Cinemagoers throughout Britain are being invited to explore the life of Jesus by Christian Enquiry Agency. Postcard campaigns in cinemas have already resulted in thousands of people contacting the Agency or going to the evangelistic website rejesus.co.uk
Now CEA is taking full advantage of the huge interest in The Da Vinci Code. Starring Tom Hanks, the film is based on Dan Brown’s novel which is one of the most widely read books of our time – selling nearly 40 million copies and making the bestseller lists in 150 countries.
In the story several of the lead characters make highly contentious claims about secret gospels, the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and whether the church has been engaged in a cover-up for the past 2000 years.
Christian Enquiry Agency is inviting cinemagoers to have a go at deciding whether the claims are true or false, by placing 270,000 “The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction” scratchcards in cinemas across the UK.
Each scratchcard is also a double postcard with an invitation to the websites thedavincicode.org.uk and special content on rejesus.co.uk/davinci, and a freepost response section to CEA for a free Cracking The Da Vinci Code booklet by Dr Mark Stibbe, a leading authority on the Gospel of John and an author of many books.
Respondents are also sent ideas on how to discover more about Jesus and offered a copy of No Ordinary Man which includes Luke’s gospel, background notes and stories of Christian faith today.
“We are excited about this further opportunity to engage with a major film, following the success of Narnia response postcards in cinemas for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe film. Nearly 3500 people responded by either going direct to the Narnia content on rejesus.co.uk or contacting us,” said CEA director, Jeff Bonser.
This latest Christian Enquiry Agency cinema initiative is in partnership with Word & Spirit Resources, The Jerusalem Trust, Presence Retail Ltd, Vérité and rejesus.
For Da Vinci Code outreach resources for churches, see
World Cup Football: an opportunity for outreach
“We Are The Champions!” – will this be the anthem ringing out over England this summer? According to experts, England has the best chance since 1966 of winning the Football World Cup, in Germany, this time.
Whatever happens, football fans will savour every kick of this four- yearly extravaganza which will dominate much of our TV and conversation in June and July.
The tournament gives individual Christians and churches an opportunity to reach out to football fans. A pocket sized souvenir guide called KickOff 2006 gives background, full fixtures, space to record scores, testimonies of Christian footballers and how to find purpose in life with Jesus Christ. A tear-off freepost response card to CEA is included and an invitation to click on rejesus.co.uk/sport.
Churches could show the England games and the final on a large screen – offering face painting and hot dogs – as an outreach event for the football fans in the church to bring their friends. Follow-up could be screening The Ultimate Goal DVD or video of spectacular football action and testimonies of Christian players narrated by John Motson. The resources are produced by Deo Gloria Trust, Christians in Sport, International Bible Society, Vérité and CEA. For supplies see deo-gloria.co.uk or call 020 8651 6246.
For more World Cup resources for churches, see cpo.org.uk
New Chairman for CEA
Ven Robert Freeman is the new chairman of Christian Enquiry Agency succeeding Revd Douglas McBain who retires after seven years in this key role. The agency was founded 20 years ago when the late Canon Derek Palmer became the first chairman, and Douglas took over the mantle in 1999.
“Life has never been dull with Douglas. His boundless energy and enthusiasm, combined with an infectious love for Jesus, and a heart for evangelism has made a huge impact on our work,” said CEA director, Jeff Bonser.
Many people will know Douglas as a distinguished Baptist minister who served the denomination as General Superintendent of the Metropolitan Area and in 1998/9 was President of the Baptist Union. During his chairmanship of CEA the work has developed and enquiries have increased.
“My years as Chairman have been happy, fulfilling, and challenging in every way. Having a part in the life of an Agency on the adventurous edge of Evangelism, whilst also being driven by the great Ecumenical Vision for the whole Church, has been a wonderful privilege,” he said.
The new chairman brings a wealth of experience about evangelism as the former National Adviser for Evangelism in the Church of England and the current chair of rejesus.co.uk, which works in close partnership with CEA.
“Christian Enquiry Agency is one of the most important and exciting evangelistic initiatives in the UK today. It enables people to encounter the gospel in their own situation and respond in ways they feel are appropriate and helpful. Because CEA is owned and trusted by the main denominations and churches it can offer creative evangelistic opportunities and resources within a wide range of settings. Best of all CEA is fruitful: enabling many people to discover Jesus and find a living Christian faith,” said Robert Freeman, who is now Archdeacon of Halifax.
Vital prayer support reaches milestone
Over one hundred people now partner with CEA by giving weekly prayer support. They pray for those enquiring about Jesus Christ and for the developing work of the Agency.
Every week brief prayer requests are circulated by email giving the number of enquirers the previous week and limited information, to ensure confidentiality, about those who contacted CEA for further help.
All enquirers are offered prayer and many come back with personal prayer requests for themselves, family or friends.
“The response shows that many people who have no contact with church want prayer, but have no-one to ask. It’s great we can offer prayer knowing that so many Christians are committed to the vital task of praying for enquirers – and for the increasing effectiveness of our work,” said CEA director, Jeff Bonser. If you would like to pray for those enquiring about Jesus, email [email protected]
Texting about Jesus was a first for CEA in 2005
Nearly 4000 people contacted Christian Enquiry Agency last year, mostly by text message, email and freepost.
The text messages came in answer to questions about Jesus on Christmas posters and radio adverts in a nationwide campaign organised by the Churches Advertising Network. CEA sent a text reply to each person with an invitation to the evangelistic website rejesus.co.uk.
Email enquiries came through websites. Hundreds of people got in touch via the CEA site and most were aged under 40 (83%) and many were men (54%).
Response postcards accounted for many of the freepost enquiries especially the Life Issues range, the new Angelic and Natural Realm cards, and the Narnia cards in cinemas.
Further help was requested by 15% of enquirers including literature, prayer, details of local Alpha courses and contact with a local Christian – mainly arranged through Contact for Christ (see below).
The income in 2005 covered the cost of handling all enquiries and follow up, and enabled CEA to undertake major evangelistic projects. These included the nationwide cinema postcard campaign related to the Narnia film and the development of new outreach materials for spiritual seekers, in partnership with other Christian organisations.
Total income was nearly £65,000 thanks to the generosity of individuals and churches (27%), denominations and Christian organisations (28%) and charitable trusts (42%).
Contact with a local Christian – how it’s arranged
Many of the people who get in touch with Christian Enquiry Agency do not go to church. One of the ways CEA seeks to help is by offering contact with a local Christian, and hundreds of people ask for this.
Most of the connections are arranged through Contact for Christ, which is headed up by Robert Bradshaw. We asked him how it works.
How do you know the Christian contacts are OK?
All applicants complete a comprehensive form and provide the names of two Christian leaders, as referees, who know them well. We take up both references to ensure the potential contact is trustworthy and review the application to discover their strengths and their weaknesses.
How do you find the right contact for an enquirer?
We search our database for a contact in the same postcode area as the enquirer and, if there is one, try to match according to distance, experience and gender (male enquirers are matched with male contacts, etc.). If there is no-one suitable in the immediate area the search is widened until one is found.
Do you know what happens?
We ask all of our contacts to send a report telling us how the enquiry developed within 30 days of receiving details. Many encouraging stories are received and we rejoice when we hear of enquirers who are now attending church.
How can someone apply to be a contact?
Anyone interested can request an application form by visiting our website or contacting me, Rob Bradshaw, Contact For Christ, Deo Gloria Trust, Selsdon House, 212-220 Addington Road, South Croydon, Surrey, CR2 8LD. Tel: 020 8651. 6246 e-mail: [email protected]
Enquiry Centre and Headquarters
For some years now, the staff of Deo Gloria Trust, have resourced the enquiry centre for the growing number of enquirers to the Christian Enquiry Agency. The centre is located in Selsdon House, which provides a suitable environment with modern office facilities and best practice. Eric Thompson, director of Deo Gloria Trust, said; “We are delighted to work in partnership with CEA on this most strategic work of introducing people to Jesus Christ. It is a privilege to be able to read accounts first hand, of those who have been introduced to Christ and to pray for them week by week as they progress on their path of faith”.
The address for enquiries is:
Christian Enquiry Agency
“Such an excellent team and good facilities mean we can respond to enquiries promptly and professionally, and cope with the anticipated further growth,” said Jeff Bonser, director of CEA.
Christian Enquiry Agency headquarters is at 27 Tavistock Square, the London office of Churches Together in England, where the Web site rejesus.co.uk is also based. Revd Bill Snelson, general secretary of Churches Together in England, comments: Christian Enquiry Agency is a fine example of the connection between unity, mission and evangelism, and a much-needed ecumenical response at a time when fewer and fewer people have any church roots.