A Vast Majority: Part 2

 

In my previous blog I started some reflections based on Stuart Murrays book a Vast Minority. In this blog I ask some more questions inspired by that book. I find the questions so much easier than answers!

If our goal is a society that allows numerous minority groups to all live together without any one minority imposing their views on the rest, then…….

How do we speak out prophetically against injustice in society rather than just stand up for our own rights and preferences? My previous blog, I’m alright Jack also relates to this question.

In a diverse society made up of many subcultures what does it means to be counter-cultural? Where does the Christian community position itself among the many minority communities that in different ways are counter-cultural in relation to whatever is perceived to be the dominant culture?

I honestly do not know the answers to these questions, but know that these are the questions that we do need to find an answer to together as a Christian community.

 

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.

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A Vast Majority

I recently read a book by Stuart Murray with the above title which I found helpful and challenging. It made me ask lots of questions which I don’t know if I have the answers to, but are important to ask.

The initial premise of the book is that Christians in the UK are a vast minority. We are a minority, yes, but we are not a small insignificant minority, we are a vast minority. He goes on to suggest that this hasn’t really changed in a long time, we have always been a vast minority but previously within a context of “nominal” or “cultural” Christianity. We are now surrounded not by nominal or cultural Christians but people of different faiths or of no faith. We therefore need to learn to function differently, rather than just long for things to be as they were in the past.

Accepting this it raises all sorts of questions and issues. One that I have been pondering is this.

The complaint that was directed at Christians from previous generations was that as a minority they imposed their view on everyone. I think there is some truth in the complaint. There is now also the complaint that in this generation some Muslims have a secret (or not so secret) agenda to impose their views on everyone else. Let us all agree that it is wrong for any minority to just impose their view on the majority. However, the very people making the complaint against previous generations of Christians and against Muslims today are doing the same themselves now!

It is claimed we are now a Western secular society, however secularists themselves are a minority in our country. The majority of people are people of faith, but no longer belonging to just one faith group. Yet secularists are seeking to impose their views on the rest of us.

The question is therefore what sort of society are we looking to create that allows numerous minority groups to all live together without any one minority imposing their views on the rest? I don’t know if secular society is ready to allow people of faith to enter that debate as equals. I think that people of faith need to challenge the imposition of minority secular views on the rest of.

 

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.

I’m Alright Jack

I’ve recently been stirred to think and ponder something that I don’t feel fully qualified to talk about but something that I feel could be a defining issue for the next few years. Something that I am increasingly feeling I need to have an opinion about, however controversial and difficult.

Our nation and most of the world are rightly concerned about terrorism, particularly terrorism in the name of Islam. As such various initiatives are being put forward by society as ways to combat it, many of which could be seen as curtailing the freedom of Muslims to practice their faith. Examples being proposed legislation which requires faith groups teaching children for more than 6 hours a week to be Ofsted inspected; schools having to raise concerns with authorities if they perceive children are being indoctrinated by religious groups.

As Christians we are rightly concerned about how these impact our freedom of expression of our faith. On the whole we are being reassured by the state that they are not directed at us but are directed at Muslim extremism but that Islam can’t be isolated out for special treatment in law.

This is what is causing me to ponder and think. What do I think about it?

I can’t get away from the famous quote attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer regarding life in Germany in the 1930s and 40s.

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

 

I believe that as Christians we have to speak out strongly for our right to exercise our faith in the UK in particular but also across the world. There are examples in the UK where Christians are stopped from expressing their sincerely held Christian principles. We should speak out against this discrimination. The treatment of Christians in some countries around the world is outrageous and we should be outraged and speak out against it. Interestingly many Muslims I know are also outraged by the treatment of Christians in some countries that claim to be Islamic.

We should speak out against all forms of terrorism and seek to do all we can to stop it. However, shouldn’t we also insist on the same rights for others to exercise their faith as we expect for our own faith?

 

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.

Why Serve @ Newday 2016?

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Servers From Newday 2015 share their experiences…

 

Newday has run since 2004 and Hope Church has sent many young people over the years but just as many have gone from our church to serve. I personally have been to all the Newdays since it started over 10 years ago both as a delegate and twice as much as a server. So why do I go back to camp on a showground year after year? Simply it’s to serve the thousands of young people that come from across the UK (and other countries) who whether they know it or not are going to encounter something of the living God. There are some many things that are needed to run a big event like Newday including cleaning, catering, stewarding, security and café and entertainment running. Many adults give up the week in their summer or take time off work to be an army of Servers. Many of Hope Church have often served in the cafes, selling snacks, running games, DJing or painting nails even. The great thing that comes through is a sense of team and community but also having a heart to see the young people have a fun and safe week while also meeting with and chasing after God.

Luke Middleton

 

I decided to start serving purely out of selfish reasons I heard about Newday and how amazing it was so thought I would serve, get to go to seminars and meetings and I would get what I needed from it, boy did God change that in me. It was hard work, I was away from home missing my own children, very tired and too tired to bother with the evening meetings it didn’t take me long to realise it wasn’t about what I needed it was about serving the young people. As I continued to serve with the attitude of serving the young people and not myself I felt God pouring out his love and servant heart on me and he blessed me with friendships I would never have if I hadn’t served at Newday. The feeling of belonging to Gods family, being whisked away from normality and getting a little taste of heaven and with the atmosphere being so thick with the presence of God is just amazing. I help led a cafe called Pink and Gents and we are a venue where you can come and get your nails painted, do your hair, buy some sweets, play games and charge your phone amongst other things. We work hard hoovering and cleaning up making the venue look the business ready for the wonderful delegates to come and enjoy. They are so excited when they come in and its great to chat and listen to what God is doing in their lives. This is why I serve at Newday, because I am passionate about young people coming to know Jesus, passionate about young people prophesying, healing, and taking ground. If you have never served at Newday I encourage you too whatever age you are you can impact our youth with just a smile (and possibly a mop in hand). Seeing 6000 young people worshipping in the big top, well it’s my little piece of heaven in a field and I thank Jesus for the privilege of serving at Newday.

Abby Clarke

 

I have been to various Newdays as a delegate, and I always wondered what it would be like to serve. Initially I found it difficult to choose where I wanted to serve, but after asking friends and people from church I chose to serve in the Gents and Pink Bar.

I have found that serving in general is a great opportunity to get involved at Newday and meet people from different churches around the country. I have made many friends over the years I have served and even got to know people from Hope Church Luton a lot more than I thought I would.

Nathan Milton

 

If you are interested in serving at Newday 2016 then check out the information here

Open House Lounge Is Moving Forward!

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Open House Lounge is the community drop-in at Hope Church Centre, Luton. It was started four and a half years ago by small group of Hope Church members, when the church first acquired the old Polish club building in Villa road.

The initial vision for the project came at a church prayer meeting where a member saw a picture of a hearth or fireplace. In the fireplace was a roaring fire and as they looked there were blue cold skinny people who came in and stood by the fire. As they stood they became rosy and warmed and filled out.

When first visiting the soon to be church building before it was refurbished, the person who had the picture saw a fireplace like the one they had seen in the picture. They felt that the fire represented the love of God as demonstrated by his people and to provide a welcoming place for people to come in to, not just on a Sunday morning. The picture was shared with a few other church members and as they prayed together they felt that the project should be modelled on a home. It was to be a place where people were accepted, welcomed and listened to, a safe place where we would cater for all ages just as you would at home.

From when Open House Lounge started in 2011 where we have most weeks opened on Mondays and Wednesdays during the day, it has gradually grown from a handful to now serving 50 to 60 people a day. Many people have enjoyed time there over the years. We feel that is now in a  new stage of growth and to take it to the next stage requires more structure. We have an amazing team of volunteers who run the project and it will still need its present volunteers and some new ones but we also have some funding to employ 2 or 3 people to manage the project.

This will enable us to start a new session on Saturday mornings and to open through most of the school holidays. The job will be advertised on our website shortly and our new Saturday session will open in June serving a cooked breakfast. This is exciting news and also gives lots of potential for new groups to run around the hub of Open House lounge. We would love to hear from you if you would like to be involved in our Open House adventure as we go into the next part of serving the community in Luton.

 

Written by Theresa Middleton

Theresa is leader of Open House and the pastoral team at Hope Church
Theresa is leader of Open House and the pastoral team at Hope Church