Posts Tagged ‘Community’

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).

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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

It seems to me that we are living in trying times. We have an economic system that has collapsed with a Government that does not care, nor understand, the plight of the working class people in the UK. Food banks have depressingly had to increase in number and homelessness has risen.

This is not something I’m constantly thinking about, in fact, often I don’t and that could be considered shameful. However, on my walk home from having spent a great Easter weekend with friends, it hit me…

I went into Tesco to see if there were any discounted Easter Eggs left to buy but as I went in I completely ignored the homeless man sat outside, with music in my ear. There was only one Easter Egg left and I had a decision to make – keep it for myself, or buy it for the gentleman sat outside Tesco, along with a sandwich and some water and wish him a happy Easter. This time I chose the second option… but that is not out of some self-righteous attitude and I’m not explaining the story because I want you to think I’m great. Actually, I ignore homelessness all the time and it is rife in Preston. It’s a sorry state of affairs when you have to sit down and reassess how you’ve led the Students’ Union you’re President of all year because you feel like you could have done better things for the community – that’s what I had to do.

Student poverty is an issue, I absolutely want to outline that before what I go on to say as some may think I’m ignoring an issue that directly affects our membership. However, it’s time to be honest with ourselves – we need to continue to fight poverty in our local communities.

There are loads of different ways to do this and most Students’ Unions I’ve spoken to about this tend to use the food bank model. However, I think it’s high time we opened up our doors and allowed ourselves to become soup kitchens, clothes and toys drop offs (for hampers going to families) and so on. I’m sure that each Students’ Union that decides to do something like this will have their own original ideas… but let me explain the reasoning behind it.

It’s important for Students to be taking part in the community. We should be playing our part in supporting those that need it, defending the rights of those being fringed and ensure that we develop society the way we feel it should be developed. The challenge for us in the Students’ Union movement is to make it benefit students – in line with our charitable aims and membership focus.

So here’s the benefit… students will get great volunteering opportunities through projects such as the ones mentioned above. You can offer them accreditation through organisations like ILM and you can link it with HEAR objectives when they come into practice. It develops the students and for some, will introduce them to a society they may not have experienced in that way before.

The wider benefit for the movement though is that it feeds into the next General Election. It’s the getting on your hands and knees and washing the feet of others method. The Jesus example. As a Christian this year I’ve looked for loads of ways to get involved using that model, I believe it to be an effective one – but most people overlook the fact that it is also a great political tool and it’s fun to do because we’re actually making a difference as we go. If the football club in your Students’ Union decided to run a football school for disprivledged kids in the local area – then the chances are the hearts of their parents and carers will warm to you and when the Students’ Union announces (in an ever so unbiased way) which candidates in that area would benefit students most then they are more likely to vote in favour of a candidate that will support local students.

It’s about building a culture where the local community feel it’s a huge asset to have students in that area and will fight to keep them around. We have the power, to be cliché, to change the lives of homeless people by inviting them to the Students’ Union and providing them with dinners; changing the lives of local families that struggle with childcare during the holidays and so on.

So don’t be afraid to step out more into the community and do general good things for local people because when challenged if that is part of your charitable aims or should you not be doing more for students etc. – you can say that you’re thinking of the long term benefits to students as a whole because you have a vision for influence in the community.