Thank You Jesus

#FF – Dave Kraft

I decided to take the week-end Twitter trend Follow Friday and extend it to the blog, posting some spotlights and links to some of the stuff I read on my Flipboard app. There’ll be a mix covering church & ministry, art & design blogs, media & marketing, music & skateboarding, and maybe the odd travel blog or Apple log.

Dave Kraft is a 71-year old leader who has lasted the distance, spending around 40 years in leadership and on mission with the Navigators and currently on team at Mars Hill Church, Seattle, where he works with training and developing younger leaders. As you’ve probably seen on the blog before, I’ve appreciated his book Leaders Who Last a lot over the last year or two, and our whole Core Team at New Generation have found his insights and teaching to be really helpful on our own journey as individuals leaders and a leadership team. It’s not often you can find someone who’s really run the race well over the long haul and who is primarily devoted to investing that experience into younger up-and-comers, which I guess is why I try to get my hands on everything and anything Dave produces. So, just in case you’ve missed it, you can visit his blog at davekraft.squarespace.com and send him an email if you’ve got questions, he’s happy to send through material and further reading when he’s got stuff.

Esther’s Epic Bible Project

A couple of months ago we got word that 18-year old Esther from Southport wanted to hand out Bibles to every single student in her College this Easter, and that she was working out ways of raising money to make it work. Now, we could stop right there and the story would worth telling…a young Christian decides to give of her own time, prayers, and MONEY (!) so that all her peers in college can have access to the word of God. Amazing!

But that’s not it…shortly after we found out how many people actually go to her college, and realised she wouldn’t just need a few hundred of the NTs (which, again, would still be a story worth telling), but that she was going to need 1700 of the things! That led to some quick sums on a calculator and the realisation that she would need to raise £4250 to be able to pull the project off! FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY pounds! In a couple of months! On her own! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

We all admired her optimism and started to pray, but £4250 in a couple of months. Really?!

Well, those months have now passed and the day has arrived, and this morning, a few of our Teamers piled the Bibles (all 1700 of them!) and themselves into a couple of cars and left for Southport, where they’re currently attaching notes and ribbons, highlighting verses, and helping Esther get ready for the mammoth mass-distribution. One of our Teamers sent through the above picture just a few minutes ago, and I just had to post it.

So far around 350 thousand of these NTs have been produced in 8 languages and handed out in over 10 countries by young people like Esther, but to my knowledge, this is the biggest 1-person Bible Project in NG history, and it deserves a shoutout. What’s more, Esther even wants to raise another £750 so she can give 300 more of the things to all the staff and teachers at her college, totalling £5000 worth of fundraising, all on her own. If you want to make a donation and help her hit the 5K, send me an email at brad@newgeneration.co.uk, and please say a prayer for her as she puts her faith on the line and opens herself up for potential mockery and critique from people in the college, and pray that every Bible achieves what God intended and that people can meet Jesus through it’s pages.

To get some Bibles for your school, college or uni, go to our Everyone Needs a Bible site.

The Doctrine Discourse

A couple of months ago my virtual blog buddy Jon over the Atlantic came up with an idea. He suggested we get together and read through Gerry Breshears and Mark Driscoll’s co-authored book, cockily titled Doctrine – What Christians Should Believe (in true Driscollesque fashion), and then discuss what we’ve read chapter by chapter on the blog. Last month he kicked the conversation off with the first chapter on Trinity and Community. This month it was my turn with The Doctrine of Revelation and The Word. Whether you dig Driscoll or not, and whether you’ve read the book or not, why not stop by and join in with some comments and let us know what you think over at www.reflectivemusings.com?

What If?

If you’ve missed our latest magazine then make sure to check out the online version here. The theme this issue is “What If?” …based around a talk I did a while back and some ideas that have been circulating my head and the NG office over the last few months. As usual, it’s packed full of ideas, stories, tips and resource spotlights…and the graphics are pretty smooth too. The Team have done a really good job on pulling the content together, and I think that along with our other 2 issues so far this year, this magazine is amongst our best. To make sure you get a copy in your letter box next time around, log onto www.newgeneration.co.uk and register as a member, or even better, a Supporter, and we’ll post one out free of charge every time we release a new issue. No brainer!

Interview with Dave Kraft

If you’ve been on the blog before, you’ll know I love Dave Kraft’s book Leaders Who Last. We’re currently working through it with our Core Team at New Generation, and it’s sparked some great conversations and helped all of us with our personal leadership development, particularly when it comes to character and the essence of the leader himself. The Resurgence just posted a short interview with Dave, and it’s nice to see him on camera and catch some insights on leadership and management.

To see the interview click here.

God + Money

I found this in an old journal the other day…

On the 4th of April 2002 I asked God for money whilst on a break at Bible School. Less than 5 minutes later I returned to my chair only to find an envelope that said “To Brad, I love you in Christ, be blessed”. Inside was 150 SEK.

It may seem like a small amount or a petty answer to prayer, but over the course of that year, I was given a total of 20K SEK, and 50 036K the year before. That’s about £6500 in 2 years.

It got me thinking about my level of expectation. I remember that back then, as a relatively new Christian, I was naively expectant that God would simply take care of me when I quit my well-paying job and left my cheap apartment in Örebro to move cities and attend Bible school for 2 years. I really felt that God had called me to make the move, and figured he’d foot the bill too. But it’s so easy to move on from this sort of simple trust and start to take everything into your own hands, in an attempt to take responsibility and move towards maturity, and those are things I still strive for and will continue to stand by, but a story like this stirs me to believe God for the unexpected again, and to both challenge my own level of generosity towards others and trust in God’s provision for me.

Right now we’re seeing some amazing growth at New Generation UK, with 2 new bases running this year and more people engaging with our online resources, our training days, bringing us to youth groups and conferences to deliver content and turning to us for help in starting CUs and school groups. We feel God’s urging us to respond and to give them everything we’ve got, and to trust him for provision, but we’re splitting at the seams and struggling to go beyond 350 schools simply due to finance for travel costs and resources. This is why we’ve launched our Change a School for a Fiver campaign, and whilst we’re working hard to find other avenues of income, individual sponsors are invaluable as a source of support for us, and I’m asking any of you who feel compelled to give towards the work we’re doing. We really believe it’s good soil, and we hear stories every week about young people who have been impacted by our organisation. If you think you can give to a good cause, be it a one-off sum or a monthly standing order of just £5, all contributions are hugely appreciated and will make a massive difference.

Click here for more info.

Thanks.

Back to Church(?)

The other week I started on a series I’m doing over the next weeks (and possibly months) on perceptions of the Church outside of its walls. The idea is to focus on young people, and my motivation comes mainly from stats and surveys that point to an under 30s exodus from the Church over recent years/decades.

I’ve had some great input and ideas, comments and conversations on the subject with people both in person and online, and have put together a few questions I plan to pose to some passers by downtown sometime soon in search of some fresh perspectives and perhaps some pointers to help us hold up that mirror and see where the spots are.

Before I do that, I thought I’d post an article that puts another slant on the stats and doomsday declarations that church and young people are soon to be no more, found over at the Gospel Coalition…a site that’s certainly been getting it’s fair share of hits over the last week, but we’ll leave that for another post.

Let’s hope that they’re right about this one at least…

Beware of the Over-Hyped Stat

World Book Day One Week Away

World Book Day is just one week away. That means in one week we have a great opportunity to talk about the world’s most-read book: the Bible. If you need another excuse, it’s also the 400th anniversary since the first official translation of the Bible in English was published.

To celebrate the occasion(s) Sara and I plan to head down to Birmingham city/university and see if we can turn a few heads and have some conversations with downtowners and students. We’ll have a pile of New Generation NTs with us to give away to anyone interested, and are hoping for some good convo.

We’re also hoping to see a lot of young people handing out Bibles, doing assemblies and having conversations in school next Thursday too, and have created a Facebook group to get the word out. Just this afternoon we had orders come through for 101 (!) Bibles, and there’s a girl in Southport currently saving up £5000 to get 2000 (!!!) for her college. P-retty incredible!

Here’s a few links to Bible-y stuff for those interested:

  1. Everyone Needs a Bible
  2. iPad/iPhone ESV+
  3. Biblefresh
  4. Trusted
  5. NT Cash

Basic/What’s Up With Francis Chan?

Wherever I turn right now it seems Francis Chan is there.

The same Francis Chan that stepped down from the senior pastor role at his church Cornerstone some time back because he was tired of being “caught up in keeping the machine running” and didn’t recognise his church and his church members’ walk when reading about Jesus and his followers in Scripture.

Ironic that the guy who “walked away from it all” partly due to fear of his own affection for affirmation and popularity now seems even more popular than before. Also ironic that the guy who “walked off his own megachurch stage in search of something smaller and simpler” is not only getting interviews and press coverage left, right and centre, but also strutting his stuff on stage at Catalyst and being given a go at John Piper’s Desiring God gig a few weeks back. No wonder people can’t figure the guy out! No wonder he’s being labelled a little OTT, or in some cases, just downright crazy.

But then that’s the beauty of it…

Hearing Francis lay out his own thoughts and his agenda (or lack thereof) on the Neue podcast over the last couple of weeks fills me with a deep respect for the guy’s authenticity, honesty, and transparency. Sure, he doesn’t have it all nailed out…but then that’s his own point. He’s still figuring it out…and he’s not doing what he’s doing primarily to point the finger at “the establishment”, or because he’s discovered the key to a better way, but as a means of making space and stripping things back in hope of finding that way himself.

Sure, he’s a little nuts…but he’s an inspiration, and his actions, whilst somewhat “irresponsible and irrational” to some, are at the same time a huge thought-provoker for the institutionalised church, particularly in the pretty comfortable confines of the US.

So, whilst nobody really knows what’s up with Francis and where he’s going, one thing I’m grateful for is the film project he’s put together with the Flannel guys, of Nooma fame. Flannel and Fran have teamed up to make a 7-part series of 15 minute films called Basic, and the 2 videos released to date are both visually breathtaking and weighty in content.

The first three videos are on fearing God, following Jesus and rediscovering the Holy Spirit. The next four will be on the primary pillars of the early church as seen in Acts 2: teaching, prayer, communion and fellowship. Really looking forward to seeing the rest of the series as they’re released one by one, and highly recommend the two that are out to anyone looking for a good resource for use in small groups, youth meetings, services and the like. They’re pretty good for simply watching at home alone too for that matter…I’ve come away moved, inspired and challenged to strip it back to basics, starting with a renewed awareness of the need to truly Fear God.

http://basicseries.com/