"We found a B&B with a communal area to run Life Explored."

After growing up in County Durham and studying in Bristol, Christine spent 15 years overseas in Taiwan as an OMF missionary before coming back to live in the UK. 

She now lives in Wooler and attends Wooler Evangelical Church. When we spoke, she’d just returned from walking her liver flat-coated retriever along the beautiful Northumberland coastline. 

This year, Chris’ church ran Life Explored for the first time, after the minister heard about the series at the launch event in Edinburgh. 

“We got together a steering group of five people,” explains Chris, “to look at the material and discuss whether it would work for us, and how we would run and organise it. We decided we’d give it a go!” 

Chris describes how each member of the steering group would take on particular tasks to enable Life Explored to happen. Chris’ role was to lead the sessions. 

“It was very encouraging seeing how the steering group came together to make it happen. We’re all very different personalities with different gifts, and yet we worked so well together with this common vision and purpose.”

The steering group agreed to run the series in an informal venue and managed to find a B&B with a communal area that they could hire. 

“We wanted a neutral venue to appeal to those who might not have set foot in a church before, or who might be more comfortable in an informal setting,” Chris says. 

Although the course was advertised widely in the community, the people who came along were all personally known to members of the steering group. “It’s a reminder that personal connections and relationships are really central to evangelism.”

Wooler is a small agricultural town with a community feel, with good opportunities to get to know neighbours. 

Chris led the series and three guests attended regularly, along with four other of the steering group members. The three who came along were very committed and made it to most sessions.

The opening films resonated with the group in different ways - some really identified with the themes in the film 'Celebrity', for example, whilst the group found 'Lawn' very funny and relatable. 

“Coming from a cross-cultural background, I found Life Explored interesting in the way it looked at “gods” that different people have in their lives. Having worked in Taiwan where people literally worship “gods” made from blocks of wood in temples and on family altar shelves, it was interesting to think of how in the West there are also many things that we tend to put in God’s place.” 

Chris’ top tip for running Life Explored is to be prepared. 

“When you’re familiar with the material, it means you’re more confident going into sessions to adapt the questions as you get to know your guests,” she explains. “It also meant we could see more easily the connecting theme from the story films and help that flow into the Bible studies.”

There was a great sense of camaraderie and even though the series finished in July last year, the group are all still in touch with one another and planning a follow up series in Christianity Explored

“Our church uses a variety of ways to reach out to people with the gospel, and these courses are a good tool to add to what we are already doing,” says Chris.

I caught up with Chris about her experience of lockdown. She said that the slower pace has helped her to appreciate the Lord's wonder in creation but also His sadness for the world. Her church have been able to reach more people through online services over the last few months and are just starting to meet in person again.