God is already there
Festive is a national mission partner of Scripture Union (SU) and we share the same heart to see the gospel reach the thousands of young people out there who are not in church. We have been really excited and inspired by SU’s ’95 campaign’ and so asked Tim Hastie-Smith, the national director of SU, to share a bit about where it came from….
Recently the church was shocked by a piece of research that revealed that the UK had the smallest percentage of any European nation of young adults attending church. Yet the most surprising thing about this news is not the statistic, but the fact that anyone should find it surprising!
As a C of E vicar for the last 10 years in a rural Cotswolds parish I would guess from simple observation that there are fewer than 150/200 young adults in total in churches of ALL denominations in the whole of the Cotswolds.
But that doesn’t mean that young people are either anti God or unspiritual. It simple means what it says on the tin. ‘They are not in Church’
It’s for that reason that SU launched its 95 campaign last year to mark our 150th anniversary. It is a rallying call to ALL Christians. If we wish to reach the 95% of children and young people who are NOT in church, with the love of Jesus we must go to them, not wait for them to come to us. Trying to get them into Church so that they may learn of the love of Jesus is the wrong way around. It is our joy and responsibility to make the love of Jesus known to them wherever they are. We must go to them.
The mental leap we need to make is to realise that God doesn’t dwell in a Church building awaiting visitors on a Sunday morning, but is present 24/7 in the world He created, already encountering and revealing Himself to all creation. Our privilege is to be a part of the process of opening eyes to His presence and facilitating encounters with His transforming power.
The practical ways of doing this are many and obvious. Live the love of Jesus, and create places of encounter. From the Sports Field to the class room from snap chat to the party God is already there.
Mission is not a recruitment drive for your church or youth group. It is the bringing of light and sight, engagement and encounter.
This is how we reach the 95% Go to them and know that God is already there.
Tim Hastie-Smith is National director of Scripture Union, as well as being vicar of three little Cotswold villages. He was a Headteacher of a secondary school for 10 years.