Andy Frost, Director of Share Jesus International, talks about evangelism, the Pentecost festival, why people lose their faith and how the Church can engage with contemporary culture.
1. Your first book was called Freestyle. What’s it about?
Many young people go to big events like Soul Survivor and NewWine, and have a great time. When they return home, it’s very difficult to replicate that experience because they don’t have the same speakers or worship bands. [In the book] we looked at how we begin to follow Christ in our home contexts by looking at six key areas of the Christian faith. There’s lots of ideas of how to read the Bible, pray, worship and engage in mission.
2. Do you think big events can give the impression that the Christian faith is always about mountaintop experiences?
Yeah, definitely. Events are really important because it gives us an opportunity to see a bigger picture. But one of the issues we’ve struggled with is how we make disciples. In my work as an evangelist I do an event and see people come to faith but the question is are am I really making disciples and are they becoming true followers of Jesus? It’s a huge challenge for the church. We need to look at these big festivals and how we can put in a framework for young people so when they return back to their home context, they are given the tools to engage with the faith for themselves.
3. Your latest book is about people who have gone away from faith. Why did you write it?
We’ve got better and better at getting people through the front door of our churches but at the same time people are leaving through the back door. Lots of my friends who were committed Christians at a younger age have now left their faith. I wanted to explore why and what had gone wrong.
I also wanted to explore the journey of faith and doubt. We doubt because we are grappling with what is really true. It’s important to admit that we doubt at times. Often we don’t speak about doubt or asking questions of our faith. But we need to make space for those questions so our faith can be real.
4. What does your work at Share Jesus International involve?
SJI is a charity that was set up by my father before he passed away and I took over four years ago as director. We’re passionate about how we encourage the next generation to step up to the plate and see how they can be used by God.
We run a thing called Fresh for people aged 15 to 21. We get three or four funders together in a room and each young person has to write down their vision, aims and goals. They have five minutes to pitch their idea and the funders work out what they invest in.
We’ve seen various projects get kicked off through it. One girl set up the first ever Fairtrade tuck shop in her school and it went so well that it put the main tuck-shop out of business! She’s now working with the council, helping to make the whole town Fairtrade.
5. You are releasing seven DVDs which explore Jesus in his historical and cultural background. What was the thinking behind this?
Often we read our Bible stories and we fail to picture it. But [with the DVDs] the footage is there, which reenacts some of the life of Jesus. So it really brings the stories to life in a fresh way. I wanted to explore some of the stories that we read in our churches but forget about the reality of what it actually looked like to be there and experience it.
6. You had over 20,000 people at Pentecost Festival in London last year, and you are going for it again in 2012. Tell us about it.
It’s modeled on the Edinburgh festival where you have many events taking place under one umbrella. We encourage people from all church backgrounds to bring something of what they do to the festival. It’s a varied mix of things; gospel music, free running, political debate, comedy, street dance and Bollywood.
What’s fascinating about it is finding out the many different ways the Church is engaging with contemporary culture. It’s fascinating to see how we are being salt and light in so many different places. It’s an important festival to remind ourselves of the birth of the church and how we’re called to engage with the world around us.
7. What does the future of the UK church look like?
It’s important we take stock of what is happening. There’s a massive shift and some big questions about how we make disciples, how we communicate the Christian faith and how we do church. The future will be a mixed economy of different styles of church and different ways of doing mission.
8. What’s the best Christian book you’ve read?
We do a thing with our church where we read a book in a local pub and invite our friends to come along and join us. We’ve just done Prodigal God by Tim Keller. We give copies of the book to our friends and say come and join us and we’ll explore the Christian faith together. It has gone down really well and gives space to ask questions and explore the meaning of the story in that context.
9. What has God been teaching you lately?
A lot about his faithfulness. Often we think about how we are called to be faithful to God and we forget about how much more faithful God is to us. It’s amazing as you look back, God has been faithful year after year. I’m learning to trust him more and more and know that he is working His good in all things.
10. What do you have planned for 2012?
We’re planning a Jesus series tour with Phatfish, which will be happening in May, June time. There will be a big screen showing of a lot of the footage from the Jesus series and I’ll be speaking about how we can grapple afresh with the story of Jesus and what it means for our lives today.
March 30th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes