Understanding a changing world


Understanding a biblical concept of fatherhood will help the church in the UK address a contemporary identity crisis

Floyd McClung, author of The Father Heart of God, describes understanding fatherhood as 'the most important issue there is for a follower of Jesus.'

Fatherhood has always been one of society's key identity markers, most surnames reflect this, either drawing on a father's profession; Farmer, Baker, Archer, or on his forename; O'Brien, Anderson etc. In a culture where family breakdown is rife many young men and women are seeking new ways to construct an identity, through avatars, profiles, statuses and tweets many people, and especially youth, still feel that a part is missing, something that could form who they are.

The result of this sense of “something missing”, particularly in the inner city can be anti social behaviour and family breakdown.

On the other hand - "The relationship between father involvement and outcomes for UK children is demonstrated in the following:

  • Father involvement established before the age of 7 is associated with good parent-child relationships in adolescence and also later satisfactory partnerships in adult life;
  • Children with involved fathers are less likely to be involved with the police;
  • Father involvement is strongly related to children's later educational attainment."
    (From various papers published by Flouri & Buchanan 2002-2004, with the use of data from the British National Child Development Study, cited in 'Families need Fathers. 2007. Research on the Importance of Both Parents in Children's Lives- a Summary by Families need Fathers.)

    A biblical theology of Fatherhood and God's relationship to us as our father is essential to the church's ability to respond to our contemporary identity crisis along with many other social issues. God's fatherly love can heal many of the deepest wounds, but Christians must continue to build a strong foundation of understanding in order for that healing to take place.

    The Message Works Trust is delighted to be able to appoint Luke Maxted as its 2011/ 2012 Research Officer and to support this key research which begins in September, at the London School of Theology to look at the significance of the theme of fatherhood in the gospel of Matthew as it relates to the people of God. In addition to the obvious emphasis that Matthew places on the sonship of Jesus Luke will contend that Matthew is also concerned with helping his audience understand themselves as the children of God and their relation to him as their Father.

    Giving trends

    What is happening to giving to churches and to organisations such as missionary societies?

    Giving is part of the Christian lifestyle, and even in difficult times giving by Christians tends to run against the tide. Figures from the UK Giving Survey show that although there was a decline in general charitable giving during 2008, there was an increase in giving to religious causes.

    The Message Works Trust will track and report on trends in giving that are submitted to our website. (Organisations will not be named in any report but submissions will need to be verified by providing the name of the person and the reporting organisation.) Please click here to find out more!

    Demographic change

    Many missions find themselves in a situation where their supporters are growing older and dying, but the loss at the top of the age spectrum is in no way being compensated for by gains at the bottom end or in the middle!

    Even if there is successful recruiting of new and younger supporters, their life experiences will be very different to those of previous generations. This will affect their attitudes towards issues such as length of support, method of response and expectations of style of communication.

    Understanding the desires and God-given ambitions of upcoming generations of Christians and mission supporters is a key part of what The Message Works Trust is called to do. Please click here to find out more or to arrange a Supporters’ Perspective Consultation Day!

    Internet use

    Internet use has been growing enormously, even amongst older people.

    Statistics released in 2008 by the Office for National Statistics reported that 67% of adults use the internet every day and 63% of people over 55 use the internet. Please click on this link if you're interested in viewing statistics on the use of the internet (on the website of the Office for National Statistics).

    The potential for using the internet as a medium for communication is huge! The Message Works Trust provides help for Christian organisations in planning for the effective use of the internet with supporters.