David Coleman shares how the Christian Enquiry Agency and Church Army are kicking off a year-long conversation about living hopefully
It was one of those conversations I just knew would lead to a bigger commitment, but something just told me it was an inspired concept – God was in it.
Gareth Squire, the Director of the Christian Enquiry Agency called me with an idea for building on the vision of the HOPE 2008 project with a website that would focus on those who don’t normally have any contact with church.
At its heart would be a website featuring five short films – each one released to coincide with one of the five highpoints of the Hope08 campaign. It would allow bloggers to have a year-long conversation about hope. It would offer free follow-up materials to enable people to take a step or two of faith in a culturally sensitive way. It would be a central place for the public to go to find out what Christian hope is all about – Jesus.
The Hope08 leadership team gave the project their blessing. CPO agreed to promote HopeInfo.co.uk on their merchandise. We found a film company that was committed to the venture and started to help broaden our horizons in terms of just what could be achieved.
Watering Can Media’s creative team of Nick Turner and Ben Harvey have a client list that includes Audi, O2, Vodafone and Channel Four and are both part of an evolving Christian community in Streatham.
Nick comments: “The aim for the first film, which launches on 1 December is to reflect people, voicing their hopes – some superficial and simple, others simply profound. The film will be set in the context of an everyday bus journey – as we tune into the thoughts of a character making a journey that contains a promise of fresh hope.
“From a creative perspective, being asked to make a series of films – whilst being given the creative freedom to see how the project develops – is simultaneously a daunting yet exhilarating prospect.”
The challenge now was to produce a website that would encourage people to explore hope and to take positive steps, however tentative, towards faith in Christ. An idea emerged for a sort of ‘one-stop hope shop’ with postal, SMS and e-mail contact options, free literature, contact with local Christians and links to other online steps of faith such as the rejesus.co.uk website.
The site is now up and running and offering more than we had originally envisaged. There is a six-week e-mail-based reflection series from author Bruce Stanley – Secrets of Hope – powered by Church Army’s Word on the Web. There are also links to excellent new resources such as Scripture Union’s Wise Traveller series. Site users can submit their own stories, pictures, messages and even films of hope – making for a genuine dialogue and interactive experience.
To kick-start the project, everyone in the UK who lives in a Hope Street has been invited to share with us their hopes for 2008 – and to so begin our year-long conversation with the country about hope.
Hope08 is all about churches working together up and down the country for a whole year – getting out into the community more, and communicating faith in word and action. Alongside that local contact, the HopeInfo.co.uk project will provide a national public face.
Gareth Squire explains: “HopeInfo.co.uk is a contemporary, central place of inspiration and information about the faith that drives Christians to serve their communities. It will give churches a website which they can use on all the materials they produce during the year – and somewhere to go for those that are curious about Hope ’08, but are perhaps not quite confident enough to go to a church event.”
Hopeinfo.co.uk is very much about starting where most people are, and not making assumptions about prior knowledge of the Christian faith or their attitude to Jesus. And just as important, it is about listening at least as much as it is about talking – we want this to be a dialogue, not a monologue, more of a chat than a sermon – as we engage them in a conversation about a practical, lived-out, faith-in-action hope.
Steve Clifford, Chair of Hope 2008, says: “Hope08 is so grateful to the Christian Enquiry Agency and to Church Army for rising to the challenge of providing a quality, credible site where those of no or little faith can explore Hope. It’s such a brilliant theme and we can, with confidence, direct people to this site so they have an opportunity to explore it.”
So will the project achieve what it is setting out to do? Well, CEA and Church Army believe a large part of the answer to that question lies with you and the churches you represent. Each of you can play your part in bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to others by praying for this project, by using the website on any outreach materials you develop for Hope08, and by sending in stories of hope that you can share as an encouragement to others.
Sign up for our special e-mail alerts and get blogging. We want to hear your views and comments about the films. Why not also show the films in church or as part of any evangelistic or outreach events you are planning?
GIVEAWAY – 10 Little Books of Hope
We have 10 copies of God’s Little Book of Hope to give away to Inspire readers. Please complete our e-mail coupon and send it to the address below by 11 January 2008.
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