In a sentence 2:19 exists to help local churches embrace the nations.
2:19 seeks to catalyse and promote engagement between members of local churches and people from overseas who are living in the communities around them. This engagement is gospel-centred and includes several practical aspects aimed in two main directions: facing outward and inward.
There are many ways for local church to connect with the nations living in their communities, but the first thing to do is to find out who is living there. 2:19 will advise you and provide a survey template to discover which countries are represented and what the felt needs of those born overseas are.
Usually the need for English language classes is top of the list. For more than a decade 2:19 has been developing and improving a successful and replicable model for running English language classes from ordinary local churches. This conversational English class model is called Bridges because over these simple bridge-like ministries pass friendship, language and faith.
A lack of English often paralyses people from other countries who come to the UK. It stops them from forming friendships, getting jobs and understanding British culture. As well as providing a much-needed practical service, Bridges allows church members to build relationships with the international community around them and provides a multi-faceted platform from which to share the Christian message.
The Bridges model has already been implemented successfully at several churches in the UK and can be reproduced in most church settings. 2:19 will visit your premises, your area and talk to your church leadership about the pros and cons of ESL ministry. We will share with you best practice and connect you with similar outreaches in your area. We will help get you set up and started.
Additionally 2:19 runs the annual English Teaching & Outreach Forum where your church members will be further inspired, challenged, connected and equipped to maintain a long lasting and effective outreach ministry.
Although English outreach is the most obvious way for local churches to connect with the nations, it is by no means the only way. Other churches seek advice about starting other kinds of outreach such as culture evenings, homework clubs and iCafs (International Cafés).
Many established UK church members have a godly desire to reach out to the nations but often find themselves at a loss to know how best to engage. They may be ill-equipped, keenly feel their lack of relevant skills and knowledge and are sometimes fearful, even to the point of prejudice.
Responding to these needs, 2:19 provides a suite of cultural workshops and seminars designed to encourage, empower and equip church members to connect across cultural barriers. Participants are encouraged to see themselves, not just others, as those possessing a distinct culture. Culture is defined and analysed in simple terms, giving church members a handle on something that seems to them very slippery. Applications are made both to individual interactions and to the cultural dynamics at play when the church is gathered together corporately.
We consider with you how to make churches more welcoming and accessible to those from other countries. Naturally, this includes our use of the English language in church, but also means auditing our customary ways of doing things in church life. Together we try to identify areas in which we can adapt to make church more accessible and welcoming to a broader demographic.
We encourage churches to welcome and integrate, not forcibly assimilate, people who are not British. Ask us the difference.
Much of the material in these workshops is developed out of the cultural studies classes which David teaches at Oak Hill Theological College, where he is Director of the TCC track (Theology for Crossing Cultures).