Ian Soars believes the solution to seeing children and young people returning to church is simple, but costly
It strikes me that when Christians talk about ‘revival’ and ask when it’s coming, they are looking for a particular kind of revival that God will sovereignly do.
But I am already seeing ’signs of revival’. Our charity and those we work in partnership with, are seeing things happen in church that haven’t been happening for 150 years. And often churches say, ”well, who’s there on a Sunday morning?”, and we would say, ”Who are you feeding? Who you’re giving counsel to ? Who you giving hope to, in the other days of the week?” You’ll find that in some communities the reach of the church is back at levels it hasn’t know since The Middle Ages. Churches are impacting their communities, perhaps beyond where they realise and so we might actually be in the middle of a revival. It’s just it’s not the one that we thought God was going to bring!
Open the window!
Spurgeon’s Children’s Charity is a large charity, operating multimillion pound contracts in partnership with local authorities, the prison service, schools and the NHS, to deliver high end complex intervention to vulnerable children, in many communities. So we see thousands of children every year in that context.
There’s a scene in the film, Good Morning Vietnam (1987), where a guy asks the weather forecaster, ”what’s the weather like?” And a guy responds, ”Open a window, can you see?!”
if you want to know what the UK is like, open a window! There is a tremendous increase in children with mental health issues, identity issues, eating disorder issues, but also those suffering from trauma from parental conflict and connected to special educational needs. The reality is that complexity levels are ever increasing, so the next problem is more difficult to deal with, and the volumes increase. At the same time, the capacity of local authorities and the NHS to better respond is diminishing. Political and financial decisions have been made over the last six months, which mean that local authorities have had to cut hard cut the services that they’re providing. We speak to a number of local authorities that are looking to close all of their children’s centres.
Children at the heart of our communities
Working in partnership with a church, we want to put the care of children right back in the heart of our communities. We believe that the church is the only player on the pitch, and we can equip them to do it. However big we are and however, many millions, we have as turnover, we are never going to reach all these children. But there is someone that can and it’s the Bride of Christ. And so we want to partner and equip and enable that our precious church to better do that, to be a beacon of light and a haven of peace to enable young people to connect with God.
One of the things I would gently say to Christians gathering on a Sunday morning is to discover where are the children? We want somehow children to magically roll up in our church and essentially, sit through a service that may mean something to us but won’t mean anything to them.
I would say get on the carpet, go find where kids are and what they are doing. The church has this incredible opportunity, to be able to be the voice, the healing hands, the body in a community that provides solutions to the issues that our communities are facing.
Matthew 5:16 says this. ”…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’’.
Let me paraphrase that: Church, if you want to see kids come into your church, let your good work. so shine before the children and families in your community by solving the issues that they’ve got in front of them right now (existential life threatening issues), that they will turn and glorify your Father in heaven.
We see our role as being there to encourage the church to step into what I believe is its calling under Jesus’ second commandment (’Love your neighbour as yourself’). But beyond that, there is incredible joy, as families realise that actually the people who stepped into the gap for them was this old local church. And I think that’s a beautiful thing.
This was taken from an interview with Ian Soars. To hear the full interview go to The Profile