Magneties – Luton Churches Working Together for Students and 20s

 

There are various ways in which churches work together in Luton including Churches Together In Luton, MissionAll and Luton Unite Youth Leaders Network.

However over the years churches have come together in various forms in order to run events round students and young adults in Luton.

It is believed that the 18-30s age group attendance or participation in church has dropped significantly in the last 20 years or so and that generation is desperately in need for being reached out to. Find out more by watching this short documentary here.

 

Back in 2011 a Student Alpha course was run in collaboration with the Treehouse (University Chaplaincy) and a couple of churches. This was a great time of working together to see the course run over a term for students to learn about Christianity. On from that have also been other opportunities for churches to work with the local student population including a course run called “Going To Uni” to send off pre university leavers with some information to help them continue their Christian life while in a new place studying.

MagnetiesStudentBBQSeveral churches also came together on the grounds of St Marys to run a free BBQ welcoming new students to the university in October last year during the Fresher’s Fayre, as well as an evening to cover the campus in prayer for the new academic year.

Many of these activities have been geared towards students but over time conversations about working together for more than just students have become apparent. To look at how churches can work together with the 18-30s age group. This gathering has been titled ‘Magneties’ which stands for Magnifying God, Networking Students and 20s and Ties in with Local Churches, which we as Hope Church have been involved in helping to set up.

 

The plan moving forward is to arrange a monthly gathering for this age group hosted by different churches as well as the University Chaplain and Christian Union, to be able to encourage each other in their Christian walks but also reach out to their friends and peers.

The unique and exciting thing about it though is that it is the church in Luton working together. Not everywhere can boast an open working relationship with other local churches so we hope that this will be a positive pooling of resources and ideas moving forward.

Written by Luke Middleton

Luke is part of our staff team here at Hope Church where he is Communications Manager and Neighbourhood Community Worker.

Luke

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Balance in the Christian life, as individuals

IMAGE Whats On 3 legged stool

In a previous blog I spoke of the balance that Jesus had in his life, growing relationships with his Father, with his disciples, and with the hurting world around him.

This blog seeks to be very practical, exploring how we can grow these 3 different types of relationships.

Everything starts with God, and our relationship with him. We have access to the Father through the Son, entered into by repentance and faith. Having gained access our relationship is meant to grow.

This growing relationship with God should impacts every part of our lives. As a teenager I liked the idea of having a girlfriend, however when I got one it started to impact other parts of my life. She wanted to talk to me at lunch times when I wanted to do other things. The relationship didn’t last long. When met and married Anne, I happily allowed the relationship to influence all of my life. This should be even more so with God. He is Lord of everything.

It is vitally importance that we intentionally grow in our relationship with him. All different, no standard means, however unless we work at it, it will not happen. Find a way that works for you.

Regular time – a little every day, every week rather than binging.

I spend time with God most mornings – I read scripture; journal – go through previous day with God, what happened, what did I learn; read devotional book; pray. Listen. It can take from 30 to 45 minutes.

I also run most days – some of them with others, mostly alone. Whilst running I listen to podcasts, often sermons and I chew things over with God.

I have privilege of being released to do this, hence I can give longer to building my relationship with God than most people.

I know of people who use their commute to pray, listen to worship music, sermons, listen to or read Bible. My wife listens to a daily Bible reading podcast on her commute.

Some recommend setting aside 15 minutes to be alone with God and the Bible every day.

Other things.

Tune into God at other times – seek to hear from him. Ask his blessing. Join with others in prayer. On journeys, pray in tongues for extended periods, doesn’t work well on train journeys!

Importance of Psalms, especially if struggling. Gives words to our anguish, questioning.

Everything starts with God, but moves into relationships with other believers.

Unique to Christianity is the trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God himself is community, relationships, and family.

We are made in the image of God, hence relational. He puts us into families. Despite what some people may say, we are not meant to be sustained by our relationship with God alone.

Loneliness is epidemic in our society – people can even be lonely in a relationship, in a family. We have to model something different.

Here are a few thoughts to helps us.

Recognise the different levels of community.

Jesus had relationships with the crowd, 72, 12 and with the 3. There are different emphasis and character in different types of relationships that can easily be misunderstood. This can cause problems.

Relationships are formed by joint experiences; they deepen over time. You cannot rush relationships.

There is richness from learning from people from different backgrounds and different experiences. However, it is harder than relationships with people the same as you.

Iron sharpens iron. We must deal with conflict positively.

Questions to help and challenge you.

What relationships are you building, developing with fellow Christians? How much time are you investing in the crowd, 72, 12 ,3?

Take the initiative. Be active rather than passive. Invest time.

With God we should decide how much time to invest daily. With relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ it should be weekly.

Also involves relationships beyond fellow believers.

Witness in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria to the very ends of the earth. Acts 1v8

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Jeremiah 29v7

It involves personal witness to Jesus –giving a reason of the faith we hold. But also modelling Godly character, doing good work, ministering in grace and love, moulding culture, speaking truth and justice.

Most of us are doing it, we can’t help it. It is about whether we are aware of it or not.

With relationships with those who are not believers it is about recognising the importance of being focused, purposeful.

In conclusion, we should allocate time daily for our relationship with God; allocate time weekly for relationships to build Christian community; most of us have plenty of time with those outside the church – it is about how we utilise that time.

 

Written by Tony Thompson

tonyt

Tony Thompson is the leader of Hope Church Luton.  He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

High Town Community Work Update

Over a year ago an organisation named Nehemiah Foundation approached Hope Church and other faith related establishments in the UK to start the work of placing community workers in a select amount of different neighbourhoods in the UK. The great ethos behind the organisation is that faith establishments or faith-based organisations have a role to play in building up and helping to improve communities. One of these neighbourhoods was High Town, the area that our church building sits in, and shortly after we were given funding through the Near Neighbours grant programme to employ a worker.

LukeNNPresentation5

This role was appointed to myself, Luke Middleton, who having already been part of the church for over 10 years was ready to learn new skills as well as apply my own to the new job, forming part of a network of about 15 other Neighbourhood Community Workers in the UK, 3 of which were in other parts of Luton.

 

 

 

 

My initial 12 months have included work such as writing a profile of the area by listening and consulting with people who live and work in High Town about issues, problems, potential solutions and general information gathering of resources already in the area. This then informs the basis for what future work could take place or what the needs are for the neighbourhood.

Much of this is about partnership work with groups such as the residents association the Friends of High Town (FoHT), local councillors and other groups and individuals who are already doing positive projects and work in the area. Sometimes this involves lending my time and skills, others it’s about empowering and encouraging or networking. I was able to help improve communications of what goes on in the area by assisting to produce the FoHT newsletter, which was delivered to over 4000 households in the ward.

This past year has seen a multitude of community events and projects that I have been able to be involved with including the High Town Big Lunch in June, which was a well-received neighbourly picnic in the park. See below a video of what attendees thought.

Festival15Crowd2The major event of the year for the area is the High Town Festival whereby hoping to increase the awareness of the bigger and better event was assisted by my involvement with the communications and the entertainment programming. The knitting event run through the arts group at Open House here at Hope enabled us to invite a group of children from local school St Matthew’s Primary to join with a wide range of ages to knit in aid of Syrian Refugees. My work has even allowed me to work in other areas too with my community worker colleague in Dallow, Husna who ran activities for Interfaith Week at Foxdell Infant School.

Looking ahead the next stage is to move forward with new projects around some of issues for the area and continuing to sustain other successful ones. A key part of this is to continue listening to what people have to say about their community and to continue to build partnerships.

Its good to remember that we as people of faith have our part to play in the community that we are situated in and to continue to share with others in bringing positivity and light to these places.

Written by Luke Middleton

Luke is part of our staff team here at Hope Church

Fishing For Cash

“Go to the lake and catch the first fish and you will find a 4 Drachma coin to pay for your tax and mine”  Matthew 17 v 27

 

I believe that miracles are given for a real purpose. I recall a few years ago, visiting a business friend in Singapore who was a Christian. I said I needed to get a phone. I had recently lost my job and had given the old company phone back. So, without a great deal of money, we went to a shopping mall. Driving there by car we went to the multi-storey car park and muttered a prayer “Lord we ask for the right phone”. It wasn’t one of my best prayers.

What happened next has never happened to me in 28 years of being a christian. We got out of the car. On my side on the ground next to the car door was a pile of Singapore dollars in cash and on my friends side was another similar pile of cash right outside his door. The car park was almost empty and we had not seen any cash as we drove in. We scooped it up we said thank you Jesus – we knew God had provided. We got our phone with the cash. I can be cautious about many so called supernatural claims as they seem to have no purpose. However, I do believe that the authentic carries practical reality and purpose. In this case a phone. In the biblical text, real taxes.

Peter is expected to pay the temple tax in keeping with Jewish tradition. He doesn’t have the money handy in his pocket and so he turns to Jesus for help.

The easy and straight forward approach would be to for Jesus to use cash resources to solve the problem.

However, Jesus sees an opportunity to use the situation to help Peter grow. The idea that the money can be sourced from the mouth of a fish is so bizarre and comical that it must have stunned Peter.

Jesus was testing the extent to which Peter trusted him. It made no sense. The question is whether he would trust him anyway. Peter passes the test and goes fishing.

The first catch has the coin.

But what exactly is Jesus trying to teach Peter.

We know that at the time in Jewish culture people would throw coins into the water for good luck.

Occasionally whilst swimming on the sea bed it had been known to be possible to occasionally find coins in the mouth of fish.

What is incredible is that Jesus knew the timing of the first fish that had picked up a coin to be fished by Peter.

In other words here was the key lesson for Peter :-

“Peter I know you are worried about finding the money to pay the temple tax. Rather than just giving you the cash I want you to gain a revelation that I am God and know the faintest moves of all creation. I know the rustling of a leaf, when a rain drop falls to the ground and the fish of the sea and which one has a coin in its mouth at the very time you go fishing. Don’t worry Peter, trust me,. I am God and have an all seeing eye which has no limits. This experience will strengthen your faith”

When I found the cash in Singapore it helped me see that God knows what I need, when I need it and he knows how to get it to me.

So also for you, Whatever your need, be aware that God may take you on a “fishy” route to help you grow in the knowledge of who he is as well as supply your needs.

 

Jon

 

Jon Gledhill is a member of Hope Church Luton
Jon Gledhill is a member of Hope Church Luton