15 May 2024

Podcast: Bonus Episode: Discussing The Gospel Coalition UK with Graham Nicholls

This article is part of the Affinity Talks Gospel Podcast series.

In this bonus episode of Affinity Talks Gospel Podcast, Lizzie Harewood is joined by guest co-host, Adam May and they interview Graham Nicholls about forming The Gospel Coalition UK. 

They discuss the background and conversations that led to this decision, focusing on the usefulness and gospel reach of the potentially new initiative. Graham talks about the importance of visible gospel unity, creating a resource hub for UK churches and Christians, and having a public voice for conservative evangelicals in the UK. They address concerns about cultural differences with The Gospel Coalition in the USA and the current evangelical landscape in the UK. Graham emphasises the need for constructive dialogue, transparency, and careful consideration in moving forward. 

Listeners are encouraged to share their feedback and engage in the conversation by emailing office@affinity.org.uk. The episode concludes with a prayer for discernment and unity in decision-making.

Subscribe: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.

Topics addressed in this Podcast:

  • The Gospel Coalition UK: Background and conversation initiation
  • Affinity’s beginnings
  • Existing UK engagement with The Gospel Coalition
  • Benefits of brand recognition and trust
  • Vision: Visible gospel unity and partnership
  • Vision: Resource hub for equipping UK churches and Christians
  • Vision: Public voice and conservative evangelical media presence
  • Relationship with the Evangelical Alliance
  • Timeline and next steps


[0:28] Hi, my name’s Adam May and you’re listening to the Affinity Talks Gospel Podcast. And I’m Lizzie Harewood and we are here today to speak to Graham Nicholls. We’re going to focus on the news that Affinity has been thinking about forming a branch of The Gospel Coalition UK.

[0:50] We’re going to speak to Graham, ask him about some of the details, the background to this, and perhaps as well some of the concerns that have been raised in the wider evangelical community. So, Graham, you are potentially championing the formation of The Gospel Coalition UK. Can you tell us a bit of the background to this, how this conversation happened?

[1:15] Yeah, I think as Affinity, there’s a perpetual conversation to say are we doing something useful? Useful um where we’re doing some good things could we do some better things or should could we just stop doing what we’re doing entirely and someone else can do the things we’re doing so there’s always that conversation I think you’ve always got to have that as a as a parachurch organisation it’s it’s a it should be a constant conversation are we actually useful with the church it’s more defined you know what you’re there for that’s the engine of evangelism and discipleship and so on with the parachurch organisation it’s are we helping the church are we helping the gospel so we have that conversation ongoing and then into that sort of conversation someone just threw one day quite casually the thought what about forming the gospel coalition there there’s been gospel coalition not so much branches but people who’ve wanted to associate with them around the world uh i wonder why there isn’t one in the uk i wonder if this would be a good direction to go in so it just started off as just a conversation between three of us and um and then it grew into a conversation within the Affinity leadership and then i started consulting outside the Affinity leadership and then we as a leadership came back together to say well here’s all that we think and here’s what you know the consultation we’ve had and so forth so we came to that decision the background in terms of the usefulness of argument could we gather a group of people around what is clustered around a reformed historical kind of orthodox understanding of faith.

[2:47] Similar to The Gospel Coalition?

[2:50] Could we do that? And would that be a broader coalition than Affinity currently is? Could it kind of breathe new life into church unity? Could it be helpful to those groups of churches, some of whom are in Affinity, but perhaps not being impacted by Affinity and some who are outside of Affinity and could benefit from from this new kind of engine of useful gospel content and encouragement and unity and so on. And the conclusion I came to was, I think this could be incrementally useful.

[3:20] You know how useful partly depends on, you know. People participating getting involved accessing and so on so you can’t you can’t quantify in a in a sort of business plan sense all you can do is say will this be good and will it actually be better than what I’m currently doing and if it is then you know God can use

[3:40] it and hopefully he will use it so yeah that’s a bit of the background.

[3:43] Can you explain a bit why it might have that that broader reach so as far as I’m aware Affinity’s roots were in the kind of the British evangelical council yes and then churches and other parachurch organisations sort of left other denominations potentially to to join it or to affiliate how would this then have a broader reach what is it about the gospel coalition that might reach people that aren’t already affiliated with Affinity yeah i think part to do with history and partly to do with um being being a trusted brand so in terms of history uh as you say the british evangelical.

[4:21] Council was was formed actually in 1952 and although it was positively about unity around the gospel there was a degree of negativity about it in that it was trying to react against churches together ecumenicalism that wasn’t based around the gospel so it was a bit of a negative reaction to say we can’t join with these but we do want to express gospel unity in this way but inevitably that that sort of caught up in its wake people who were gospel people who they separated from um and uh in particular uh Affinity was on the if you could call this way the the martin lloyd jones side of the martin lloyd jones john stott arguments that happened and uh there’s a famous thing at keel um uh that uh that kind of formed a bit of a division between conservative evangelicals um in the kind of free churches and uh the mainstream church of england and so there is a bit of history that means that that that uh Affinity was a little bit exclusive.

[5:24] Um not by the time i kind of got involved in it but um in its kind of essence when i got involved with it still is that bit of history but the other thing is to do with um recognition, uh we could uh just keep bashing away with Affinity Affinity is, growing in terms of corporate members uh agency members particularly um and i think we do we do lots of good things uh so we could and we can and we might just carry on you know as we are um but the gospel coalition or something like it is very well known international brand and lots of people in the uk who are in Affinity recognise the gospel coalition more than they recognise Affinity Affinity. So if you put the fact that there’s been a lot of work gone into getting that brand recognised, do we want to kind of do all the work to get to that point when it’s already there, when theologically we’re pretty much aligned with where The Gospel Coalition is and what its aims are? So there is a bit of sort of common sense and not being so arrogant to think, well, we can build up and we can be that.

[6:30] Maybe this is just a quicker route. And also, just humanly speaking, and when you do something fresh and you say this is not Affinity this is something new genuinely something new that you can start a ground level and form um it’s more likely to bring people in rather than saying we formed this do you want to come and join it i don’t know if that made sense of different strands of thinking about it no definitely yeah yeah for me i just want to post because i i remember the day that you told me about the fact that three of you had been together Heather, and you were having a thought about this gospel coalition. I remember it well. I remember sitting in exactly the same place and you were sitting there. I can’t remember what shirt you were wearing, but I do remember you telling me. And I remember you asking me the question, and because of the work that I do for Affinity, but also wider, what’s going on in terms of the evangelical landscape in the UK? Because part of the reason for me, as you look at the gospel coalition, is understanding what’s going on in the evangelical landscape and i remember you asking the question of me graham and i remember telling you what i thought but obviously you’ve had a lot more conversations than when you first asked me that question you’ve been talking to other people what’s your sense as you look at the evangelical landscape of the the uk church.

[7:50] I think there is a lot of change going on. In the mainstream denominations there is rapid and in some cases terminal decline happening with various pockets of.

[8:06] Orthodox evangelicals in them who are confused and perplexed by what’s going on in their denominations um there is uh churches from other nations that come here uh because people have come here um so there’s that going on uh there is all kind of challenges to do with sexual ethics um there is a kind of grabbing of the word evangelical by people that i don’t think are gospel people, uh there are issues to do with carefully working out what we mean by complementarian what we mean by male headship uh and those debates to have and people who are kind of uh completely opposed to even accepting of that is a piece of bible teaching and perhaps people who are um to not rigorously that rigorous is good but um to simply kind of applying that so there’s lots of there’s lots of stuff going on and lots of new fault lines forming so um that’s that’s in terms of landscape In terms of reaction, they are slightly a self-selecting group of people, because obviously people I end up talking to are people who are willing to talk to me. But of the people that are willing to talk to me, virtually everyone, I’m not exaggerating, I would say 90%, maybe even more, are positive about the idea, but with cautions.

[9:30] Um and they think it could breathe new life into i don’t really like the word but we use the word conservative evangelicalism breathe new life into conservative evangelical unity uh i i i don’t want to be so ambitious i think i can unite everyone who’s a christian uh you have to be kind of realistic a bit like you do in your own church to think well you know in my town maybe there are three churches that are evangelical maybe they should be just one but you know they have to be realistic about they have some different theology and some different practice and culture and history and so on and we accept that under god and i think it’s the same with christian organisations uh it’s better to go for something where you can cluster around a set of beliefs and practices that you’re you’re confident are both biblical and good that’s what i’m.

[10:19] So what would be perhaps the questions from those that are saying proceed with caution? What would they be saying be cautious about? Is it the link with the US and the differing cultural landscapes? Yes, all of those things. I think there’s a fundamental question which I totally get and I want to make sure we answer in whatever we do, which is what useful gospel purpose does this serve so i think that’s the fundamental one to say do we need another parachurch organisation uh and to answer it in terms of what what what useful thing for the gospel could this do and um you know there’s lots of already there’s lots of christian organisations who are based in the uk parachurch organisations in the uk there’s already lots of networks, there’s already conferences that happen, and actually conferences that are struggling to get enough people to come to and so forth.

[11:19] But having said that, I still believe that we need encouragement to confidently declare the gospel. And I still think we need more visible unity, especially amongst what we would call conservative evangelicals, broadly reformed evangelicals. And I think we still need more voices in the media. So I think there’s an answer to that question but i think we’ve got to answer that and answer it at a kind of visionary level what is this going to do but also answer it at a practical level what is this going to do so then the other objections just to get to them um are some to do with american culture so some would say why do we want to import an american model you know it’s different in britain i totally get that and my answer to that question is always whatever we do here will be will be run by us will be owned by us will be governed by us and we’ll have british content and British speakers and so on, and use the benefit of an international network that we can connect with, but to use it in a way that’s helpful for the UK.

[12:18] Uh questions about american culture wars uh importing those and i totally accept we’re not in quite the same space but i think you can over exaggerate that uh this questions about well weren’t there leadership failures in gospel coalition in the states and i say yep there were and there’s been leadership failures over here as well um and we’ve got to look at what the organisation is now and what they’re seeking to do and are they biblically faithful and are Are they, you know, people who are on fire for Christ and the gospel? Other objections are to do with The Gospel Coalition brand is too woke because they did a Martin Luther King Day and, you know, they did a few other things. Or other people say, well, it’s not it’s not woke enough because it’s quite a reformed confessional statement. So kind of people either side of the argument. So there’s some of the some of the debates. Would I be right in thinking Graham um because I’ve been doing some digging since you first started talking about it and actually I jumped when I thought that I had the opportunity to ask you questions because this is a special edition of uh the uh Affinity Talks Gospel uh podcast and I’m sure there are people who maybe aren’t listening to other episodes of the Affinity Talks Gospel podcast but I encourage you to to do so Graham and Lizzie host that I’m just kind of stepping in, but because of the fact that of doing some digging around this as part of preparing for this podcast, am I right in thinking, Graham, that there are some people already in the UK that are engaged in The Gospel Coalition?

[13:48] There are. So there are people who belong to sort of subsets of The Gospel Coalition. There’s the Tim Keller organisation and the Don Carson. I can’t remember which one’s called a foundation and one’s called something else. But there are people who write for that. So there are people in the UK like Dan Strange, Glenn Scrivener, Andrew Wilson, who already write for The Gospel Coalition and are positive about that and travel over there and get involved in forums and so on and speaking at their conferences. So there are people already connected.

[14:20] Brand is an interesting thing because it does sound very carnal and worldly and say, our brand is to do with marketing and it’s all of the devil. And you have to just say, no, it’s not. It’s to do with a trusted organisation. And it’s just normal human behaviour in the same way that you may go and hear a preacher that you know is a faithful preacher. Feature uh that’s a brand in a sense um you know as long as you’re not using in a manipulative way brands brands are just how how humans have a shorthand way of being able to make decisions about you know about what to listen to it’s just how we behave uh it’s been fascinating and just even making the announcement uh you know the amount of coverage this gets compared to some of the other Affinity things that’s partly because it’s a controversy but it’s also because there’s just a greater brand recognition so more people have heard of it you know loads of people even Even the people who disagree sometimes with what we’re doing, and that’s not mainly been people who’ve spoken to me, it’s just people on social media. They will say things like, they will say things to display a knowledge of The Gospel Coalition that they don’t have an Affinity, or they will say, I love their material, I use it all the time, but I don’t think you should do this or whatever. But it just goes to show the brand recognition is that much higher. I don’t think that answered the question at all. Does that then create…

[15:39] The danger potentially that when there is an implication for the brand someone heavily involved in that brand is and you’ve kind of semi answered this already but does it then, mean that you know the whole gospel witness is uh is in danger if we all sort of coalesce underneath this brand and what does it actually mean that when we have lots of groups we have perhaps safety in the diversity. Yeah, I think ultimately there is a risk, there’s obviously risks involved in something that you don’t control. So The Gospel Coalition in America does something completely heretical or so unbelievably clumsy that’s not heresy but just is very unwise and provokes, you know, some international reaction. Obviously, you will get dragged along with that. You can only make a judgement to say, I don’t think that is highly likely.

[16:48] I think most things that The Gospel Coalition have been involved in have been fairly well contained, you know, debates where maybe people have done things that are not right and so forth, but they’ve been reasonably well contained and understood so i think you’ve got to make a kind of risk calculation is it’s likely to happen but you also got to make the uh the the statement that you know what’s the worst that can happen in in all my life in in business and other things i always think what’s the worst that can happen and how can we deal with it what’s the worst going to happen is it’s a disaster in which case we say it’s a disaster uh we’re governed by the the uk we’re we’re legally owned in the uk we’ll just walk away from it um and hopefully we’re if we’re doing good things which are useful for the gospel we’ll carry on doing good things that’s how i think about it.

[17:37] And with the mixed feelings kind of flying around, how are you ensuring that the constituent members, their voice gets heard as well as all the kind of the people from the outside, you know, giving their two pence, whatever the phrase is. We know what the opinion is of those members. Yeah, I mean, I’ve encouraged our members to write in or call in or chat with me. And lots of them have. have uh so there’s just that that dialogue um so in terms of Affinity members trying to listen to all of those um obviously there’s representative groups in in the council and across all the agencies so i try and speak to them uh we had an agency meeting recently that you’re at Lizzie and um and you know just asking opinions and some people wrote some things after that meeting so that’s really good so i’m listening i think in that sense to people who are who want to participate i i in the both the press release and and now i’m saying talk to me about it and um.

[18:39] We want to hear your voice um of course there are people who basically don’t want us to do it for for a variety of reasons and and there’s a limit to how much you can listen to you can only listen to the arguments there’s a bit point it’s getting someone to participate if they’re basically not supportive of what you’re trying to achieve so and that’s absolutely fine um that that they don’t think it’s a good idea all you can do is is listen to them and um try and understand what they’re saying and think should does this mean i should stop or does this mean i need to refine what we’re doing or does this mean i need to just communicate better what we’re doing uh and hopefully we’ll do those things just picking up on what Lizzie was sharing there about being open and having the door open and part of the reason that uh you know you can read things and we all read things and we We read things into things that aren’t there, all of that kind of thing. And that’s why doing this podcast is fantastic.

[19:35] And I know you and I, Graham, have talked with other members of the Affinity team and council members about saying the door is genuinely open. If somebody who isn’t part of Affinity but is going, do you know what? I think I’ve got something. I want to get together on a Zoom like we’re recording this Affinity Talks Gospel podcast. I want to get on a Zoom and have a proper conversation with you, Graham. Graham how do people get in touch with you just so we can have that level of consultation because i think one of the things that one of the things that i’ve seen and Lizzie you and i were we’re talking about this before we click the record to this podcast is many people have made their mind upon how this conversation ends before they’ve even heard what’s going on so how do people get in touch with you graham so that uh you know those that you know don’t just want to throw stones but have got something constructive to uh engage in the conversation can how do people get in touch Judy Graham.

[20:29] And they can engage with me by connecting with me on Twitter, X now, but also on Affinity Talks. But also they can just email director@affinity.org.uk. I don’t get much spam, so I do get mostly genuine emails. And some people have. People have from outside the Affinity family have just made contact and shown some interest. Some people I’ve taken the initiative and spoken to them. But, yeah, you’re right. Right. It’s really difficult in these situations to provide the right amount of transparency. We did a press release, which was a bit controversial, to be fair, within Affinity, because obviously some people say, well, why don’t we wait until we’ve got a bit further along the line? And I said, no, we want to put it out there now and provoke people to either agree or disagree.

[21:18] Because we want to know how this goes down, as in how this is being received and how this is being perceived uh so we put out the press release to say this is what we’re thinking i think we were really clear uh to some people that isn’t transparent enough and some people say well why don’t you publish minutes of your meetings or you know why don’t you say exactly who you’ve spoken to and i just don’t think that’s a practical realistic or kind actually way to to deal with people um you know people i’ve spoken to will eventually get involved or not get involved But they need the respect of being able to kind of not be scrutinised for, you know, quite where they’re at. But similarly to do with saying this is what we’re going to do, we want to know what the church wants.

[22:04] I’ve got a vision for a resource hub for a fellowship connection and conferences and prayer for the nation and things like that. I’ve got a vision for public voice though those are my ideas what I don’t want to do is say this is what we’re doing um do you agree or disagree what I want to say is here’s a vision you might want to change the vision shape the vision give me another point of something to think about um and be part of that conversation that’s and that’s that’s a difficult path to steer where you provide enough leadership that that people can’t don’t just sit around saying what we’re going to do um but it’s not so so finished that they say well i’ve got nothing to participate in because you know the decision has been made the decision hasn’t been made i’ve just got a few ideas and a bit of a vision but i need people to share and shape the vision i wonder just just picking up on on on that you know you you’ve talked to to council members on on this and the fact that it feels like kind of your three ideas as you said the resource hub the greater, vision for unity across conservative and that public voice. Just give us a bit more detail, put a bit more flesh on the bones as the phrase goes for each of those three areas. What does each of the three areas look like? Just again, so people have heard. Absolutely. I think that the.

[23:29] Difficult to place a perfect order out of the first two but fellowship connection partnership i think is central visible partnership at a local and a national level i want to encourage what is currently the gospel partnerships to think could we could we broaden and deepen what we’re doing and the connections that we have uh i want to encourage more prayer for gospel work um i want to encourage more more roots for people to be to be equipped um i think there’s a an encouragement for the church as a whole when they see visible unity um in terms of people working together maybe some conferences at a local national level so i think there’s this value in visible unity it’s not just a parade uh i think it genuinely helps people but i think there’s apologetic value in visible unity as well i think it helps when people outside the church see that we’re united.

[24:23] Um and i think although i i don’t want to be uniting with the whole of everyone who’s a christian in the uk i want to show that although we are specific i suppose you could say as a as a as a cluster we also want to recognise and cheer on other gospel work that’s happening so visible unity point number one second point um in terms of uh resource hub there’s loads of good content in the uk like there’s loads of good content on the gospel coalition website in the states i want to be a hub for that good content a little bit from the states but actually mostly british content uh produced here for here um some of it original some of it new that that hopefully we can get some momentum going with with commissioning some more works i think in the uk we do a a good job of not just blogging and other articles but also video blogging and other ways of engagement And I want to be a resource hub for that,

[25:18] which is useful for equipping the church, but also useful apologetically. And then the third thing is a public voice.

[25:26] We’ve talked about, I do a little bit of media work, Lizzie and Adam, you do some, but there’s relatively few conservative evangelical voices in the media at all. And it tends to be on fairly narrow issues. issues i think there’s much more opportunity and somehow i want to try and help the church get to a point where there’s some more resources and more thinking going on to how can we drive the agenda more um uh and and get more stories out there and engage on lots of issues on a broader range of issues than just being on the defensive about sexual ethics or assisted dying or abortion all of which are really important topics and we want to hold back the tide of evil on all those those areas but there’s lots of other things christians have a view on as well that’s what we want to do if that’s enough things i love that i love that vision Lizzie what do what are your thoughts as you hear graham spell out that kind of yeah what are your thoughts Lizzie, interesting because i would say that i um i would probably sat quite on the fence yeah.

[26:29] Not really having particularly strong views either way never really concerned me that we would be uh painted with any kind of critique that the the u.s version because i kind of knew knowing you that that you would not be wedded to the kind of uh you know that kind of um cultural um control well not control obviously but those cultural issues they they wouldn’t have any kind of authority in the way that this looked here and I know that you would be keen to serve the gospel I guess undoubtedly you’re going to get.

[27:08] Critique from either side you’re going to get critique that the gospel coalition is keen on social progress and that’s some kind of wokeism but then you get others who believe that the kind of, the complementarian approach is the sign that it’s somehow I don’t know regressive and, I just think that sometimes when you’re in that middle ground where you’re getting a lot of black from either side, that’s not a bad place to be in. I feel quite encouraged. You know, I can’t count the number of times a day I go on The Gospel Coalition website because I’ve been trying to find some information about an issue or, you know, just finding something out theologically. I’ve been reading an article. And actually, that’s the thing. There is a profile there. And we mustn’t necessarily be scared of profile because we think that it’s a worldly thing to want to be associated with the brand. I think sometimes having a brand is a pragmatic way of connecting with society, with culture.

[28:15] And I think as long as we are careful, making sure that that’s a UK centric thing, talking to our culture, but still maintaining those links with with US friends and and partners I think why not proceed with caution um but yeah it’s not something that I’d kind of got myself worked up into a worry about so um I’m just seeing it as it is really I think.

[28:43] Yeah. If you’ve got a view, if you’re listening to this, because for us this is a conversation between Lizzie, Graham and I, but actually we’re wanting to put this podcast up, so if you’ve got a view as you’re listening to this, you’re not reading a press release but you’re hearing a conversation.

[28:58] Get in touch, email office@affinity.org.uk if you want to send it anonymously or if you want to get in touch with Graham directly, director@affinity.org.uk.

[29:09] Get in touch. Let us know.

[29:10] Is what Lizzie’s saying right? right does that resonate or is that a challenge get in touch and and let us and and let us know what you think about this uh whole idea about having a uk gospel uh coalition because i’m sure everybody’s got an opinion certainly that’s what we’re we’re seeing on social media graham i want to just say though the one of the things that i have seen in terms of looking at looking at my inbox for Affinity on this people are saying we’ve got the evangelical alliance why do we need the uh uk gospel coalition isn’t it the same thing how would you respond to that because that is the biggest question and that’s why now we’ve gone beyond sharing a bit of the vision i want to go for the jugular question and say you know there are other things going on is this really is this really needed what’s the difference what are the conversations that have been had with the evangelical alliance and others what’s going on it’s a great question and to be brutally honest it is a question that that i’ve cycled around or circled around a few times um and i think the answer which is the answer i’ve landed on i think it’s the correct answer is that on the one hand uh we have as Affinity and we want as the gospel coalition uk to have excellent relationships with evangelical alliance i i personally know that know the guys there get on real well with them have common cause with them in a number of areas.

[30:38] Um, and I, I would want and, and want that to continue into the future.

[30:43] But I think just as there are maybe more, as I mentioned earlier, more than one church in a town, and there are both historical, cultural, and theological reasons for that, I think The Gospel Coalition will help a whole group of churches and Christians who, for theological, cultural, and historical reasons, just don’t want at this point to be associated with the Evangelical Alliance. I also think that it works in a slightly different way in terms of the way it’s constituted. We want to, whatever we do with The Gospel Coalition, there is something really good about Affinity in the way it represents Christian organisations and churches. And that’s the engine of how we make decisions, which I want to replicate. So I think that would be a different thing. I think theologically being clustered around Reformation understanding would be a good thing, and that’s not where the Evangelical Alliance is at.

[31:44] I don’t think it’s practically possible or useful to try and say absolutely every Christian who understands the gospel should somehow be able to come under the same umbrella. Um uh i think it’s completely legitimate and reasonable to have a have an organisation that more represents your theological understanding the way you do church what your priorities are in in church life and so forth um and to really encourage that and to be unashamed of that but but be generous at the same time my my maybe rather rose-coloured kind of vision is you know wouldn’t it be great if if the gospel coalition prospered and evangelical lives prospered we We continue to be good friends, to encourage each other, work together where we can work together, work separately where working separately is better. Encourage the growth of the kind of churches that Gospel Coalition want to encourage,

[32:35] Evangelical Alliance encourage the churches they want to encourage. And if there’s loads more Christians, then God is glorified and I’m happy.

[32:46] Great answer. That is a really good answer. And I’m glad that we can address that question head on. This is a short and shorter than normal Affinity Talks Gospel podcast, but it’s really important that we’ve done this. So please do. I’m going to keep saying it because we want your feedback. The whole reason for having this recording is so we can get your feedback. So again, email office@affinity.org.uk. Or if you want to send something anonymously, they get filtered back into the team. or if you want to email Graham directly, because Graham, you’re right, you’re up for any conversation with anybody. I am. In which case I’ll give out Graham’s email address, director@affinity.org.uk. But Graham, what happens next? What’s the kind of timescale? I know from working with you, you describe yourself as being a bit of an impatient person. So what happens next? Yeah, there’s my timescale, there’s everyone else’s timescale, and then there’s God’s timescale. And I’m not quite sure which is the right one, obviously God’s. But if it was down to me, I’d have it all sorted by the summer holidays. But it’s not.

[34:02] So I think we’re going to get together with a broader group of people outside Affinity, with a few from inside Affinity, go through the vision, talk about what the church needs, get everyone to go away and pray and think about it and maybe, you know, chat with their networks or whatever.

[34:17] I’m hoping under god that we could do something by the end of the year uh to get it to get it agreed in principle by the end of the year and up and running in in the first part of next year that would be my aim i know i’m a bit unrealistic sometimes in these things but that that would be my aim well that’s that that’s encouraging to go as i say wanting to do things in god’s time but also as i say very much wanting to to get this right that’s what that’s what i’m that’s what i’m hearing you say graham yeah absolutely well before we close you are listening to the Affinity talks gospel podcast i feel like i need to be on permission for saying that i’ll be saying that in my in my sleep but if you haven’t heard the Affinity got talks gospel podcast graham and Lizzie how’s that Lizzie uh what what other things have you been talking about recently on the Affinity talks gospel podcast that people uh might want to go back in here to give a bit of a taste of some of the things that we’re talking about in the in the Affinity world gosh there are lots so uh focusing on um different aspects or different members of the Affinity kind of um family gosh that’s a bit i don’t know whether you call it the Affinity family yeah we do yeah um so uh different ministries so for example we did one on the association of christian

[35:35] teachers the work that we’re doing with Christians working in education.

[35:38] Focused on the work of CARE and James Mildred and the work that he’s doing there to facilitate Christians getting involved in politics, be that local or national politics.

[35:56] And also interviewed members who have particular expertise in church history in Scotland, in Wales, in England. So there’s something really for everyone. There’s something there to float your boat. If you’re interested in gospel work going on up and down the country, we did a recording with London City Mission. So there’s everything from whole-face missional work to to those that are able to give us a bit of an overview of the incredible gospel heritage our country has. But it’s all gospel-centred, gospel work in the UK. What’s going on? What can we be so thankful to God for? And what can we be praying for amongst the constituent members?

[36:44] I was going to be cheeky and ask Graham, what’s been your favourite podcast? But I won’t ask that. But actually, Graham, just as we come into close, close because it feels like a different kind of a podcast that we’ve been doing people who will have now listened to this conversation in the light of the podcast in the light of social media it’s probably and hopefully going to provoke uh questions comments and we’ve already said get in touch so i’m not going to say that again but graham would you just conclude our time just by praying that actually both for for those that are listening because the thing that struck me most about the conversation we’ve just had is going we want to have constructive conversation wherever constructive conversation can be found whether you’re part of the Affinity family at the moment and if you are it’s great to be part of that family or whether you’re not and you kind of go do you know what with a with the formation of a a gospel coalition here in the uk i might want to come and be part of that family so people will be listening to this for a whole range of different reasons but uh grain would you just pray for for those that are listening to this podcast that they They would know how to appropriately respond to the conversation that they’ve heard.

[37:49] Yeah, I will do. Thanks for the opportunity to talk about this.

[37:53] And it’s always a bit weird praying on a recording, but God is supreme in his understanding. And whether he hears it played lots of times and whatever time of day or night that you’re listening to this, then it’s still a prayer that God hears and you can participate in. So let’s pray. Great.

[38:14] Gracious Father in heaven, we thank you for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, that we can be reconciled to God through him. And we pray that whatever we decide as your servants about The Gospel Coalition, about the future of Affinity, about the future of gospel unity in the UK, but whatever we decide, we are thinking your thoughts after you, that we are doing what is honourable to you. We are doing what is helpful to the church, which builds people up in their faith and introduces more people to Jesus give us great wisdom and unity as we step together as we work for you and for your glory help us we pray in Jesus name amen amen.


Related articles

Stay connected with our monthly update

Sign up to receive the latest news from Affinity and our members, delivered straight to your inbox once a month.