Struck by God's generosity and kindness in Donaghcloney

Bryan Martin (pictured with his family) is rector of Donaghcloney Parish Church in Northern Ireland.

He is married to Lesa and they have three children. He spoke to us about his experience of running Life Explored in his local community.

Donaghcloney Parish is an Anglican Evangelical Church, with an average Sunday attendance of 320 people. It serves the villages of Donaghcloney and Waringstown, places with a long history in the linen industry. People move here from bigger towns for a quieter pace of life. There are lots of Christians in our area but that means there can be a reluctance to move beyond the bricks and mortar of church buildings.

Life Explored has been a real source of motivation for our church family to do just this and hold out the gospel to their non-Christian friends and colleagues. Since it launched last year we have already run the course twice with groups, and I’ve been through it with three individuals in one-to-ones as well. Many others in the church have been using it with their friends.

Over time we found that changing some of the questions we asked to help people grapple with the opening films made a big difference to our conversations. We started asking things like ‘who were the characters in the film?’, ‘what were they doing?’ and ‘why?’. That really helped our folks understand the overall theme in each session, and in turn has helped them study God’s word as we go on to ask the same questions of the Bible passages.

It has been really encouraging for me to see people engage with the character of God throughout the Bible overview in Life Explored. A lot of people have been really struck by his generosity and goodness. I think that has been the best part of the course - watching people grasp how God relates to us. We have seen the scales fall off people’s eyes as they realise that God is a good God, he loves us and he has freed us from sin by his son, Jesus Christ, and he doesn’t want us to live under the slavery of keeping up with the world.

The course has been immensely helpful to show that instead of putting God first in our lives, we all have idols that we worship. Some of those things might be good in themselves, but if they push God from first place then they are dangerous.

Praise God we have seen two people come to Christ as they’ve studied the Bible during Life Explored. From there, we’re encouraging people to join a follow-on course or a house group. It’s also been great to see Christians in the church now able to help lead when we run the course again.