Reality Bites is the national training ministry of the West Yorkshire School of Christian Studies (WYSOCS, founded in 1986).
Reality Bites has conducted about 38 different training events since we began in 2006. This includes work for Urban Saints, Leeds Faith in Schools, Youthwork the Conference, the Bradford Diocesan Day, the Luton Churches Education Trust, Chelmsford and District Evangelical Fellowship Schools and Youth Ministries, Keswick ministries and other Christian organizations.
We provide training and resources for youth workers, schools workers and all those involved in mission and education. Our passion is to help youthworkers and schoolsworkers to become confident disciples who can engage with young people in a mature way that isn’t cheesy, embarrassing or irrelevant. We believe that this boils down to three key skills.
- Telling stories that inspire faith and reinchant the world
- Telling stories that challenge idolatry
- Asking subversive questions that challenge hidden secular worldviews
Our ministry grew out of a recognition that it is increasingly difficult to reach unchurched young people with traditional methods. They switch off when you start talking about the Bible. We love the Bible, but we believe that we must explore fresh and imaginative ways of introducing the Christian faith.
Telling powerful, dramatic stories is a great way to begin. For example in 1867 Fijian cannibals murdered, cooked and ate an English missionary. A contemporary cannibal stated that ”we ate everything but his boots”. The descendents of these cannibals have now asked the descendents of the Rev Thomas Baker to forgive them. This act of repentance and others like it have led to an amazing revival in Fiji. Communities have experienced transformation and the creation itself is being renewed and healed. Tremendous quantities of fish are returning to once barren waters. Fruit and vegetables are growing in abundance and unprecedented size. There are numerous eyewitness accounts of these ‘nature miracles’.
This story can be told very effectively by using a powerpoint presentation which is highly visual and captivating. You show photographs of the cannibals, Fijian beaches, battle axes and boots. In ten minutes you have told them the story. Then you ask them to tell you their stories and before you know it you have created an atmosphere of curiosity and fascination. All kinds of issues emerge. How did cannibals cook their victims? Were the missionaries intolerant when they told the cannibals to love their enemies rather than eat them? What exactly is repentance? What was the belief-system of the indigenous Fijians? And is God angry when we sin by having our neighbours for lunch?
Our ministry is beginning to have an impact in the United Kingdom. In 2007 we trained 500 Urban Saints leaders in this new way of reaching young people and the response has been very positive. A youth worker in Devon has used some of the material and told us that it has ‘turned the group around’. Another leading youth worker told us –
I’m writing to let you know how helpful I’m finding the Reality Bites material in youth ministry. I recently did a talk on money, sex and power to a group aged 15 plus. Exasperated over what to base the teaching on, I looked at some of the stories of the characters that Rocky has put together. The young people were fascinated. It made me aware of the benefits of the lost art of story telling, and I for one will continue to use this excellent resource, and promote it amongst those I work with. Indeed, whenever I’m looking for a way of tackling a subject to teach on, one of the first places I turn to is Reality Bites.
Reality Bites, in collaboration with Urban Saints, has now finished a Worldview/ Story course for youth workers that can be used with unchurched young people. Some of the stories are about inspiring, culture-transforming Christians. Others concern mad, eccentric people who have wasted their lives because of their idolatries and obsessions. Further to this there are entertaining stories that you can find in films, television programmes, newspapers and adverts. The course doesn’t only provide stories. It includes role plays, video clips, meditations, prayers, Bible studies and suggestions for heated debate!
Who are we?
ARTHUR JONES BSc, MEd, PhD, CBiol, MIBiol is WYSOCS’ Senior Tutor and works with Mark Roques in the Reality Bites programme. He is the Chair of the Association of Christian Teachers (http://www.christian-
MARK ROQUES BA, MPhil, PGCE is a WYSOCS’ tutor, a great story-teller (see http://www.markroques.com), and speaks at conferences in the UK and overseas. He taught philosophy and RE for many years, and is the author of Curriculum Unmasked: Towards a Christian Understanding of Education; The Good, The Bad and The Misled: True Stories Reflecting Different World Views for Use in Secondary Religious Education and Fields of God: Football and the Kingdom of God.
Contact us at mark dot roques
WYSOCS, Outwood House, Outwood Lane, Leeds LS18 4HR Registered Charity: 271987
Our brand new website Reality Bites will be up and running in January 2009.