Future Church Songs of Praise


Future Church

Diane Louise Jordan discovers what the church is doing to future-proof itself and introduces hymns and songs that celebrate the past, present and future.


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Transcript


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Well, it might be hard to believe

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but in a few years' time,

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there will be a brand-new church right here.

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It's one of the ways people are rethinking what Church is about

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and how it will look in the future.

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Well... I'd better get on with it!

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So, this week, as we look at some of the ways Church is changing,

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there's a virtual congregation,

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a very messy church

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and a tweeting nun,

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with music across the country.

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This inspired project is just one of a variety of ways

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the church is reinventing itself,

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and we'll hear more about the plans here later.

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One man who takes a keen interest in how the Church is evolving

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is Reverend Dr Michael Moynagh.

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He is Research Director for Fresh Expressions,

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an organisation that supports people

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who are exploring new ways of doing Church.

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Michael, what's the state of the Church today?

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Well, it's a mixed picture.

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Some of it is brilliant. There are areas of growth.

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But overall, I think everyone knows that numbers have been declining.

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Each generation is less religious,

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less committed to Church than the generation before,

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and you can track that back over a number of generations.

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-Why do you think that's happening?

-There's a great debate about this.

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Some people think, "It's happening because society's changed

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"and there's no need for Church.

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"It's passe, it's had its day."

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People aren't particularly interested in faith and organised faith any more.

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And then there are other people who are saying, "Well, it's not quite like that.

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"The problem is that the Church hasn't adapted."

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So society has changed but Church hasn't changed enough

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in order to connect with people in the new cultures that we experience.

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And my hunch is it's more the latter.

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That Church has failed to adapt but it's now beginning to do so.

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And it's really exciting.

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So what are the new, exciting things that are happening?

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What's happening is that bubbling up,

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ground upwards,

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are all sorts of new forms of Christian community that are emerging.

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And this is a really interesting, significant

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and growing movement.

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When I started researching this ten, 12 years ago,

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you could find a handful of examples.

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Now there are hundreds of examples,

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and many of these examples are, as it were, under the radar,

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but a whole variety of different expressions of Christian community

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that are living the Christian faith, expressing the Gospel,

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trying to serve their wider communities in different ways

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but are being Church in ways that are very different to the past.

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The internet has become a part of everyday life,

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from shopping to keeping in touch.

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But it's not necessarily the first place you'd expect to find a nun.

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So, Sister Elizabeth, what in the world

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inspired you to start tweeting?

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The one reason we started tweeting was because

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that's where people are today.

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That's where they're having their conversations, are on Twitter.

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Millions of people having conversations

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from all different backgrounds all over the world.

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God wants to be where people are.

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We're messengers of God, we're His representatives in the world,

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so we need to bring Him into where people are,

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and so that's why we started tweeting.

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Can you describe or explain what tweeting is?

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Tweeting is...

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For example, we have a noticeboard

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where people would put notices up, Post-it notes, and things like this,

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of messages, things for people to read.

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Twitter is like an electronic form of that,

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so you've got your noticeboard on the computer

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and I come along with a Post-it note every other minute or every other day,

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depending how often I'm tweeting,

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and stick it on the site for someone to read.

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So what do you tweet about?

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We tweet about anything and everything to do with life,

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with God. God is life.

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He's involved in the everyday and wants to be involved in the everyday,

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involved in people's lives.

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We try not to make it too churchy or preachy

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because at the end of the day, that's possibly not where people are

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in the everyday. So we try and make it

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almost like some kind of magazine or consumer-type approach, really, to it.

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And so anything and everything.

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Look at the tweets and you'll see that it covers and so many subjects.

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Is Twitter a dangerous place for a nun to be?

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No, no worries about that kind of thing at all.

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We have received tweets from people who do want to shock us

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featuring bad language,

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things that are suggestive.

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We simply reply, thinking, "Well, God loves that person.

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"Regardless of what they're saying,

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"they've actually made contact with us, which is good."

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Whether that's quite abusive or whether that's kind doesn't really matter.

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And we welcome their view on things because sometimes they make us think.

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People who liked to shock...

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Actually, sometimes they do make us think and bring us out of our comfort zone,

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and so that has to be a good thing. The Church needs more of that, I think.

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How is all this affecting you personally?

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It's affected me greatly.

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It's made me look at the world...

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a little bit differently.

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It's made me more, I think, compassionate,

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more understanding of people.

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Because we're more in touch with people,

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whether they're Christian or not, whether they're people of faith or not, that doesn't matter.

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People are on Twitter, people are on Facebook.

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As a Church, we do need to embrace it simply because that's the case.

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That's where people are having conversations.

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That's where God wants to be, and at the end of the day, Jesus would be on Twitter!

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He'd be on Facebook. He'd be engaging with people where they are!

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So if it's good enough for him, that's what we should be doing as well!

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# And can it be that I should gain

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# An interest in

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# The saviour's blood?

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# Died He for me who caused his pain

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# For me who Him to death pursued?

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# Amazing love

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# How can it be?

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# That Thou my God should die for me?

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# Amazing love

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# How can it be?

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# That Thou my God should die for me?

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# He left His father's throne above

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# So free, so infinite His grace

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# Emptied Himself of all but love

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# And bled for Adam's helpless race

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# Tis mercy all

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# Immense and free

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# For O my God, it found out me

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# Tis mercy all

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# Immense and free

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# For O my God, it found out me

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# Yeah, ye-eah

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# Long my imprisoned spirit lay

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# Fast bound in sin

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# And nature's night

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# Thine eye diffused a quickening ray

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# I woke, the dungeon flamed with light

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# My chains fell off

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# My heart was free

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# I rose, went forth and followed Thee

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# My chains fell off

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# My heart was free

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# And I rose, went forth and followed Thee

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# Ye-e-eah

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# Yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah

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# No condemnation now I dread

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# For Jesus and all in Him is mine

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# Alive in Him, my living Head

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# And clothed with righteousness divine

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# Bold, I approach

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# The eternal throne

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# And claim the crown through Christ, my own

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# Bold, I approach

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# The eternal throne

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# And claim that crown through Christ, my own

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# Amazing love

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# How can it be

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# That Thou my God would die for me? #

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Twitter isn't the only way the Church is embracing new technology.

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There are now virtual churches.

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I-church is an online church and it's run by the Diocese of Oxford.

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We hold services in our chatroom

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and we do that on a Wednesday evening.

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We've found by trial and error that people don't tend to want

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to use it on a Sunday as much so we do have a short service on a Sunday

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but the main one is on a Wednesday evening British time.

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And people log in to the chatroom

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and then the leader will type the prayers or whatever,

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and if it's a joining-in prayer, you type the responses.

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And we also will think to YouTubes which we can show in the chatroom,

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or we'll bring in other material we want to share by putting a link in.

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So it's quite interactive. It's very, very interactive.

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As the church is a virtual, the congregation come from far and wide.

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We have people, quite a few in England. We have people from America.

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We have a pastor in America who's been part of our church from the very beginning.

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We've got somebody right up in the north of Scotland

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who can't get to local Church very easily

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and so they find it very useful to come to prayers with other people.

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We've got one member who's in a very, very quiet rural area

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and wants to go to their local church

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but doesn't find there's the range of activities, like Bible studies and things,

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and so she finds that by coming with i-Church as well,

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she can kind of add to her Christian experience

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so she's still able to be a member of her local church, which is very, very important to her.

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So I would hope that people will look at i-Church

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and other online communities

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and say not, "Oh, dear, this is something we have to fight

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"because it's competing with real Church."

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I would hope that people are able to look at it as something God's doing for the church

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and that they can benefit from and learn from.

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Another example of how the church is connecting with people

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in new ways is Messy Church.

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It's the brainchild of Lucy Moore.

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Messy Church as a way of doing church for families,

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and invites families to come together to church

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and have a great time for two hours, usually.

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The format is usually a warm welcome

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and then about an hour

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of having fun together, making stuff

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that explores the Bible's story.

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And then we bring it all together in a quarter of an hour celebration

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with stories, song, and prayer, and then we have

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a sit-down meal together.

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With Messy Church,

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one of the things was let's make it easy for people.

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Let's have it at a time which suits them,

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let's do it in a way that suits them,

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and see where that takes us.

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THEY SING AND CLAP

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In a short space of time, Messy Church has gone global.

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There are now 1,400 worldwide.

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The whole Messy Church network is fed from a lot of different backgrounds.

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So it's not just something that is fed from a suburban church

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just outside Portsmouth.

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It's getting ideas and attitudes and inspiration from, you know,

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churches in Melbourne

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and churches in Wellington in New Zealand.

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The Danish church has taken it on hugely.

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All these ideas and understandings of God

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feed in, to make it a very rich mix.

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And why is it called Messy Church?

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Because I think God works with people in a messy way.

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That we sometimes have the feeling that

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it's got to be cut and dried and neat and tidy,

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and we have to have all the answers sorted

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before we come anywhere near him.

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And for most of us, it's a much messier journey.

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We come near him

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and then we go further away,

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and we have questions and doubts

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and we also lead very messy lives.

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And perhaps the Church in the past has projected a little bit too much

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that you have to be neat and tidy

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and put on your best clothes to come to church.

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And what we're trying to say to everybody is,

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"Look, however messy your life is, you can come.

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"You can come and be messy with us, because we're messy too."

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# God sees you

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# He knows where you are

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# You are not forgotten, no

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# God knows you

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# He chose you

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# You're spoken of in heaven

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# Only God

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# Only God can see

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# Inside every human heart

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# Only God

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# Really knows you

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# God made you

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# He loves you as you are

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# You are not just a face in a crowd

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# God hears you

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# He's near you

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# And he's closer than you think

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# Only God

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# Only God can see

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# Inside every human heart

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# Only God

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# Really knows you

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# You, you, you, you

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# And only God

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# He truly understands

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# The issues of the heart

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# Only God

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# Only God

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# You are God's masterpiece

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# When will you realise

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# That it's true?

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# There is a God who cares

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# A God who loves

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# A God who sees

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# God hears you

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# He's near you

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# And he's closer than you think. #

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Today our daily bread. Our church has been inspired...

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'Reverend Frog Orr-Ewing is no stranger to Songs of Praise.

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'We last met him in Peckham,

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'where he turned a derelict church into a thriving congregation.

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'Not content with that challenge, he's now going a step further,

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'building a new church.'

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Well, Frog, we're here in the middle of Beaconsfield,

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in this beautiful shell.

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What's been happening?

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We left Peckham about two and a bit years ago,

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with the vision of planting a minster, a missionary community,

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and having some land

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and working a whole holistic thing for the next generation.

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On the practical side of it, its cost quite a lot of money,

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so I sold my house and I sold everything that I had.

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And a friend came alongside me and he did something similar.

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We really prayed and we sought God and asked for a lot of wisdom,

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and it's a whole new territory for me, really.

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OK, it's so exciting, I don't even know where to begin!

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What are you hoping to do exactly here?

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I've seen there's a lot of buildings.

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What are we standing in now,

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and what do you want this to be?

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Well, we're still developing that. Very early days.

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We've only been here for eight weeks.

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I'm casting an idea, I suppose.

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I would expect that there would be people doing training here.

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Some people living here, some people working the land.

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Other people meeting and praying here.

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I'd love to see 24/7 prayer

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and people praying and worshipping all the way through the week.

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So the idea is that it's a sacred hub.

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Why are you doing this?

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The ancient minsters were places where missionaries gathered,

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and from that place of worship, study, prayer

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and fellowship and hospitality,

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they then sent outliers to other places and other communities.

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And if that went well, a church was established in those places.

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So they did mission and churches were established out of that.

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So we're trying to go back, really, to an ancient model.

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To get excited about the future and make a difference

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so that 25 years from now, it looks very, very different.

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The situation in the British Church, than it does at the moment.

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And I think we're part of an answer.

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Now you and your wife,

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you've literally put everything on the line for this.

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Do you ever worry that it will fail?

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We've had some anxious moments,

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and some sleepless nights over the last couple of years.

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I think, though, that...

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..there's a lovely scripture about having come so far

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that He's not going to leave you,

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and He's going to see it through to the end.

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So I'm trusting in that element of things, really.

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That God has a perfect plan and I'm just doing my best to tune in

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and listen in and try to be as courageous and obedient as I can be.

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I'm totally aware that I don't have

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maybe necessarily the entire skill set necessary

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to take on a plan like this,

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but I'm trying to gather other people

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who can see other parts of the vision

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that they feel is a kind of life call for them,

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and to try to, you know, connect with those people,

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so that we can achieve these things together.

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We're going to bring this place back from the brink,

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and hopefully, it will serve people for generations to come.

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That's my plan.

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CHEERING

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CHEERING

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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Lord, thank you for new ideas which inspire us

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to approach Church in different ways.

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Thank you for new technologies, which help us to reach people

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wherever they are.

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Thank you for the dreams that you give us

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and hope for the future.

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Amen.

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How can any of us know what Church will be like in the future?

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Which makes me wonder what our legacy will be

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for generations to come.

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And our final song reminds us

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that from the humble beginnings of just 12 loyal followers of Jesus,

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there are now billions of Christians over all the earth.

0:29:590:30:03

APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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Next week, Ann Widdecombe will be presenting the programme

0:33:060:33:11

and she'll be exploring a very personal subject, the single life.

0:33:110:33:15

Her guests will include Roy Castle's widow, Fiona,

0:33:150:33:19

and Benedictine monk, Father Christopher Jameson.

0:33:190:33:21

And of course, there'll be

0:33:210:33:22

plenty of hymns and songs to suit the occasion.

0:33:220:33:25

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:33:410:33:45

Diane Louise Jordan discovers what the church is doing to future-proof itself and introduces hymns and songs that celebrate the past, present and future.


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