A Rebellious Declaration - Reflections on the Inaugural Pursuit Gathering

Something happened the first bank holiday in May that altered the battleground and changed the landscape of the fight that is taking place in the UK over the “lost generation”.

For 65-hours straight, victory was proclaimed, the kingdom was brought near, and our generation declared that a nation-changing shift is on the rise. It didn’t happen in Westminster, it wasn’t in a church building, or in any city of influence. No, this rebellious declaration, this physical statement, this righteous stand, was done by 20s and 30s from all of the corners of the nation who had one thing in common: Jesus.

The Pursuit started off as one giant experiment, but in hindsight was the beginning of something monumental. I had the privilege of dreaming up and envisioning this weekend with a great friend of mine more than a year before it actually came to life, and in all of the months leading up to it, never suspected what I was about to experience. I knew it would be different. I thought it would be cool. I hoped it would be fun and life-changing all at the same time, but I never really anticipated that The Pursuit would become a rallying call to all of the Jesus followers of this generation.

I’ve never been to anything so pure. I think that’s what has stuck with me most.

To read the full article of Rob's thoughts, please click HERE.

Share Your Story, Share Jesus

I was never good at talking to girls. From an early age, I saw them as a mysterious group with whom it was nearly impossible to communicate. Whenever I did attempt to communicate with them, it would always end badly. My mouth would go dry, and I would stumble over my words.

I would argue that for many of us evangelism, or simply sharing our faith, leaves us the same way. We either miss the opportunity or stumble on our words, or our mouths dry up rather than being able to speak clearly.

I recently stood with a friend who was asked by a total stranger what Christians believed. The sheer panic led him to try to cram everything he could into a sentence before the stranger zoned out. I almost had to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him to breathe.

So when it comes to sharing our faith, where do we start? Sin? Jesus? Resurrection? Do we go with something more palatable and vague? What about love? Everyone wants a bit of love, don't they?

The truth is there are some words that unlock conversation and some words that close conversation. A good example is "sin." Sin has been used for so long to bash people, the whole concept has become too familiar so people roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders and give us a "yeah yeah, tell me something I don't know."

So what do we do? Do we skip over sin? How can we? Sin is central to the gospel. Without sin we are left with a Jesus who came to do some miracles, but the cross becomes a lost symbol rather than a cataclysmic moment of salvation.

I minister in the heart of the east end of London. In fact, we planted a church here five years ago with the desire to reach a profoundly poor and lost community. As a population, we are 65 percent Muslim, so Jesus has to be front and center of all we do. But with a community that has become disillusioned with the idea of sin and a community that sees Jesus as nothing but a prophet, we have a hard job on our hands. Because of this, we have had to rethink how we tell God's story so others will connect.

Here are some things we have been learning these last few years.

Click HERE to read the entire article from Cris, featured today in Charisma Mag.

Cris Rogers (@Rabbirogers) took on the leadership of an Anglican church that had shrunk to seven people and is situated in one of the toughest estates in London. Cris and his family moved to Tower Hamlets with the desire of restarting the church.

Five years later, the church is 160 people strong. He is an executive producer of Intersect: Where Your Story and God's Story Converge, a resource for those in the church to engage those who might not yet be ready to step foot inside its walls. Visit intersectseries.com for more information.

The Making of Intersect

In a small neighborhood in East London called Wanstead, there is a Starbucks. This Starbucks is just like all others. Same smell, same taste, the same menu that never seems to change no matter where you are in the world. A couple of us on our team used to make this Starbucks an office before we were able to get our own place.

After months of getting to know the staff, and letting them know we were up to in North East London, we began to develop a friendship with the manager. We learned that he was interested in opening up his Starbucks for events that would benefit both the community and his coffee shop. He made a generous offer for us to use the facility after hours, and our Awaken group jumped on the opportunity to see what could happen.

This birthed something called the Awaken Gathering. We had a vision for a gathering that would allow us to meet in a third space away from our local church, bless everyone with a free cup of coffee, and host discussion about spiritual things. And we had the perfect resource to pilot with this group.

Before our first Gathering, Rob Peabody had been working with a very talented designer and videographer, Andrew Shepherd, to create a series of videos that told stories abut life and faith. Over a couple of years, Rob had been meeting interesting people that had one thing in common: their lives were not perfect, but they met a perfect God. Or to put it another way: God had intersected their lives amidst a time of struggle, uncertainty, or pain.

These videos could probably stand alone as far as story and quality, but our team thought there was more to this project. Another Awaken teammate, Dave, and I were tasked with writing discussion questions for each video that could spur on conversation based on the theme of each video. We created a short list of questions that would lead people through the video and deeper into the themes, all with the hope that men and women could think through how the stories and themes related to their own life. We ask: How does this story intersect with your life today?

Along with a personal story about themes like disappointment, control, and trust, each video contains a story about God. The Bible is full of stories of real people with real problems. And while each story may be different, we read countless stories of how God comes to meet the characters where they are. This is the God of the Bible: a God who meets humans in their messes and offers love, hope, and redemption. The best news is that God offers the same thing to us here and now.

Because we believe in this God, we knew that it was worth sharing these videos and prompting spiritual discussions at our Awaken Gatherings. We met once a month on a Thursday evening, encouraged our group to invite friends, watched each video, and discussed each theme in small groups. The result was introspective thinking and conversation about Intersect’s main theme of exploring where our stories and God’s story converge.

We created these videos a resource with hopes that you can do something similar in your own community. So gather a few friends, watch the videos, speak openly and honest about your life, and see where God has been waiting to meet you. Or to put it simpler: get it and use it.

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Joel Peabody (@joelpeabody) is a staff team member at Awaken Movement UK. He currently lives in Wanstead, London, UK with his wife, Allison. His hobbies include music, golf, and writing.

The Power of Story

Everyone has a story.

Have you ever experienced something so hilarious, painful, or thoughtful, it was worth retelling?

We each have a personal story to share, an account to bring to the collective table. Maybe your story can serve as a warning to others or perhaps to encourage those around you. The truth to remember is we each have something to share. God has a great plan and purpose for each of us, and we need to be sharing it.

Each of our stories matter.

When we use our hardships, our trials, our perseverance to help one another God is glorified. We see this played out with the story of Joseph found in the book of Genesis. His brothers sold him into slavery and he ends up in prison on false charges. Joseph is eventually released from jail and serves as Pharaoh's right hand man. When he was finally reunited with his traitorous brothers he says the most amazing thing to them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

God used Joseph’s seemingly tragic story for good: the saving of a nation. Here’s the crazy thing, God wants to do the same with our personal stories. He can use our lives and experiences to redeem those around us.

Use your story to start a conversation.

It’s not enough to have a great experience and keep it to yourself. The power of your story comes in the sharing of it. Your story can be the starting point to someone’s spiritual journey. But let’s be honest, we all know starting spiritual conversations can be daunting. If you’re like me sometimes you just don’t even know where to begin. That is exactly why Intersect was created. It’s an easy-to-use film resource designed to help you start these conversations with your friends, co-workers, classmates, family members. Each short film in this series uses the power of a personal story to prompt a conversation on how we fit into God’s greater story.

So go ahead and gather some of your friends at the coffee shop or in your living room, pop this DVD in and discuss. Invite that co-worker who’s been asking you questions about your faith over for dinner and show them one of the short films and get the conversation started.

You might just be pleasantly surprised to discover that your stories, different as they may be, are pointing you in the same direction.

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Genie Uribe, originally from Miami, Fl., is the worship director of Awaken Movement UK. She loves her husband, David, and serving the church. She also drinks way too many lattes. You can find her pretty much anywhere on social media: @genieism