Five things I learned from Movement Day UK
I walked into Methodist Central Hall on Friday, wondering whether I’d walk out later genuinely sensing God on the move, writes Russ Bravo ...
Big gatherings of Christian leaders and activists can be an odd mix: invigorating, yet exhausting, inspirational yet sometimes intimidating, enlightening yet sometimes baffling.
There was, thankfully, something really rooted and authentic about what I heard, saw and experienced from those taking part, and it was heartening to see. I wasn’t able to stay for the evening or the Saturday programme, but there was more than enough to think through and process from what I did experience.
Roger Sutton, writing in the programme welcome letter, outlined the common vision of the Movement Day leaders and partners as “a passion to see our places transformed in every area of culture”. And that could only happen through “spiritual, cultural and social change”.
Here’s what I took away from this exciting two-day programme, bringing together Christians working for the transformation of their communities, fuelled by their faith in Jesus:
1 God’s already at work in the margins
So many of those who spoke combined a big vision for the transformation of society with passion for their local community. Grand dreams are exciting, but ultimately how do each of us love our neighbour? So it was thrilling to hear Letitia Shelton from City Women in Australia talk about their work with women and girls in the sex industry, and the awesome plan to see Toowoomba the first ‘porn free’ city in the world, working alongside local authorities.
Jayakumar Christian from World Vision brought insights from their work in India, emphasising God’s work on the edges of society. Find out what God is already doing, and join in.
We are called to the poor and rejected, and so much of God on the move seems to happen there: refugees, asylum seekers, in prisons, among those in desperate need.
2 Working together is absolutely key
Jesus prayed that the Church may be one, and the influence and effectiveness of God’s people seems to be multiplied many times over when there is genuine, sacrificial unity, built on relationship and partnership. It means a powerful strategy can be developed that really begins to make a difference. Different gifts and skills are contributed to bring harmony and richness, just as different instruments blend in an orchestra to produce something none could do by themselves.
Loads of tools are available through organisations like Cinnamon Network, Evangelical Alliance and others, that can help churches assess the needs in their communities, access some funding, and learn from others’ experience. And there is clear evidence available of the difference this is making at local level.
3 Rediscovering the lost art of listening
You know that awkward experience at a party, a meeting of church leaders or a big church gathering, where you’re talking to someone and sense them half-listening but really looking around over your shoulder to see if there’s someone more interesting/important they’d rather talk to? I didn’t experience that at Movement Day – and I hope that was more than just good fortune on who I spoke to.
So many groups within our neighbourhoods have no voice. And they desperately need to be listened to. It’s my prayer that fresh movements of believers will spring up prepared to spend time listening and understanding, before leaping into action. Transformation happens when roots are put down deep (see the parable of the sower).
4 Holistic mission has to encourage and release creativity
One striking element of the programme at Movement Day was the artistic components given space to breathe. Yes, there was joyful and enthusiastic worship, but there was also a powerful excerpt from new musical Heaven and Earth, a breathtaking classic piano performance from Gracie Yeo, a heartfelt song from Andy Flannagan, uplifting poetry from Gerard Kelly, dance performances, a gospel choir and more.
Made in the image of the Creator, we should be the most creative people on earth! And one of the most engaging ways of bringing cultural change and transformation is through the arts and creative disciplines.
5 Prayer is fundamental
On Friday, hundreds gathered in Parliament Square to pray for unity in the Church, unity in the nation and for the blessing of the nations. Before we act, we need to pray. While we’re busy ‘doing’, we need to pray. Once we’re done, we need to pray. As well as listening to God’s voice, and offering every part of our activity to him, prayer knits us together with those we pray with. So it has a key role to play in building relationships, and developing unity of heart and mind.
There’s so much more that could be said, and I’ve just skimmed the surface.
Do comment or email me with your thoughts – and we’d love to hear more stories of how you are engaging with your communities and seeing transformation. God is on the move.