Angel mosaic revealed at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity

Angel mosaic portraitThe BBC have recently done a video report that Italian restoration workers at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem have been showing off a stunning mosaic of an angel that was previously hidden beneath plaster.

Tensions between different Christian denominations have long delayed the repairs at the church.

But the Palestinian Authority brokered a deal between them enabling restoration work to start three years ago.

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Empowering Children as Ministers

Empowering Children as Ministers was a day conference organised by Gill Ambrose and Ally Barrett (Reverendally), with help from the Praxis East Committee.

The notes from the day show it to have been a rich and thought provoking day with a diverse group of ministers and church representatives reflecting together on how they might empower our churches’ children and young people as ministers, and the impact that this may have on the children and young people themselves (both now and into adulthood) and on the church itself.

At a time when the Church of England is actively promoting the nurturing of young vocations, why not start in childhood?  Click here to read a full report on the day, including the full text of the speech given by 11 year old Joanna about her own experiences as a minister.

Want to help young people start work well?

Great news! Second round applications for September’s Changing Light are now open:

Changing Light is our new weekend experience for people in their first years of working life or preparing to start work.
At this vital life stage, it’s an opportunity to:

  • Experience God’s love as workers and catch his exciting vision for work.
  • Dose up on fellowship and prayer and be commissioned at the start of working life.
  • Hear stories of how others have done great things for Christ in their work and experienced the odd failure along the way too.
  • Receive input and encouragement from those further along similar career paths.
  • Prepare for and celebrate the start of this vocational life.

Many people have told us that they wish they’d had something to help them through the transition into work. Changing Light meets that need. Do you know someone who might benefit?

Where: Camping in the beautiful fields of Latimer Minster, Bucks, HP9 2XD

When: Friday 9 September to Sunday 11 September, 2016

How much:  £80 (including food)

There are just 50 places available so pass on this link licc.org.uk/changinglight for all the details and to register interest by 18th July.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions or would like a high quality version of the film below to show in your church.
Blessings,
Jen Logan

LICC Contemporary Projects Leader

Total football, total Church

I love this blog post on Total football, total Church by the Threads team.  Check out this snippet:

This European Championships will be the first to take place after the untimely death of football’s great philosopher-king, Johan Cruyff. While sadly Johan himself will not be present, Cruyff’s legacy will very much be felt at Euro 2016.

Cruyff is regarded as the pioneer of ‘Total Football’, a way of playing football in which players were free to respond to the demands of the game without traditional positional constraints. Players rotated, swapped positions and moved around the field; it is remarkable and sometimes disorienting to watch. The system relied on a strong understanding between players, effective on-pitch communication and a willingness to sacrifice individual self for the sake of the team’s collective success …

Like Total Football, the Church depends on its members working in unison to achieve an outcome that no one individual could muster alone. Each member has a role – a preferred position, if you will – and where we are able we should fulfil the role given to us (1 Corinthians 12:18). You can move around to fill the needs of your context, and sometimes you’ll feel out of position, but if your teammates (‘fellow workers’ to use a biblical term) are on the same wavelength, then you’ll be covered (Galations 6:2).

Cruyff’s disciples wholly bought into his way of playing and thinking about football. Ronald Koeman (Southampton FC manager) said, after Cruyff death: “Johan walks through my life.”

You’re a disciple of Christ? To what extent does Jesus Christ “walk through your life”? How is his presence felt in the way you perceive the role(s) you’ve been asked to play?

You don’t get to rewrite the rules of Christian discipleship, you’ve not be asked to move the goalposts, and you’ve definitely been given a position to play. But you do get to do everything in your power to play that position as intelligently and selflessly as you can. These are the tactics that have been given to us by our very own Philosopher-King.

“My role as a church leader is to empty the church”

Great interview with Adam Dyer from Yeovil Community Church by the IDEA magazine for the Evangelical Alliance.  I love this quote:

So my role as church leader isn’t to fill the church, but to empty the church – we run these projects not to get people in to the church but to get the church into the community. That idea that our neighbour is right there, that there’s brokenness  right there, that we can share this journey with people. Jesus came bringing the kingdom one act of love at a time, and we as a Church are invited into this movement.

Welcoming people to church

Ben and the team over at the Diocese of Portsmouth have shared some brilliant resources by Margaret Pritchard Houston from St. Albans Diocese that your church can use to help welcome people:

Newcomers who aren’t familiar with what happens at church may be nervous and feel unsettled and conspicuous. I’ve made some simple handouts that you can make available when people come to church.

There’s a version for younger children, with very simple language, and a version for older children and adults, with some more detail. The explanations in the version for older children and adults are designed to be autism-friendly.

There’s also a sheet you can fill in with details about your specific church – where the toilets are, what happens after the service, etc. – to help people feel at home in your building. This is included in the PDF file, but there’s an editable Word version as well, so you can type your explanations in, instead of having to handwrite them!

Please note: when filling in the “Our Church” sheet, avoid jargon!  For example, here are two ways to answer the question “what books or leaflets will I need for the service?”

  • WRONG: The hymnal will be used for the processional, gradual, offertory, and recessional hymns – the insert will be used for the Psalm. Today’s lectionary readings are found on the insert, while the rest of the congregation’s words for the Eucharist may be found in the seasonal service sheet for Epiphany.
  • RIGHT: The green book has the words for the songs in it. We call these songs “hymns.” The vicar will tell you what number to turn to for every hymn.  The words we all say together are found in the leaflet with the coloured cover – we use different colours at different times of year.  When there’s a Bible reading, the words for that are on the sheet with the red top that’s stuck inside the leaflet with the coloured cover. One of these readings is a song from the Bible called a Psalm, which we all sing together. If you get confused, feel free look over someone’s shoulder to see what they’re doing, or ask someone sitting near you.

Resources

What do you want from a sermon?

Christian Research has recently published a report on what people look for from a sermon?  Some of their key findings include:

Most Christians still believe sermons are important, but wish vicars would stop trying to be funny. In a survey launched by Resonate on 21st April, only 1.6% said they saw humour to be the most important element in a sermon. Men in particular said they felt Biblical exposition to be the most important aspect in a sermon, at 49%, with women at 39%. Sermons containing more practical application elements were seen more favourably by women, at 44% versus 36% for men. When asked if they felt sermons on the whole were outdated, 88% of the respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed.

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Learning about transgender people

I found this blog post on “seven lesson I’m learning about transgender people” by Mark Wingfield was fascinating:

I don’t know much about transgender issues, but I’m trying to learn.

How about you? How much do you really know about this subject beyond all the screaming headlines and concerns about who goes to the bathroom where?

The truth is that I don’t know any transgender persons — at least I don’t think I do. But with the help of a pediatrician friend and a geneticist friend, I’m listening and trying to learn. This is hard, though, because understanding the transgender experience seems so far outside what I have ever contemplated before. And the more I learn, the more theological questions I face as well. This is hard, even for a pastor.

Do go and check out his article as he shares seven things he’s been learning.

Leaving evangelism to ‘professionals’ is missionary suicide

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury told Premier that any church that leaves evangelism to the ‘professionals’ is committing missionary suicide.

Speaking about the need for everyone to invest in sharing their faith, he said:

“Any church that leaves things to the ‘professionals’ is committing missionary suicide basically.  The responsibility of demonstrating in word and works the love of Jesus Christ, in a way that is deeply attractive is the responsibility of every single Christian. Always. Everywhere.”

Archbishop Justin spoke out about how the Church has failed to equip people to share their faith for too long.

He said:

“If you go back to 1944/5 there was a report for the Church of England called Towards the Conversion of England prepared for William Temple.  It said there will never be a conversion of England until every Christian disciple is equipped to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  That has always been one of the greatest weaknesses in many churches – not just Church of England churches. We do not spend enough time equipping people to share their faith.”

 

Week of prayer for evangelism has ‘touched a chord’ says Archbishop

Archbishop Justin Welby spoke to Premier Radio about prayer, evangelism and Thy Kingdom Come.

The call for Christians across England to prayer for our nation to know Jesus Christ has “touched a chord”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has told Premier Radio.

With tens of thousands of Christians taking part across throughout England and beyond this week, Archbishop Justin Welby said people are “motivated and excited” about praying together for those they love to know Jesus.

The week of prayer ahead of Pentecost was called for by Archbishop Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, in November last year.

This week cathedrals and churches across England – and across the traditions – are hosting 24-7 prayer rooms, putting on special services, running prayer meetings, doing prayer walks, and many other activities. Churches overseas have also spontaneously responded to the call, with congregations in Belgium, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel and other countries joining the wave of prayer.

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In the interview, the Archbishop said: “This week of prayer seems to have touched a chord that none of us really expected to the degree it’s happened. Port Stanley Cathedral in the Falkland Islands has joined in Thy Kingdom Come. There’s people in Israel and all across the UK. People find they’re motivated and excited about praying with others for those who they long to find the love of Jesus Christ.”

The week of prayer will culminate this weekend with special ‘Beacon’ worship events in numerous cathedrals around the country, led by bishops and contemporary worship leaders. The event at Canterbury Cathedral, led by Archbishop Justin Welby, Pete Hughes and Hannah Heather, with worship led by Seth Pennock and Tim Hughes, will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Watch or listen to the interview on the Premier Christianity website 

Visit the Thy Kingdom Come website