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A year of Life Explored CHRistianity explored ministries | September 2017

September 2017 marked one year since Christianity Explored Ministries launched Life Explored, a seven-session series that explores the Bible story and shows how our deepest desires for happiness can only be satisfied in Jesus Christ.

We've loved hearing about your Life Explored experiences, from Donaghcloney to Indianapolis, and hope you enjoy reading this selection of stories and tips as much as we have.

Tip #1

Run through the course with leaders and other Christians to test-run it if you’ve never done it before. This will tease out any issues before you start.

Also, there are commentary videos (you'll need to log in) to help leaders prepare, so watch those!

Maggie Wright, Eastbourne, UK

Barrow-in-Furness

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly our conversations became ‘deep’ and personal during Life Explored. We weren’t just sharing knowledge or learning new facts; we were persuasively being encouraged to reflect together on how we were choosing to live our lives.

The angle Life Explored takes is to ask the question of where we’re looking for lasting happiness. Boom. We all want to be happy, right? I’m engaged straight away. The films and Bible interaction then work together to provoke us to consider whether the things we’re living for are bringing us what we want, or whether actually – and quite strikingly – they might be imprisoning us.

The ‘story’ films especially expose this by getting under our skin and positing that we’re each like the different characters in our own ways. And the claim Life Explored gradually then makes is that it is only the triune God of the Bible who can bring us this happiness that we crave.

"We weren’t just sharing knowledge or learning new facts; we were persuasively being encouraged to reflect together on how we were choosing to live our lives."

It proved to be brilliant for Christians and non-Christians alike – and importantly – Christians and non-Christians together. It meant there was an atmosphere of Christians and unbelievers together talking about discovering who God is, and about how we can all lose sight of this.

Life Explored feels fresh, whilst being faithful, and is creative in the way it connects, whilst still being clear in the way it confronts.

I suspect the more you lead it, the more you’ll become comfortable with leading it – and hopefully the more you’ll rejoice as its drip-drip-drip approach of shining the spotlight on the character of God helps others – and yourself – to find true hope and life and joy in God himself.

Read the full review

Robin Ham, church planter in Barrow-in-Furness, UK

Tip #2

Consider your long-term evangelism strategy and don't use Life Explored as a one-off novelty.

Folks in the church need to be constantly made aware that the work of mission is the duty of all and that we need to be building friendships and reaching out to people all the time so they are more likely to respond to invitations to such a course.

Billy Houston, Belfast, UK

Hove

For me at first I was drawn to the name. Living in a non-churched society people may feel threatened by the idea of something with Christianity in the name, whereas 'Life Explored' seemed to be something that everyone could relate to.

I was immediately blown away by the super high quality of the content. Our church serves an area of the country with a lot of young people working and studying in a variety of contexts, particularly in the creative industries. I felt confident putting on a course like this with people from that background, not worrying about it looking like a cheap production.

People began to grasp that what defines a Christian is that their trust is in Jesus Christ

The questions gave us lots of things to talk about and, week-by-week, I could feel the group open up. Throughout the course people began to grasp that what defines a Christian is that their trust is in Jesus Christ.

"Living in a non-churched society people may feel threatened by the idea of something with Christianity in the name, whereas 'Life Explored' seemed to be something that everyone could relate to."

We initially trialled Life Explored with two enquirer groups and then opened it out to our women’s daytime study group and to our over 50s outreach group. What really surprised me was that the older group were just as keen to take part as the other groups.

The older group were just as keen to take part as the other groups

We’re looking forward to seeing how we might use the course again to help show people that whatever it is they are living for, it doesn’t come close to what God offers us through Jesus.

Tim Gage, Curate at Bishop Hannington Memorial Church, Hove, UK

Tip #3

People will inevitably engage differently with the opening films. Some Christians will tend to want ‘the point’ to be clearer, whereas the aim of these films is more to open up the issues and provoke people.

That said, depending on your group, it may be worth gently helping participants to link the stories in the films to each session’s theme.

Robin Ham, Barrow-in-Furness, UK

Gosforth

David Dargue held Life Explored in the local Costa

In being for those who don’t consider themselves religious, Life Explored is speaking to many in our area.

The questions had immediate interest for our guests and the videos are very well crafted. We weren’t a particularly arty crowd and were bothered by not always ‘getting’ some of the introductory films. Even so, good conversations usually followed.

Life Explored is a welcome complement to our other evangelistic courses like Christianity Explored. Most guests made it to two or three sessions at most, which worked fine and would have been harder in the more linear Christianity Explored.

However, Christianity Explored is an obvious next step, both because no guests came to all the sessions, and for the clarity it brings in areas that Life Explored isn’t able to cover.

Read the full story

David Dargue, Minister of Christ Church Gosforth, UK

"Life Explored is a welcome complement to our other evangelistic courses."

Cowplain

I chose Life Explored to run at our 'Bumps and Babes' group because we were starting to think about what we could do for the mums (many of whom have no Christian faith) that was more than just listening, empathising and letting them know that they are not alone.

Life Explored didn’t have the word 'Christianity' in it – so it came out in conversation a little more easily, without people’s shutters coming down quite so soon.

It has been the most exciting and purposeful thing I have done this year

Everybody really liked the talks by Rico and his team. It was refreshing to hear such down-to-earth explanations of how the Gospel relates to people’s lives and circumstances. It has been the most exciting and purposeful thing I have done this year.

Read the full story

Sue Roseblade, mums' group at Cowplain Evangelical Church, UK

Tip #4

Changing some of the questions to help people grapple with the opening films made a big difference to our conversations.

We started asking ‘who were the characters in the film?’, ‘what were they doing?’ and ‘why?’.

That really helped our folks understand the overall theme in each session, and in turn has helped them study God’s word as we go on to ask the same questions of the Bible passages.

Bryan Martin, Donaghcloney, UK

Felsted

Holy Cross, Felsted

Life Explored asks participants to consider what is driving their lives and what good things have become ultimate things. This starting point speaks to people with a predominantly postmodern mind-set, which those on the fringe of church often have. The weeks build on each other by exploring this in layers, pointing to how idols fail to deliver and pointing to Jesus who does.

The quality of the films and teaching is superb

The quality of the films and the teaching is superb - I was proud to invite people along. We met weekly and we themed the refreshments each meeting to reflect the opening film. So, we had samosas in week 2, popcorn in week 4, sushi in week 5. We didn't go over the top but it created atmosphere and a bit of fun anticipation for the next week.

Church family at Holy Cross

Some leaders worried that the course was not getting people to say the ‘right things’. It was however prompting people to think the right things - deep thinking was happening, hearts were changing.

Three came up after the last session to say, ‘ We want to follow Jesus, what is the next step?’ Three are now in small groups and one other is coming along to services to ‘keep listening’.

Colin Taylor, Vicar of Holy Cross Felsted, UK

"Life Explored speaks to people with a predominantly postmodern mind-set, which those on the fringe of church often have."

Indianapolis

The culture has changed and people don’t know the Bible. They don’t know Jesus except as a curse word. Life Explored was wonderful to show people where their sin is, without using Christian vernacular.

Bruce and Nancy Longbottom, Grace Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, US

Tip #5

Follow up is almost more important than the event itself, and at our mum's group with people moving on or going back to work, the challenge to seize the moment is always key.

And don't forget that your group will watch to see how trusting in Jesus impacts your life - and that speaks volumes. One mum said the thing that got her 'off the fence' was seeing how I dealt with a difficult situation calmly and 'without effing and blinding'.

Sue Roseblade, Cowplain, UK

Eastbourne

Maggie Wright ran Life Explored with her husband in her friend's home

We chose to run Life Explored because the majority of our guests would not have considered themselves religious in the traditional sense. We wanted to challenge the ‘god’ they were trusting in before taking them through Mark’s Gospel in Christianity Explored. For some of our guests they had been through a type of CE course so we also wanted something approaching the Gospel from a different angle to 'wake them up a little bit'.

One of the guys had a real light bulb moment during the course which was so exciting. He said: "I get it!"

We had lots of terrific discussions and some weeks quite heated debates. What was very heart warming was the reaction to the passage of the guests going to the banquet and how people saw themselves.

One of the guys had a real light bulb moment during the course which was so exciting. He said: "I get it!"

Maggie Wright, Holy Trinity Eastbourne, UK

"We had lots of terrific discussions and some weeks quite heated debates."

Donaghcloney

Bryan Martin ran Life Explored at Donaghcloney Parish Church as well as in several one-to-ones.

Life Explored has been a real source of motivation for our church family to hold out the gospel to their non-Christian friends and colleagues. Since it launched last year we have already run the course twice with groups, and I’ve been through it with three individuals in one-to-ones as well. Many others in the church have been using it with their friends.

I think the best part of the course has been watching people grasp how God relates to us.

We have seen the scales fall off people’s eyes as they realise that God is a good God, he loves us and he has freed us from sin by his son, Jesus Christ, and he doesn’t want us to live under the slavery of keeping up with the world.

Praise God we have seen two people come to Christ as they’ve studied the Bible during Life Explored.

Read the full story

Bryan Martin, Rector of Donaghcloney Parish Church, UK

Tip #6

I think it is essential for the course leader/s to understand the theological framework for Life Explored to lead effectively.

Understanding this enables a leader to allow thoughts to develop over the weeks rather than to try and wrap things up neatly too early on.

I would recommend course leaders informally brief any Christians bringing friends on this approach so they can more easily relax when it does not unfold exactly as Christianity Explored does.

Colin Taylor, Felsted, UK

Thank you to everyone who contributed!

We at Christianity Explored Ministries are delighted to hear these stories of how God has been using Life Explored to point people to Jesus.

We're also grateful for the constructive feedback we've received.

As a result we've added new resources to our leader's area (you'll need to log in) to help you lead Life Explored effectively.

Do contact us if you'd like to share your story, we love to hear from you.

Not tried Life Explored yet?

Christianity Explored Ministries helps people love, live and tell the good news about Jesus Christ. Christianity Explored is registered in England. Company no: 6347617. Registered Charity 1121552. 14 Harley Street, London, W1G 9PQ.

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