‘Ancient ideas all revved up’
A community chaplain and pioneer church planter has created a suite of resources with a modern twist to help churches and schools better understand the timeless story of Jesus
The Revd Joe Haward, an ordained Baptist minister who founded This Hope in Newton Abbot in Devon, has developed the material to meet the needs of churches seeking to help their children better understand and grow in the Christian faith, and teachers tasked with delivering RE lessons.
Joe believes the use of modern analogy and characters can help point to deeper truths, which is why his new website revdjoe.com carries the quote: ‘Ancient ideas all revved up.’
‘I’ve realised that by listening to the modern story, we can somehow understand the old story,’ he explains. ‘The ideas of Jesus are part of our DNA. The stories of Jesus are embedded within many of our modern stories.
‘I thought there must be a way of developing resources for churches, schools and businesses.’
Joe has developed lesson plans and worksheets for churches, and for schools at Key Stage 1-3. The titles are peppered with modern culture references and language (Jesus the Superhero? Jesus as Batman; Junk World; #Filtered Life) – but all are designed to point to Jesus and help people understand Christian ideas.
Joe has a number of teacher friends, and learnt from them how they were struggling to teach RE. ‘They tell me they just don’t have the time to dedicate to it in way that does it justice.
‘I did a lot of research and felt there was a gap in the materials available to help them. So I wanted to create something that gives a really in-depth insight into the Christian story, and the stories of Jesus, using language and references that people would instantly understand.
‘Some teachers have told me, if these resources deliver, I’m a life saver. People have said the resources look vibrant and different.’
Alongside the resources geared for RE and church, Joe has also created material that explores mental health and wellbeing. ‘I hear from my own daughter, who tells me some children are just going through awful stuff.
‘Also in churches, we are beginning to talk about mental health, but I don’t know if we are talking about it well. I’m using real studies from real people.’
There’s also a business element - Joe is a chaplain in an accountancy firm – to help businesses better understand human relationships and what makes people tick. ‘Focusing on human dynamics and relationships helps us work better.’
Joe (pictured) is available to come and deliver workshops, seminars, and teaching that will help schools, churches, and businesses in understanding human relationship dynamics, and how these ancient ideas are as important today as they have ever been. There are details of the topics he can come and speak on, as well as offering your own ideas, at revdjoe.com.
Joe is a church planter in Newton Abbot, and with funding set to end next year he hopes the creation of these resources will need to a sustainable income.
‘This Hope is really strong on relationships. We’ve built relationships across the community, with people who don’t go to church, which is great.
‘But in terms of sustainability we have to look at other ways of funding.’
Joe is also looking for ambassadors, for those who could use the resources for free and promote them to others within their own context and circles.
There are currently 52 lessons, with more to be added as the website develops. They can be purchased individually, or via a monthly or annual subscription.