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Christianity in the digital space July 14, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Bible, Media.
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digitalsymp3I am spending three days this week at St John’s College Durham at a symposium – ‘Christianity in the Digital Space’. Today has been full with a presentation by Mark Brown available here. Then 4 groups looking at Bible, Spirituality, Community and Mission in the Digital Space. This mornings discussion raised on Mission raised some very interesting questions around how we might actually create neutral, safe or sacred spaces on the net as part of our approach to evangelism. This afternoon we talked about on-line religious or missional orders. There’s loads of stuff to look at on-line videos on YouTube here¬†and you can follow the live video feed here 7.30pm this evening


Britain ‘knows little about the Bible’ July 1, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Bible.
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Thats a surprising headline- NOT!

An initial note about a report that I have some connection with. The Biblical Literacy Survey has been exploring the extent of the Bible knowledge in Britain today. It is reported in the Independent here. Some of its headlines are

  • Figures such as Abraham and Joseph were a source of puzzlement and it was rare to find anyone who could name the Ten Commandments
  • 57 per cent of people knew nothing about Joseph or his brothers despite the hit musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
  • 60 per cent were ignorant of the story of the Good Samaritan.

David Wilkinson comments ‘a good grounding in the stories and characters of the Bible was essential to understanding history and culture because so much of art, music and literature was bound up with religious themes’

It’s an idea very close to my heart as I believe that our practice in children’s and youthwork is largely based on calling children and young people back to a faith they already know about. Since this pool is getting smaller we will have to explore again what it means to be involved in evangelism and discipleship with those who have little or no previous Bible knowledge or experience of Christianity. (They are what mission shaped church refer to as ‘unchurched’ – a term I find perjorative!)

So are we content to work with those who already know and use approaches that call them to appropraite faith or will we go on the long journey to discover new ways to share the good news. I wonder who is doing that already and can share lessons for the rest of us?

Ethical Evangelism? June 29, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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I saw this article on the Metro News website about a Muslim Evangelist converting (or ‘reverting’ as Muslims call it) a young lad on the streets of Birmingham. According to the article Ibrahim Mogra described the action as ‘unethical’. Was it? Do we ever get young children to say, pray or say things that they might not really believe or understand?

This news came at an interesting time. I was with Ibrahim last week for the launch of the Christian-Muslim forum’s ethical guidelines for Christian and Muslim Witness. We wrote them to help both Christians and Muslims think about the way they do evangelism, and we would describe the sort practice as described in the news article as unethical.

The guidelines mark a significant moment in Christian-Muslim relations in the UK. For the first time Christians and Muslims are discussing publicly not whether we should do evnagelism amongst people of different faiths, but how can we do it ethicaly. You can download the guidelines from the Youth Encounter section of the SU website. Take a look do they affirm what you do or raise some questions?