If you are using August to plan discipleship courses for September in your church or community, the uncertainty of COVID-19 certainly makes things more complicated!
Don’t panic, there are all sorts of free learning resources out there and help is at hand. The Bible Society distributes free Bibles all over the world and provides lots of excellent resources for Bible study.
People can sign up for all kinds of study courses with the Bible Society, depending on what you need. Courses vary from a structured course called, ‘The Big Picture’, a Bible Study group, daily reflections and the #SheToo podcasts which explore violence against women in the Bible from a range of different perspectives.
For children there are the Bible bedtime apps and loads of free videos to help teenagers and young people engage with the Bible. Reel Issues is a free resource exploring links between themes in films, the Bible and everyday life.
If you would prefer not to do all your praying in front of a computer screen or with your phone free materials can be posted to you too. These include a free devotional learning journal.
Why not visit https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/ and find out more about the Bible Society!
Care for the environment may have slipped a little below the media radar during the pandemic but this does not mean that climate change has been reversed or gone away. Despite the fact that travel has been greatly reduced at this time, summer temperatures in parts of the northern hemisphere have reached record highs this year. Recently Canada’s last remaining ice shelf collapsed.
So what can we do about this?
If you or your church cares about God’s creation you might want to take a look at the free films and leaders notes that are available on the Catholic Faith Exploration website by clicking here. These films have been produced by CaFE on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.
“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the
care of creation.”
Pope Francis in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si – Care for Our Common Home’, June 2015.
The videos are designed to be shared in Catholic Churches but can be used by any church group concerned about our planet Earth. A practical leaflet produced to accompany the course can be downloaded on this link How to care for our planet Earth
What is CaFE?
Catholic Faith Exploration runs DVD based courses designed to help people explore their faith in a relaxed, cafe-style setting. The idea is that hospitality will enable people to feel welcomed and able to talk about their faith with others. During the pandemic whilst it is not possible to meet physically the films can be downloaded and shared remotely at a cost of £20. You can find out more here.
During COVID-19 the Talking Jesus course created by Hope Together will be free until the end of August 2020.
This is a practical 6 session course which can now be shared with groups online about how to tell others about Jesus. Simply click here and follow the instructions to register your group to the free course. A short video explains how this course gives people confidence to talk to friends and people they know about Jesus.
More about Hope Together
Hope Together is about showing the unconditional love of Jesus in our local communities, whether this be through setting up a food bank or working with local community organisations. Church members are encouraged to invite others to become a follower of Jesus.
The whole ethos of the organisation is grounded in prayer. You can visit https://www.hopetogether.org.uk/Groups/324633/About.aspx to find out more.
Hope Together’s response to COVID-19
Churches in Birmingham have created ‘We are the Church’posters to display in windows and remind people that the church is still present in neighbourhoods, even though we are scattered. You can download a poster by clicking on this link HOPE-Rainbow-Poster
You can also download this folder to share on social media. We_are_Church_Social_Media
You can click here to read about lots of other practical ideas for sharing love in your local community. This includes a short video on how to offer support to someone who is bereaved. There is also a Discover Bible app available which can be read in virtual groups.
This week we introduce Greg Smith, who lived and worked for churches in the London Borough of Newham for 27 years.
Greg has recently retired but has generously listed links to his many works and writings on urban mission and 21st century evangelism.
For anyone who would like to reflect more deeply on where God is at work on the estates or how understanding Christian doctrine can be relevant to the lives of working class people in a multi-cultural society, these writings are an excellent resource. You can explore more by clicking here.
Greg’s works are also very useful for anyone training for any form of church ministry who feels especially called to work on the estates or an inner-city context.
For example, a very readable paper entitled ‘Biblical Bases of Socio-Political Action‘, explains how Christian involvement in social and political issues are linked to key beliefs about God, Creation, the Fall, God’s justice in the Old Testament, the Kingdom of God, Jesus, Salvation and Christian living. Greg writes from an evangelical perspective and as a practitioner who has lived and worked among Christians from different churches and people from other faiths and with no faith.
” …it is out of the experience of mission,
and the awareness that such evils as poverty, racism, unemployment and bad housing
are barriers to the Gospel…”
We hope that you enjoy exploring the fruits of Greg’s theological research and reflection among the treasure of God’s Kingdom, the people of the urban estates. Much of what he has written is still highly relevant to today, particularly in the light of increasing poverty during the pandemic and to bring an end to racism highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.
If you are looking for a gentle, humorous and light-hearted course to run with a small church group we think you will like Faith Pictures.
This 6 week has been designed by the Church Army. You can find out more about it on https://www.churcharmy.org/Groups/266913/Church_Army/ms/Faith_Pictures/Faith_Pictures.aspx
The idea of the course is to help Christians talk to our friends, neighbours and anyone we know about what we believe. There are a couple of short introductory videos on the website which explain a bit about the course.
Resources are free to download though you will need to sign up to access the next 5 sessions.
Whilst it is not possible to meet as groups in church at the moment or in each others’ homes, it would be possible to share this course on the internet if you can access Zoom or a similar on-line platform for sharing.
A very handy resource for any estate church leader or practitioner is Laurie Lee’s blog on how to do theology. The website is lauriegreen.org.
This way of reflecting theologically on situations starts not with books but with actual experience. It is called the Pastoral Cycle. Below is his diagram outlining the process.
Laurie gives a very clear introduction into what this process means in his short video on https://www.lauriegreen.org/theology-1/contextual%20theology.html
He has written a book on this called ‘Lets Do Theology’. Theology is there for all of us to do, not just for academics. God is calling poor people especially to have a go at doing theology because we may not be rich but we have a rich amount of experience to reflect upon and we still have our faith, just like Jesus did when he became incarnate and lived for 30 years before he started preaching.
As you will be well aware coming from an estate does not preclude anyone from being academic. For those of you who wish to go deeper Laurie provides links to plenty of additional papers to contextual theology on https://www.lauriegreen.org/theology-1/index.html
He also provides links to his summaries of theology books on areas of doctrine, mission, the Bible, the church and theological reflection, especially in the context of ministry on the estates https://www.lauriegreen.org/books/laurie%27s%20library.html
There are some very useful books on this list but most importantly of all, all of us from estates can all do theology, starting with an open heart and our experience.
Jesus Shaped People is a programme to develop the discipleship of small, estate churches and communities from social housing and inner estates.
Sample resources can be downloaded from https://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/
Jesus Shaped People have been producing resources for churches now living with the fall-out from COVID-19. A link a video clip explaining more can be found here.
New resources include two short video clips on the themes of ‘Loss’ and ‘Discovery’. These can be downloaded and shared remotely with your church community or a church group that meets for prayer and Bible study. Brendan asks questions to reflect on and pauses after each question so that the video can be paused to allow for group discussion. If you would like to view these videos visit https://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/node/216
Keep up to date with Jesus Shaped People via their Facebook page
Welcome everybody. These are the powerpoint slides you need for the #NECN2020 conference presentation by Steve Summers. Don’t worry if this doesn’t make any sense to you yet, they are for the zoom on 1st of July.
URC CRCW Presentation for NECN Conference
StHild_011_A5 Leaflet_MISSION ON THE MARGINS
I am pleased to let you know about a new Mission on the Margins Practitioner track. Urban Life have been developing this with St Hild and we will commence accepting students in September.
Mission on the Margins is designed for people who are involved in mission and ministry in marginal contexts and with marginalised communities. We offer a wide range of modules and a flexibility that enables participants to discover the best learning path for them. Participants can be accredited at MA, postgraduate and graduate level or you can follow a non-accredited path. Modules are taught through a mixture of online seminars, further reading and in person sessions at St Hild’s Sheffield and Mirfield centres. I’ve attached a flyer that gives you more information or you can visit www.sthild.org/practitioner-tracks.
We believe that the training we are offering will enable participants to engage in learning that will increase their understanding of their practice. If you have any questions, then please feel free to ask.
God calls people from all walks of life, and our ministers should reflect the society we are part of.
“We are working hard to support those from deprived backgrounds who are going through the discernment process by offering mentoring (https://www.churchofengland.org/mentors).
Feedback suggests that mentoring has built confidence amongst those from underrepresented groups. But we need more mentors in order to make this as widely available as possible. If anyone (ordained or lay but with some understanding of the discernment process) would be willing to volunteer for this role, we have training sessions available in March, May, July and September and a Mentor gathering with ++Justin at Lambeth Palace in November.
We would dearly love to have more mentors with estates experience to add to our resource here. Any help you can offer would be invaluable”
If you are interested in becoming a mentor please visit https://www.churchofengland.org/mentoring
This link will give details of mentor training days around the country and there is a contact form to complete.