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Subversive Urban Prophets Speaking of God authentic(?

Spring 2013

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From the Principal

The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)*


The drop in the number of people self-identifying as Christians in the recent UK census could hardly be defined as breaking news. Perceptions about the decline in church attendance across the UK, and ideas about what to do about it, seem to be discussed at length (and at times ad nauseum) whenever Christian leaders get together. The media profiles of the latest crop of cultured despisers of Christianity (from Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to Terry Pratchett and Stephen Fry), the broadcast on BBC2 of Jerry Springer, The Opera despite protests from Christian groups, the disciplining of Christians in workplaces for wearing Christian symbols or for refusing to act against their conscience, the current debates about and plans for the legalising of gay marriage across the UK - these and other trends and events have combined to create the impression that Christians are increasingly excluded from the mainstream of our culture and society. It is tempting to become despondent or aggressive in response to these changes, which reflect the loss of the privileging of Christianity in our society, and which is now considered just one worldview among many. But perhaps this is nothing new? Robert Walker, a minister in the Church of Scotland, wrote, The power of godliness has declined and languished, until a cold formality has at length given way to the open profession of unbelief itself, an opinion which, if it were not for the archaic language, might be said to describe Scotland in the last 50 years. Except that it was published in a book of sermons published in 1796! Minority status is the norm for most Christians in the world today, as it was in the New Testament and the early church. I recently visited the Institut Biblique de Nogent in Paris; while giving a lecture there I observed that while evangelicals in Roman Catholic contexts have always been on the margins, evangelicals in Protestant contexts are having to get used to joining them there. I sometimes wonder if Scotlands Reformed heritage brings particular challenges for us in adapting to this new situation. The Reformed emphasis on the Lordship of Christ over all the structures of society is perhaps best summed up by the words of Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper, Prime Minister of his country from 1901 1905, who famously declared, There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Lord over all, does not cry Mine!. This idea was also clearly articulated by the poet and writer TS Eliot, in whose 1939 essay The Idea Of A Christian Society we read; What the rulers believed would be less important than the beliefs to which they would be obliged to conform. A sceptical or indifferent statesman working in a Christian frame might be more effective than a devout statesman obliged to conform to a secular frame. It is perhaps this very concept that is most contested today, as evidenced by the debates on moral and ethical issues that convulse our political arenas. But what if the margins are where we are meant to be? Evangelical Christianity flourishes where there is the freedom of belief. We have a strong tradition of arguing for the freedom of religion, right back to the origins of the Evangelical Alliance in London in 1846. Freedom of belief implicitly includes the freedom not to believe. Martin Spence, formerly Lecturer in Church History at the college, noted at the 2010 conference of the Scottish Evangelical Theology Society, that evangelicalism allows both vibrant religious faith as well as vibrant

Neil Pratt unbelief. Choosing Christ allows one also not to choose him. He went on to say that in a diverse postmodern environment, communities of strong, freely-chosen beliefs do well. Evangelicals, for example. Early evangelicals had a strong sense of starting again, of breaking away from the past, not holding on to it come what may. Evangelicals contributed to the demise of Christendom, protesting against Christendoms uniformity in a drive for authentic personal belief. By definition, evangelical Christianity promotes innovation, experimentation, new initiatives (and even competition), through our individualistic emphasis on personal faith, revival or renewal. It is this spirit of experimentation and innovation that drives us to respond to the mission challenges and opportunities that present themselves to us today.
* Title of track from R.E.M. album Document 1987, I.R.S. Records

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Winter Warmer

Saturday 1st December is a day like many others in the city centre of Glasgow. The streets are packed with shoppers looking for whatever Christmas bargains they can find, and in between the shoppers you find buskers and street entertainers keeping the crowds amused.

temptation. Nonetheless, the image of all these hats and scarves stayed with her and as she made her way back to the college through the cold and damp of a Glasgow winter she realised how blessed she was to be able to choose whether or not to buy something to keep herself warm. Many in

God kept nudging me and even though I had little expectation He blew me away! Serving God doesnt just mean in the places where you feel comfy but sometimes in those places where youd rather stay away.
But look a bit further and you see the people who are the permanent residents of the city centre, the many homeless who sleep rough in the doorways of shops or cafs and beg for a little bit of change from passing shoppers. Many of the shoppers ignore them, as they mumble under their breath for whatever money can be spared, but on this particular Saturday there are people in Glasgow city centre deliberately seeking them out. A group of students from the college went out into the city with Christmas parcels for any of the homeless people that they came across, these parcels contain scarves, gloves, hats, and other warm winter woollies donated by students and staff at the college. The idea for this distribution of warmth at Christmastime came from third year BA Theology student Faye Brammer. Some weeks earlier Faye had been shopping in Glasgow and noticed the shops full of lovely displays of hats and scarves. She was tempted to buy some, but being a student and on a limited budget she resisted the the city simply did not have that choice. An idea took shape in Fayes mind what if the people in the college community gave one or two things to help keep someone else warm this winter, what a good Christmas gift that would be. She began to encourage her fellow students and staff to donate whatever they could to the scheme, then, with help from other students, wrapped 52 gifts, each of which included scarf, hat and gloves. Going out into the busy streets of Glasgow there was a range of reactions to the students giving out their gifts: People walking by gave us very strange looks! said Faye, We were in the

Faye (left) with fellow students Eve Young ready to distribute the parcels

One man was very thankful for his gift and asked for one to be given to his friend a few streets away. Another didnt speak any English at all but gladly took the parcel, while another man completely refused a gift. Each of these encounters, no matter the outcome, involved the students in the work of not just sharing a practical gift but of beginning the process of breaking down the barriers to showing why that gift comes with the love of God a highly appropriate message at Christmas. Faye found that putting her idea into action wasnt easy, but was worth it. Doing hats for the homeless definitely isnt something I find easy or natural! she said, Even in the beginning stages of my idea I tried to ignore it and not tell anyone about it. However, God kept nudging me and even though I had little

People walking by gave us very strange looks! We were in the middle of Glasgow on a busy Saturday, and while people were rushing from shop to shop buying gifts we were walking around giving gifts out.
middle of Glasgow on a busy Saturday, and while people were rushing from shop to shop buying gifts we were walking around giving gifts out. expectation He blew me away! Serving God doesnt just mean in the places where you feel comfy but sometimes in those places where youd rather stay away.

ICC Open Public Lecture


Saturday 9 March 2013 2.30pm at the College
Mission in Western culture by Dr. Krish Kandiah. Krish is Executive Director: Churches in Mission and England Director for the Evangelical Alliance. He is part of the theme development group for Spring Harvest, an external examiner for Oak Hill College and Associate Research Fellow at London School of Theology. Krish has worked with students in the UK and in Albania before becoming pastor of a multi-cultural church in Harrow. He has a deep commitment to seeing theology and missiology applied to the challenges which the church faces in the west today.

Subversive Urban Prophets


Sam Gonalves highlights the power of the imagination

A friend of mine working at a youth drop-in was asked to make a sign saying Be Quiet and put it up outside a room where the board of trustees was meeting. All week long they had been having problems with the noise of the young people running and screaming in the corridors outside the room. Instead of making the sign as he was asked, my friend wrote another one that said When you find yourself in this area, walk with stealth and drew a little ninja mask underneath.

young people. We run activities like open mics, poetry slams, gigs, workshops, residentials, etc. At the very core of this project there is a

town, as less of a dead end and more of an unending source of amazing artists, community and relationships.

Creativity has a way of making things that would otherwise be bland become exciting and intriguing.
strong passion for creativity, not just in the way we invest in the artistic scene or the manner through which we communicate but in a deep, relational and life changing way. Creativity allows us to see spaces with different eyes and speak to them with a fresh tone. Imagination is key when entering and working within an area that is hurt and broken. It takes resolve, as a community, to decide that we are not buying into the nothing good comes out of here mentality but instead to think what if there was a thriving artistic community, what if there was a place for people to develop their passions, what if people in Paisley are not all just bored and depressed but actually waiting for an opportunity to connect with a community and share their lives with them:

It is easy to do things as they are meant to be done or have always been done. But truly subversive, community building, lifeaffirming and common-sense redefining creativity, is dangerous. Jesus-like dangerous.
For the entire day, that corridor was completely quiet. Every time someone approached the sign they would mimic ninja moves, taking long exaggerated steps on their tiptoes and sometimes even crawling to the other side. The sign did not compel them to be quiet but instead to be funny in a quiet way. Creativity has a way of making things that would otherwise be bland become exciting and intriguing. This is something I have been experiencing at Create Paisley, a community project that has been cultivating a creative community of It is difficult to live in Paisley and not let a general sense of disappointment with the town take over. It is a town with collective low selfesteem. Closed shops, reasonably high rates of crime, not many things to do (such as music venues or cinemas) and a general feeling that Paisley is not the kind of place where you live, its the kind of place you get by. But what we discovered through Create is that Paisley is filled with many talented musicians, poets and artists. By providing a space where young people can pursue their creative interests a community of incredibly inspiring individuals has grown and is still growing. Creativity empowered us to re imagine our

Originally from Brazil, Sam Gonalves has been living in Scotland for the last 5 years (four of them in Paisley). He is an honours student on the BA (Hons) Theology programme specialising in urban ministry. Since January 2012 Sam has been part of the Management Team of Create Paisley, where he also works as the Video Project Development Worker. He also organises a collective of poets in Paisley, Sidling Bears (sidlingbears.wordpress.com)

because what is happening here is not just the development of an artistic scene, but also the formation of strong relationships. I am not saying that every community project should be about poetry, music and the arts; these just happened to be the things in which the young people in our town expressed an interest. Maybe the people in your community are more into sports, or outdoors activities, or carpentry, or something else the importance of creativity is not what you do, but how you do it. As a group of committed people that want to have an impact on our surroundings we must envision things creatively, engage with them in a subversive re-imagining of the status quo. We must be creatively subversive urban prophets, investing in places where nothing good comes out of. That means putting yourself out there, trying things out, making yourself vulnerable. It is safe to say that the young people have taught us much more about hope and imagination for our town than we could ever teach them. It is easy to do things

as they are meant to be done or have always been done. But truly subversive, community building, life-affirming and common-sense redefining creativity, is dangerous. Jesus-like dangerous. In the words of art director and designer George Lois: You can be cautious, or you can be creative (but there is no such thing as cautious creative).

The Imagination By Erin Griffin


I think the imagination should be a sense, everybody has one, even if youre blind or deaf, although you cannot see it, its there without a doubt, some really like to free it, but some dont know how to let it out, its not very obvious to see, like a nose or eye, but its whatever you want it to look like, heres what I think about mine: For me, it looks like a big old wooden box, carved with tiny knives, with clock faces instead of padlocks, turn the hands and look inside, Thick smoke will rise and golden lights will glow, so I put my hand in and that is when I know, that it works while youre awake, but also while youre sleep, its a volunteer for the head, though expectations quite steep, you cant turn it off, the switch is always on, youre imagination never strolls, its always caught mid-run, you cant tell it to hush, or put it on repeat, its more creative than anything ever, even if you feel weak, The imagination is there with you, until the day you die, mine wrote a will for everyone, lets give a few a try. My friend Marie the musician gets my wings, cos theyre cheaper to get round the globe, and my shy friend Michael gets my invisibility robe. The imagination should be a sense, for a lot more reasons than none, as it can be used for future tense, and heres example one, the year 2050, flying cars is how wed move, wed all be super intelligent, perhaps even George Bush. The imagination does not harm, or cause controversy, its a place to hide and cherish, the safest place to be. No stress or monsters, or arguing mums and dads, an imagination is what lights a match to burn bridges with anything bad. I think the imagination is very much immense, I think the imagination should count as a sixth sense.

By providing a space where young people can pursue their creative interests a community of incredibly inspiring individuals has grown and is still growing. Creativity empowered us to re imagine our town, as less of a dead end and more of an unending source of amazing artists, community and relationships.

Erin is part of Create Paisley and was 17 when she wrote The Imagination.

When You Know You Need to Know More

What does it look like to work as a Christian within a secular organisation? How does ministry based in a church impact the surrounding community holistically? How does the growth of the worlds cities challenge ministry? How can a fresh understanding of Scripture transform the Church? These are just some of the questions Christians across our country grapple with each day. At ICC we are continually looking for ways in which to help people not just ask the questions, but to begin to find the answers, and even to be the answers to those questions. Over 2012-2013 we are launching four new Masters level programmes designed to provide the personal and professional development that Christians, whether in formal ministry or not, need to address some of the challenges facing the church in the 21st century. Ken Brown, Pastor of Dedridge Baptist Church in Livingston started the MTh in Community Learning and Development with Applied Theology programme in 2012: The opportunity to engage in high quality personal development while continuing in my role as a church pastor is a special privilege he says, to share this journey with others (fellow students and ICC staff) who have a similar passion to see the church as a practical means of transformation in its local community is a challenging and exciting bonus. While Ken is looking to apply the principals of community learning and development (CLD) to his church ministry, Peta Garbett, a manager with Barnados, is familiar with the practice of CLD but is looking for a place to think about the importance of her faith to every aspect of her work from evaluating the success of a project to taking a holistic view of the people she works with. She says, as a Christian practitioner in a secular organisation, I have found the combination of theological, sociological and educational reflection offered by the programme vital in helping me continue to develop my work with young people in communities. Understanding my own heart, passion and innovation for community work in the light of a God who is zealous, abundant and creative is something that changes me, challenges my approach to practice, and pushes me forward. Our four new Master of Theology programmes cover a wide range of issues:

opportunities for the deepening of faith and the development of ministry. The MTh in Scripture and Theology provides the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in biblical studies and its relationship with theology. Central to this programme is a focus on issues of Biblical interpretation, and on the relationship between Scripture, theology and context.

development, but to reflect on and critique these principles theologically.

Ministry in an Urbanising World


Half the worlds population live in cities and this proportion is rapidly growing. Urban values and culture make their impact felt far more widely than just in the inner cities and shanty towns of our world. Christian ministry almost everywhere on earth is now done in world shaped by urban values. Reflection on practical, biblical, theological, academic and personal resources, allows students to develop their abilities as reflective practitioners of ministry in the urban centres of the world or those shaped by urban values. The programme takes a global view, and includes an intensive week of study and engagement in Kibera, on the edge of Nairobi.

Ministry Practice
Involvement in ministry can sometimes leave little time for reflection on what you are doing and why, and yet this is essential for the on-going development of ministry. The MTh in Ministry Practice offers the opportunity to develop academically, professionally and personally through reflection on Scripture, theology, context and ministry experience. At the heart of this programme is reflection on the students own spiritual development.

Community Learning & Development with Applied Theology


Increasingly those involved in Christian ministry are facing the question of how to engage better with the communities, both Christian and non-Christian, which they seek to serve. The use of both non-formal and informal educational techniques to work alongside groups and individuals within communities offers an approach to Christian outreach and discipleship which can meet the needs of those in Christian Service today. The diverse field of Community Learning and Development uses these techniques and includes such specialist areas as adult education and youth work. The MTh in Community Learning & Development with Applied Theology offers the opportunity to explore not only the practical principles of community learning and

Why a Master of Theology? Seminar-based teaching with people facing the same challenges Intensive study weeks mean that you can study alongside ongoing work or ministry A focus on the integration of Scripture, theology and practice Part-time or full-time study options For more information visit www.icc.ac.uk

Scripture and Theology


New questions being raised in the study of Scripture and of theology can provide

Speaking of God

Look at any group of young people and one thing you will find is that there is no lack of conversation among them. Young people can talk and talk. But with an increasing loss of reference to God in home and family life how can they be equipped to speak of spiritual things, to speak about God? Anna Krabbenhft is the student youth worker at Bridge of Allan Parish Church, where the main focus of her work is developing the youth work within the

Even if young people already know about God it indicates to them that we are open to talk about God at all times and that his influence in our life is not just in church,
Teaching the language to speak about God does not have to be a formal exercise, it can happen informally as Christians talk naturally and openly about their experiences of God. At the youth club there is no God-slot or space identified as the place to talk about God. Anna and her team want to make it that enables them to speak about their experiences of God or their spiritual fears and desires gives them freedom, a freedom which may even give them the courage to address God himself using the words with which they are comfortable. Indeed, this is recognised as such an important element in the maturing of young people that the National Occupational Standards for Youth Work include a section which encourages all youth workers to Facilitate young peoples exploration of their values and beliefs But language excludes when it creates a barrier between people and God, when people are fearful of saying the wrong thing both to one another and to God. For Anna, part of the role of the youth worker is to make sure that language empowers the young people to be able to express spiritual things, whilst acknowledging that this can be difficult. She says, Not having grown up with a natural God language makes it feel less natural first of all, like mentioning small things where God is apparent to you. However, the more often you include God in a normal conversation the more natural it feels (probably not just to me but also to them). Additionally it does not just give the young person an awareness of God and how he is working or simply how he is present, but it also makes me aware of Gods work all around us and within people.

Not having grown up with a natural God language makes it feel less natural first of all However, the more often you include God in a normal conversation the more natural it feels.
church. As part of this work she runs a weekly youth club. As she got to know the young people at the club, one of the things Anna noticed was the loss of God language amongst these young people. It wasnt that the young people had nothing to say about God, or had views about spiritual aspects of life, but rather that they were unsure of how to do it they lacked the words. This is not just a reflection on the young people in Bridge of Allan; growing up in Germany Anna was not part of a Christian family, she began to attend confirmation classes at the age of 12 where she began to learn not just about God, but to learn ways to express her understanding of God, her questions and her opinions about Him. A decade later reflecting on the young people she works with, Anna asks if we dont teach them God-language then who will? clear that it is possible to talk about God at all times and in all places: encountering Him, speaking about Him and speaking to Him is not reserved for church. This is not just helpful for young people from outside the church community, even if young people already know about God it indicates to them that we are open to talk about God at all times and that his influence in our life is not just in church, says Anna, the young people know that they can ask any kind of question about God if they like whenever and wherever they like.

If we dont teach them Godlanguage then who will?


Language is a very powerful thing which can both include and exclude. Helping young people (or any people!) find language

authentic (?)
Situated on the banks of the River Clyde and the River Kelvin in Glasgows West End is one of the largest waterfront regeneration projects in the UK. The Glasgow Harbour district, with its luxury housing and wide thoroughfares, replaces the derelict docks and warehouses that once covered that part of the city. It is mainly home to affluent young adults, the generation who work hard and play hard; it is also home to authentic (?), a group of Christians, seeking to live as a community of faithful followers of Jesus. ICC graduate Alex Smeed is part of this group. Alex came to ICC having done a degree in Social Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. He and his wife felt a call to some form of ministry and came to ICC to explore that call further; it was during his first year at the college that the call to become a Minister in the Church of Scotland became clearer, and since 2008 they have been part of the team

intrusion. And yet for Alex and the team their understanding of Gods mission is to partner with Him in creating a community. Something made more difficult by the lack

People want authenticity and we have the greatest story of an authentic God to share through our authentic lives.
at authentic (?). So what are some of the challenges of Christian ministry at one of the trendiest addresses in Glasgow? Perhaps the biggest challenge is the pervading sense of individualism which is made manifest in the high value placed on security and nonof communal spaces within the Harbour development. There are few schools, cafes, pubs and shops in the area making it challenging to find spaces to meet. Nonetheless the team at authentic (?) have resisted the urge to have a building

community, this makes incarnational ministry expensive, and yet at the same time offers the opportunity for the team not only to model simplistic living but to think creatively about how this countercultural way of life points people to Jesus. This a real joy to Alex: I love being part of the creative process of thinking and experimenting with what a genuine Jesus following faith looks like in a new, affluent, urban environment. With this commitment to countercultural living at the heart of the community its not surprising that there is a wide range of reactions to the work of authentic (?). Many

I love being part of the creative process of thinking and experimenting with what a genuine Jesus following faith looks like in a new, affluent, urban environment.
themselves, preferring to live and minister in the same spaces as all the other residents. This has offered the opportunity to be creative in their approaches to ministry, theres huge freedom in the Harbour to try things, to learn new patterns of ministry, and thats something very energising. Says Alex, There are the times when a stranger becomes a friend through our events and theres real joy when we get to meet interesting people who have had little or no experience of God or his people. A second challenge is that the Glasgow Harbour complex is a highly affluent of the residents of the Glasgow Harbour have grown up with a postmodern view of the world, which offers the great advantage of being open to the validity of a range of stories to explain life. Whist not advocating that it is possible for any one story to have the answer they are keen to hear what the Christian story has to say. In Alexs experience if people show an openness to hear the Christian faith story then they have an openness to talk about more overtly spiritual issues, but that encounter must involve genuine dialogue and a recognition of where God is already working in the lives

Maybe we need to watch more films and read more books so that our world is the world in which people live and which they understand.

Theres huge freedom in the Harbour to try things, to learn new patterns of ministry, and thats something very energising.
and belief systems of people. Ultimately the hope of the team is that though these encounters people begin to see the spirituality that pervades everything. It means, when invited to, they can speak about the spirituality of everything from what car they drive to how they understand the Godhead to operate! Of course, not everyone is as open to authentic (?) as that, and there have been some people who have reacted strongly against the groups presence in the area, this is partly due to their perception of Christianitys predisposition to proselytising as well as a reaction against some of the high profile issues in which the church has been embroiled both nationally and internationally. It is in this context that the team are committed to living up to their name, offering authenticity in the sharing of the ups and downs of life and faith, Alex explains, People want authenticity and we have the greatest story of an authentic God to share through our authentic lives. In many ways Alexs experience of ministry with the residents of the Glasgow Harbour is a reflection of the challenges facing Christians across the country. As has been mentioned elsewhere in this edition of Insight we should not forget the power of language as we engage with people, Alexs observation is that Even when theres a

common language, theres often a mismatch because of jargon that is second nature for us to use, but disenfranchising for those listening. Maybe we need to watch more films and read more books so that our world is the world in which people live and which they understand.

For more information about the work of authentic (?) visit: gh2o.tv

New
Church planting, Fresh Expressions, Emerging Church, Church Without Walls - the list could go on. Across the UK there is a burst of new thinking about church and creative approaches to ministry. Are you involved? Are you equipped?

Certificate of Higher Education in Pioneer Ministry Where theology, culture and practice meet.
A part-time programme aimed at developing a range of skills and capabilities for people involved in pioneer and creative ministries. For more information: www.icc.ac.uk | college@icc.ac.uk | 0141 522 4040 | 110 St James Road, Glasgow, G4 0PS

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Are you open to training to serve god?

Come and Explore Open Day & Public Lecture


Saturday 9 March 2013 10am 4pm
Find out what goes on in ICC college tours, taster lectures, students stories, worship and more.

2:30pm Public Lecture


Dr Krish Kandiah is Executive Director: Churches in Mission and England, Evangelical Alliance, he is part of the theme development group for Spring Harvest, an external examiner for Oak Hill College and Associate Research Fellow at London School of Theology. Krish has worked with students in the UK and in Albania before becoming pastor of a multicultural church in Harrow. His lecture will look at the theme of mission in Western culture. For more information contact the college International Christian College www.icc.ac.uk | college@icc.ac.uk | 0141 552 4040 | 110 St James Road, Glasgow, G4 0PS

Are you involved in working with children in your church?

Childrens Ministry and the Church


Running over six Saturdays in the spring, this course is aimed at helping those involved in ministry amongst children in churches to develop their understanding and skills. Topics covered include looking at model of ministry among children, reflective leaning and play, and pastoral care. 250 (attendance only), 650 (for credit) For more details or to apply for a place on this course contact Alison Nicolson (admissions@icc.ac.uk) International Christian College www.icc.ac.uk | 0141 552 4040 | 110 St James Road, Glasgow, G4 0PS

Taking Children Seriously