Thursday, 26 February 2009

Dawkins to launch Secularist societies in university campuses

Apparently Richard Dawkin is launching a campaign to start secularist societies in every UK university. UCCF have stated that it "will excite CU members, who are keen to share their faith and raise the spiritual temperature amongst students."

Read the full press release.

Salford goes FREE

This is a slightly belated update on the happenings of Salford Christian Union's events week.

Salford CU held three events during the week:

Tuesday night was the JazzCake event with talk on "Free to all". Salford University's favourite jazz and cheesecake night returned for the third time and about 60 students attended. Tim Hanson talked on how the good news of Jesus Christ is free to everyone. We looked at two facts from the Bible, firstly that human beings matter and secondly that we have all sinned - they've fallen short of the standard that God expects from us. He then showed us that there is a wonderful third fact in the Bible - that in Jesus, we have a solution to the problem. It was a great evening with about 45 non believers present, and many had great conversations afterwards.

Thursday night was the Grub Crawl. We went to three different locations to eat each course in our meal, and Tim did a talk on "FREE but at a price". We learnt that the price of the solution to the problem that was discussed on Tuesday night was the death of Jesus Christ, God's son. We saw that on the cross, the sins of many were put onto Jesus and Jesus righteousness was given to them in return. In essence it's a giant swap - Jesus was punished in their place and they recieve Jesus' obedience to God - and it's free to anyone who believes and trusts in Jesus. Six people attended.

Friday night was a talk on "FREE but costly". Ten people were there as Tim showed us that even though the benefits of the swap that occured on the cross is free to anyone who believes, living in the light of it is costly. Jesus sayst that the believer will repent and believer - that the new way of life is to be lived with God treated as God. This is the opposite of sin: sin is essentially living with ourselves as the most important person rather than God as the msot important person.

Each day CU members met for prayer, which I found really encouraging. It's great to see students really expressing reliance on God during mission weeks rather than drifting into the wordly way of thinking that more work makes things better. As it's God who does the work of saving unbelievers, it makes sense to ask him to work during evangelism!

All in all, it has been a wonderful two weeks of mission in Salford University. In those two weeks about 1100 gospels were given out and at least a couple of hundred students heard the good news about Jesus explained by students, friends of the CU and Tim. During this mission I have seen CU members who have become more confident in evangelism and have been encouraged by the openness of non believing students at Salford to talk about the good news of Jesus.

As is the way with most university missions these days, this mission was much more about sowing seeds rather than about seeing many people come to believe in Jesus. We're in the same situation as described by Jesus in the parable of the growing seed in Mark 4:26-29:

And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
We won't know when these people who have heard the good news and received gospels will begin to believe in Jesus, but the seeds have been sown and there will be an effect at some stage in the future.

There will be an update on the Manchester Mega Mission Week coming early next week.

Monday, 16 February 2009

FREE, New Leaders Training and Daniel

It's about a week since I last posted on here. Time for a bit of an update!

Last week was University of Salford Christian Union's gospel distribution week. Here's a few numbers for what happened:

5 days of gospel distribution
Nearly all CU members heavily involved in it
15 hours of having a stall in the foyer of the main building on campus
100s of good, gospel focussed conversations
1000 gospels distributed
1 in 20 students in Salford University now have a FREE gospel
It was a fantastic week and the CU members are really pleased (and pleasantly surprised!) with how it went. It was really encouraging seeing CU members step out of their comfort zones and doing questionnaires and handing out gospels. Great work guys!

This past weekend was the annual New Leaders Training conference. At this time of year, all the CUs in the country change leadership, so UCCF gets all the new CU exec members together in their regions for some training. This year we held our New Leaders Training in Leyland and Justin Mote joined us to teach us from the book of Daniel. The Staff and Relay workers pitched in to help train everyone for their new roles.

It was a brilliant weekend with fantastic teaching. Daniel is a wonderful book and is incredibly relevant for students today - its the story of four young Jewish men as they live with the challenge of living and speaking for God in an alien culture that's hostile to their faith.

One thing that encouraged me was seeing the new CU leaders became more and more excited about the gospel through the weekend. Being on exec is not about serving men or the CU, it's about serving the Lord, and the only way to motivate yourself to do that without being legalistic is in joyful response to the wonderful gospel.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24
This week Salford CU has their events week, so please pray for us that we'd be confident in sharing the gospel and that God would show Salford students that the gospel is true!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


Lately, there's been some helpful blogging on how as Christians we can begin to engage with culture.

Peter Dray writes on how we can engage with popular music, whilst Dear Freedom writes on engaging with movies. Both are really useful and well worth a read.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

When preparation is preaching to yourself

Today I was privileged to be able to go back to my old university CU, University of Manchester Christian Union, to do a seminar looking at God's role and our role in evangelism. I'm going to post my notes in three parts over the coming week, looking first at Our role, then at God's Role and finally at some great truths we can hold onto as Mission Weeks approach.

But before I start posting, I thought I'd say that preparing for it was wonderful.

It was great to have an excuse to spend time re-reading JI Packer's brilliant Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, which I think might be one of the most influential books I've read so far as a Christian. It's one of those books that are available via Amazon's market place at a few quid, so buy it if you haven't read it and are involved in evangelism in some way!

And it was also a timely kick up the butt to remember that evangelism is not about me. It's God who gives belief (Ephesians 2:8), who gives repentance (Acts 11:18) and who rescues us (Colossians 1:13). We don't do any of that, all we do is tell people the gospel (Matthew 28:18ff). God saves. We do not.

It was a timely reminder because for the next three weeks I will be in some way or another involved with a CU mission week in Greater Manchester.

Next week is the Distribution week at Salford Uni CU, where they are aiming to hand out a couple of thousand FREE gospels (Mark's Gospel in trendy covers!) to students in Salford. During the day we'll be spending three hours chatting to students around campus, whilst in the evenings we will be knocking on doors in halls of residence.

The following week is Salford CU's Events week, where they will be holding three evening events during which Tim Hanson will explain the gospel to students. The events are a JazzCake (jazz and cheese cake, a bizarre combination which Salford students seem to love!) evening with a talk, a Grub Crawl with a talk, and a talk over tea and coffee. You might notice that CUs love providing food! I've yet to find an atheist society that is as keen to feed their fellow students!

The following week is Week 1 of the Manchester Mega Mission (University of Manchester CU, Man Met Uni CU, Royal Northern College of Music CU) during which I will be a CU guest, supporting the work of University of Manchester CU as they try and reach students with the gospel. I will be seconded to a few hall groups to support them in their evangelism in their halls of residence, as well as doing first contact evangelism on streets around the unis and talking to people at events.

So, it's good to remember that in these weeks that when I become progressively more exhausted (which I will!), God still remains strong and, as it's him that saves, I can remain confident that he will be at work convincing students of the truth of the gospel as I tell it the them.

There were some other amazing things that God really taught me as I worked through the prep, but you're going to have to wait for me to upload the talk for them...

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Zephaniah - Symptoms and Problems

This is part of a series of posts on Zephaniah. The following is a brief summary of part of one of Mo's talks on Zephaniah at Relay 2.

At the start of the Josiah’s reign Judah had several problems. They’d lost the Book of the Law, but that in itself was only a symptom. In what would have been a moment of comedy had it not been so serious, they rediscovered the Book of the Law and officially started doing the things they should have been doing all along. But that only sorted out a symptom. They still had problems.

Their main problem was that they thought there were other gods worth worshipping besides Yahweh. They looked at the pagan nations around them and noticed that those guys seemed to be getting everything Judah wanted, and so started worshipping their gods to get those things.

Their other problem was that they thought the main problem wasn’t a problem. They didn’t take it seriously because they thought life felt normal.

Zephaniah is God’s answer to these two problems.

They’re problems we have too. We also look at the people around us and want to be the same as them. We worship the same things they do – sex, money and power. And the other problem we have is that, just like Judah, we don’t see that there’s anything wrong with this first problem. It feels normal to us.

At Relay 2 we studied Zephaniah in our Fellowship Groups. In the coming few weeks, as I work through my notes from the conference, I’ll be blogging some of my thoughts and some of the things that really struck me from our studies on Zephaniah.

I should say up front that most of what I type on Zephaniah is going to be recycled from the talks that Mo gave us and from the studies that other people in my Fellowship group led, so my thanks and all the credit goes to them!

Mo has posted some helpful thoughts on Zephaniah here.

Wintry update

You would have thought that in the North we would get more snow than the South. Wrong! They woke up to over a foot of very Narnia-esque snow back home in Guildford on Monday morning.

In Manchester we had a smaller, yet still exciting, offering. Whilst it's not quite as pretty as the Surrey countryside, I think it's quite nice in a Moss Side kind of way!