Well it seems a newday blog might be possible. I have been offered computer space in the newday offices to blog my newday thoughts. This may may well just consist of me complaining about a lack of sleep, lack of showers, lack of sun, lack of beer and too many christians! I am miserable. Fact.
I will probably summarise talks, seminars, review any gigs I can blag my way into and write about anything else that takes my fancy.
This week I will be at Newday.
I am helping to run the mobilise stream of seminars and I am doing a seminar about going to University.
I was impressed with a few different bloggers who blogged their way through the Together On A Mission (TOAM) conference, including the scarily prolific Adrian Warnock, and was tempted to do the same for Newday. There are a number of different problems with this idea, firstly we are camping, camping is not particularly IT friendly, and secondly I don’t have that much to say! Besides, my brother is doing a live Newday blog already and the potential sibling rivalry could cause carnage (seriously, my brother once knocked me over by throwing a stone at my head.).
Anyway, I am telling you this because the blogs might dry up over the next few weeks. In my absence you should all listen to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Clash and watch the Good Shepherd.
I recently had a conversation (via facebook!) with a friend about the arcade fire. He described how he saw them live and was troubled by the song “intervention”. In particular by the fact the whole crowd sang the chorus:
Working for the Church while your life falls apart.
Singin’ hallelujah with the fear in your heart.
I have much sympathy with my friend. I hate hearing people write off the church. I especially hate the fact that some of the criticisms are painfully accurate. Win Butler is singing words that any number of my friends, who were once church members and have since left, could have written.
This article in Christianity Today almost suggests that the Arcade Fire have a prophetic quality. The author (David Dark) is clearly a U2 fan, which is disappointing, but the ideas he puts forward are fascinating look at how popular music culture is viewing the church. David Dark also does an excellent job of dissecting the lyrics of “intervention”, “(Antichrist Television Blues)” and “No Cars Go”.
It has to be said Neon Bible makes me want to love and know God more than I currently do. No worship album has ever managed that.
I was chatting to one of our students this year and they told me that they only had one day a week when they DIDN’T have a Christian meeting! They went to church on Sunday, a church life group, the CU main meeting, a CU small group, and two Christian Uni societies. I asked them if they had any Non Christian friends and they looked a bit embarrassed and said that they didn’t.
What is the point of that? Seriously, why?
It is a trend that I noticed increasingly amongst churchcentral students and students from a number of the Christian Unions that I have contact with in Birmingham.
So I started asking around and discovered that a number of our students were becoming increasingly proactive in their attempts to break free from the bubble of Christianity. They were prioritising friendships over the dozen different Christian meetings they could go to. Every one of them was committed to church and in fact a number of them lead life groups, play in the band and serve in loads of different ways but had decided against clogging their time up with Christians!
One guy in particular has taken constant risks in his first year at Uni. He has managed to get 16 of his mates, from halls and his course, to do Alpha. One of them became a Christian at the end of this year. That wouldn’t have happened if he had spent all his time in Christian meetings, or had only hung out with Christians.
My biggest frustration as the leader of a student work is that some people barely see any Non-Christians. What is the point of that sort of lifestyle?
It has been a blast and we have loved almost all of it.
When we started we discovered that a number of different myths surrounded students and church. Two of myths that astounded me most were that you cannot build a church on students and that students just leach off churches and then disappear after three years. This is simply not true.
We are discovering in Birmingham that if you disciple, challenge and give students a vision for the church and the city then a majority of them stick around. We are helped by the fact that Birmingham is a large city with plenty of employment opportunities and not many “University churches” have this luxury.
We have also discovered that with good vision, discipleship and challenge a lot of our students have been very keen to get involved in the life of the church.
In fact we have been blown away by how passionate for God many of our students have been. Their desire to step out in faith in the hope that God will move has been a constant challenge to me. For example our churches Alpha course has seen its average number of guests jump from 8 – 10 to about 35 – 40. I’d like to claim an amount of credit but really it down to a bunch of the students being faithful and brave.
We have also been amazed by how many leaders have come through from the student body. We will next term be able to run five life groups lead entirely by students (or recent graduates). That’s 10 leaders. Each of these groups will, I hope, have leaders who can lead multiplications by Christmas. That’s not particularly a statement of faith. I genuinely expect that to be the case.
I am now a firm believer in building churches on students and am always a bit surprised when I hear people claim this not to be possible.
Vix and I lead the student work at our church in Birmingham. We have been leading the student work for about 2 ½ years and we absolutely love it. It has grown consistently since way before we took over and our leadership doesn’t seem to have stunted the growth too much (seriously, the guy before us set a fierce pace).
Student work is one of the reasons I decided to start a blog (besides ranting about music , culture and the guardian website). I thought it maybe a way of increasing the amount of potential students that had heard of churchcentral (considering my hit count that remains a long term goal) and would give me the opportunity to talk about some of the burning issues within the Christian student world.
People often ask me why we do student work and I usually say something along the lines of “we are being obedient to the call of god”, “I want the church to grow” etc etc, but the truth is simpler. Summer holidays. Friends of mine serve in church all year round but I start in October, get a month of in December, start again in January, get a month for Easter, and finish in June. Back of the net.
Anyways, it is my aim to do a blog series on my experiences of leading a church based student work. This will be largely for my own benefit but if you have any questions or issues you want me to cover, or you want to pitch in, please get involved.
I am loving Phil Whittalls blog at the moment (thesimplepastor). If you havent already then go read it.
The post about how church is percieved as largely irrelevant is excellent.
I have shamelessly stolen this link from the Doxologist blog on the Mars Hill Voxpop network.
The author takes aim at “modern worship music.” Amusing.
Check out these two blogs on the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog. Makes fascinating reading:
Will comment on them next week when I have worked out what they are both saying!
This week I am off to mobilise.
Although the thought of being surrounded by Christians for a week is a little daunting I usually have an excellent time in Brighton. On a number of occasions God has spoken to me very clearly at Brighton in ways that have often required some serious life change.
If you want to keep in touch with what going on at “together on a mission” then you can read Adrian Warnock’s blog and if you want to read reviews afterwards then you can check out Luke Wood’s blog.
To get myself through an event like mobilise/together on a mission you need an ipod (and money for beer). The ipod needs to have some cracking tunes on board that help you brain unwind between sermons (three sermons and one seminar per day!).
I will be mainly listening too:
Neon Bible – The Arcade Fire
Hello Nasty – The Beastie Boys
Sandanista! – The Clash
We were dead before the ship even sank – Modest Mouse
Six to one and half a dozen to the other – Snuff
Once Mobilise is done and dusted I am thinking of doing a series of blogs on setting up and running student work. Vix and I run the student work at Churchcentral. It is the most amazing thing to be involved in, so I thought I would write about our successes and failures, strategies for growth and anything else that takes my fancy.