I used to work as a stop motion animator for children’s TV. The thing I loved most about that job was that although I worked closely with a small team, once the shot was set up and lit, I was left alone inside a tent of black curtains to get on with my work in peace.
Frankly, the task Jesus set us at The Great Commission can rarely be tackled in that way. He calls us to go into all the world – that means towards people – and to make disciples – which means talking to them. So it’s always made me nervous. I know I want to follow Jesus, so I find ways to get involved with his mission that I can cope with. This often mirrors my experience in the animation studio; I find ways to alternate encountering others in a group, and scuttling off into my tent to work.
Recently, in my Communications role with the West of England Baptist Association, I’ve had one or two opportunities to tinker with animation again, this time using drawings and software rather than puppets and cameras. I’m just learning, but I love it.
This year, we’re updating and expanding a series of animated challenges we produced in 2016, for churches to share each week between Easter and Pentecost. This is part of an initiative of the 13 Baptist Associations who make up Baptists Together, called 50 days of good news. The idea is that people will try one simple thing each week that might help them show and tell the good news of Jesus.
I like these ‘challenges’ because they’re only a very reasonable step outside of my introvert’s comfort zone, and yet I can see the difference they could make if our churches really did get on board. They either prompt you to invite someone to do something, such as seeing a film or sharing a BBQ, or to pray consistently – perhaps for a specific opportunity to share your story. The inviting and the praying are the challenge; the rest is up to God.
This year there will be seven weekly challenges. The first is available now to share on Easter Sunday, and the final one will be ready for the week leading up to Pentecost, when Archbishop Justin Welby is encouraging all Christians to pray in unity. Let’s get out of our tents this Easter, if only for the time it takes to share a coffee with a friend.
The videos, each less than a minute long, will be available to share or download here on our vimeo page, and here’s the challenge for week 1: