Off to Soul Survivor or Greenbelt this summer? Look out for the free resources and ideas from the Church Army team who will also be there, says MARK RUSSELL, Church Army's Chief Executive
Following last year's successful fortnight at Soul Survivor, Church Army will be present again at the festival (11-20 August). I've been invited once again to lead seminars covering a variety of subjects, including: making your mark in school; holding it together after divorce, and what would Jesus do about my church.
As well as being a former youth leader, I am no stranger to some of the more difficult issues of Christian life – probably the main reason why Soul Survivor continue to ask me back! And if the seminars attract similar audiences to last year, then I'm confident that I will be directing hundreds of festival-goers to the Church Army exhibition stand, where they can learn more about our work.
This brings me neatly to the events team – led by Communications Officer Bex Morton – who will be present at our stand throughout the two weeks at Shepton Mallet, Somerset.
Our team contains some of the most dedicated young people Church Army has ever used to promote its public image. Thanks to them, we were able to engage in hundreds of conversations with young people in 2009, and give out free resources (including over 300 copies of Inspire) to a wide audience of churchgoers.
However, the highlight for the events team last summer was signing up more than 1,000 people to the Make Jesus Famous website www.makejesusfamous.org.uk).
This year we aim to sign up more members so that they can upload ideas and information about how to share faith in ever more imaginative ways. There will also be the opportunity for new members to have their photos taken, which will be displayed at our stand – a very popular activity last year.
We will also be promoting our newest internet resource, Now a Christian (www.nowachristian.org) which you may have read about in the January issue of Inspire. This free, e-mail-based course has already attracted over 700 people who want to explore what it means to follow Jesus, and we aim to demonstrate to festival-goers that this website can help them significantly in their faith journeys.
Furthermore, we also want to get young Christians' views on evangelism – and the Church in general, and will be handing out surveys at festivals to that end.
Church Army will also return to the Greenbelt festival at Cheltenham over the August Bank Holiday weekend along with these interactive resources, films, giveaways, and advice on how to make evangelism a bigger part of your life.
At both festivals, members of our Xplore global gap year will be on hand to talk about experiences they have had working alongside Church Army Evangelists around the world, and to encourage 18 to 25-year-olds to consider this unique experience.
Those who are exploring the possibility of becoming full-time evangelists will be able to discuss how Church Army approaches the business of training and equipping people to do so. Our Mission-based Training programme is fully established, and evangelists like Graham Nunn have a wealth of experience which they can share.
Graham will also be demonstrating his skills as a magician at Greenbelt, and Joe Ardern of Xplore has promised us some stand-up comedy! To complete the picture, we have Jenny Richardson and Steve Hollinghurst running the Open Space interactive workshops for pioneers creating Christian communities, and Peter Graystone speaking on the subject of 'Middle EastEnders: the Bible as a soap opera'.
So, if you are attending either event, expect to find a warm welcome at the Church Army stand: in the ToolShed building at Soul Survivor, and the G-Source tent at Greenbelt.
Come and see us for a chat, free resources or a little bit of magic – just be prepared to have your photo taken!
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