'Don’t only preach to the converted at Easter'
HOPE national director Roy Crowne is challenging churches to think differently about Easter ...
"Yes, it’s a time to reflect and to celebrate, but let’s not preach only to the converted," he says. "Easter is a major mission moment."
HOPE is working with churches across the spectrum of denominations to make Jesus known with words and action. HOPE 2018 will be a massive year of united mission, 10 years on from when it first launched with Hope08.
Groups of churches in villages, towns and cities are already signing up to say they are making plans for HOPE 2018 in their areas.
HOPE provides ideas and support to help churches make Jesus known. Easter resources, released earlier this year, have been produced in response to the Talking Jesus report which showed that less than half of the population believe in the resurrection.
Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf, one of HOPE’s leadership team and the National Mission and Evangelism Adviser for the Church of England, says, "We know that 43% of the population believe that Jesus rose from the dead. But they haven’t understood what that means for them – that they could live by that same power. Will you join HOPE in 2017 making this Easter Sunday a very special guest Sunday?
"Bring your friends and family and help them to understand that they are invited to live in the power of the resurrection.’
Who Do You Say I Am? – new book
HOPE’s Easter resources include a new book, a short video and an explorers’ course. The book, Who Do You Say I Am? is an illustrated paperback published by HOPE and Christian Vision in the same format as The Servant Queen and the King She Serves published for the Queen’s 90th birthday. More than one million copies of The Servant Queen have been given away by churches.
Who Do You Say I Am? has been written by Catherine Butcher and designed by Claire Simmons-Clark, two of the team who worked on the royal birthday book. It takes readers on a journey of discovery with interviews, testimonies and quotes from the eyewitness accounts in the Gospels.
An accompanying four-minute film explores the question Jesus asked 2,000 years ago: Who Do You Say I Am? and includes interviews with astrophysicist and theologian Revd Professor David Wilkinson, the new Principal of London School of Theology Revd Dr Calvin Samuel, and art historian Dr Helen Rufus-Ward, alongside footage shot in the Middle East in the places Jesus lived.
Produced by Christian Vision, the film can be downloaded from www.easterhope.org.uk for churches to use in Easter guest-services.
"Of course Easter isn’t the end of the story," says Roy Crowne. "We are hoping that this Easter will be the start of a journey for thousands of people as they get to know who Jesus is."
To help churches provide follow-up opportunities for people wanting to know more, HOPE is making three sessions from the Life Explored course available free to churches.
Life Explored is a seven-session series featuring a combination of short films shot around the world, produced by Christianity Explored Ministries. The series asks the question ‘What makes you happy?’ and points to Jesus as the one person who can satisfy our deepest desires for happiness.
Evangelist Rico Tice, associate minister of All Soul's Langham Place, London, who is part of the team behind the Life Explored course, says, "We are thrilled about the book – we are going to be using it. We will be inviting people to Easter services and when they come we are going to say 'Please come back. We are running a little series on how to be happy'."
Roy Crowne, adds: "Show the 4-minute film at your Easter guest service. Give Who Do You Say I Am? as a gift, then invite guests to the Life Explored course. Let’s be intentional about talking to people about Jesus this Easter. The dream is to see the Church grow as God opens doors for the Gospel message."