Here’s the first in a series of six kids talks on British Church History. This talk focus on how Christianity arrived in Britain. This talk has been given in church and also been adapted for a junior school assembly.
British Church History (Part 1) – Arrival
What is the significance of those dates for each of these four things?
- Tea & 1658
- Ford Cars & 1903
- Cinema & 1912
- McDonalds & 1974
They are all the years in which these things arrived in Britain.
Like MacDonalds and Tea, Christianity is not British. It didn’t start in Britain. It came from a different part of the world.
How then did Christianity end up in Britain?
To answer this question, we need to go back almost 2000 years ago to Israel. Just before Jesus went back to heaven, He said these words to his followers, which are written down for us in Acts 1:8: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus’ first followers were told by Jesus, that they were going to be His witnesses. They were to go around telling people the good news about Him. That Jesus is the one who can rescue people from their sins so that they can be friends with God.
They were to start telling this good news in Jerusalem, and then in all Judea and Samaria (which are the areas around Jerusalem), and then to the ends of the earth, that’s the rest of the world.
One of Jesus’ followers, who took this command seriously, was called Paul. With his friends he went on different journeys as a missionary telling people in different parts of Europe the good news about Jesus. So news about Jesus spread all over Europe.
Was it Paul who brought the message of Christianity to Britain? No, the furthest Paul got was probably Rome. It is likely that Roman traders, who had heard the good news about Jesus (maybe even from Paul!), who were travelling to Britain on business brought the message of Christianity with them.
In the next 500 years there a couple of events that caused Christianity to flourish in Britain.
The first event happened in 313AD. At the time Britain was part of the Roman Empire, and the Roman Emperor Constantine declared that Christianity was to be universal religion of the Roman Empire. Then a couple hundred years later in 597AD, a Benedictine month called Augustine visited Britain as a missionary, and he was to start the Church of England and become the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
Christianity may have begun in Israel. But it didn’t stay there, because Jesus’ followers obeyed His command and took the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection to save sinners all over the world. Their obedience means that we can hear the good news about Jesus and be saved by Him. That’s something to thank God for.
Today there are still many parts of the world that are yet to hear about Jesus, and we too can obey Jesus’ command by helping to get this message about Jesus to the ends of the earth.
We can do this:
- By praying for missionaries who go to part of the world where Jesus isn’t known to tell the good news about Him.
- By giving money to support them in their work or to support organisation that puts the Bible into those people’s own languages.
- Or for some of us, God calls us to go to these places ourselves and be the person to take this good news about Jesus to that end of the earth.
(Photo: Janet Burgess)