Monthly Archives: June 2010

Who or what was most influential in you becoming a Christian?

We recently asked 80 church members what or who was most influential in their becoming a Christian. Here are the survey results:

1. Parents  27%
2. Relative or Friend 23%
3. Youth Leader 6%
3. Youth Camp 6%
3. Bible reading 6%
3. Alpha/Christianity Explored 6%
4. Pastor 5%
5. Sunday School Teacher 4%
5. Dream or Revelation 4%
5. Christian book 4%
6. Church Service 1%
7. Mission 0%
8. Evangelist 0%

Half of all those surveyed, said that a relative or friend was most influential with parents comprising the largest category. Next in significance, 10% attributed their conversion to a youth leader or youth camp.

In total,  church based staff, programmes and events, accounted for only around 20%.

What does this tell us? That special evangelistic events are at best a means by which Christians can introduce family and friends to Jesus, but they are no substitute for genuine friendship and trust. Humbling statistics for professional clergy and evangelists.

Our own statistics corroborate those found in other surveys. See this article from the US based National Network of Youthworkers

Leadership Journal also recently published the findings of a survey of 750 Muslims who converted to Christianity. The survey revealed the five predominant reasons they chose to follow Christ.

  1. The lifestyle of Christians. Former Muslims cited the love that Christians exhibited in their relationships with non-Christians and their treatment of women as equals.
  2. The power of God in answered prayers and healing. Experiences of God’s supernatural work—especially important to folk Muslims who have a characteristic concern for power and blessings—increased after their conversions, according to the survey. Often dreams about Jesus were reported.
  3. Dissatisfaction with the type of Islam they had experienced. Many expressed dissatisfaction with the Qur’an, emphasizing God’s punishment over his love. Others cited Islamic militancy and the failure of Islamic law to transform society.
  4. The spiritual truth in the Bible. Muslims are generally taught that the Torah, Psalms, and the Gospels are from God, but that they became corrupted. These Christian converts said, however, that the truth of God found in Scripture became compelling for them and key to their understanding of God’s character.
  5. Biblical teachings about the love of God. In the Qur’an, God’s love is conditional, but God’s love for all people was especially eye-opening for Muslims. These converts were moved by the love expressed through the life and teachings of Jesus. The next step for many Muslims was to become part of a fellowship of loving Christians.

The respondents were from 30 countries and 50 ethnic groups. The survey was prepared at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of Intercultural Studies, and reported in Christianity Today.

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How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit

Filled with the Holy Spirit from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students shared a story of what had happened to his son. Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, “Do you think they’ll let me play?” Shay’s father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

Shay’s father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, “We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.”

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Our Secure Refuge in the Face of Evil

Our Secure Refuge from Evil from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy was in London on Friday.  He came to make a programme for the BBC. It was to mark the 70th anniversary of another BBC programme made for France by Charles de Gaulle on the 18th June 1940. The general had fled his country the day before as a new administration, headed by Philippe Petain, sought an armistice with Hitler. In the stirring radio appeal Gen de Gaulle declared himself leader of the “Free French”, spawning the French Resistance, which went on to play a crucial role in defeating the Germans. He told his nation that “the flame of the French resistance must not and will not be extinguished”.  Posters displaying his words were put up all over London in the days that followed the broadcast, to galvanise French exiles.

Although it may seem hard at times to believe it, we are at war.

We are part of the resistance against the evil powers at work in our world. That is one of the reasons we meet every Sunday – to train and prepare ourselves for battle. This morning Archbishop Edmund from Kebbi in Nigeria described the very real war going on there between the Christian south and Muslim north. It is a conflict being played out in a number of African countries. But we make a profound error of the first order if we equate this as a war between religions or peoples. In Toronto recently I gave a presentation on the Christian Jihad at a conference of evangelical and Muslim leaders. Jihad is translated in English as “Holy War”. It literally means “struggle”.  In the New Testament, the language of conflict and warfare is used to describe the struggle Christians face in living the holy life as God intends.  In the first instance, the ‘Holy War” or struggle faced is internal not external. It is personal and not political.  The apostle Paul’s two letters to a young disciple called Timothy provide a fascinating insight into Christian jihad as Paul employs the metaphor of the ‘soldier’ to describe the Christ follower. Here are the verses:

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs; rather, they try to please their commanding officer.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

Toward the end of his life the apostle Paul couple look back confidently and say, past tense,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)

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You were created to become like Jesus Christ

You were created to become like Jesus Christ from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

When you were young, who were your heroes? Who did you want to become? Who did you pretend to be? Whose posters did you have on your bedroom wall? My first recollection was wanting to be the Lone Ranger. Then it was Scott Tracy of Thunderbirds.

Then it was David McCullum as the Man from UNCLE. Then I finally grew up, and simply wanted to be James Bond.  What about pop stars? Who did you idolise? While my mother probably wanted me to grow up to be like Cliff Richard, I wanted to be Paul McCartney of the Beatles. But, strumming a tennis racket and growing my hair long didn’t make me a rock star. In the 1970’s I graduated to the Beach Boys and made myself a full sized surfboard at school.

The problem was it didn’t float… In the 1980’s when Steve Ovette and Sebastian Coe were competing for an Olympic place, I bought myself a tracksuit and went through a jogging phase but it didn’t last more than a fortnight. In the 1990’s when Tiger Wood was winning every golf tournament, I bought myself a new cap and putter to try and improve my game, but it hasn’t worked, yet. Aspiring to be like someone else is natural. Whether it’s a positive or negative role model seems to depend on whether you are a parent or a child.

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Archbishop Edmund Akanya

Archbishop Edmund Akanya from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Archbishop Edmund visited Virginia Water yesterday. He serves in the Anglican Diocese of Kebbi in Nigeria. In this interview he speaks about some of the challenges the church faces in northern Nigeria today.

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How to Divorce Proof a Marriage

How to Divorce Proof a Marriage from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Today we are going to talk about marriage. If you are married I hope you can take away at least one practical insight that will improve your relationship. If you are single, save this for the future, or it may just give you good reason for staying single. Seriously, apart from your relationship with God, nothing on earth is better than a good marriage.

On the other hand, nothing on earth is worse than a bad marriage. Unfortunately, over half of all marriages today end up in the latter category. Now it may surprise you to learn that Joanna and I do not have a perfect marriage. That’s largely down to me. I am therefore not presuming to be your guide to finding a heavenly marriage this morning, but I know someone who can. Probably like yours and mine, Solomon and his wife went through bad spells in their marriage.

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World Vision International

Dave Robinson – World Vision from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Dave Robinson is Senior Advisor for Global Operations at World Vision International.

He joined us at Christ Church last Sunday and I interviewed him about World Vision and his role.

For more information see wvi.org

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Finding Jesus on the Internet

Jesus.net is an exciting ministry presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ via the internet in many different languages.

The website for seekers is called KnowingGod.net. The site for new believers is called WhyJesus? To find out more about getting involved, see  WhyJesus?

There’s even a Christian search engine.

I interviewed Dr David Nolent, Director for Evangelism for Jesus.net at the SzukajacBoga conference, in Poland in May 2010.

David Nolent explains about Jesus.net from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Jesus.net has been translated into numerous languages:

French topchretien.com
Polish szukajacboga.jesus.net
Hebrew whyGod.co.il
Arabic MaarifatAllah.com
Chinese RenshiShen.Jesus.net

In this short presentation David Nolent talks about e-coaching:

David Nolent and e-coaching from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

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Christianity Explored in Poland

Christianity Explored Update from Rico Tice from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

A series of videos recorded at the Orle Gniazdo Conference Centre near Beilsko Bala in Southern Poland during a training conference for church leaders. At the SzukajacBoga conference, Rico Tice launched the Polish edition of Christianity Explored. For more information on the Polish ministry see szukajacboga.jesus.net/

Rico Tice Launches Christianity Explored in Polish from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Rico Tice on One to One Evangelism from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Rico Tice on a Biblical Strategy for Evangelism from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

The Identity, Mission and Call of Jesus from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Szukajacboga Christianity Explored from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

The first time I visited Poland was in 1977. As a young missionary with Campus Crusade, I went to help evangelise and disciple young people through the Oaza movement (Light and Life) within the Roman Catholic church. But I was arrested within minutes of entering the country. It was dawn and as we were leaving the station at the border crossing with Czechoslovakia, I saw a beautiful steam engine. The rays of sunshine were piercing the clouds of steam. But as I extended my camera out of the open window to capture the picture, I was seen. There was a loud whistle. The train screeched to a halt. It reversed back into the station. On rushed the guards. They entered our compartment, took my passport and camera, removed the film and exposed it. I got off with a warning but it fuelled my passion to take photos of Polish trains (I took some last weekend too). The venue for that project was Beilsko Bala in Southern Poland, the very location for the launch of Christianity Explored in polish. The following year (1978) I returned for the Summer to help with the Oaza camps which by then involved thousands of young people right across Poland.

In 1984 when a curate in St Leonards, Poland came under Russian martial law. Conditions were bleak and so six of us drove three trucks of medical supplies, food and clothing to Poland via West and East Germany for distribution through churches like St Stephen’s Katowice. On that occasion we were kicked out of the country (thankfully on the way home) for not having had our documentation correctly stamped by the authorities. They thought we were working with Solidarity.

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