We can’t abandon chunks of Scripture!

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Elections, sexuality and immigration: how can the church engage confidently on today’s issues? We asked the EA’s Damilola Makinde (pictured above, inset), who is a guest speaker at this month’s Elim Leaders Summit .

“Twenty twenty-four is going to be messy – more crises, more elections and ongoing wars,” wrote Evangelical Alliance UK director Peter Lynas in his January blog.

“There will also be incredible opportunities to speak truth and hope into some of the most controversial issues of our day.

“But will we as the UK church be distracted by division and bury our heads in the sand? Or will we see the opportunity offered by the difficult questions of our day to extend wisdom, hospitality and offer a hopeful way forward?”

It is against this backdrop that the EA’s advocacy engagement lead and ELS main stage speaker, Damilola Makinde, spends her working week – visiting churches across the UK to equip them to be a force for change in today’s turbulent culture.

“My job involves asking what it looks like when we tell the world about the church, but also when we tell the church about the world and about what God is doing in it that we need to be a part of,” she says.

There are so many challenges that might lead us to shrink from proclaiming and living out our faith, she points out.

Her role involves helping churches navigate these with wisdom and sensitivity, but also with boldness and courage.

“Crucially, this flows from not being ashamed of the gospel but sharing it through everything from our regular Sunday services and food banks to our engaging in the upcoming general election,” she says.

Damilola’s goal is to “catalyse a vision for gospel faithfulness” that includes approaching contested cultural issues with conviction and compassion.

What are some of these issues? Damilola says we need to consider one other thing before she answers that question.

Recovering the whole Bible

“Beyond looking at any particular issues, one thing I would say first is that I’d love to see the church recovering a whole-Bible ethic of life,” she says.

“It’s easy to just preach a gospel of ‘You’re a sinner and you need to turn to Jesus’ or ‘God loves you and wants to help you’. Both are true, but the biblical story is so much bigger.

“One thing that hampers our witness is that we’ve abandoned taking wisdom from the whole counsel of Scripture. There are entire chunks that never get touched.

“Confidence comes when people walk through the relevance and unity of the whole Bible story and how that helps us to live in 2024. We need to let the fullness of the Word of God inform our approaches to church and society.”

The sexuality challenge

The issue topping Damilola’s list is human sexuality.

“It’s hard to think of an issue that’s as contentious as this,” she says.

“To help the church address that, we’re working on a series of videos around sexuality; how we might speak on what it means for us to be sexual beings and what the Bible says about how we’re meant to inhabit our sexuality.

“There are God-honouring and God-dishonouring ways to do that. We want to honour various experiences but also to point to the wisdom that is uniquely found in Scripture.”

In some senses, she admits, this is coming very late in a fast-moving cultural conversation, but the heart of the project is to help the church recover confidence.

Addressing immigration

“The church in the UK has very, very different views on what it looks like to be a faithful and compassionate Christian witness amid securing the UK’s borders.

“Those views can be informed by our own experiences and family backgrounds, but to what extent are they also informed by Scripture?” she asks.

“What would it look like for the church to have a radically Bible-based approach?”

A starting point is for the church to maintain that every human being is endowed with dignity and value, regardless of nation of birth or route of entry into the UK, she says.

“The state has its work cut out when it comes to managing the asylum system. The church, similarly, must be clear in her role – providing warm welcomes to strangers, foreigners and outcasts (Isaiah 56), and ensuring the system as a whole is dignifying to each individual.

“Welcome Churches is building a network of churches across the UK that are ready and willing to welcome refugees arriving in their communities.

“Diaspora communities from the Chinese and Iranian church that have settled in the UK are growing in size and are gifts to the UK church with regards to discipleship, mission and evangelism.

“Whether they are seeking asylum or choosing to migrate to this country, people should be treated with respect and compassion while they are in the UK.”

Prioritising youth

“I have the privilege of serving in a church made up predominantly of people in their 20s and 30s and I imagine many Elim churches have groups in that demographic too.

“That means I’m grateful for the ministries that have catered for millennials, but now I’m wondering how we are looking ahead to emerging generations and making sure they have a compelling and true-to-Scripture view of who Jesus is.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m keen for God to continue working in my generation, but we also have to be looking to those coming behind us and considering how we might support them in faith.

Powered by prayer

“As someone who has the privilege of equipping churches to address tricky cultural issues, I never want what I’m saying to be just the best my brain has come up with. I want it to be empowered by the Spirit, and I feel that’s a call to us as a church too.

“There are great resources and initiatives to help us grow in faith, but fundamentally all the resources in the world can’t fill the gap of a church which fails to move in the power of the Spirit.

“These things only have legs when they are used in full dependence on the Spirit, and nothing fosters that more than prayer.

“My prayer is that we wouldn’t just have an increase in worldly intelligence but also an increase in supernatural and spiritual intelligence.

“We need more than human wisdom for the day and times we’re in; we need the fire of the Spirit.”

From Direction Magazine

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