Posts Tagged ‘Church’

I feel that this blog is well over due. However, before I begin, I must outline the fact that I’m not a leader within the movement at all. Equally, the beauty of our movement Is that I can share my opinions without them being censored.

I’m a self-titled New Frontiers fan boy. I don’t mind admitting that. Having openly admitted that I also open myself up to criticism from others that don’t agree that New Frontiers is that great – some of those people being from within the movement themselves.

My beautiful girlfriend challenged me the other day by asking “would you ever leave New Frontiers?”. She asked out of interest, nothing more. My knee-jerk reaction was an immediate no. However, that’s not true. I would leave if I had to (we’ll get to that!).

Having observed a variety of churches within our network it is clear to me that individual people are considered precious as part of the movement; but we’re not a movement that is precious about people choosing to leave. Not because we don’t care about them but because we love them!

Things like Stoneleigh, Brighton Conference and Newday, alongside the importance placed on local church and people having a relationship to God proves (to me at least) that we are thirsty for the best God has for us! The plethora of teaching I have witnessed point’s people to chase after God with everything.

When people criticize New Frontiers to me, they often point to other movements or large churches that do something they agree with. Some even say we should change and be like them, few seem to think their purpose within our network is to be that change. I’m not sure how God will use them, maybe they’re right, but I’m not convinced. Don’t get me wrong, I think that other movements do great things that we could learn from; I also don’t believe for a second that we’re 100% right on everything.

I’m just not convinced that thinking like that is how they’re called to be. Above all else, I think we are to chase the best God has for us despite the sacrifice, that may be.

I think that if people see a movement that offers something they believe to be God’s best, and it is in line with scripture, and they don’t believe New Frontiers is within what God’s best for them as an individual, then there’s nothing wrong with leaving. In fact, I’d be happy for them as they were following what they believed God to be doing!

I’d be sad to see them leave in terms of relationship and the fun it can be to build together, but that’s part of the sacrifice of pursuing God’s best.

As for me, I know that the relationships I have, the teachers who I listen to and the leaders I submit to, are all part of God’s best for me. I’m part of a movement that plants churches, finds the lost, stands rooted in scripture, listens to God and welcomes his Spirit; I know that’s the best God has for me. It has the favour of God on it and sees scores of people saved. I’m home here.

If that changed, if God moved me on, then I would leave. However, I wouldn’t move to something that did anything less than the above because I see their necessity in scripture.

So, for now at least, I’m a New Frontiers fan boy and now you know why.

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I have just got back from my 10th Newday. For those of you reading this that don’t know, Newday is an event for 11-19’s which thousands of young people meet with God in quite a tangible way. Equally, many young people will see that Jesus is the Lord for the first time and accept forgiveness from God in a way that completely liberates them and brings freedom to their lives.

I thought I would take this opportunity to give my top three reasons why I think that Newday is amazing, but also incredibly important to continue running.

  1. Thousands of young people are able to get quality teaching, from the Bible, by a host of different leaders from across Newfrontiers and the different spheres that our local churches organise themselves in. It is really good for our young people to see these leaders, absorb the teaching that they give, and have good role models to look up to.
  2. Hundreds of young people become Christian for the first time at such a crucial age. It happens around the time when people start exploring their identity, their sexuality and form foundational opinions that potentially underpin who they are. I was so blessed that God caught me around the age of 16 – I could have wound up making some really bad decisions otherwise.
  3. Dozens of churches camp together, in close proximity, which helps young people meet other Christians their age and is a great opportunity for leaders and servers to network together; inevitably this helps with getting people stuck into church planting and resource sharing.

Having an event which seeks to bring that many people together is so powerful and shows those that hear about it how serious we are about pushing forward the kingdom of God. Ultimately, it is so refreshing to be on a week away in an atmosphere like that – it’s a mere glimpse of what Heaven will look like. I am so excited to see what is to come in the next year(s).

It’s been over two months since the 2015 election. I feel that there has been enough recovery time, for the winners and losers, and so now seems to be a good time to write this.

Anyone that knows me will be aware that I worked tirelessly, with others, for Amina Lone to get elected in Morecambe & Lunesdale on behalf of the Labour Party. We suffered a significant defeat that was much in line with the national swing. I have my reasons for voting Labour but this blog is not about that.

The recent election saw an increase of those that did not vote for the traditional three party’s. It also saw two leaders resigning which is normal, and now we’re experiencing a period where there is little scrutiny being given to the current Government.

Through the elections I witnessed relationships torn apart; people being labelled racist (even though they’re not!); elected representatives make horrible comments about those less fortunate than themselves; candidates trying to instil hatred into the hearts of people that trust them; promises being broken; and communities divided all in the name of politics.

I have fallen prey, at times, to that culture and taken part in some of the aforementioned tragedies of the most recent election.

I’ve come to the conclusion, and somewhat conviction, that it is my duty as a citizen to only speak well of those that lead our nation and vehemently pray for them – especially those that I disagree with.

The truth is, as a Christian, I want to build others up, encourage people to exercise their democratic rights, and engage with politics free from persecution but not without appropriate challenge.

The Bible shows (Rom 13:1-2 & 1 Peter 2:13) that we are to submit to governments and uphold them honourably; even when they don’t act justly we are still to do so. Hate will always breed hate but love will breed hope and genuine, real change.

I want to apologise to anyone who has ever been pressured by me to think or vote in a certain way. Equally, I want to publically declare that I am so thankful for people like David Cameron, and those that he leads in Government, for committing to a life of public servitude. I am so grateful for having leaders that allow democracy and do things as best as they can.

I will continue to pray for our Government, and anyone reading this is invited to join me in doing so.

I end this with a plea to the Christians reading this: always seek to highlight the good that the Government is doing and seek to build relationship with your local representatives. Equally, continue to engage with politics, social issues and current affairs; when trying to make change you believe in – do so with love and grace. Let’s be known as individuals that are productive and encouraging – let’s be known as the church God intended us to be known as within the sphere of politics.

It’s been a while since my last blog entry (I really need to get better at staying up to date…) and this latest one has been inspired by some of the things I’ve been involved with this summer.

At the beginning of summer I started a job with The Challenge Network which involved youth work with 16-17 year olds. Although I have very strong opinions about that charity and what it’s trying to achieve (maybe a blog for another time…) one good thing did come from it. I met a lovely woman that was involved with something called Inter-City Camp Trust (ICCT).

Upon finishing my job with The Challenge Network, I had a week to mentally prepare myself for going to the Isle of Wight with ICCT. I was told that it was an intense week and that it would be very challenging… my rather narcissistic response was something along the lines of “I’ve done Christian camps before, how hard can this actually be? I’ll be fine!”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It wasn’t the amount of work that needed to be done physically; I’ve been in similar situations where I’ve had to work just as hard. It was the emotional amount of work that needed to be done.

ICCT is a charity that takes kids (ages 8-12 years), predominantly from working class backgrounds, from inner parts of cities like Birmingham (to name one example…). Some of these kids come from very troubled backgrounds, and often are very challenging to work with. They may have never even been outside of the city walls, whilst at the same time really struggle personally with routine and authority.

I made it one full day of camp before I was, more or less on my knees, in floods of tears. It was at that moment that I realised that these kids needed something extravagant, unique, breathtakingly beautiful and more powerful than wealth, education and materialism could ever be.

They needed to be shown real love.

I’m not talking about jump over the moon type love or older brother type love. I’m talking about full on, nitty gritty, hard yet so soft, awesome (click here for the definition of awesome – you probably wouldn’t have put it in this sentence!) Corinthians 13 love.

Corinthians 13v4-8:

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how good the day trips out are, how good the ice cream is on the beach or even how brilliant the staff may or may not be if these kids do not see us display Corinthians 13 type love.

More than I have ever realised before, Corinthians 13 love is hard to demonstrate 24/7! My patience was tested, my resolve was poked at and my strength quickly became weakness! It was a challenging week… to say the least.

You see, taking kids away on holiday and controlling their behaviour here and there is the easy part. Demonstrating Corinthians 13 love was the emotionally exhausting, yet so rewarding, part of the camp.

My understanding of real, true, love has deepened a bit more in the last couple of weeks. God displays that, for eternity (that’s 24/7 – NEVER ending), without fail. I’m not going to sit on my end of the computer, like the keyboard warrior that I like to be, and claim to have all the answers about how to help these kids, give them better opportunities and drastically improve their quality of life. That wouldn’t be my place to do so.

I will, however, always point people to the very simple fact that Corinthians 13 love is limitless, boundless, and more powerful than you can possibly imagine (I had to get a Star Wars quote in here somehow… right?!).
Now here’s the best bit.

These kids; some were troubled. I’d be the first to admit that. Alas, their background and personal strife’s do not make them the only ones in need of Corinthians 13 love. Whatever your personal situation, socio-economic background or (dare I say it?) religious conviction may be… you need it to.

It may be hard to digest, but Jesus is God (John 8:58, John 14:6) and we know that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). There’s only one place Corinthians 13 love can come from. Perfect love is something to strive for, but if this camp has taught me anything (it has taught me a lot…) it’s that perfect love only comes from Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I want that more than anything any tent leader could give me on some random field in the Isle of Wight during the summer holidays…

Let’s start with a definition of Lad Culture. I will use the NUS definition as I feel it’s pretty conclusive. Most people I’m targeting this blog at probably won’t even know what is meant by Lad Culture. So here’s the definition that came from their research:

‘Lad culture’ was defined by our participants as a group or ‘pack’ mentality residing in activities such as sport and heavy alcohol consumption, and ‘banter’ which was often sexist, misogynist and homophobic.

I’ve seen People that have been calling the issue of Lad Culture a debate, discussion or (worst of all) a matter of opinion. I’ve also seen good men, and at times women, vehemently defend Lad Culture and at the end of that suggest that they both understand and support female liberation.

Let me start by saying something that some people may use against me; suggesting I’ve written myself off in my own argument, but actually, it’s something that strengthens it:

I do not understand female liberation. I am a white, predominately (although I hate to say it…) middle class, male.

There… I said it. It wasn’t so hard. Let me now say something else:

I definitely support female liberation and I have no desire to try and lead the change. I will be the first one to step in line behind the women that do.

For me, there is a very clear difference between saying you support and understand liberation. In my opinion, men simply can never hope to understand female liberation fully because they’ve not had the experience women have had.

So, this is the issue that there is a continued fight against at the moment. Here’s a question, How does this impact the church?

The church has been known to crush liberation, has been accused and genuinely has negated the empowerment of women and on the whole sometimes fails to stay current. However, if you look at what Jesus was like, and believe in Him, then it stands to reason to assume the church should be directly involved in empowering positive change in society that brings equality.

However, Lad Culture is like a poison, and it has burrowed its way into our church communities and we are in danger of being devoured.

Too many times have I witnessed Sport focused discussion, jokes about women being in the kitchen and at times worse; all happening in the name of Banter and this is in our churches and it is the most alienating thing ever!

I use to be the world’s worst. I use to lead the charge on all of those jokes, and did some very “#LAD” things in the name of ‘banter’. However, the last year has really opened my eyes and I realise just what damage I was doing. I want to be part of a church community that welcomes positive change and defends people’s rights. I don’t want to be the person I was, because I know Jesus would never have done that.

So here’s a message to the lads (and leaders who need to oversee this) in our churches.

Stop the jokes and broaden your discussion topics. Learn from women that are directly challenging society on this issue and empower women to be themselves and organise events and socials that don’t get comments passed about them. Accept the fact that men don’t all find the same things funny and it’s not ‘gay’ to read books like ‘How to be a Women’ by Caitlin Moran.

As a result of all of this the church will be seen as more progressive, more accessible and more people will want to be involved. We need to make sure that the church helps lead the way and sets the example for how an equal society looks. We run the risk of becoming left behind in the culture shift if we don’t change and ensure we eradicate Lad Culture.

To be effective in evangelism, you need to be effective at engaging with society. That means all types of people in that society. If you want to see more people know who Jesus is, then trust me when I say helping get rid of Lad Culture is a step in the right direction.

Edd Graham-Hyde

“Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations ..” – Matthew 28:19

I’m the type of person that get’s easily wound up at trivial things. Babies that scream loudly, people accidently bashing into you in busy places and people messing around with my stuff are but a few examples. I used to be hot headed, fiery and quick to judge. However, you’re not here for my life story…

At church I find myself surrounded by babies that scream, people that bump into me during the coffee breaks and kids that mess around with my stuff. I find myself in situations where being judgemental, ungraceful and fiery toward people would be devastating to them. So what is it that has changed me into someone that can be slow to anger, slow to judge and be calm? Essentially it’s love.

I love everything about the church. Literally everything. It can be hard work, upsetting and exhausting. Sometimes annoying and even, dare I say it…boring at times. However, church is also exciting, vibrant, life giving and the hope of the world. All this combined gives me some of the most awesome memories I will ever have.

You see, being surrounded by babies that scream, people bashing into me and kids that mess around with my stuff doesn’t seem to bother me for the simple reason that I love the people that are around me at church and love being there for them. I love the family I have found in them and I love the way that outworks itself.

I love the church because I believe that it truly is the hope of the world. I love it because the people around me are some of the greatest and closest friends I have ever had. I love the fact that on a weekly basis I can watch the church grow, I can see God mending broken lives and people realising the truth about Jesus.

The church in general is so enjoyable and fun. However, I’ve personally found a more exciting, exhilarating and dangerous way to do church. I’m no normal church goer, I am a church planter. At least…that’s what I feel I am. Church planting is:

–  Exciting because it starts with next to no one and it then begins to grow.

–  Exhilarating because it requires everyone to be on mission for it to survive.

–  Dangerous because in every new step there is a massive element of risk taking, opposition and possible failure.

I’m part of City Church Lancaster (plant) and it’s been going for 6 months now. In the last 6 months we’ve seen the church grow and already have had to multiply the number of our small groups to three. We’ve seen people from all over join us and there’s already a sense of diversity in the church. People are gathering together corporately and regardless of backgrounds they relate as if they have everything in common.  I genuinely have fallen in love with the community that I’ve found myself in and I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

All that aside, that’s not the reason that I now  love the babies screaming, love the people that bump into me and love the kids that mess with my stuff. I wasn’t wrong when I said that the reason I’m different is because of love, it just wasn’t my love that I was talking about.

The love that changed me has come from Jesus and the grace He showed me, and each and every one of us, when He died on the cross. In Jesus’ perfect obedience in life, He went to the cross to die for all the things I had done wrong. The people I’ve judged, the people I’ve hurt and even the things I have thought which are offensive to God have been forgiven and the shame of all those sins has been removed from me as far as the east is from the west.

I am forgiven, cleansed and welcomed into a kingdom that will not fade away. A kingdom that responds to the call of God and takes the truth of His word to the nations.

I find that this grace is so amazing, so true, that I can’t help but to try to follow the example Christ left for us. I will have moments where I stumble and fall, moments where I lapse and there’s a glimpse of my former self poking through, but I cling to what God has promised ­- His salvation.

So you see love is the very centre of everything we do as Christians and this includes church planting. I don’t get annoyed at babies screaming, people bumping into me and kids messing with my stuff because I have been radically changed by a love so amazing it’s unfathomable. My praise to God is the overflow of joy and love for Him and the others around me that I know He loves. If God loves them and that was the example He left for us then I will love them with everything I am because the great I Am loves me.

Church planting is the expression of that love. Starting new churches in different areas in order to reach more people with the gospel, so that they know that there’s a love greater than life itself, is the greatest expression of our appreciation to God. He wants to be in relationship with His people. We need more church planters to be bold and expand the kingdom in radical ways so that more people will be changed by the power of the cross. If you’re reading this and wondering what you can do for God or what’s next in store for your life – get involved in a church plant and get swept up in the adventure that is expanding God’s Kingdom.

I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for bold church planters, who followed God’s calling, starting churches and seeing that work become stable and continuous. We’re saved for someone else’s salvation.

Now read 1 Corinthians 13 to get even more of an idea of just what kind of love I am talking about . .

Please feel free to comment!