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Posts from Jonathan Sherwin about CVM – Christian Vision for Men.

2015 was a good year for the Demolition Squad, the apologetics wing of Christian Vision for Men (CVM). Amongst other things, select highlights include:

It has been a joy watching this project that Andy Kind and I planted a couple of years ago grow.

Blogging for Men

In my first stint with CVM back in 2009, we introduced a new blog, as well as a fresh social media and email newsletter strategy. Under the current team these tools have been nurtured well, resulting in new growth and development taking them way beyond those first steps. When I came back on board, in 2012, with a vision for an apologetics ministry for CVM, we immediately looked to these tools which were working to deliver on our ideas.

It has been a fun – and challenging! – task to write helpful articles to equip men to share their faith well by tackling popular objections and questions that we all face.

Looking forward to the year ahead, and mapping out a strategy for the year, requires a quick look back at where we’ve come. All future progress stands on the shoulders of yesterday’s accomplishments. So before I get in to the tasks of 2016, I thought I’d take a look back at the articles I wrote in 2015:

Apologetics for Men

November 13, 2015 — 1 Comment

In 2012 Carl Beech, Andy Kind, and I got together in a room in Chesterfield to talk about how we could help with the tough questions that are asked both of ourselves and of our faith. Carl – as the then head of Christian Vision for Men (CVM) – wanted to reach the men of the UK with the good news of Jesus. Andy – the comedian and storyteller – wanted to blend his comedy with his apologetics passion. I – fresh out of my training with The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics – was eager to get stuck in where there was a need. And this is how the Demolition Squad was born.

Now three years in, with articles written, podcasts attempted, and conferences attended we’ve pulled together some of best content and blended it with a fresh, funny (thank you, Andy) voice in one book: The Ultimate Survival Guide: How to talk about God, the Bible, and stuff.

The Ultimate Survival Guide: How to talk about God, the Bible, and stuff

CVM are taking orders online now

25+ Common Objections Covered

Talk about Jesus anywhere and you will inevitable face questions in response. This is as true in the UK as in other countries. However each culture will frame questions in a particular way and with a particular emphasis. The challenge that Carl, Andy, and I faced was how to answer the questions being asked from men in the UK. Not this narrows the scope of book to too fine a spectrum, the book is still broader than something aimed at bird watching enthusiasts from Hull, for example.

Over the first three years we employed different tactics and approaches, and having distilled all our thinking, writing, and speaking we came up with three areas of questions tackle in the book: Scientific and Logical Objections, Personal and Emotional Objections, and Biblical Objections.

Scientific and Logical Objections

From ‘There’s no such thing as absolute truth’ to ‘Science has replaced God’, the challenges come thick and fast in this category. We’ve focussed on 8 challenges:

  • There’s no such thing as truth
  • There’s no proof for God
  • Science has disproved God
  • The Universe is just there/has always existed
  • Who created the Creator?
  • We evolved out of chaos
  • So many different religions…they can’t all be right!
  • What about people who haven’t heard about Jesus?

Personal and Emotional Objections

Because man is not a purely rational being, many objections to faith will take a more personal tone. From ‘Is it a weakness to need to believe in God?’ to questioning the good and bad that religion – and Christians – have done, there are many responses to tackle here. We again chose 8 questions to focus in on:

  • Christianity is intolerant
  • Christians are hypocrites
  • All religion is brainwashing
  • Look at all the harm that religion has done
  • It’s just wishful thinking
  • You don’t have to believe in God to be a good person
  • A God of Love wouldn’t send (good) people to Hell
  • But Stephen Fry said it

Biblical Objections

The Bible is hugely important to our faith. Christians read it, believe it, and base their lives on what it says. So can we trust it? Sink the Bible, and you sink Jesus. But if the Bible can sustain its claims of divine inspiration & authority then Jesus is real, what happened 2,000 years ago really took place, and we have some thinking to do! We provide answers to 9 questions in this section:

  • All religions basically teach the same thing
  • Jesus wasn’t a historical figure, but was based on pagan myths
  • The Bible has been doctored and corrupted
  • Jesus didn’t think of himself as divine
  • I believe Jesus was a just good moral teacher
  • The Bible is irrelevant, outdated and outmoded
  • God is a moral monster
  • Jesus didn’t rise from the dead
  • Why did God kill his own son

Oh, and the Problem of Suffering, too …

This one is a biggy, so we added an extended section at the end of the book dedicating more time to unpacking this particular challenge and explore some of the hopeful replies that Jesus offers in response. Read an extract from this section on the CVM blog.

The Ultimate Survival Guide is now available to pre-order from the CVM website.

Looking at how we can deploy arguments, questions, and illustrations effectively as we do the work of an evangelist.

This seminar was part of the 2014 CVM Quickfire conference – a collection of short talks to encourage and equip men to share their faith with their friends, colleagues, and families.

The 2015 Quickfire conference takes place on Saturday 18th April, in Chesterfield. Check out the line up and book tickets online.

Quickfire: CVM Training Day

Date: Saturday 8th February
Time: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Location: Rising Brook Church, Stafford

This Saturday I will be heading to Stafford to give a talk at the CVM Training Day: Quickfire. Looking at the topic ‘Conversion Through Persuasion?’ I’ll be presenting a 20-minute TED-style talk covering the use of arguments, illustrations, and questions in our evangelism to men.

There are 8 other fantastic speakers presenting on a range of topics to equip as all as we seek to tell more men about Jesus.

Booking is available online.

Demolition Squad Update

September 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

In November 2012 the Demolition Squad was set up at Christian Vision for Men (CVM). Since that time Andy and I have got to work, writing blogs and engaging in the debates that followed.

As well as writing the blogs we had a great time at the annual summer conference, The Gathering (video coming soon!). Getting the opportunity to equip Christians in the UK with tools to share their faith was exciting and rewarding. Andy and I had a lot of fun!

Listen to the Demolition Squad podcast in iTunesNew Podcast

Our latest development from Dem Squad R&D is the new Demolition Squad Podcast. Starting with Intolerance Andy and I chat about a variety of issues confronting the message of Jesus. We engage serious topics with a splash of humour and hope that these talks are useful and thought-provoking.

View the podcast in iTunes or Feedburner.

Recent Blog Posts

The last 9 blog articles from Andy and myself.

Read the full article on the Demolition Squad blog.
Read the full article on the Demolition Squad blog.

There was something very satisfactory about watching the Lions blow away the Barbarians in Hong Kong this afternoon. It was an encouraging start to the forthcoming tour of Australia and I think it has provoked a few headaches both for the Lions selectors as well as Aussie defence coaches.

The victory has settled the nerves and has ensured that we got off on the right foot. Serving up relief, optimism, and belief – but perhaps above all just a great feeling that we’ve won.

And men do love to win. And we love to want to win. We get inspired by great speeches – from the pages of history to the writers of Hollywood. Think of “We shall never surrender” or “Inch by inch.” These great pieces of oratorical genius get the blood flowing and focus our attention.

Read the full article on the Demolition Squad blog.

This post is a Demolition Squad post for CVM. Read the whole article here.

We are a confusing country to many looking on from the outside. Our football pitches are measured in yards and our rugby fields in metres. We take our beer in pints and our petrol in litres. (Yet we measure vehicle efficiency in miles per (Imperial) gallon – what?!). It rather threatens to make a mockery of the ‘united’ part of the UK, doesn’t it?

Yes, it’s confusing all right.

Equally, within the church in Britain there is confusion in how we should go about evangelism.

I Don’t Want An Argument

“You can’t argue someone into the Kingdom of God,” says Jim at pastorate to Bill, arguing that argument is not a valid method by which to bring someone to believe.

Bill is stumped by this. He has been at his local with his mates a couple of times in the last few months and on occasion the topic of conversation had turned to his faith. His friends’ curiosity, thinly veiled behind their cheap mockery, has led them to question Bill about why he’s a Christian.

Bill at his local

Bill has gone home from these times at the pub thinking about what he can say. “Why did I become a Christian?” he asks himself, hoping to uncover some little gem of brilliance he’s temporarily forgotten with which to respond to his mates.

“If only I could find that one thing, the knockout punch, the explosive-statement. I’d throw out the pin, toss my hand grenade-of-a-thought into the middle of the group, and just walk away.”

A slight, wry smile crosses Bill’s face as he visualises the feeling he’d get from this. But the trouble is, Bill is stuck. He can’t find that grenade.

Continue reading …

After spending a numbers of years working in evangelism and training around the world I returned to my home country in 2009. I returned in part because Carl Beech, leader of Christian Vision for Men (CVM), asked me to come back and work for the organisation.

Having seen a little of evangelism in overseas countries I was keen to stuck in on the ‘home front’. Through my 19 months at CVM I saw much of the country, much of the desire for people to share their faith with their friends, and the enormity of the task at hand.

During my time overseas I came to see the need for effective apologetics in evangelism. Apologetics, put simply, is dealing with people’s objections that stop them seeing Jesus. I grew to enjoy the discipline, find I had a gifting in the area and the desire to grow in it.

Every culture has its own challenges and obstacles. My time with CVM helped me to understand some of the current problems men face in the UK in their faith today.

In 2011 I was released from my position in CVM to study at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. My time in Oxford boosted my foundation in Christian Apologetics and opened up new areas of engagement to me.

Now I get to put all of this together!

It’s with real excitement that I can announce that Andy Kind and I will be heading up the Demolition Squad, the new apologetics arm of CVM. Through this new initiative we will be bringing apologetics training to the hundreds of men’s groups up and down the country that are fighting hard to see their families, friends, colleagues etc. come to know Jesus.

There is lots more to come, but for now read all about it here.

In late 2007 I topped the scales at over 200lbs (14st. 4lb or 91kg). I’m 5’7 (on a sunny day, in the morning). There was no way I could apply the usual “I played rugby”, “I’ve got a big frame”, “BMI doesn’t work for me” escape clauses.

I was overweight, out of shape, unfit and no matter which camera angle you tried, it always looked like a lazy porpoise snuck in the frame. Hiding under some ugly sweater didn’t work in the Hawaiian heat either …

The doctor was blunt. “Lose weight. Run.” (Actual words on medical report).

I got a kick start the next year when I became ill after an operation (no, not lypo) through a resulting infection (not a recommended weight-loss strategy). After a 3-month recovery period I decided to do something about my fitness.

Being the man that I am I pondered this fitness thing for a while, flirting with 3-mile jogs every so often. It wasn’t until 2010 when I joined a gym, changed my diet and became serious about things.

Today I’m 20lb lighter, dropped 7 points on body-fat and packed on quite a bit of lean muscle and my personal end goal is in sight.

What’s the Point?

Apart from living longer, sleeping better, coping with stress easier and not using boardshorts as a man-girdle?

The benefits of good health are well documented. The discipline it requires is good for the soul (see Proverbs).

Also, as a Christian I believe we should be honouring God with our bodies. If I believe that I have important things to do in life that make a real difference, and then neglect my body, slowing me down and dulling my effectiveness, what does that say about my commitment to the cause? We are to bring our bodies under control (1 Cor. 9:27) – it’s quite clear.

And here is an example of the fruit physical neglect can produce:

I was watching a YouTube video of influential Christian men sharing thoughts on an important topic, in a panel on the stage. Great video, great thoughts, really useful.

One comment immediately underneath the video said something along the lines of, “These guys can’t even practice self control – why would I listen?” All of the men on the stage were overweight, two of them seriously so.

This isn’t an issue of “TV’s ruined culture; to succeed you need to look good”. The commenter had a point …

Physical disabilities aside, it’s not going to kill us to get in shape and keep healthy. If we’re on a mission let’s take it seriously and stop making feeble excuses. What we have to do is too important to mess around.

Some Resources

There’s loads of good stuff online these days. Here are some great resources (two geared specifically for men – ladies, feel free to add recommended resources too!).

codelife: CVM launched codelife last year as a new way of living for men. Actually, it’s not really that new … It’s basically a new form of discipline, a code of living which is deeply rooted in Biblical principles.

There are 12 codes that you agree to stand by. Don’t worry, it’s not overly religious (see code XII) The whole set is geared towards personal discipleship and accountability. Code VI is specific to fitness – “I’ll keep my body fit and free from addictions.

Great to sign up to with mates or on your own. There are new resources being released (downloads, podcasts, videos, books) every month and conferences all over the UK.

Keeping fit comes easier when you change your mindset about how to live life. Codelife can help here.

The Optimise Clinic: Dr. Ben Sinclair realised the men don’t get into doctor’s clinics very often. So he created this service where the doctor comes to you.

Specific to men and with loads of helpful advice online, the goal is to get men fit and healthy to get the most out of life.

The Resurgence: A really useful repository of Biblical resources – articles, videos, podcasts etc. with a well-stocked Health section.

Tips on how to keep healthy alongside resources on why we should be healthy.

Such topics as: how to combat stress, lead productive and fruitful lives, what to do when you’re sick etc.

Why Men Need God And What Men Need At Church

A short interview recently published about my work with Christian Vision for Men.