A discipleship initiative targeted at youth has been developed by Big Ideas. Mike Rimmer got the lowdown on Ignite.

Naomi Hill & Nigel James
Naomi Hill & Nigel James

Nigel James and Naomi Hill are from Big Ideas, the people behind the Ignite initiative which is beginning to make significant headway amongst Christian youth in the UK. Big Ideas has been working with youth in Cardiff for a number of years organising a series of youth events called Stand Your Ground. The team wanted to take things further and after meetings with local church leaders and discussions with their own trustees, Big Ideas felt stirred to develop a discipleship initiative. The result is Ignite.

Nigel shares his own experience, "I became a Christian when I was about 15 years old and it was really not until my early 20s that I started taking my Christian life seriously and really began to understand what discipleship was all about. So my passion is that in young people, the gap between becoming a Christian and leading a life of discipleship will be as close as it possibly can."

Naomi Hill works for Big Ideas and has signed the declaration herself. She shares, "The best thing is that you've always got it there with you on a card. If you're having a bad day and you have your doubts and you say, 'Oh what is all this whole Christian thing? Am I bothered with it anymore?' you can look back to that declaration and know that at one point you thought, 'Yeah, I signed that, I really mean this, I'm totally committed to living this life radically for Jesus' and it encourages you to do that. To keep doing that every day.

Signing the declaration is only the beginning of the journey. Naomi was at a big Ignite meeting in Cardiff. She remembers, "I decided it was the right thing to totally give my whole life to Jesus, to submit to him and to sign to the declaration. It's really a heart thing. It's not about doing it because everyone else has done it. Sometimes there's loads of people coming forward at events and signing it but we love to see just the ones and twos and we like to pray with them and explain to them what they're signing up to. Making sure it's a real heart commitment and then praying for them as they go off and try to live it. It's saying you're in it for the long haul, knowing that it's not just about becoming a Christian, that's just the first thing that you do. It's about committing to a whole life of discipleship and following Jesus."

The response has been very strong and Big Ideas have established a website (www.igniteme.org) and reading the bulletin boards it's clear that God is doing something powerful through Ignite when you read messages like these:

"Me and my friend started to pray for all our friends in the lunch hour once or twice a week. We 've been doing it for two weeks and two people have become Christians already!"

"God never fails no matter what you are going through. Guys, we have to get motivated if we want a revival in our time, if we want to see our friends and families saved we have to stop giving God boundaries, we are the only thing prohibiting God!"

"God loves ya! I just wanted to say thanks to Ignite for helping me to get closer to God!"

"God has given us all a fire inside of us to do his work. He has not given it to us so we can just feel happy and hang out within our small groups of church friends. Let God take you to places where you may feel threatened, but God will give you strength and power to take it on and win. Live on the edge as Jesus did. Peace."

Although the event has begun in Cardiff, there are plans to take the initiative to other cities as Nigel explains, "Both Naomi and I are itinerant evangelists and although we're based strongly in Cardiff, it's our Jerusalem if you like, we travel throughout Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom. Wherever we've visited we've been mentioning Ignite to people and folk were getting excited and signing up. We're doing an Ignite UK launch tour in February. We're going to be in eight or 10 venues, sharing the Ignite principles and encouraging youth leaders and young people to see Ignite as a resource for discipleship."

Naomi describes an Ignite meeting. "We have two sorts of events. One of them is an evangelistic event, where we might have a Christian band and someone speaking and encourage people to become Christians and then sign up to Ignite. Another event we have is called Worship And Word and it's exactly that, it's just worshipping God and listening to his Word being taught to us. For the UK tour, were going to have Christian singer/ songwriter Eli performing. He signed the declaration. He's really excited about it. Nigel is going to be speaking and we're going to have some worship from Doug Walker."

At the end of the evening Nigel explains that they will be doing two things. "We'll certainly be encouraging folks that aren't Christians to respond to the good news of Jesus." He continues, "We'll be encouraging youth leaders to take away Ignite resources and to link into our network, to use the youth leader stuff on our website. We will be challenging young people to sign the Ignite declaration and the little catchphrase I say, because it's £1 for one of these cards, is, 'It's £1 's worth of commitment to Big Ideas, it's a lifetime of commitment to Jesus,' and that's the important thing."

Ignite already have nearly 1,000 teenagers signed up but Big Ideas are quick to recognise that it's really about their heart relationship with Jesus. Nigel has the final word, "We're desperate for more and more people to sign up to Ignite. It's not to get more pounds in, or more signatures but because we believe it'll be a heart response to Jesus. So we'll be challenging young people on the night, that if they really want to, before God, say, 'Yes, this is the life I want to lead, that's going to glorify Jesus,' then they'll sign up to it. We also make it very clear that if they don't want to do that, that we're not just about getting £1 off them, or getting a signature."
Ignite Declaration
I believe that God has a special purpose for my generation and me. I ask God to ignite in me a desire to discover this purpose. I commit to...

Include Jesus in my moral life, my thoughts, words, actions and relationships (Mark 12:30)
Grow closer to Jesus through studying the Bible, praying and allowing the holy spirit to lead me each day (1 Tim 4:12)
Network with other Christians in my city, my country and throughout the world (Rom 15:5)
Involve myself in a local church and respect its leadership (1 Cor 12:27)
Take the message of Jesus into my school, college or place of work and the world by praying, living and witnessing so that everyone may have an opportunity to know Jesus (Acts 1:8)
Explore God's will for myself and my generation and seek to follow it (2 Chron 7:14) CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.