NWA: serving local churches
Since its launch four years ago, nearly 20,000 delegates have attended New Word Alive (NWA) — the Bible holiday week at Pwllheli that is enjoyed by families, students and churches from all over Britain.
With over 1,000 students booking each year, NWA remains the biggest Christian student gathering in Europe today. New Word Alive’s vision has always been about serving local churches. As Nigel Beynon, Director of NWA, comments: ‘Our desire is to resource individuals and churches and so empower them in their mission to their local communities’. ‘A big part of this resourcing’, Nigel continues, ‘is encouraging local churches through training, teaching and providing practical help.’
Speke Baptist Church is a small community church located in one of the poorest postcode regions in Britain. Steve Casey, the senior leader, talks about the challenges and encouragements of working in such a community. ‘We’re working hard to get the gospel out to the 4,000 homes in the community. Facing much rejection, there has been the encouragement of a growing number of local people responding to the gospel and wanting to serve Christ.’
The vision is to build a church community within the heart of the estate. This has led them, with some help from NWA, to purchase a central landmark pub that will be converted into a church building. Called the Noah’s Ark, the church will be developed as a community gospel outreach centre. Steve comments: ‘The Noah’s Ark centre will provide an opportunity to multiply word ministry while engaging with real issues in a needy community’. A youth drop-in centre, recovery groups, job training and pregnancy crisis facilities are all planned for the future.
Steve says: ‘In 2009 the entire church came to NWA and this was made possible through the provision of a low-income bursary. It enabled many people who wouldn’t have been able to afford to come to NWA to be fed and encouraged. Also, we’re very thankful for NWA’s generosity expressed in their investment into the Noah’s Ark project’.
Steve goes on to comment that real encouragement to Speke is not just the financial help, but receiving quality Bible teaching and being part of something bigger. ‘When you’re part of a small church, it’s very easy to have small horizons. But when you can get together with thousands of Christians from different backgrounds and places, then it enlarges the view of who God is in the eyes of our church family.’ He continues: ‘People have been buying Christian books in a way they have never done before because they felt they could read, learn and grow themselves’.
Dr. Krish Kandiah, executive director, Churches in Mission at the Evangelical Alliance, talks about the strategic importance of investing into students.
‘I believe the universities are a key place for the future and the present state of the church. As we are seeing a major lack of 20-30s, the university is a key place to work out how to contextualise the gospel for this rising generation. Without the 20-30s engaged, we risk being irrelevant both today and tomorrow.’
New Word Alive is not an exclusive student conference. However, each year over 1,000 students attend the Easter event. Richard Cunningham, Director of UCCF: The Christian Unions — one of the founding members of New Word Alive, comments: ‘Many of today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. They will go on to take leadership positions in the church, politics and industry. So investing in Christian students now is strategic for years to come. UCCF is delighted to partner with a conference as effective as New Word Alive’.
Many of the 200 Christian Unions that make up UCCF make group bookings on behalf of their members. Christian Unions have made the New Word Alive event a regular feature on their annual Christian Union calendar and are finding the training they receive during the event invaluable.
‘I loved going to New Word Alive’, commented a Psychology student from Exeter Christian Union. ‘The Rough Guide to the Bible training track was a particular highlight. It gave me the confidence to open up a Bible with my non-Christian friends and made me really excited about mission.’ Marie used the training to read the Bible with several friends of hers when she got back. ‘It was so exciting to open up the Bible with my friends. At first I was scared to ask them, but the teaching I received gave me the extra burst of confidence I needed.’
Front line evangelism
Robin Sydserff, minister at St. Catherine’s Argyle Church, comments: ‘Christian students are at the front line in evangelism, telling the gospel to a generation of future leaders in all walks of life. And Christian Unions, in partnerships with local churches, are integral to identifying, nurturing and training gospel workers’.
This year’s Bible readings will be taken by David Cook, Principal of Sydney Missionary and Bible College, and will be on the book of Acts.
To find out more about how to book, visit http://www.nwa.org
For the limited bursary placements, contact email@example.com or call 020 7407 5863.