of it. It seemed that the break from a full time job came at a good time because my husband and I were ready to start a family. Over the course of the next 7 or so years there wasn’t much time to think about what I was going to move on to next. I was trying to be present with my kids and enjoy every moment. I do not have any regrets about this, I have loved being a mum. It’s the best way I have ever spent my time and I would not change how I spent those years for anything. But when our youngest was due to start full time school I started to wonder what was next for me. I questioned if there was a way back to ministry?

Life in my mid thirties

I was full of optimism at the start, it felt so exciting to think of all the time I would have and hopeful of all the ways I could serve. I was grateful for the wealth of experience that I had gained over those years at home with my kids. I started to talk to folk in my church who were nothing but supportive. The suggestion came up about doing some further training. There was even talk about there being a training budget that people in my position could make use of. I needed to make a plan, find a training course, something to study, and a long term aim. And finally I needed bring my idea to the church leaders.


This is where things started to unravel. I thought that the best route back in to ministry was to do some sort of training course. But there didn’t seem to be much out there for people in my position, who wanted a way back into ministry after a break. Travelling or time away wasn’t going to be possible for me with family life. Some of the shorter, more introductory courses were more possible, but felt like a step back. I could have bought course materials and tried to study something by myself. But that felt too demoralising and isolating.

Trying to find my way back


I didn’t know where to take things from there, I knew that there would always be something to learn and enjoy doing an introductory course. I didn’t want to be proud, but when someone suggested me doing the course that I had already done in 2006 I was reeling. Hadn’t I progressed since then? Was all my training and experience to that point worth nothing? Had it somehow expired so that I needed to start all over again? I had imagined that I would be teaching on courses like this by the time I was 37. Rather I was invited to take the course again because there was nothing else for me to move onto! What had gone wrong?

I am sure if I was driven enough I could carve out a path for myself in this new phase of life. But I am not sure that is me, and it doesn’t seem fair that that’s the only way to make it in ministry as a woman. It all makes me wonder if it is worth it, and if my gifts, skills and experience would be better used elsewhere.

“It all makes me wonder if it is worth it, and if my gifts, skills and experience would be better used elsewhere”

To be honest, I am enjoying using this extra time when my kids are at school in a variety of ways. All are worthwhile and valuable – and maybe a full time ministry job wouldn’t suit me now. But I don’t want to give up on the idea because there is no well-worn path to follow. And I am curious – what has happened to all the women who started out on this training path with 16 years ago? Would many of them also have loved to return to a ministry job after their kids started school? Or could they not find their ways back either?

Read more in this series – She Needs – helping women flourish in the church

She needs brothers for her to speak in your church

She doesn’t feel good enough to serve in your church

She needs help failing in order to serve in your church

Building community in the playground

Schools are banning one popular phrase to help stop children from feeling  left out - Mirror Online

Back to school

Weeks and weeks of preparation and finally you’re ready. The school uniform is on, photos are taken and nerves are calmed. Before you know you’re walking a route that will become like second nature. Soon you’ll know to the minute when you have to leave and who you’ll see on this daily journey.


As I approach the school gates and stand in the queue I am surprised to find my nerves aren’t settled and questions flood my mind. Will she be ok? What if she can’t make friends? What if she’s left sobbing on her own at lunchtime?


I walk home, on my own for the first time in years. I realise the SHE in the questions above are no longer about my daughter, the SHE is me. Its not just the girls walking into the playground. I too am walking into my own metaphorical playground. A playground full of potential friendships, but also a playground full of memories and insecurities.

In the early days the pick ups can be painful. Just because you have kids in the same class, you can’t presume other parents will chat and be friendly. Often there can be long queues, awkward silences as parents are unsure how to interact with one another.

My experience

Unlike most other children our eldest didn’t go to the local pre-school. Before she started we were sent a form. It asked us to state the names of her 3 closest friends, I put n/a. We were starting completely afresh. We didn’t know anyone. We had no friends.

Pretty soon the daily pick up quickly became part of life, but it took awhile for me to feel myself. Some parents were chatting away right from the start and photos on social media showed parties and park dates. But I often wondered how they had found friendship at such speed. I discovered later that that some had known each other for years. Others had found their friends at Pre-school. For me the closeness of these friendships made the isolation feel even more painful. Many parents describe their experience as if they’re back in the playground themselves. Often talking about not fitting in, feelings of isolation, and not being part of a friendship group.


This week we’ve been walking past the Reception kids, watching them start their school life. I must admit I am delighted that we’re past that stage. Five years on, approximately 2000 pick ups later I am a very different person.

When my youngest started, I decided to do things differently. I wondered if it was possible to create a community that was warm, hospitable and inclusive. I wanted to be part of something where we were in this together. Where we had each others backs. Where we looked out for each other and modelled friendship to our kids. So the very first week of term, I did an open invite to all the parents in Reception Year to come round for coffee and chat. About 20 came and we had a great time. We all agreed we’d do it again. The following week someone else offered to be the host. Many of us went round and enjoyed another morning of coffee and chat. Two years on this is still happening amongst this year group!

The playground has huge potential for friendship and community. Studies have shown that friendship development happens within 3–9 weeks after meeting (Hays, 1984, 1985). In these studies Friendship status was examined as a function of hours together, shared activities, and everyday talk. The playground has huge potential as it provides all of those things, but there is the potential for pain, jealousy and fear. Don’t be like me. I was too afraid to speak. I was too presumptuous. I thought everyone had their friendships signed and sealed. Give up chasing the “myth of the perfect friendship, instead choose, simply to be friendly each day.

It takes just one or two people to take the lead and be warm and hospitable. Others will love an invite and before you know you have a community beginning to form. Imagine the difference it would make if playgrounds across the country were full of adults and kids, displaying warmth and friendship to anyone they meet.

We’re made for friendship but we seem to have lost the art of being friendly. Take this time to stop and pause and resolve to live differently today. It will take boldness and courage and belief that you’re not the only one that finds it hard. But in turn, you’ll have been warm to many and might even find friendship.

We’re made for friendship but we seem to have lost the art of being friendly.

I’d love to explore is how you deepen friendships but also keep the invite open so that everyone is welcome. I’d love your thoughts and comments. What has worked for you? Can you build friendships when the playground is really diverse? What does this look like for the working Mum or the Dad that does drop off?

More everyday ideas for creating community…

  • Chat to other parents in the line as you wait
  • Invite other families to meet up in your local park
  • Join the PTFA
  • Organise a meet up for parents in the first few weeks
  • Set up a whole year group Facebook group or Whatsapp

What have you done to build community in the playground? I’d love to hear from you.

Big Thank you to the Dads on twitter engaging in this conversation and to Steven Knealle for his excellent response here.


Some days, I wish I were a man


Stories written in response to the #SheNeeds series

This is an anonymous story written by a friend.

I grew up in a Christian family and committed to follow Jesus at the early age of 8. My enthusiasm, boldness and leadership skills were commented upon by those around me. I had felt a strong calling to be a missionary at the time when I chose to follow Jesus. I was young but determined to live that out as a present calling rather than to wait to see that come to fruition. In my teenage years, I began to question how much I could live out this calling. It seemed that there were some things that only men could do. The guidelines for what a woman could or could not do were either blurry or unspoken.


It came to a peak when I was 16 and at a big Christian summer festival. It was the second year in a row that I had been and participated in a seminar track on leadership. I had felt a strong call to be a leader but didn’t know what to do with it. At one session, there was a time for prayer response for people who felt called to be Church leaders. I look back on this and wonder why on earth I went up for prayer. I felt prompted to do so but what happened next makes me wish that I had never moved from my seat. I went up for prayer and a man told me… “I’m sorry but we don’t believe that women can be church leaders and so we cannot pray this for you.” I wasn’t the only girl who had gone up the front for prayer – there were three of us. We were told to pray for one another that God might show us how to serve Him and use our gifts of leadership in other ways. I felt so confused and hurt – I had felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit, or at least I thought I had. And yet, here I was feeling called to something labelled “impossible”, “unbiblical” and “ungodly”. What a weird situation to be in as a 16 year old! I didn’t know what to do, so supressed any sense of this calling and pretended that it had never happened. I must have misheard God’s voice and prompting, I must have misheard any calling to be a leader.

I didn’t know what to do, so supressed any sense of this calling and pretended that it had never happened. I must have misheard God’s voice and prompting, I must have misheard any calling to be a leader.


During my time at University I was a student leader in my Christian Union. I experienced an equality of male and female leadership. We were co-workers together. Serving Christ and building His church through mission and discipleship. There were no different expectations for a man and a woman – we were the same, we were equal. I felt valued, honoured and equipped – able to lead in different areas and considered the same as a man. There was no difference between us. We are both disciples, we are both children of God, we are both servants in His kingdom and we are both called to serve in His mission.


This experience was liberating but it added to my confusion about the role of women in the church. I had found a place where I felt free to serve and use my gifts and yet only for a temporary period. It almost felt like a harsh trick. As soon as I finished university, I had to step back into being limited again to the rules of what was allowed in the church. I asked myself, which experience reflected the role of men and women in God’s Kingdom, which one is how it is meant to be?

This experience was liberating but it added to my confusion about the role of women in the church. I had found a place where I felt free to serve and use my gifts and yet only for a temporary period. It almost felt like a harsh trick.


There is so much uncertainty and difficulty for women to figure out their calling and their role in God’s Kingdom. It isn’t clear and nobody seems to want to give any definitive answers. We all dance around the issue, thinking that avoidance will help. It doesn’t help – lack of clarity undermines women even more. I wish I didn’t have this confusion – I wish I could just follow the calling that God has given me to do. But it isn’t that simple… Why did God make it this way? Why did God create me as a woman? Some days, I wish I were a man.

Read more in this series

She needs you to fix the leaky pipe

She needs brothers for her to speak in your church

She doesn’t feel good enough to serve in your church

She needs help failing in order to serve in your church

May be an image of one or more people and text that says '" WE WERE TOLD το PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER THAT GOD MIGHT SHOW US HOW το SERVE HIM AND USE OUR GIFTS OF LEADERSHIP IN OTHER WAYS. FELT so CONFUSED AND HURT "'

She doesn’t want to be treated like a child

Stories written in response to the #SheNeeds series

This is an anonymous story written by a friend.

“A while ago I read an article by Jen Wilkin about the Three Female Ghosts who haunt the church. Jen wrote about the three different ways that women are treated by people in the church; the usurper, the temptress and the child. Looking back on my life in the church I can identify moments when I have been treated as all three. The most common being the temptress and usurper. But the most damaging was the year I was treated as the child.

Of the three female ghosts that haunt the church, I was treated most often as the temptress and usurper. But the most damaging was the year I was treated as the child.


I was twenty-one, fresh out of university and full of excitement, I moved to Holland to work in an international Anglican church. I loved Jesus and excited to share him with the youth in the community. I knew that God had called me to that place and had no sense of what was to unfold. I’d been appointed by a vicar on his way out newly appointed vicar would start in the autumn. I settled in as best I could; getting to know people, joining a home group, meeting up with youths and their families and getting the programmes started.


I was excited for the new vicar to join us and anxious to get to know him. Everything seemed fine when he arrived. He didn’t make much effort to get to know me, we didn’t have regular meetings, he never gave me any idea of what he was expecting of me. I bumbled along as best I could. There were a few times when he let the church wardens shout at me and send me abusive emails always taking their side.

I was meeting up with an older woman in the church and one morning instead of meeting at my house, she asked me to come to the church with her. I went in and there he was. I had no idea what he wanted. He sat me down and told me he wanted me to leave. He told me people were complaining about me, parents were unhappy with me. He provided no evidence of this, nor could he name one person who had said this. Instead he treated me like a child.

He told me that he had been unable to say anything to me about this. He said this was because I was too homesick, too sensitive and too vulnerable to cope with this information. If he had respected me, if he had behaved professionally, none of this would have been new information. He should have been presenting me with the information and offering me opportunities to improve. He should have been setting me targets, helping me to plan how I was going to tackle the difficulties. But he didn’t, and I am still recovering from that conversation.

Fourteen years on I fear my boss asking to speak me. I need to be told what every meeting is about because I know you can walk into a meeting with a man you trust and he can sack you. I know because it happened to me. It was only when I began the discernment process that I realised from the open mouth listening to my tale that this was not my fault. I realised that I did nothing to deserve this treatment. That what I had considered to be infantalisation of me in a difficult context, was in fact a form of spiritual abuse. The experiences I had of being treated like a child sapped me of professional confidence. It is only through God’s grace that I have been able to rebuild myself”.

Read more in this series

She needs you to fix the leaky pipe

She needs brothers for her to speak in your church

She doesn’t feel good enough to serve in your church

She needs help failing in order to serve in your church

She needs you to fix the leaky pipe

The Leaky Pipeline: Women in Life Sciences - University of Maryland  Graduate School

6,300 professors are women – from 23% to 28% of these are in senior posts. This is despite women representing 46% of all academic staff” BBC article

I first came across some of these stats when my husband started working on the Athena Swan committee. A committee that looks at representation of women in STEM. The big questions in science are where do the women go? And how do we keep women in academia? The diagram by Kathleen Grogan, shows many reasons why women disappear.

No photo description available.

This research got me thinking about my own experience. I have worked in student work for over two decades now. I love encouraging people to use their gifts and talents, so am interested in what people go on to do afterwards. Up until ten years ago many women would finish student work and would go on to have children, return to secular work or start work with a World Mission agency. In the last ten years, this has changed. More women want to return to work after having children and many want to stay in the UK rather than go abroad. This has led to a large number of women gifted and trained in ministry seeking opportunities to use their training. Unfortunately there seem to be very few jobs or opportunities for women to serve with these gifts in their local church. All this has caused me to question: is there are leaky pipe in the church for women?

For many men and women their initial experience of paid ministry is life giving. For men there is often clear direction beyond this time and student work or theological college is like a stepping stone for future ministry. In contrast for many women, beyond these early years of full-time ministry they find themselves facing the sudden prospect of “ministry retirement”. Here’s what one friend said recently…

“For years ‘ministry trainees’ are often used as an excuse to milk energy & optimism from gifted young folks for peanuts. This alone puts many off…but for many women the term ministry trainee…is a complete misnomer. The number of female peers I’ve seen ‘trained’ only to realise they weren’t being trained for anything is huge. They weren’t being trained at all. They were just cheaper than hiring a women’s worker”

Of course many will choose to use their gifts fruitfully in an unpaid capacity, but some are called to paid ministry. Others would love to use these gifts in the church, but don’t have the opportunity. Through this series I have been thinking about the experience of women and opportunities they have to build up the church. Whether you’re a full time mother, a worker in the city or a paid student worker I hope there is something in here to encourage you.

Many women I know have few opportunities to work in a job they’ve trained in. Yet the majority of men I have worked with are still in paid gospel ministry, many are exercising the gifts they have to build up the church. For women this leaky pipe means that they have to shelve some of their gifts. If they can’t use these them in their church then the following can happen…

  • they can get rusty
  • they think that someone else can do it better than then
  • they begin to question whether those gifts are meant for them

Here are some examples I’ve heard recently from friends…

“I haven’t done an evangelistic talk for ten years, I feel so rusty, can anyone help me out?”

When I left College and started in student work it felt like it was one of my only options for ministry. I wasn’t interested in youthwork (there are plenty of paid youth and children’s worker roles around!). For the guys it felt like there was a pathway laid out for them; church intern, theological training, curacy/assistant Pastor. But for women (especially complementarian in their theology), you have to work so hard to carve out your own path and you are lucky to get a post

I’m sure this problem is more widespread than just women, or just student workers. So lets pause and think about the wider situation of gifting within the church.

Have a read of these passages; Romans 12:3-13, 1 Corinthians 12, 14 and Ephesians 4:7-15.

Its interesting to note that each of them addresses brothers and sisters. We see in these passages that the church body is given different gifts but by the same Spirit. There are different acts of service but done for the same Lord Jesus. We see here that spiritual gifts are gifts received in Christ. Its easy to fall into the trap of thinking of “giftedness” like our own human ability to do things well. Instead we need to get in the habit of defining gifts in terms of Christ, the head of the body and his present work. We see that gifts are given for the building up of the body of Christ. There are women in our churches gifted by the Spirit, received in Christ for the building up of the body. Can we really say to each other “I don’t need you!”?

There are women in our churches gifted by the Spirit, received in Christ for the building up of the body. Can we really say to each other “I don’t need you”?

In Ephesians 4 we see a direct relationship between the gifts provided by God and positions of leadership and ministry in the church. Cynthia Long Westfall says “historically, the church has followed a certain hermeneutical approach in which an interpretation of the prohibitions of women in 1 Timothy 2:12 has taken priority over their exercise of most of the spiritual gifts outlined in these passages”. We may believe that 1 Timothy 2:12 places restrictions on the context in which women use these gifts. But this doesn’t remove our responsibility to make opportunities for these gifts to be used. Whatever your stance on 1 Timothy 2:12 (and I am in no way trying to change your position) we have to listen to this question. Are you seeing men and women serve in your church with all the gifts listed above in Romans, 1 Corinthians and Ephesians?

There are three gifts that I see women have, but are under used. These are: leadership, evangelistic speaking and teaching the Bible. Some say we should serve where we’re needed rather than where we feel gifted. I currently serve way outside of my gifts because there is a need, please don’t hear me saying otherwise. But still the Spirit gives gifts to be used. I am committed to serving both using gifts I’ve been given but also where there are needs in my church. If you have the opportunity, please do encourage, and invite women to use all their gifts to build up the church.

But because of under-use of gifts by women sometimes more encouragement is needed. When I speak to church leaders this is something I try to say: You will have women that are well trained but for decades have been ignored. It may take time to build them up and encourage them. They may also be believing some or all of these myths in regard to their gifts…

  • If I was good enough or gifted enough, I would have been head hunted
  • I can’t promote myself or the gift I have, that just feels wrong
  • I’m not’ called to serve the church with my leadership/teaching gifts. I’ll just use them in the work place
  • Even if I was asked, I feel like an imposter and wouldn’t do a very good job

Like the pipeline above there are many reasons for this leaky pipe. It seems to me the healthiest thing is for women to talk with their pastors. Lets commit to talk together to work out how to honour each other, honour scripture, honour the Spirit and honour the Lord Jesus.

As I look around I see many women, equally competent to their male peers. Would you join me and invite them to take those gifts off the shelf? Would you take time for the good of the body to investigate more about these leaky holes in the pipe?

Take time to think about this further…

Pastors/leaders

  • Identify women that have spent time being trained, have an appetite for study or have gone to theological college
  • Share this blog and ask them to tell you their experience
  • Ask them firstly if they are currently flourishing using all the gifts that God has given them. Secondly could there be ways within your church to include their gifts for building up of the church?
  • Consider how you can develop a clear pathway for next steps for women similar to the pastor/church leader-in-training role for men. Be willing to invest in paid roles for women. It’s hard to train women if there aren’t positions.

Women

  • Share your story with a friend
  • Discuss how can you start developing and using the gifts that have been on the shelf, for the building up of the body of Christ
  • Send this blog to your pastor and share your experience

Read more in this series

She needs brothers for her to speak in your church

She doesn’t feel good enough to serve in your church

She needs help failing in order to serve in your church

She needs brothers for her to speak in your church

How Business Can Engage Men as Allies for Gender Equality

“When men are in the majority women speak 75% less”.

One Princeton research team set out to measure how much less women talk. Male and female volunteers were put to work solving a budget challenge. The study found that in some cases women, when in the minority, spoke 75% less than men did. But its not just speaking.

According to this research in the Economist… “Men are disproportionately more likely to ask the first question at a seminar. If a man has asked the first question – men are then more than twice as likely to ask a question afterwards. But when a woman asks the first question, men and women both ask around 50% of questions afterwards”. This article highlights the massive inconsistency in men and women asking questions in seminar groups.

This research intrigues me. I want to find out if these statistics are present today. I also want to see how this impacts women around me. I particularly want to focus on the church and what can be done to help both men and women flourish.

Katty Kay, author of The Confidence Code says “Do we (women) believe our words are less valuable, but we don’t have the nerve to say them? A man in a room with mostly women talks just as much as he always does. When men are in the majority women speak 75% less”.

So to start my research I posed an open question on my Facebook feed, using the subtitle above. Over 100 comments and many private messages came in. The majority said they identified with what I was asking. They then went into painful detail of their experience. Here are a few examples for you…

I’m a physicist and have similar experiences! You learn to adapt in male-dominated environments. The default is that women’s voices and opinions are viewed as less important. Sometimes you have to be “difficult” to be heard“.

“What I find so interesting about this is that the accepted perception is that women speak MORE. I’ve actually wanted to record meetings and count words so I could challenge that stereotype. It is so easily thrown around – to demonstrate that the women present were NOT talking lots more than the guys in fact”

“I have seen and experienced this so many times. Women don’t want to be rude and talk over someone else, male or female. Men don’t necessarily strive to be rude but they’re used to being listened to. This has led to many conversations where I or another woman in the conversation stops speaking when interrupted. Even if she perseveres to finish her sentence, but I/ she then doesn’t interrupt the person speaking with her.”

Lets pause for a minute. Think back to your last prayer meeting, Bible study, leaders meeting or Q&A after a talk. Who spoke first, second or third?

I’m committed to seeing both men and women flourish in the local church. If these statistics & anecdotal comments are true, then leaders need to start asking some hard questions.

The answer is simple

Back to the initial research from Princeton, the statistics change when a woman goes first. If a woman asks the first question then men and women both ask around 50% of questions afterwards. On one level there is a simple answer. Academic lecturers have taken to directing their first question to a woman. Next time you lead a prayer meeting you could just simply ask a woman to pray first. Or maybe this is about good group dynamics or having a good Chair. All these things will help. But I’m not sure the answer is that simple.

Firstly we need recognise there is a problem and understand it within our own context. It is essential that we find out what women think and what their experience has been. We also need to look into the detail of how men and women relate to each other. Secondly we need a revaluation of how we relate to each other in the church.

How do men and women relate in the church?

This article by Jen Wilkin describes the three female ghosts that haunt the church. These are named; The child, The Usurper and the temptress. She describes more here “these three ghosts glide into staff meetings where key decisions are made. They hover in classrooms where theology is taught. They linger in prayer rooms where the weakest among us give voice to hurt. They strike fear into the hearts of both men and women, and worse, they breathe fear into the interactions between them. Their every intent is to cripple the ability of men and women to minister to and with one another”. I asked friends to see if they had experienced any of these ghosts. A wide range of women admitted  they had been treated in this way , here are some comments…

“Yes – I have definitely felt at times like all three. In particular the temptress and usurper.”

“100% usurper. Particularly if I disagree with my vicar in a meeting or throw in completely left field ideas”

“all 3 at some stage. It’s only with certain males though not all. I find I have to play a fake role for fear of the guys thinking I am any of those 3”

If you’re still unsure what this looks like, then ask women around you what their experience has been. Then read these three check lists written by Jen Wilken.

Secondly we need to change our culture. We need to stop viewing women in this way and instead treat each other, with absolute purity as brothers and sisters in Christ. Take a look at how Jesus treated women (the Ursurper, the temptress, and the child). Or look at how Paul treated women as co-workers in Christ. Aimee Byrd says ‘It is by seeking the brother-and-sister closeness we are privileged to have as Christians. True, godly friendship between the sexes that embraces the family we truly are in Christ serves as the exact witness the watching world needs.’ Why can’t we be friends.

We need to change our culture. We need to stop viewing women as a child, a usurper or a temptress & instead treat each other, with absolute purity as brothers and sisters in Christ.

As women and men proclaim the gospel together, we have an opportunity to show the world to show what restored, sibling relationships look like. Men and women working together adorns the gospel and points to a better story! Would you join me?

In the light of the recent scandals in the Evangelical world its been said that the church needs Revival. What would a revived church look like in terms of; latent misogyny, the three female ghosts and women’s gifts being ignored?

We’ve got alot of work to do, but please, can we do it together?

Discussion questions for Pastors

Find out what women think in your church, send them this blog and ask them about their experience Have you ever viewed women in your church as a child, seductress or temptress? Imagine her now women in your church as sister in Christ. Ask her what does she need to flourish in the gifts that God has given her? How can you help her do that?

Discussion questions for women

Have you experienced any of the female ghosts? If so, please talk this through with a close friend. Read Romans 16, Luke 10:38-42, Mark 14:3-8, Matthew 9:20-22 how do Jesus and Paul view women? What change would it make if you viewed men in your church as brothers? Send this blog to your pastor/leader and ask them if you could discuss with them your experience.

Discussion questions for Men

Find out what your female friends think about this. Send them this blog and ask them about their experience. Have you ever viewed women in your church/workplace as a child, seductress or temptress? Imagine her now women in your church/workplace as sister in Christ. Ask her what does she need to flourish in the gifts that God has given her? How can you help her do that?

Read more in this series

She doesn’t feel good enough to serve in your church

She needs help failing in order to serve in your church

PFE Wonder conference – mentoring and training female evangelists

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Over the last year God has opened a door for many women to communicate the gospel in public. Douglas Johnson in Contending for the Faith writes about the history of IFES. He says “one of the chief lessons of war-time was how little things of the Spirit depend upon material conditions. Both student and graduate evangelists showed to the full, their great resourcefulness in overcoming all sorts of barriers to the spread of the gospel”. In Passion for Evangelism (PFE) we have seen evidence of this during the last year. Although many churches have had to close their doors, the Holy Spirit has been opening doors for women.

PFE exists to empower, equip and encourage woman to share the good news of Jesus with God-given confidence and creativity. Lets pause for a moment. How many public evangelists do you know? Now how many of those are women? In 2019 Nay Dawson set up PFE. This was in response to a lack of women communicating the gospel in public.

In PFE we want to grow in communicating the gospel and we’re committed to seeing women flourish. We recently ran our annual mentoring and training conference. 80 women from across Europe gathered together.

One of the unique aspects of our conference is that each guest prepares and presents an evangelistic presentation. We then give warm but constructive feedback in small groups. We want to encourage creativity as we communicate the gospel into our culture.

This year the guests could choose to communicate the gospel in a variety of ways. These included; a talk, a blog, spoken word poetry, short video and even song. The aim of these sessions is to give women confidence to return home and find opportunities to share the gospel. Cat shared afterwards “PFE conference allowed me to try out a talk in a safe space but also refined it for actual usage!”. Annie said “Now I have a talk written, I’m looking for opportunities to use it at an event”.

We also had an opportunity to attend a variety of seminars focused on public evangelism. Liz said “ the conference gave me confidence and boldness to find my flow and style in social media and in preaching”.

Alongside our practical training we wanted to make time for the gospel to sweep us into Christs very heart. We don’t want to be people that only ever share the good news with others. We want to know his deepest heart for us. We enjoyed talks from Revelation and Johns gospel. We sang together and enjoyed true fellowship in small discussion groups. Sarah says “It was exceptional. The Bible teaching warmed my heart and spurred me on. It lifted my eyes off myself and on to Christ”.

If you’re a woman that wants to grow in communicating the gospel, then get in touch we offer training, mentoring and have a warm community of women from across Europe.

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Try Prayer – a new initiative for our community

Fathers rights to see his child UK | Fathers access rights | Woolley & Co

This is a new initiative that we’ve set up in our community to invite our friends to try prayer.

“When you pray, say: Father…” Luke 11:2

When thinking about prayer, what words come to your mind? Something detached, a thing to do or something you feel guilty about? We so easily forget that prayer is about a relationship with God. Mike Reeves in his book Enjoy your prayer life says this about prayer. “To know you are a beloved child of God protects you from thinking of prayer as a ladder to God or an exercise by which you work your way into his favour“. Its so easy to view prayer in this way, rather than approach God as a loving Father.

In Luke 11 Jesus wants us to know that the relationship Jesus has had with his father is now being shared with us. He teaches us to pray and to remember “when you pray, say: Father”. God shows us and reminds us of his character as we approach him in prayer. These words about God and who he is, are very dear to me “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” 1 Corinthians. Throughout this last year, God has comforted me as I’ve turned to him, my Father in prayer. But its not just me. During the pandemic many people have turned to God in prayer. I noticed this both amongst friends but also in our nation too. Read more here about this “British public turn to prayer as 1 in 20 have started praying during the crisis” May 2020.

As I reflect over the last year, so much has changed. One thing for me is the growing understanding that the church needs Revival. One key element to Revival through history has been prayer. Michael Green in his book When God breaks in says “Revivals never appear when all God’s people are apathetic, prayerless, unconcerned about holiness, flippant or despise the authority of scripture”. So for me as we ease out of lockdown, I wanted to commit afresh to praying for our community.

I invited 6 friends from 6 different churches to join me. Together we decided that we wanted to love and bless our neighbours by praying for them. I felt it was important that this initiative was about our community so we’ve intentionally kept it small. But we also felt that this was a great opportunity for unity across the churches. Mike Reeves says “Communal prayer is the Christian life in a nutshell. The family of the Father coming together to him to share his concerns”. We want to gather together as Gods family in our area and share in his concerns for our friends and neighbours. So, together we’ve started a new initiative called Try Prayer.

We want to gather together as Gods family in our area and share in his concerns for our friends and neighbours. So, together with friends we’ve started a new initiative called Try Prayer.

“Communal prayer is the Christian life in a nutshell. The family of the Father coming together to him to share his concerns” Mike Reeves

What is ‘Try Prayer’?

Try Prayer will offer anonymous prayer to anyone of any age, faith or background. We’ll gather once a month to pray for our friends, each other and our neighbourhood. We met on Sunday night and 13 Christians joined us from 5 different churches.

How do you promote Try Prayer?

In the lead up to our gathering I told my friends that we were praying for our community. I invited them to send us prayer requests. I did this publicly on social media and privately by whatsapp and conversation. I was amazed by our friends responses…

thanks so much, that is so kind, I’ve not prayed since I was a child, please do pray for…” “thanks, please do pray for our community, for safety and individuals“thanks for asking, I’m not sure, but I’ll have a think and get back to you

We’ve printed our own postcards and bought copies of Try Praying. Over the coming months we’ll be giving these out to friends. We want to write individual notes and invite friends to try praying.

I’d been chatting with a friend (from another city) about this idea. He texted me a few days later and said… “I just spent the evening with 3 friends in our town. They’d all become distanced from church during lockdown. Thanks for the encouragement. Was meeting them anyway but praying together was wonderful”. I also heard of a friend that during lockdown put a whiteboard outside her house. She simply put “can we pray for you? please leave any comments”. They had so many requests from friends and a great opportunity to chat to friends in their community.

Our hope and prayer is that through this each of us would know and experience God as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.

Order copies of our Try Prayer postcards here on my Etsy shop – Houses of Light Order copies of Try Praying books here or Mike Reeves Enjoy your prayer life We’d love to hear your story of inviting your friends to Try Prayer, please get in touch.