What does it look like for churches to partner together in gospel unity to share Jesus with their city? In this article, Steve Bavington, member of ChurchCentral Birmingham and Director of ChaplaincyPlus (a charity supporting the business community and providing opportunities to explore the Christian faith), talks us through last week’s ‘Cosmic Chemistry’ event in Birmingham, which did exactly that:
On a cold, wet night in mid-November around 900 men, women and young people shuffled into the impressive Birmingham Town Hall to hear one of the world’s leading speakers on the subject of God and Science talk about why there need not be any conflict between science and having a Christian faith.
Prof. John Lennox has travelled the globe speaking and debating in cities and university campuses, taking on famous atheists, and answering questions from members of the public through his Q&A sessions.
In Birmingham, a small group of diverse churches led by ChurchCentral and a Christian charity called ChaplaincyPlus had been working together to bring apologetics events to Birmingham city centre under the brand of ‘Is Faith Reasonable?’. Starting small, with a coffee shop audience of 40 and a local speaker, it soon became clear that there was a hunger for more. The partner churches started to realise the huge intellectual struggles many of their members have when speaking about issues of faith to their non-Christian friends and family members.
The previous two events had grown in size and stature with Krish Kandiah (Home for Good) and Michael Ramsden (RZIM) speaking to audiences of over 200 at the International Convention Centre in the city centre. The steering group (representing 2 Catalyst churches, an Anglican church, 3 Independent Evangelical churches, and an independent charity) met regularly to talk and pray about the next steps. We made contact with John Lennox, and formed a plan for an evening including a talk, Q&A, and introduction of a new bible-reading resource called “The Word One-to-One”. Right away we knew we were onto something good! We called the event that emerged ‘Cosmic Chemistry: Do Science and Christianity mix?’, and in faith chose one of the largest venues in the city centre – Birmingham Town Hall.
There were two things that I felt were particularly important – and unique. Firstly, that this event should be a catalyst for unity across all Christian expression in the city. The more churches and Christian organisations who were prepared to join in and support the event, encouraging their members to come along and bring friends, the better it would be. After all, we had plenty of space, and we wanted it filled!
Secondly, adding “The Word One-to-One” into the mix was very, very exciting. In the past our apologetic events have been highly stimulating intellectually, but perhaps lacking in clear opportunity for people to follow-up with their friends. We needed a way to help Christians introduce their friends to Jesus through the gospels – a heart connection.
This event did both. We ended up with a consortium of 38 churches & organisations from across the city and church expression, and many left with copies of “The Word One-to-One” on the night. We are so grateful that God moved and brought together His church in the city in a beautiful way – united to proclaim that belief in God was not irrational or mindless, but that instead with Him, life the universe, and everything actually starts to make sense.
Written by Steve Bavington