The Church of St John and St Luke, and Harrogate Churches Together, presented an evening of worship with Steve Chalke, writer, broadcaster and the director of Faithworks. Steve Chalke was speaking on "the Church at the Heart of the Community" at the church of St John, Bilton, Harrogate at 7:30pm on the Saturday. Map. The talk is summarised below:
Steve Chalke interview: Jo Grande, President of Churches Together, asked what Steve and Faithworks were currently involved with, and their plans for the future:
At the last election, Faithworks was working with youth and speaking out about youth crime, drugs, medical services, health care. In response to the speeches of the political parties, CARE said the churches were already busy with all this. Steve wrote the book Faithworks to outline what the church already does and can do if only the church were supported rather than pulled apart. A copy of the book was delivered to Downing Street. At a conference, the Prime Minister delivered Steve Chalke's talk - he'd read the book. The Chancellor welcomed book - an opportunity to bring the churches out off retirement.
Next year's plans are already available via the Faithworks website. The Faithworks award for a project touching the community amounts to £10,000. The application form can be downloaded from Faithworks; awards include professional business planning. Steve described this as a Christian competition. Note the closing date is Thursday 31st July 2003 (Faithworks Award 2003, The Oasis Centre, 115 Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 0AX). Faithworks are preparing for a major conference in Eastbourne from 10 to 12 October; speakers include Rt Hon John Battle MP, Jim Wallis, Rob Parsons, Tony Campolo Jackie Pullinger MBE.
Faithworks are constantly talking to Government, with thanks and lobbying where needed. Faithworks is developing a set of tools and resources for small and large groups to build cases to ensure jobs are filled with Christians. It is a growing group with 25,000 now working together.
Steve Chalke talk
Steve introduced himself as a Baptist pastor from Croydon (now in the Oxford Dictionary - Croydonisation means the architectural ruin of a town centre). He suggested that Baptist ministers are not considered Kosher - speaking in an Anglican church tonight [albeit with a truly ecumenical audience].
He noted that a media satirist has described him as the vicar to the nation. Steve noted that most of this satirist's newspaper reports were less than complimentary but he had restrained himself from reacting until one extreme event. He felt he had to challenge the columnist, and loving his enemies he had to let the reporter win the argument. The conversation followed these lines: SC: "Thank you!" "For what?" SC: "Thank you for writing about me!". "Have you ever read anything I've ever written about you?" SC: "Yes." "Why say thank you to me?" SC: "Well, here's the deal. You have been writing about me for three years and you've broadcast my name to hundreds and thousands who've never heard of me. But I've never written about you so no-one has heard of you through me. So Thank you". After a pause the columnist took an opportunity: "So do me a favour - take me out to lunch!" The satirist now rings Steve Chalke up to find out his views before printing - even if he still distorts it Steve's views.
This opening has given rise to deeper and realistic conversations; the satirist has described the state of the church: it is not what it once was (establishing schools, healthcare, the abolition of slavery, arts, missionary works, being the heart of the community - not just geographically - but socially, not just spiritually, but in every way)
Steve Chalke described the historical reasons as to why the church is hiding in its own little corner. The enlightenment shaped and changed our views, notably through the 17th 18th & 19th centuries. Christianity had shaped Europe. The Enlightenment changed the "God makes it dark and makes the trees grow and makes apples fall off trees" mindset to "Gravity makes apples fall". As a Christian, Isaac Newton said that 'God made a law of nature called gravity'. Others took this further to state that God was dead or irrelevant, hence "Religion is personal and private - you can't claim it to work". Facts were the important issue rather than faith, values and religion. The argument of the Enlightenment Divide "Politics and religion don't mix" still circulates today. Mixing scientific or evolutionary theory has forced the church to keep its views compartmentalised.
The song "Jesus bids us shine with a pure light" illustrates the lie of the Enlightenment: the first line seduces us. "Like a little candle burning in the night" - Jesus talked about being the light of the world, not a little candle. "You in your small corner" tells us to keep it to ourselves; Steve Chalke remarked that that's why the buildings are so precious to us. "Lord we thank you that we can come into your presence" suggests we can get out... "Now for a time of worship" - is worship banner makers and guitars and drums? What about the bricklayer? Whatever our life - as a banker, police lady - our daily life should be worship.
Steve noted the importance of Isaiah 58: "Setting the oppressed free; when you see the naked, clothe him - then will your healing appear… if you do all these things then your light will rise in the darkness." Our "Send revival" prayer is answered by him telling us to get out there and be salt and light in society. Worship is what I do with my life.
When revival breaks out you don't have to pay to get in; revival happens when we get involved, not when we opt out - staying in our little corner. Jesus said "Love God and your neighbour" - not just one or the other. Does the intercessor opt out? Intimacy without involvement is a hollow thing. Without God we're just do-gooders - no transformation or hope. The greatest poverty today is the lack of hope and purpose; people ask "Is their transformation?; does God believe in me? Do I matter? Am I nothing?" Our task is not to bring compassion or mercy - we need to bring God, that makes us distinctive.
Steve Chalke concluded with an analogy about junk food - it doesn't satisfy us. Intimacy without involvement doesn't satisfy; that sort of Christianity is boring. James wrote in his epistle that Faith without works is dead - he doesn't beat about the bush. Would we watch a favourite film day after day? It would become utterly dull unless we engage with the film. When we meet together we must engage with one another. Church is about what we do on the outside. How do we make our faith real and tangible? That's how the world will know we're intimate with God.
Opportunities to Serve
Oasis Trust are running Youth Action summer camps in 2003 sharing God's passion in several cities across the UK.
Faithworks is an umbrella group, which seeks to enable the gospel to be seen practically at work both within the community and the nation as a whole. Its aims:
· Faithworks exists to empower and inspire every local Church to develop its role at the heart of community.
· Faithworks will challenge and change the public perception of the Church by engaging both media and government.
· Faithworks will promote Christian values within our society.
The evening is part of a Faithworks tour of the United Kingdom. The Faithworks Movement is built around ten leading organisations: CARE, Care for the Family, the Catholic Agency for Social Concern, Christian Herald, Christianity + Renewal, Moorlands College, Oasis Trust, Shaftesbury Housing Group, Stewardship Services and the YMCA.
|Steve Chalke is a regular broadcaster for television and radio, author and public speaker. Steve is the Founder of the Oasis Trust, which in turn is the Founding partner of the Faithworks Movement. The Movement now works with 10 leading Christian agency partners to act as an agent for change by empowering and inspiring local churches to rediscover their role at the hub of the community and to engage with media and government to change the public perception of Church. Steve is also the presenter of Radio 4’s ‘Changing Places’, which tells the stories of ordinary people who have worked to transform their local communities. He is the author of the Faithworks series and Founder of Parentalk|