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Wembley beckons – 15 years on since Champion of the World

Is it really 15 years since Champion of the World saw 45,000 pray and worship in the old Wembley Stadium? This September it's time to return ...

In this big, big year for the UK and the UK Church, it's exciting to see things coming together for a National Day of Prayer at Wembley Stadium on 29 September.

Those of us who were at Champion of the World back in 1997 had great hopes for spiritual breakthroughs, a wave of revival to sweep the nation and the churches to gain new confidence in sharing God's love with our broken world.

Fifteen years on, we're in a very different place.

We've had 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings. We've had British troops involved in controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've got a UK Church that has continued to decline numerically. A broken society is still broken.

Yet, there are signs of hope that have emerged and grown since 1997. Little embers, flickering, that need to be fanned into flame.

- The growth and influence of the black majority churches

- 24/7 prayer and a creative and influential prayer movement

- Fresh Expressions, cafe church and a host of other imaginative ways of seeking to re-do church in a way that makes sense today and sees the unreached reached

- Movements that encourage partnership and change like Hope 08/Hope together, Redeeming Our Communities, The Message Trust, XLP and many others

- Alpha, Christianity Explored, Emmaus, the Y Course, and a host of other approaches have provided valid and life-giving ways in to the Christian faith for thousands

- signs of young generations with a radical heart for social justice and faith that changes things

A very different crowd from a much more diverse Church will gather on 29 September. Imperfect, yes. Idealistic, certainly. Expectant, hopefully.

God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. And whether we fill Wembley or not, whether our expectation is realistic or not, our hope is in God's plan for his world.

Not how many flags we wave.


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