This month (January) sees the launch of Church Army’s free website www.nowachristian.org to help and excite Christians as they begin their adventure with God. RICHARD CHAMBERS talks to its creators – Evangelist Neil Thomson and writer Peter Graystone
Richard: What is Now A Christian?
Neil: An e-mail-based programme to help new Christians explore the implications and understand the delights and complexities of what it is to follow Christ. The website backs this up with activities that allow the user to interact with fellow travellers on this journey.
Peter: Now A Christian is a website for people who have made a decision to follow Jesus, even if it is a tentative one and are asking the question: "What next?" It helps those who are taking the first step of a long journey and are looking for a signpost.
What are the reasons for creating this website?
Neil: Now A Christian builds on the successful New to Christianity programme that Church Army ran for nine years as part of Word on the Web. It is the latest of our growing online ministries and combines e-mail with website content.
It recognises that not every new Christian is ready to join a group or undertake an Alpha course until they have explored a little more about their new faith for themselves, in a safe and non-threatening way.
Peter: There are plenty of courses and resources for people who want to investigate Christianity and the claims made about Jesus Christ. But there is not much to help them with the next step once their journey of faith has started.
Now A Christian helps people who are embracing a new way of life, but want to think about how that works in practice.
How does the website work?
Neil: On day four of each week, there will be a link in the e-mail to relevant material on the website. Visually, Now A Christian takes you on a journey through a city where you can post questions, get rid of 'rubbish' in your life, switch lights on in a building and, in week five, grow a tree from a seed!
Peter: Now A Christian provides a series of very short e-mails, one per day for five weeks. The e-mails deal with everyday concerns about living out the Christian faith and include some really encouraging verses in the Bible.
The most enjoyable part of it is an interactive virtual landscape, where people can record their thoughts in response to the daily e-mails, and find out what other people who are using the scheme are thinking.
What subjects does it deal with?
Neil: The subject headings include "Giving God a chance" and "Making the most of faith". This will encourage discussion as to what a Christian can do as part of their discipleship, but also get to grips with why bad things happen in God's world.
The idea is to enable a Christian to investigate the challenges they face, learn from others' struggles and opinions, and ask important questions without fear of embarrassment.
Peter: I have tried to write about what new Christians really want to know (rather than what experienced Christians think they ought to be told). So it starts with questions like: “Does this mean I will never have sex or swear again?”
It helps you know what to do if you go to a church service and haven’t got a clue what they are going on about, and whether praying works, and what communion is for, and so on.
Why did you choose the name Now A Christian?
Neil: [It] could be a declaration of new-found faith, or it could pinpoint someone's uncertainty about what they believe. It's for the new Christian exploring the idea of confirmation, the Christian struggling with his or her faith, and a resource that Shareit readers can recommend to their grandchildren, or a tool for youth workers and church in general.
Peter: If you type "I am now a Christian" into Google, you will go straight there! We hope that Now a Christian will allow God to take hold of people’s lives and make a practical difference.
I want people to be glad to be alive because they are following Jesus – happier, more fulfilled people who can’t stop themselves telling others about it.
This article was first published in Shareit! magazine, Winter 2009
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