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Category: Evangelism

Children’s Bible Stories

 

The Works Publisher’s Outlet currently has some really good resources that are ridiculously cheap!  Over the course of the last week or so I’ve been tentatively ordering copies to give them a read.  My experience is that when books like this appear in outlets they often stray far and wide from the source material.  So we’ve given them a read and they are good.  Obviously they are retelling the scriptures for young children but the content is good.

So how cheap are they?

My First Bible Stories is £3 and as this photo illustrates, it is a substantial book with a padded cover and a lovely bow to keep it shut.  It also comes with a partner called My First Prayers.  If you buy them as a pair it works out at £5!

The Easter Story and Noah’s Ark are part of a series including Jonah and the Whale, In the Beginning and Joseph and His Coat of Many Colours.  As you can see from this photo, it is a large book with good illustrations.

So what you really need to know is that they are £2 each.  But if you buy 10 or more they become £1 each.  And if you spend over £21, delivery is free.  I’ve bought large sets of them to use with our toddler group at Holy Nativity.

I suspect that with the large number of people I have told this that they may sell out quickly!

Going to Church for the First Time


We wandered to the imposing door as we watched the couple in front of us get met at the door. I turn to Ruth and whisper “he’s turning them away”. After a brief interaction they are granted entry. We tentatively approach the elderly guardian at the portal. 

In uncertain French Ruth boldly states “We are here for the mass”. 
“Are you sure?  Lots of people say that they are here for the mass but get up after ten minutes and wander around” replies the keeper of the door.

We nervously exchange glances and search for words in an unfamiliar lexicon. “Yes, we’re definitely here for the mass”. 

“Well if you have problems just go to the back”. 

“Ok”. 

We enter the darkened medieval nave and find a hard and narrow pew on which to place our posteriors. The gate keeper says ‘the back’ so how far are we allowed to approach the holy of holies?  Half way seems appropriate. There is no indication of what may happen next.  No card. No screen. Ruth texts me a link to some wording in a strange and foreign tongue. A bell chimes. An organ booms. I look at the strange words. I wonder how I got here. Perhaps the sentry was right. There’s nothing for me here.

This morning we went to church at The Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus in Carcassonne. As a priest it was a fascinating look into how daunting it is to go to church for the first time. We have only been learning French for a couple of years so don’t have the language to understand what is going on. At the door we were met with questions we didn’t quite understand at an imposing doorway about whether we were worthy of entrance.  There was nothing to indicate what would happen during the service. Fortunately we know the shape of the liturgy and how to find rudimentary wording online.

It was a lovely service and I think I understood about a third of the sermon and my theological French is improving vastly.  But I’m a priest and I found it daunting to gain access to the building, much less the worship.  Medieval Carcassonne is a phenomenally touristy place but there must be ways to engage occasional visitors with the worship of the church. 

Much to ponder about how we invite people into the presence of God.

Church Beer Festival

How did we get here? I’m in St Matthew’s Church Grosmont. There are 15 well kept racked real ales in the corner. The room is packed. There is a small ukulele orchestra playing The Lion Sleeps Tonight on the chancel steps!

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How did we get here? It’s a Friday night. It’s my day off. I’m away in a strange land (ok, the Yorkshire Moors) and somehow I’m in a Church of England ancient village church. We got here because they were telling us about this in the pub last night. In a different town. By “they” I mean “people who have no link to the church”. “They” got me into church tonight. The “non churched”. And they weren’t the only ones. There have been three different groups of people telling us about how good this is going to be! None of whom are part of the church.

People who don’t go to church are telling the world that The Church(TM) are a positive thing? This doesn’t compute.

And everyone is so enthusiastic about the gift that the church have given them. “This is Grosmont, there’s nothing to do here” is what we were told “but this is going to be excellent”.

And it is!

Welcome to Church

[youtube http://youtu.be/yRujuE-GIY4]

The Church of England has recently published a guide to the “Top Ten Facts About Christenings“. It is a starter for ten for people making enquiries about their local church and “getting little Timmy ‘done'”.It seems to have picked the same scab that The Weddings Project picked for a lot of vicars….. it educates people about their rights (something vicars don’t like to admit people have) and their responsibilities (something many vicars insist people should be born with pre installed like iOS6).

I am not a cradle Anglican. I may have mentioned this once or twice. I wasn’t even a churchgoer. I grew up with the belief that The Church TM didn’t have anything to do with ‘people like me’. In all honesty, the church treated me like a pariah when I was a teenager with a Helloween patch on the back of my denim jacket – I managed to attend for 5 weeks. When I arrived at university this is what I told Ruth: The church does not want people like me in it. The David Mitchell portrayal of the Evil Vicar isn’t just a cultural stereotype, it is often the real lived experience of a first time enquirer.

“Hello, are you the vicar? I am just ringing to ask about booking a venue…..”

There are two responses to this phone call:

a) [a brusk] It isn’t as simple as that! You are not simply booking a venue…
b) Congratulations. That’s great. Let’s have a chat about how we can help you celebrate the gift of a new child/celebrate the love you have for each other as you come together in holy matrimony…

I have sat in a room and watched both of these happen. I know which one I picked up as good practice.

The Church TM is a daunting experience for those of us you refer to as ‘unbelievers’. Walking through that door for the first time is a real challenge. If your first instinct is to trip someone up on their way in for the first time you will probably never see them again and neither will anyone else.

There is a massive theological issue at stake here. Jesus is the incarnate God who had a table ministry. He welcomed everyone in. Regardless of their religious literacy. Regardless of their knowledge of canon law or the parish system. Regardless of whether they had the language to ask for a service rather than a booking.

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“I didn’t realise we could get married in church vicar”. Happy to help.
“Can we have Timmy done?” Why don’t you meet me and the church wardens on Sunday and we’ll help you along the way?
“Will I be able to bring my son with me, he’s got Asperger’s so he may not be the most well behaved.” That’s fine, everyone is welcome here. If we can cope with a noisy vicar like me I’m sure we can cope with a little noise. After all, some famous guy said ‘let the little children come to me’.