British Church History [Part 6: Variety]

Here’s the final talk in a series of six kids talks on British Church History.  The first talk is HERE, second HERE, third HERE, fourth HERE and fifth HERE.  This talk focuses on why we have a variety of churches in the UK today.  This talk has been given in church and also been adapted for a junior school assembly.

[Powerpoint for this talk HERE]

***

Does anyone recognise these building? 

  • All Saints Church, Banstead
  • Banstead United Reformed Church
  • Banstead Methodist Church
  • Banstead Baptist Church 

In Banstead Village there are five protestant churches.  The four I’ve just shown you on the screen plus another church I think we’re all familiar with called Banstead Community Church. 

After Oliver Cromwell, the English Civil War and the conflict over what the official religion of England was, there was an Act of Parliament called the Act of Toleration in 1689.  This meant that Protestants, who weren’t part of the Church of England, were legally allowed to have their own churches and Christian traditions. 

So after this gradually more and more churches which weren’t part of the Church of England started up.  

But why do we have all these different groups of churches or denominations?  Why don’t we have one Protestant church in the UK? 

Well, the church is a bit like a family. 

In my family, we have me, my wife Kate, our daughter Molly, our son Harry, and our dog Piper.  Now each of us has different interests, different likes and dislikes. 

I like watching sport, Kate likes watching documentaries, and Molly likes kid’s programmes.  And I support Crystal Palace, Kate supports Spurs, and Molly supports Chelsea.  Harry likes Piper, and Piper just likes chicken! 

Even though we have different interests we are still part of the same family! 

Like a family, the church family is full of people who have different interests, different likes and dislikes, and who have slightly different ways of understanding some of the verses the Bible.  But because they all trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour they are united to one another as part of the same family. 

In some churches, they will baptise babies, but in other churches they will only baptise people who believe in Jesus.  In some churches, there will only be an organ playing, but in other churches there will be a band leading the music.  In some churches, the minister will wear a dog collar others jeans and a shirt.  And there are lots of other ways in which churches are different from one another. 

But even they are differences they all agree on the most important thing which is they love Jesus and that unites them and makes them part of the same family.  If a church doesn’t believe in Jesus, that only by trusting in Jesus’ death people can be saved, they aren’t actually a church even though they might call themselves one.  Sadly there are lots of churches like this. 

In UK today, there are a variety of churches that people can go to.  In Banstead there are a variety of different churches that we can go to.  But even though there are a variety of different churches, they still make up the one church if it believes in Jesus. 

Why is it good that we have different types of churches?  One answer is because different group of Christians disagreed on the way the Bible should be interpreted.  But another reason, which is the reason for the new churches that are forming today, is to reach different people, people who aren’t interested in the gospel.  The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some”

Different types of churches will be better able and equipped to reach different people with the message of the gospel.  Providing they are not sinning in what they are doing, it’s okay to do church in a different way because ultimately what matters is that some people are saved by Jesus. 

So let’s recap our journey of the history of Christianity, the history of the church in the UK… 

ARRIVAL: The good news about Jesus arrived in England, thanks to Christian Roman traders. 

ATTACKED: The Vikings threatened to wipe out the church, but God used men like Alfred the Great to preserve it. 

ORGANISED: Under William the Conqueror and the Normans the church in England was organised and made central to everyday life. 

REFORMED: In order to divorce his wife, King Henry VIII split the church in England into Protestants and Catholics. 

FREEDOM: In years that followed the Reformation, there was much conflict, not only between Protestants and Catholics but also between different groups within the Protestant church but this ultimately led to freedom to worship in Britain. 

VARIETY: Today we have lots of different types of churches which make up the Christian church in England. 

And we look back on all this, we can see that Jesus command to his followers to tell others all over the world has been obeyed, and His promise to build His church has been kept. 

Thank God that there are lots of places where we can hear the good news about Jesus in England, in Banstead.

British Church History [Part 5: Freedom]

Here’s the fifth in a series of six kids talks on British Church History.  The first talk is HERE, second HERE, third HERE, and the fourth is HERE.  This talk focuses on how freedom for people to worship in Britain was given through the Acts of Toleration in 1689 and the Catholic Relief Act in 1829.  This talk has been given in church and also been adapted for a junior school assembly.

[Powerpoint for this talk HERE]

***

Different numbers make us think about different things.  What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see the following numbers? 

  • 1966 [England winning the World Cup].
  • 2012 [Olympics in London].
  • 365 [Days in a year].
  • 12 [Months in a year; Days of Christmas; Signs of the Zodiac; Disciples of Jesus]. 

But here are 3 important numbers that we need to remember: 

6,500.  That is the number of unreached people groups in the world.  Groups of people who have never heard the good news about Jesus.  639 of these people groups have populations of over 100,000 people.  The good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection has been heard in Britain since the first century. 

2,200+.  That is the number of languages that have no part of the Bible translated into it.  The Bible was first translated into English in the 1380s, and was widely available from the 1530s. 

200 million.  That is the number of Christians around the world who face persecution (plus another 350 million Christian face discrimination and restrictions).  And at one time Christians in this country were persecuted too.  In fact until 1689 a church like this one would not have been allowed to meet. 

It wasn’t until 1689 that the Act of Toleration was made which allowed Protestants who were not members of the Church of England (known as non-conformists or Independents) to meet to worship and have their own buildings.  For those of the Roman Catholics denomination this wasn’t given until 1829. 

Before these Acts in 1689 and 1829, people were only allowed to take part in the form of Christianity that the King or Queen of England said they were allowed to, and those who took part in a different form were persecuted, with many being killed. 

The big problem was that the form of Christianity the King or Queen said they were allowed to take part in kept on changing.  Under Henry VIII and Edward VI, England was Protestant.  Then under Mary I it was Catholic.  Under Elizabeth I and James I it was Protestant.  Officially under Charles I the church was Protestant but there was a fear that it would become Catholic again because Charles I had a Catholic wife and appointed an Archbishop of Canterbury who made the Church of England more and more Catholic. 

It particularly worried some of the members of Parliament and was one of the causes behind the English Civil War which Charles lost and was replaced ultimately by Oliver Cromwell who was Protestant and favoured Independent churches so the Church of England was abolished.  Shortly after Cromwell died Charles II was invited to become king by Parliament and he outlawed independent churches and brought back the Church of England which has remained Protestant to this day. 

If Independent churches were outlawed, why are they around today?  The reason is that when James II was king, even though the Church of England was Protestant, he was a Catholic and there was a fear that the church would be through his son, the next king.  So those in the Church of England and those in the Independent churches worked together to remove James II and made William of Orange king and the Act of Toleration was signed allowing freedom for Protestants of all sorts to worship freely in Britain.  150 years later freedom was given to those in the Catholic church.

Hebrews 13:3 says that we are to: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow-prisoners, and those who are ill-treated as if you yourselves were suffering.”  We can praise God, that in this country we are free to worship God through Jesus in variety of ways.  But at the same time we should remember and pray for those around the world that live in places where they are not free to do and for those areas where it is even illegal to be a Christian.

British Church History [Part 4] Kids Talk

Here’s the fourth in a series of six kids talks on British Church History.  The first talk is HERE, second HERE, and the third is HERE.  This talk focuses on how Henry VIII took the Church of England out of the Roman Catholic denomination made it Protestant in an event known as the English Reformation.  This talk has been given in church and also been adapted for a junior school assembly.

[Powerpoint for this talk HERE]

***

Reformed

After the arrival of Christianity in Britain, the formation of the Church of England, it’s survival after attacks by the Vikings, and the organisation of the church during the reign of William the Conqueror, the next major event we come to in British Church History is probably the most famous of all. 

Can you tell me who the following bands and singers are, and what the link between them is? 

  • Take That & Robbie Williams
  • Spice Girls & Geri Halliwell
  • Westlife & Brian McFadden 

Robbie Williams was once in Take That until he left the group in 1995.  Geri Halliwell was in the Spice Girls but left in 1998 (although did rejoin recently for their one-off tour).  Brian McFadden was in Westlife until he left in 2004. 

We’re going to be thinking about something else that left what it was part of. 

The Church of England was part of the Roman Catholic denomination.  As time went by, groups of people formed who wanted the church to change, to reform.  They believed the Church of England was corrupt.  It was tricking people into giving it money plus they did not think they were teaching the true meaning of the Bible. 

In the first part of the 16th Century, lots of churches in Europe were leaving or splitting from the Roman Catholic Church for this very reason.  But not the Church of England, King Henry VIII although he was getting fed up with the Pope, on the whole was happy with the way the church was. 

That was until something happened to change his mind. 

Henry VIII was married to Catherine of Aragon but she had failed to give him a male heir to succeed him as king.  So he wanted to divorce her and marry Anne Boleyn.  But the Pope (the leader of the Roman Catholic Church) said no! 

This upset and angered Henry VIII and he did something radical.  1534 he took the Church of England out of the Roman Catholic denomination and it became Protestant.  The Church of England left the Roman Catholic Church.  This event is known as the English Reformation. 

When Robbie Williams left Take That, it meant that he started recording his own songs and making his own albums. 

When the Church of England left the Roman Catholic Church two of the big changes that happened were: 

1) A new prayer book was written by Thomas Crammer called the Book of Common Prayer.  This changed the church services from being Roman Catholic to being Protestant.  What’s significant about the Book of Common Prayer is that Crammer put as much of the Bible into it as he could. 

2) An English Bible was put in every church.  Before the Bible was only available in Latin and the priests told people what it meant.  But now there was English Bible, people could find out what it says themselves. 

The apostle Paul wrote that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

The Church of England may have left the Roman Catholic Church because Henry VIII wanted a divorce.  But God used this to change the Church in England to allow ordinary people to read the Bible in English and discover the good news about Jesus in it and how God wants them to live.