At Knaphill this Sunday we shall hold our usual all age worship parade service for Remembrance Sunday. Our Bible text is Micah 4:1-5, especially the famous words in verse 3, ‘They will beat their swords into ploughshares’.
With that in mind, we are using the video below, which has connections with Christian Aid, and which we found through Barnabas In Churches. It tells a remarkable story of putting this Bible verse into practice in a creative way in Mozambique. Watch and be moved.
My six-year-old son Mark has an ambition in life. At one stage, he wanted to be a famous author. At other times, he has quite fancied being a professional footballer, helping Tottenham Hotspur thrash Arsenal.
But his abiding ambition is even more noble. He wants ‘to save Africa’. In his simple analysis, he wants to open supermarkets across Africa, so that people can buy enough food to live. When faced with the question, “Where will they get the money?” he has a simple reply: “I’ll build money shops as well.”
Sorted. Now take over 10 and 11 Downing Street, Mark. You can do it.
I thought I’d encourage his thinking about world issues. You can’t start them too young when they already care about the poor, can you? So Mark and I set about this afternoon going around the websites of various Christian relief and development agencies, in search of suitable resources to stimulate his interest.
We gathered only slightly more than zilch.
World Vision, nothing. Christian Aid, zero. Methodist Relief and Development Fund, nada. Compassion, you can sponsor a child but I couldn’t find anything for children who are interested in their projects. Nil points.
Only TEAR Fund had anything, and it wasn’t much. It took some devious searching to find a page of ‘children’s resources’, and it hadn’t been updated since 23rd June. All of these organisations had plenty for teenagers. Apparently, you only care when you get into the church youth group.
So come on, Christian relief and development charities, where is your material to inspire primary age children? Mark and Rebekah’s school supports a charity working in Uganda, Chilli Children. Is it that you have resources but they are buried under centuries of rubble on your sites? Or don’t you think six-year-olds know that Jesus cares about the poor?
Maybe someone reading this can point me to what I’ve missed, because Mark and I would dearly like to find some good Christian educational material for primary-age children. It must be there, but where is it?
UPDATE: following a conversation on Facebook, I have now been made aware that the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (possibly the smallest of the agencies I mentioned, except for Chilli Children) has a sister site, World AIMS. I found this site earlier, but was put off by the specific reference to Methodist schools (many of which are fee-paying). However, if you click on ‘Resources’, you can find various items of educational material, classified according to Key Stage. (For non-Brits reading this, the Key Stages are used in the British education system, and roughly correspond as follows: KS1 is ages 5 to 7; KS2, ages 7 to 11; KS3, ages 11 to 14; KS4, ages 14 to 16.) It could be easier to find, and the name of the website put me off the scent.
Here are some of the destinations where I stopped on this week’s digital travels.
The ten worst predictions of 2008 (an American flavour, but not exclusively so).
What are they playing at? Westminster Abbey adds Hindu snowmen to Christmas displays.
In a week when we face the lousy possibility of a sickly version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ becoming the Christmas number one thanks to the X Factor, the first winner of that show, Steve Brookstein, says this:
Simon Cowell bought the rights to Christmas. From now on it’s called X-mas.
Heaven help us all.
Here are some more places I stopped on my electronic travels this week. Several of these links come from Leadership Journal, because I’ve been catching up on a few weeks’ worth of the Leadership Weekly email they send out over the last couple of days.
Some pictures from the Hubble telescope. Get beyond the first few and you’ll see some amazing ones. I’ve just made the image of the Sombrero Galaxy my desktop background.
Take seven minutes and forty seconds of your time to listen to Archbishop John Sentamu speak on the Advent theme of waiting.
A moving description of happiness from Ben Witherington III.
In Bedside Manner, Matt Lumpkin offers advice on caring for the sick and for yourself during pastoral visiting in hospital.
David Keen looks at Back To Church Sunday and considers what proportion of the population is open to evangelism of a ‘come to us’ approach, compared with the need for a ‘missional’ strategy. (Via blogs4god.)
Coming and going is an interview that contrasts the attractional and missional approaches to evangelism and church. In the attractional corner, Ed Young, ‘the dude with the food’, ‘the worship event is the port of entry to the church’, ‘I believe God gives one person the vision – the pastor.’ In the missional corner, Neil Cole, ‘Using traditional [church] planting methods, it would cost $80 billion to reach Atlanta’, ‘Three things deter spontaneous multiplication: buildings, budgets, and big shots’, ‘We have to think in terms of mobilizing the kingdom to go where people are. Too many Christians are passive and unengaged.’
Walt Kallestad gave up on attractional with the big show and transitioned to a discipleship model.
On the other hand, Dan Kimball (of all people) has expressed missional misgivings and particularly urged missional churches not to criticise attractional congregations.
According to Christian Aid, ethical giving hasn’t been hit by the credit crunch.
Also on the credit crunch, Gordon Macdonald says this is no time to cower for the Christian church. His fifth and sixth ideas sound very close to what many ‘missional’ Christians have been advocating.
Think tank Theos has published research showing that one in three Britons believes in the virgin birth. Of course, just believing a doctrine isn’t enough …
Communion wine from Bethlehem is being stopped at checkpoints by Israeli soldiers who deem it – wait for it – a security risk.