Seven Things CUs Need to Learn

As the next academic year starts, Christian Unions up and down the country re-start. CUs are great; a place for students to come together in fellowship, to pray and evangelise in their campus. I was fortunate in having such a welcoming CU when I went to University, and it probably played a role in leading me to fully commit my life to Jesus. However, they aren’t perfect and in this article I will suggest a few improvements for CUs in general.

  1. There is always a danger of cliques in CUs, where churches group together. This can make it a bit awkward for visitors or for those of smaller churches. In the CU, don’t go to your friends, talk to everyone, chat to those who are on their own. Sometimes, I felt on my own because I never went to one of the popular churches. In my MA year, someone even asked if I was a fresher — not a good sign! At the same time, I don’t judge these cliques because I know they are easy to get into, but always try to avoid them! After all, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, no?
  2. There is a danger of a dominating church. This can lead to the other churches pushed to the side and the committee promoting one church, or one church having too much influence. A CU is not a place for denomination, I love it that a traditionalist and a Pentecostal have the potential to mix in such a space and it should be kept like that.
  3. Welcome traditional churches. Don’t focus on the churches that are big, or are popular, focus on all churches! I reckon 30-50 students at each University don’t go to their CU because they are more traditional in their worship and such and do not feel welcome. The CU is not a charismatic hub; it should be for all churches, so make an effort to include all churches.
  4. Don’t sing your favourite four songs on and on. I have been in a few CU meetings where this has happened and it’s a pain, it’s boring. God is not there. Change it up, sing old stuff, sing new stuff. Write your own stuff! Basically change it up, let God lead, and not yourselves.
  5. Be serious. This sounds like a weird statement to make, but sometimes I felt looking at my CU that some Christians weren’t taking Jesus word seriously enough, I mean we are all sinners, but when some people get put on the committee and you look at their lifestyle, it doesn’t look godly. Now I know, we are all sinners, I am just as bad as them to be honest, but if they don’t even try, remotely to keep the commandments, then how will God bless us? How will people see us?
  6. Don’t be scared to talk about the difficult stuff. Hell, Judgement, sin. They’re not easy subjects and ones that none of us like talking about. They shouldn’t be the main focus of the CU, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything mentioned even once in three years….three years, it does make you wonder. God is love, He is awesome, He is exciting, He is beautiful! Amen to that brothers and sisters, but the gospel is much more. Don’t be afraid of talking about the difficult stuff!
  7. Keep doing what you’re doing. Weird again, eh? Well the acts of love, of kindness that the CU show on campus is always amazing! God blesses you and will use what you do. Keep on showing love and spreading the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep on praying, keep on meeting, keep on singing. I was so blessed, especially in two of my years at the CU and I pray that God will bless your CU, wherever you are.

So I hope these points’ help and start something. I love CUs; I love what they stand for and what they are all about. I love how they might have been rejected by the Universities for their stances, because they are faithful! Yet they do need to improve, as we all do. Have a blessed year brothers and sisters at University.

Youthful Wisdom

So you have probably seen this title and maybe freaked out a little. Here we go again, the youth thinking they know it all.   Hopefully by reading on, you will find that I think nothing of the sort, however, I also don’t think we are plain dumb either.

Youth Arise!

Let’s consider the Methodist revival really quickly. George Whitfield was twenty-six when he became a preacher and John Wesley was just eighteen. These two men, along with many others were young adults when they started in ministry, and these two arguably saw one of the greatest revivals ever! Later, Charles Spurgeon became the pastor of the biggest Baptist church in London aged nineteen, the prophet Jeremiah was a little squirt when he became God’s mouthpiece, and David was a shepherd boy when he fought Goliath. Yet God used the youth to help people see the light! Now hopefully you will see where I am going with this article.

I often hear the argument that young people need to listen to their elders and listen to their wisdom. Now I do not dispute that the more mature of Christians have wisdom that they must share and we as youth must listen. However, at the same time, I think that it’s dangerous to just go along with something because ‘so-and-so’ says to.

If the Wesley’s and the Whitfield’s’ had done the same then it could be argued that the revival may never have happened. Of course God is in control and He may have used someone else to accomplish the same aim. Young people have ideas, we can be enthusiastic, we can be passionate and we can be energetic. This is great and should be encouraged, not frowned upon!

The Wesley’s challenged the old views from the Church of England. They were enthusiastic, they travelled the country, they wrote hymns, they preached the word, and they cared for the poor. In many ways, they went away from what was expected and did what youthful wisdom does, they followed their hearts and were led to places God wanted them.

Let’s look at Jeremiah again, what did God say to him? It’s worth quoting in full:

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’

‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’

But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.’” (Jeremiah 1:4-10).

The point of this short article is this: Do not let your youthful energy and vigour go to waste, do not let your ideas go unheard! Share them, act on them, be passionate about them. Being young does not make you stupid, in fact you bring a fresh approach to things that haven’t been discussed for years. Challenge the older people in your congregations, don’t cower away. We are like Lions if we are in Christ.

My favourite biblical verse on this is 1 Timothy 4:12:

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

‘Health warning’

Now, so far it sounds as though I am saying youth beats everything else. That would be foolish to say the least. Saints before us have been through the same experiences of youthful eagerness. It is up to them to guide us, to help us; and down to us to go to them. Older folk, I urge you to encourage young Christians in their ideas and talents; guide them like Christ guides all of us through life, be there and who knows what God can do?

Remember, do not shy away from listening to people, and taking their advice, but remember to pray and seek guidance from God. Before acting on any idea, pray, ask that God shows you if it is the right thing to do, and then pray that he uses it for his Glory. Worship him before you start anything, and never think you are alone. God is with us, and he will use us if he wants. Do not let people say that you are young deter you from doing God’s will. Time and time again, God has proved He will use the youth to shame the older generations, ‘out of the lips of babes, you have ordained praise.’ Time and Time again, God has used the young to shine his light.

Always remember Paul’s words, on our relationships with our brothers and sisters, to the young pastor Timothy:

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

So brothers and sisters, be encouraged, and may God use every single one of us. Now if you don’t mind I’m going to write some more songs, and think and pray on how we handle Church unity.

18th Century Methodism (1): An Introduction to the Social Movement

Christians who look back to the 18th century usually focus on the spiritual revival that took place, often termed the ‘Great Awakening’. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, what can tend to be left-out and forgotten is the enormous social impact the movement had on society. Methodism was a movement that grew out of a society that was still damaged by the British Civil War and Jacobean rebellions. Many villages and towns had lost their churches and those in cities were insufficient to cover the whole population, i.e the Church of England wasn’t creating any new churches, despite rapid population growth. Partly based on research from my time at University I aim to address this issue in a series of posts, starting with an introduction to Methodism as a social force. I will aim to write a post on the key figures of the movement, the revolutionary and counter revolutionary questions as well as the direct social impact of the movement, but for now let’s start with defining the movement from a historical perspective and consider the terms revolutionary or counter-revolutionary, and where they originate.


Methodists were originally connected with the Church of England; their aim was to go into the rural communities, places that were lost due to the British Civil Wars that happened a hundred years previous. Eventually, the movement separated from the Established Church after the deaths of both John and Charles Wesley. But during the eighteenth century the movement was still connected to the established church. Both Wesley’s were Arminian and both saw a need that had to be filled. They travelled about the country, wrote thousands of hymns, songs and preached thousands of sermons to thousands of willing listeners. Compared to our level of activity in this present-day, it’s kind of pitiful really. One lesson straight-away is to do more! Another lesson we can learn is that it doesn’t matter if you’re Arminian, Calvinist or Lutheran by persuasion, none of these stances make you special, nor are they as important as we often make-out. At the end of the age, when all Christians will be gathered up to heaven, these differences in theology will be irrelevant, we will be there along with the Wesley’s, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Whitfield, Spurgeon and Luther.

An important point to note is that the Methodists were seen as troublemakers, as ‘enthusiasts’, and as dangerous by other Christian denominations and by political leaders of the time. It makes me think of today; we have church and political leaders today who don’t want people being enthusiastic and evangelistic for the gospel. We have the current ‘extremist’ bill going through Parliament, and we have many stuck-up churches (particularly in Reformed circles) who want Christians to be emotionless beings, to hide their emotions, their feelings from God and others, and see anything or anybody else as ‘enthusiasts’ and theological wrong. Anything ‘new’ is viewed as heretical to be thrown away, much like the attitude of the Church of England back in the eighteenth century. The Methodists didn’t fit the bill, they weren’t normal in society’s eyes; they reached out to the outcasts, to those no one cared about, to those who couldn’t benefit the church coffers. They preached Jesus simply and they loved the Holy Spirit. In fact their meetings would probably be described as ‘charismatic’ in today’s terms, they were accompanied by many extraordinary outpourings of the Holy Spirit. If they were alive today, I might call them ‘Reformed-Charismatics’, a term that I like! The Methodists were different, and were despised by those in power, by the church leaders. I will come back to this in another article, but this is something to ponder.


The question of whether Methodism was a revolutionary or counter revolutionary movement is one that has sparked much debate. Many Marxist historians who follow E. P Thompson would argue that it was counter revolutionary, arguing that it was a middle class movement aimed at keeping the working class subdued and de-revolutionising them. According to Thompson a ‘Methodist was taught …to bear his Cross of poverty and humiliation’.[1] Interestingly, historians in the Victorian age, such as Macaulay and Lackey tended to have a similar viewpoint to that of Thompson, suggesting that Methodism stopped a similar revolution from happening. However Thompson’s book The History of the Working Class, received much criticism. It prompted many conservative and religious historians to write books showing Methodism as a non-political organisation, or that being counter-revolutionary was beneficiary to the survival of England and not a hindrance as Left-wing historians would argue. Davies states that John Wesley ‘would not have tolerated in his followers any tendency towards violent revolution’.[2] Nonetheless it must be noted that at the time, during the eighteenth century, the Church of England and prominent politicians classed the movement as revolutionary, upsetting the class structure and would lead to events that were similar to that of France. The Church of England’s views are extremely important as they were the ones who were the most threatened by the rise and growth of the Methodist movement under the guidance of the main leaders, including the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield in England and America, and preachers in Wales, such as Howell Harris and Daniel Rowland.

Conclusion: Evolutionary!

We can see that Methodism’s role in the eighteenth century is certainly important, even as social force. The debate as to whether it was revolutionary or counter revolutionary has been going on for decades and will not end with this post, but what is key is that it transformed society from the ground-up. It was a huge movement in the eighteenth century and its impact should be looked at closely by historians and Christians alike. In later posts I hope to talk about the social impact of Methodism, the views and lives of the main preachers and ask was it actually revolutionary or not? In my essay I wrote a few years back (as awful as it was in terms of grammar, and historical writing goes), I concluded that Methodism wasn’t in fact revolutionary, and it wasn’t counter-revolutionary. I argued that the movement was evolutionary, and that you shall see explained later on!

[1]E.P. Thompson., The Making of the English Working Class (London : 1968), 406

[2]R. Davies., Methodism (Middlesex : 1963), 107