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
If you’re considering taking your faith and practice to the next academic level, your first steps should be to CRE’s Study Zone.
A brand new initiative at CRE North, the Study Zone is for people of all ages interested in theological education – from short courses to doctorates, summer schools to evening classes, residential or online.
For the first time, representatives from eight major UK establishments, including college principals, will be available to discuss your options. After a plenary each day at 11am, where general questions will be answered by a hand-picked panel of experts, each participating college will present its distinctive approach to the whys and wherefores of theological study and training in a rolling series of short presentations (see schedule below).
‘We’ve also a consultation area in the Study Zone where you can have a short personal conversation (up to 15 minutes) with a particular college representative,’ said Karen Todd, CRE North’s Study Czar. ‘You can book your conversation before coming to CRE North by emailing me, or by coming to see me early in your day at CRE North.’
Welcoming the initiative, Revd Dr David Hilborn, principal of Moorland College, said: ‘The Study Zone is an excellent idea, showcasing the high-quality training and education on offer at a range of UK theological colleges. As principal of one such college, I’m thrilled to be part of it.’
Study Zone Talks
Wednesday 13 March
11:00 Study Zone Plenary: Introducing theological study for all ages
11:30 All Nations College
12:30 Cliff College
1:00 London School of Theology
1:30 Mattersey Hall
2:00 Moorlands College
2:30 Nazarene Theological College
3:00 Spurgeons College
3:30 Moorlands College
4:30 All Nations College
5:00 Spurgeons College
5:30 Nazarene Theological College
6:00 Cliff College
6:30 Mattersey Hall
7:00 London School of Theology
Thursday 14 March
11:00 Study Zone Plenary: Introducing theological study for all ages
11:30 Spurgeons College
12:00 All Nations College
12:30 Mattersey Hall
1:00 Capernwray College
1:30 Cliff College
2:00 Nazarene Theological College
2:30 London School of Theology
3:00 Moorlands College
Now churches can have a website to envy – with unlimited pages, podcasting, daily bible reading plans and seamless integration with UCB Radio and TV.
It’s all thanks to Church Edit, the UK’s largest Christian software company that has exhibited at almost every CRE for the past 13 years. And the company has chosen CRE North to launch its all new Global Office – a powerful tool that updates more than 1,000 church websites across the UK.
‘Global Office has been updated in function along with a fresh design to make it really easy for churches to manage their websites by adding unlimited web pages, upload images and media files,’ explained Church Edit’s managing director Kyle Cottington. ‘There are many features developed just for churches such as podcasting, a calendar, daily bible reading plans and integration with UCB. Church Edit is ideal for churches and ministries of all sizes, from small local churches to diocesan headquarters.’
With different design options to suit churches of all budgets, Church Edit also comes with unlimited free technical support plus on-demand tutorials within a dedicated support site.
‘This is the biggest update we have ever done,’ said Kyle. ‘The feedback has been fantastic and we are looking forward to showing people at Event City. And you can benefit from our one-year free offer as well as get 25 per cent off website design.’
• Church Edit are on stand A34 at CRE North
Clever computer criminals want to take over your money, your identity – even your church.
That will be Dave Carlos’ stark warning to CRE visitors at both Event City (March 13/14) and Sandown Park (15-17 Oct).
When it comes to cyber security, Dave has a lifetime of experience. An interest in home computers in the early 1980s resulted in his appointment as editor of Home Computing Weekly. The cover story on first edition under his management introduced readers to the way in which the early Prestel system had been hacked.
Eventually he started his own PR company, advising producers of computer games, before moving to Christian charity Agape and then CRE North exhibitor Care for the Family. However, a request from a local group in Fleetwood determined his current role.
‘I devised a talk on computer security and presented it to a number of organisations,’ he recalled. ‘That same presentation has been revised substantially over the years and I can even provide a link to watch it online.’
Dave also works with Lancashire Police after responding to an advert asking for a group of cyber volunteers to give presentations to groups, churches and companies – ‘I was accepted as a cyber volunteer and now also help to train new police officers.’
At 66, with about 40 years’ experience of using computers, his CRE North seminar – Cyber Security and Digital Safety in Your Church (11am, Wed 13 Mar) – helps church representatives and home computer users grasp some of the basic safety measures when online.
‘There are so many clever criminals wanting to take over your computers, your money, and even your identity, that it is a subject of growing importance,’ he said. ‘Everyone using a computer and going online ought to be aware of the many pitfalls.’
• Dave Carlos will talk on Cyber Security and Digital Safety in Your Church (CRE North, 11am, Wed 13 Mar)
For 20 years Anne Coomes has provided much-needed editorial and graphics for church magazine editors of all mainline denominations – and she will deliver a seminar at CRE North (5pm, Wed 13 Mar) helping editors make the most of their much-loved publications.
‘Church magazines still play a critical role in community life,’ said Anne, co-founder of Parish Pump. ‘They are a pro-active way to keep in touch with both church members and the community. Websites are good, of course, but how many people wake up and say to themselves: “I really must visit my local church website today!” However, if you deliver a magazine through their door, or hand one out in church, people WILL look through it – and if it is good, or relevant to their needs, you will keep their attention.
‘We know of at least one suicide that was prevented in this way. A magazine contained a Parish Pump article about depression, and it led to the person seeking help instead of over-dosing.’
Turning out a regular publication, against deadlines, can be a daunting task. Ironically, since computer software offered us generative text and spellcheckers, typographical errors (or typos) have actually increased in number.
‘Every editor can recall that awful moment when they realise their mistake and there’s nothing they can do about it,’ said Anne. ‘I once ran a headline that should have read: “Make flowers that look like satin.” But instead it said: “Make flowers that look like satan.” Not one of my more glorious moments!’
In advance of CRE North you can vote here for your favourite parish magazine and service sheet typo.
• Parish Pump are on stand A29 at CRE North
• Anne Coomes will help you ‘Pump up your parish mag volume’ (5pm, Wed 13 Mar)
With 30 years’ experience bringing hope in Christ to communities, the people behind Ambassadors Football GB are keen share their vision.
‘We want to show others how simple outreach through football can have an impact on local communities,’ said national director Martin Bateman. ‘With women’s football, walking football for the over 50s and under-11 sessions on a Saturday morning, we will explain how churches can get involved in reaching others through our national game.’
Ambassadors host training days, when church leaders and volunteers are shown how easy it is to organise a football programme. A new initiative in the north west includes working alongside schools with a unique style of coaching.
‘We develop skills but also encourage character values,’ explained Martin. ‘In Christian schools that is linked to a Bible verse but in a non-Christian context we show how good these values are and serve the school and community through the football programme.’
A number of churches have discovered that forming a football team and playing friendly games, or even joining a local league, gives them the opportunity to emphasise Christian values to the players, with opportunities to witness to opposing teams.
‘We were founded in 1990 and work in partnership with other sports groups and denominations to see God’s kingdom established,’ added Martin, ‘especially in hard-to-reach places such as housing estates and with homeless and marginalised people.’
Visitors to the Ambassadors stand will be able to chat to the organisation’s representatives about the possibilities for sporting mission involving football.
• Ambassadors Football are on stand A36 at CRE North
• A CRE North seminar ‘Your church and sports ministry’ will be led by Christians in Sport, Scripture Union, Sports Chaplaincy UK, Ambassadors Football and the C of E Ministry of Sport Initiative at 4pm, Wed 13 Mar
For months they’ve been conquering words like ‘chasuble’ and ‘thurible’ and soon they’ll deliver their version of the song made famous by Dana – to the lady herself.
A 60-strong choir from St Leonard’s Church of England Primary School, Padiham, Lancashire, will serenade the 1970 Eurovision winner with a version re-written to outline the benefits of CRE North – ‘All kinds of everything for your church and you.’
Many of the items mentioned in the song, including thuribles, puppets, bibles and Easter eggs, will be on display at Event City (13/14 Mar).
‘The children are thoroughly enjoying rehearsals and are coping with the more unusual words,’ said St Leonard’s music co-ordinator Suzanna Halsey. ‘They relish the challenge of learning a new song and are looking forward to the occasion. It is good to have the opportunity to perform in public, particularly as Dana will be there to listen. We hope it brings back happy memories of her Eurovision win in 1970 when she herself was still a schoolgirl.’
• The choir will perform at the opening of CRE North (10am, Hall 1, Event City, Manchester)
Pic by Howard Barlow
Voting has begun to find the nation’s favourite parish magazine and service sheet typo.
Every week, in churches throughout the country, typographical errors sneak under the righteous radar. A word may be spelled correctly but, critically, it’s the wrong word. For hard-pressed editors, the consequences can be horrifying. For the rest of us, hilarious.
‘Just one letter may be missing – but it’s enough to send parishioners rocking in the pews,’ explains Anne Coomes of Parish Pump, a website providing editorial and graphic resources to thousands of church magazine editors.
Local publications are a special focus at the upcoming Christian Resources Exhibition (Event City, Manchester, 13/14 March) and the event’s organisers are celebrating the unsung work of parish magazine editors by asking the general public to name their favourite blooper.
Ten genuine contributions have been collected by readers of Ship of Fools, the magazine of Christian unrest, and Church Service Sheet Typos, a Facebook page which has gained some 4800 members since its creation just over a year ago. Voting will continue until 12 noon on Fri 1 March, when the Top 10 will be revealed in order of popularity.
‘Most editors will see the funny side,’ explains CRE managing director Steve Goddard. ‘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.’
For 20 years Anne Coomes 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!’
Back in Manchester for the first time in five years, CRE North, often dubbed the ‘ideal church show’, is a unique showcase where innovative products and services for churches – from pulpits to puppets, sound systems to software – will be displayed by some 150 organisations. More than 30 seminars and presentations will cover areas like cyber security and safeguarding.
The Bishop of Manchester, The Rt Revd David Walker, has welcomed the exhibition’s return to the north.
‘Manchester is world famous as a place where the best is showcased and creative ideas and technologies are quickly adopted,’ he said. ‘I’m delighted CRE is returning and that so many organisations will bring skills, services, ideas and resources to the north west.’
‘CRE is an event that brings together churches from many different traditions and persuasions,’ said the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. ‘It is an ideal place for positive discussion and agenda setting.’
Credit: Cartoons by Rev Taffy Davies
The essential tools to build your church using social media will be outlined in a seminar at CRE North.
‘Those who reject Christianity are highly unlikely to be reached by the traditional church,’ explains Laura Treneer, chief executive of Christian Publishing and Outreach (CPO), who will lead the seminar (11am, Thu 14 Mar). ‘However, the same people are likely to spend, on average, 20 hours a week on the internet. This presents us with an amazing opportunity, if we know how to use it wisely.’
Combining missional vision with practical advice, the seminar covers information contained in Laura’s book Church Online: Social Media (BRF). You will understand why social media matters and how it works for churches, hear practical examples and inspiring stories from a panel of contributors and take away building blocks to develop your own local church digital strategy.
‘The seminar and book are aimed at church teams who want to reach their communities effectively,’ says Laura. ‘The book is a perfect resource for church leaders and volunteers short on time who need fast, relevant advice. Whether you’re looking for a crash course, brief refresher or reference toolkit, you’ll find what you need in it. And, of course, you can pick up a copy after the seminar at CRE.’
Laura’s understanding of churches is helped in part by her husband’s role for the past 12 years as senior pastor of a Baptist church in Brighton.
‘CPO is a charity, and for 60 years has been serving the church in its communications,’ she says. ‘I believe it has a strategic role to play as a resource, not just for churches, but for charities, bookshops and suppliers.’
• CPO are on stand A11 at CRE North
• Laura Treneer will speak on Building your church through social media (11am, Thu 14 Mar)
Now a case of six ‘eggs with added Easter’ comes plastic free – with £3 off if you buy a case at CRE North.
As usual, the 2019 Real Easter Egg includes a copy of the Easter story, is Fairtrade and supports charitable projects – but this year it’s also plastic-free for the first time.
‘Had we not made this decision we would have ordered five tonnes of plastic and 175 tonnes of card over the next five years,’ said Meaningful Chocolate founder David Marshall. ‘Going plastic free is seen as important by 96 per cent of our supporters. We have therefore replaced plastic bags, tamper-seals and Best Before stickers with paper versions and made the egg with thicker chocolate. There is still the same amount of chocolate in the egg and the box sizes are the same but the redesign means our Dark and Original Eggs are now kinder to the environment.’
There is a 50 pence discount on each Original and Dark Real Easter Egg if bought at CRE North but stocks are limited. You can pre-order larger quantities for collection at Event City by emailing Philip@meaningfulchocolate.co.uk.
• Meaningful Chocolate are on stand A7 at CRE North