Tim and Becky Burr, leaders of Ivy Church Academy in Manchester UK, have been helping us shape and plan a residency course to raise up and equip leaders across the growing number of areas in which Life Groups are taking root. Tim and Becky recently went to Zambia to gain first hand experience of Life Groups and Impact teams and to support our November EQUIP camp. Over 3 weeks we are sharing their thoughts and reflections. (Catch up on Part 1 or Part 2 here.)
“It’s amazing what things can get done when people don’t care about who gets the glory, when people aren’t worrying about the reputation of their ministries.”
At the end of their time in Zambia, Tim and Becky were asked what makes Dignity different to things that they have seen in the church. Both, Tim and Becky, reflected on the mentality of Christianity and wondered whether the way that we do church in the UK is in danger of really limiting what God wants to do through his church.
“Dignity brings a completely different story which is much more empowering of all the people it touches.”
Tim and Becky highlighted consumer Christianity as something that is very common in the church in the UK and in Zambia. The way in which it is easy to become spectators of church and people have learnt to expect this consumerism. The difference with Dignity is that this mentality is subverted. Dignity’s culture is about disciples making disciples of each other, creating communities that make a difference and that people want to belong to. Dignity is about how Life Groups can equip and train each other; it is not about the individual.
Becky recalled an example from when she and Tim led a training session with Dignity members. “One of the guys said that he’s good at rearing chickens and he’s going to teach his Life Group how to, so they can be empowered to rear chickens. We hadn’t told him to do this, that hadn’t been a suggestion. A mind-set was offered to look at their lives, their Life Group and communities in a different way. He had taken that on board and thought about what he was good at, he can share his skills with people. Nothing has been introduced into that village apart from a way of thinking. There is no sponsorship for the course; there are no free chickens or chicken feed, or anything like that. It is literally a change of mind.”
When listening to team members speak about the challenges they face, Tim and Becky were struck by the manner in which team members set aside fear, instead focusing on how much greater God is than the challenge. “Even that’s challenging because how many times do we face challenges in our own lives, as well as the wider church, and respond to the problems as they are too big. We’re fearful of certain things.” Again, this comes down to mindset; do we rely on ourselves or God to fight our battles?
“I think that the reason why people who are part of Dignity are having such an impact, is that the culture and DNA of Dignity is a really significant mentality. The difference in mentality means that Dignity is really about empowering and envisioning all of the people, helping them to find what God is calling them to do and then helping them to do it.”
Tim and Becky finished by cheering on Jon and Jude Witt, Dignity’s founders and pioneers. “We talked a lot about the people we’ve met who sacrifice a lot. But I think you model that. You have sacrificed a lot to be here and I think people see that and they’ve seen the sacrifice that you’ve made and you’ve model that so that others can follow your example of following God – as the leaders and founder of Dignity you have modeled that and that’s really amazing.”
We’d like to finish by saying a huge THANK YOU to Tim and Becky for adding their strength to ours and being such a great encouragement to us!