From the retired golfer to a young sailor, churches should find out who plays sport in their congregations – and help them reach out to fellow sports people.
‘More than ten million people play competitive sport each week across the UK and that is a huge mission field,’ said Margy Dry, events co-ordinator for CRE North exhibitor Christians in Sport. ‘We exist to reach the world of sport for Christ and help Christians reach those in their local area with the good news. People who are keen on sport can be missionaries in the gym, on the running track – wherever they are.’
The organisation helps equip Christian sportspeople to share the gospel with teammates.
‘We seek to partner with and encourage churches,’ explained Margy. ‘Our priority is to see sportspeople maturing in Christ in their local church and being supported to shine for him in their local sports clubs and teams.’
Training sessions help members live out and share the gospel and there’s advice on hosting quizzes, tournaments and big-screen events to invite teammates to.
‘Our staff can also provide full support and speakers are available upon request for both training and guest events,’ said Margy, adding ‘We realise that no two churches are the same, but we would love to help you think through what sports mission might look like in your context. Chat to our representative at CRE North for advice and information.’
• Christians In Sport are on stand A36 at CRE North
Only half of the children growing up in Christian homes keep their faith as adults – but a new initiative aims to change all that.
‘It isn’t always easy for parents to nurture faith in their offspring, so the Kitchen Table Project chips in with considerable help and understanding,’ explains project manager Becky Benharder. ‘It brings together a growing movement of mums, dads and carers who want to inspire a faith that lasts in their children.’
The Care for the Family stand at CRE North (C39) will have helpful literature and resources, including Raising Faith, a new book by Andy Frost, director of Share Jesus International and Katherine Hill, UK director for Care for the Family. It is packed with practical tips and stories to encourage sharing faith at home.
Church leaders can also find ways to set up groups of parents nurturing faith in their homes. These include sermon outlines to encourage congregations to work together to see their children grow up in the faith.
‘You will find a starting point with our Inspire Session – a 90-minute small group discussion that helps parents start talking about how important it is to introduce their children to God,’ says Becky. ‘The session comes with a leader’s guide, a pack of discussion cards and a short 10-minute video to help start the conversation.
‘One church has bought copies of the book to give to every parent in the congregation. That is how serious they felt about the subject.’
• Care for the Family are on stand C39 at CRE North
A wall of prayer is CRE’s response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for five days of prayer as we approach Brexit.
Visitors to CRE North will be invited to post their prayers on the wall (stand P66) following Bridging the Brexit Divide, a plenary led by Andy Flannagan of Christians in Politics (12pm, Wed 13 Mar), the day after Prime Minister Teresa May brings her latest Brexit Agreement with Brussels before Parliament. On the first day of CRE North, MPs may also be asked to vote on whether or not to leave the EU without a deal.
‘It is very easy to feel paralysed by both the complexity and toxicity of the issues surrounding Brexit,’ said Andy. ‘We may feel as if we are sliding towards chaos but we follow a God who since the dawn of time has brought order from chaos. It shouldn’t scare us. If you think we are in chaotic times, try living in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar!’
Order emerges from chaos through restored relationships, believes Andy.
‘The cross sits at the centre of history because it makes possible the reconciliation between us and God and between us and those who may not feel like “us” anymore,’ he said. ‘There is currently a real danger of a cultural divide becoming a chasm. We need to build relationships across divides.’
Being on our knees won’t just change the Brexit situation, it will change us – ‘and that might give us just a chance to be peacemakers and bridge-builders.’
Those taking part in Bridging the Brexit Divide include Cllr Tanya Burch from Salford, Methodist minister Rev Ian Rutherford from Manchester and Irish singer and former MEP for Connacht-Ulster, Dana.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has welcomed the initiative at Event City.
‘CRE is an event that brings together churches from many different traditions and persuasions,’ he said. ‘It is an ideal place for positive discussion and agenda setting. My prayer is that we all find wisdom, courage, integrity and compassion for our political leaders and MPs, for reconciliation and a fresh and uniting vision for everyone.’
• Bridging the Brexit Divide is a plenary led by Andy Flannagan of Christians in Politics (12pm, Wed 13 Mar)
• The Brexit Prayer Wall will be on the CRE Prayer Team stand P66
It may be a glaring error that slipped under the righteous radar, but it’s left many wondering whether it was divinely inspired. A typo ‘got past the eagle eye’ of Archdeacon Colin Williams, officiating at a wedding at St Laurence C of E in Ludlow, Shropshire, in 2014.
The service sheet should have read ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’. Instead, it read ‘… deliver us from email’.
‘The bride and groom came up with a draft for the service which seemed good but, in one instance, wasn’t,’ said Colin, currently Archdeacon of the Anglican Diocese in Europe. ‘The sheet had been printed before I spotted the error, so before we came to the Lord’s Prayer, I suggested people recite it in the way they remembered it from school! It didn’t seem to worry the young couple, anyway.’
Now it’s been voted the nation’s favourite parish magazine and service sheet typo by readers of Ship of Fools, the long-established magazine of Christian unrest, Facebook group Church Service Sheet Typos and visitors to the CRE website.
Archdeacon Colin (pictured above), currently based in Frankfurt, Germany, thinks the typo has touched a nerve. ‘The truth is we are beset by electronic communications,’ he said. ‘There’s no escape. Smart phones buzz in our pockets every five minutes.’ He retires at the end of this month – ‘and finally, this could be my five minutes of fame!’
Local publications are a special focus at the exhibition and the event’s organisers are celebrating the unsung work of parish magazine and service sheet editors through the vote which featured ten genuine contributions collected over the years.
‘… But deliver us from email’ garnered 21 per cent of the vote. In second and third place, with 18 and 14 per cent respectively, were:
For 20 years, Anne Coomes of Parish Pump has resourced church magazine editors of all mainline denominations. She will deliver a seminar at CRE North (5pm, Wed 13 Mar), showing editors how to make the most of their much-loved publications.
‘Church magazines still play a critical role in community life,’ said Anne, from Macclesfield. ‘However, every editor can recall that awful moment when they’ve made a mistake and there’s nothing they can do about it. I once ran a headline that should have read: “Make flowers that look like satin.” Instead it said: “Make flowers that look like satan.” Not one of my more glorious moments!’
CRE managing director Steve Goddard said: ‘Since computer software offered us generative text and spellcheckers, the number of typos has actually increased. It is dangerous to become too dependent on technology, though I have to say that many concur with the sentiment expressed by the winning typo.’
See all 10 typos voted for in the poll.
Cartoon by Taffy Davies
Several organisations will be at CRE North to explain how churches can use sport to expand their ministry. They are:
• Christians in Sport – a worldwide operation in 163 towns and cities
• Sports Chaplaincy UK – who encourage Christians to become chaplains for professional and amateur clubs in a variety of sports and keep-fit organisations
• Ambassadors Football – with 30 years’ experience helping churches bring hope in Christ to communities through our national game
They will share stand A36 at CRE North (and combine to run Your Church and Sports Ministry (4pm, Wed Mar 13), a seminar which will also include input from Scripture Union.
‘This is the ideal opportunity for anyone to find out how they can be involved with one or all of the organisations, to extend local church ministry,’ explained Warren Evans, chief executive of Sports Chaplaincy UK, who is chairing the seminar.
Now operative for 25 years, Sports Chaplaincy UK have chaplains in place at professional and amateur clubs involving football, rugby league and union, cricket, athletics and horse racing – as well as gyms and keep-fit clubs. It has also provided chaplains for major international sports such as the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, world championships in both rugby codes, amateur boxing and athletics.
Christians in Sport was formed in the 1980s and thousands of sporting Christians – including many top professionals – are supported by the organisation in a highly competitive world. Many members also provide valued support at the world’s top sporting occasions – from Wimbledon to the Olympics.
Ambassadors Football serves more than 300 churches creating evangelistic opportunities through church teams, competitions or challenge matches.
Scripture Union are reaching young people and children in schools, churches and community sports. They’ll be demonstrating how they do it at Event City as well as suggesting special community events churches can get involved in during the Ashes cricket series, taking place in the country during the summer.
All the organisations run training days when participants can meet other sporting enthusiasts and learn how to use sport in ministry.
One-time chaplain to Manchester City Football Club, the Rt Revd Tony Porter, Anglican Bishop of Sherwood, said: ‘As the Archbishops’ Sport Ambassador I am thrilled to see these marvellous organisations working alongside each other. When sport and faith come together it creates new opportunities for mission and to tell people about the love of Jesus.’
• Christians in Sport, Sports Chaplaincy UK and Ambassadors Football are on stand A36 at CRE North
• Your Church and Sports Ministry (4pm, Wed Mar 13)
A charity born because UK farmers were forced to slaughter healthy dairy cows, is now in its fourth decade of operation.
In 1988, many UK dairy farmers were outraged by strict EU milk quotas which forced them to throw away good quality milk and even slaughter their herds. At the same time, families in Uganda were recovering from the country’s brutal civil war which had destroyed farm land and livestock.
Motivated to help, a small group of Christian dairy farmers from the west country decided to donate some of their own dairy cows to rural families in Uganda. It was a massive step of faith, supported in prayer.
On 4 July 1988, 32 cows were flown from Gatwick Airport to Entebbe, Uganda and given to struggling families living in the Mityana region. With nutritious milk to drink and sell and manure to nourish the soil and boost crop yields, the families and the cows thrived. Send a Cow was born.
The charity continued to send livestock from the UK to Uganda until 1996 when the BSE crisis took hold. Since then, the charity has sourced all livestock from within Africa. Comprehensive training in animal husbandry and welfare is also provided, ensuring the animals are well cared for and productive.
Send a Cow works in six countries in Africa and provides a proven package of support and training in farming, hygiene, business skills and gender equality. More than two thirds of the people supported are women. Working with families for up to five years, the organisation helps people to grow their own food, earn an income and lift themselves out of poverty permanently. Two million people across Africa have been supported by the international development charity since it began.
‘The charity now does much more than provide cows and works with rural communities to make the most of their most precious resource – the soil beneath their feet,’ says Send a Cow’s Ann Hatton.
• Send a Cow are on stand A30 at CRE North
The end of the one-man, church sound system operation is nigh – along with those pesky gremlins.
An annual MOT of your system, along with emergency repairs and training for several volunteer operators at once, is part of a new package offered by CRE North exhibitors Novum AV.
‘We are instituting silver, gold and platinum packages for sound and vision systems in any church with the option of a thorough check of the system on one, three or five-year contracts. We make sure the system works and that any hiccups are dealt with quickly on an emergency phone call system,’ said David Sharpe, installations manager of Novum AV, a Midlands-based company with a history of installing new systems and sorting out problems in established ones throughout the UK.
‘Churches will be able to trust their system to be problem-free. If something does go wrong we will provide expert help to put things right. We can also offer training facilities in churches in which we use a particular system, providing extra helpers when the expert is on holiday or ill.’
One of the constant complaints from volunteers is of ‘gremlins in our system’.
‘Our Beat the Gremlins scheme will be on offer for the first time at CRE North,’ said David. ‘We understand the pitfalls of working in historic churches, listed buildings or new builds – especially when that means making the screen and speakers “disappear” into the fabric of the building to protect the building’s aesthetic charm.’
Novum are committed to retaining the visibility of stained-glass windows, or elegant carvings, and at the same time enhancing the experience of worship and the communication of the gospel message.
‘Our dedicated team specialises in managing projects and carrying out sound and video installations on a daily basis,’ said David. ‘They have a passion for delivering systems that have the most minimal of impact with maximum efficiency and clarity.’
• Novum AV are on stand C41 at CRE North
It may be a simple colouring book but it can mean a great deal to a displaced person.
For what makes these products unique is that each one has the Scriptures in English, plus another language – for example Arabic, Farsi, Swahili and Somali.
‘It’s an unusual way of reaching refugees and immigrants but these are colouring books with a difference!’ said Jamie Pritchett, founder of The Good News Colouring Book Ministry, based in Merritt Island, Florida. ‘Each book is really a tract, using only the Scriptures to tell the story of Jesus – his miraculous birth, life, death and resurrection.’
Jamie believes there is nothing quite like arriving in a new country and seeing something written in your own language.
‘People immediately gravitate toward something that they can read easily,’ explained Jamie. ‘Being dual-language, the book helps them learn their target language and also tells the story of Jesus. And it can be downloaded, free of charge, from the internet.’
The ministry is in its 21st year and new languages are added as they become available, or as they are requested.
‘We are excited to have a stand at CRE North,’ said Linda Riddell, artist and illustrator of the books. ‘We hope many churches and individuals will find out how to use these simple tracts to share the gospel with people all over Britain.’
• The Good News Colouring Book are on Stand P13 at CRE North
First contact with families approaching your church for a wedding, baptism or funeral need not be the last – thanks to new online software that helps you develop lasting relationships with parishioners.
The Life Events Diary, a free resource for Church of England churches and developed in partnership with CRE North exhibitor iKnow Church, streamlines administration for classic rites of passage. It will be launched during a seminar at CRE North (2pm, Wed 13 Mar).
‘Every family that approaches a church for a wedding, banns reading, a baptism or a funeral begins a journey with that church,’ explained iKnow Church’s Kyle Cottington. ‘For the family, it can be a time of big emotions and questions. You will want to care for them and make their service the best it can be. Behind that are a huge list of tasks, not just to plan the services but to keep in touch with the families afterwards and encourage them to stay connected. That’s what Life Events Diary is all about.’
Life Events Diary:
• Records legal and personal data of families safely and securely
• Reduces duplication of data-collection and data-entry
• Prints out key information about a service in relevant formats
• Customises, records, and tracks service fees
• Never forgets a significant date for pastoral care, or an opportunity for follow-up after a service, with email reminders
• Shares data, tasks and messages with others in the church to help you direct, delegate and coordinate, wherever you are
• Live Events Diary is available on the iKnow Church stand A34 at CRE North
• Tom Pearson (Church of England) and Kyle Cottington (iKnow Church) will speak on Just Ask: Introducing C of E Live Events (2pm, Wed 13 Mar)
UK churches are failing to reach the generation brought up on Elvis, according to Church Army captain Chris Harrington.
In his Grove booklet Reaching the Saga Generation, Chris highlights that, when churches reach out to older people, the focus is almost always on those born before the last world war. They do so by running everything from a regular drop-in coffee morning, to visiting those in nursing homes.
‘All good stuff,’ suggests Peter Meadows of CRE North exhibitor Afterworknet, ‘but it doesn’t touch those of a very different generation who are also no longer working full time – those brought up on Elvis rather than Doris Day, who jived not quick-stepped. They wore denim and still do and by no means regard themselves as “old.”’
Chris believes they are distinctly different from their older counterparts.
• They were the first ‘teenagers’ and have lived through the free-thinking era of the new pop-culture
• They do not trust governments, multinationals, institutions or authority figures
• They dislike being patronised, dictated to or treated condescendingly
• They demand honesty, consistency, reliability, quality, value for money and good service.
What’s more, this segment of our society represents a huge sector of the population.
In the main, churches lack plans and programmes to help those of this generation get ready for new adventures and seize new opportunities for service in retirement.
‘That being the case, those of us who are heading for retirement – or are already there – need to take personal responsibility,’ concludes Peter, Afterworknet’s programme director. ‘Life after work is not a rehearsal but the real thing. We’ll only get to do it once. Afterworknet will help you do it properly.’
• Afterworknet are on stand B16a at CRE North
• Church Army are on stand C2 at CRE North