As someone involved in church leadership myself, I can understand why church leaders may be a bit suspicious of an internet-based ministry. Surely the real work of discipleship should go on in a local church, and not through someone watching videos on their own? How can you do church without the people?
I though it would be worth posting up my thinking behind UTB, and how I hope that it will be used not simply by individuals but in order to build up the whole church.
Why I created UTB
Over the past few years, by the grace of God we have seen a few people come into our church from secular backgrounds and turn to Christ. I have been involved in leading outreach and discipleship courses with them. One of the things which I’ve noticed is that many people who come to faith now have got virtually no understanding of the Christian faith or the Bible. It’s been a real struggle to get any of them to come to church regularly, especially younger people with families, and many of them drift away after a while. (Conversations with other church leaders from across the UK suggest that we are far from alone in having this problem).
The one thing we’ve run over the last few years which has had the most ‘success’ in reaching new Christians has been a discipleship course we’ve run on a midweek evening, working through things such as the Heidelberg Catechism, a Bible Overview and the Sermon on the Mount.
Back in 2018 I decided to try and film regular videos as something I could give to people who’d finished one of our outreach courses. It seemed to me that, although there was a lot of Christian content out there, most of it was aimed at more mature Christians. There was very little, if anything, to actually teach people the faith from the ground up aimed at an online audience.
All this eventually led to the creation of Understand the Bible. I am hoping that it’s easier to download an app or click ‘sign up’ on a website than it is to come to church regularly at the moment, and my prayer with UTB is that for many people it will be their ‘first steps’ into the learning the Christian faith.
Please be sure that I do not in any way intended UTB to be a replacement for church. I am praying that UTB will strengthen the church in the UK and as such I am working on ways of linking people who follow the discipleship programme into a local church.
In the first instance, you can now register your church with this website, which will create a listing that people can find by location. I am hoping this will help to connect people using the app to their local church, or a church which is local to them.
Where UTB is coming from
I am an ordained Anglican, and as such I am coming from a classically Anglican / Reformed perspective. (I talk a bit more about this on the basis of faith page). However, my aim is to avoid ‘party political’ denominational issues and to focus on what C.S. Lewis called Mere Christianity. Therefore I do not wish to get into contentious issues such as spiritual gifts, the exact nature of the sacraments, etc. I genuinely hope this website will be usable by Christians from many different denominations – free church, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc. (For what it’s worth – I grew up in an independent church and only came into the Anglican church later in life – so I have some experience of both!)
In short, I sincerely hope that UTB will be a resource for the whole church – not just Anglicans.
Using UTB in a church
UTB is largely built on the kind of things we’ve been doing in a discipleship group in our own church. If you’re interested in using the UTB videos in your own church group, please do get in touch – I am thinking of setting up a sort of subscription programme.
Any ideas / comments / questions?
I feel that UTB is still in its early days and I am still feeling my way into it all. If you have any bright ideas or you’d like to ask a question, you are very welcome to drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.