People

History of the Early Church

How did the Church begin?

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The early Christian Church began in Jerusalem and the surrounding area and grew out of the Jewish tradition. Jesus and his disciples were all Jews. The first Christians therefore did not meet in separate churches but continued to meet in the local Jewish synagogues.

St Paul was one of the main leaders in the early church and he believed that the good news of Jesus was for all people and not just the Jews. This belief led Paul to set up Christian churches throughout the Roman empire, including Europe and even into Africa. You can read about Paul in the Bible, in the Book of Acts.

Persecution Begins

Throughout the Roman Empire everyone was expected to show loyalty to the empire by standing before the statue of the Roman Emperor, putting a pinch of incense on the altar fire and saying, “Caesar is Lord.”

The only people who didn’t have to do this were the Jews. At first the Romans thought Christians were the same as Jews, but as more and more non-Jews (Gentiles) became Christians, the Roman authorities started to persecute them: punishing people because of their beliefs.

Nero – 54 AD-68 AD

Persecution started with the massacre of Christians in Rome by the Emperor Nero in 64 AD. There was a terrible fire that destroyed the centre of Rome. People were saying that it had been started by Nero to make room for his new palace. However Nero put the blame onto the Christians.

Evidence

A Roman historian called Tacitus wrote:

“To kill the rumours, Nero charged and tortured some people hated for their evil practices – the ‘Christians’.First those who confessed to being Christians were arrested. Then put to death. They were covered in the skins of wild animals, torn to death by dogs, crucified or set on fire. Nero opened up his own gardens for this spectacle and gave a show in the arena.

Persecution Continues

For the next 250 years, from time to time Christians were rounded up and put to death. Many were thrown to lions and bears in public arenas as public entertainment. Today there is a cross in the Colosseum to remember the Christians who died there – though most executions probably took place in the Circus Maximus nearby. Entertainment in the Colosseum was free, but the Circus Maximus was a paying show.

The persecution of the Christians under Roman rule ended when the emperor Constantine became a Christian.

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Good Friday is both a time of sadness and a time of thankfulness. Sadness as Christians remember the suffering that Jesus endured but thankfulness as they think about how he suffered and died as a sign of God’s love for all people. Some Christians will […]

Pentecost

What do Christians celebrate at Pentecost?

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Pentecost

What do Christians celebrate at Pentecost?

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Before Jesus returned back to heaven he set out for the disciples the work he now expected them to do: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name […]

The Orthodox Church

What does an Orthodox Church look like?

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The Orthodox Church

What does an Orthodox Church look like?

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  Here are some images from inside an Orthodox Church. You can discover some of the worship in the Orthodox Church by watching this film.

The Methodist Church

What is life like in a Methodist Church?

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The Methodist Church

What is life like in a Methodist Church?

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Methodism is the name given to the group of churches that came out of the Christian revival of the 18th century, led by the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. At first, Methodists were known as troublemakers! Nowadays the church is just as ‘respectable’ as any […]

Sayings of Jesus

How much of what Jesus said do you know?

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Sayings of Jesus

How much of what Jesus said do you know?

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What did Jesus say while He was here on earth? Test your knowledge of what Jesus said about a range of different subjects…

Resurrection evidence

What happened to Jesus' body?

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Resurrection evidence

What happened to Jesus' body?

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After Jesus was crucified, his body was placed in a cave and a large rock was rolled in front of the entrance. Roman guards were ordered to stand and keep watch over it to ensure that the body wasn’t stolen. However, after three days, Christians […]

Parables: The Unforgiving Servant

What did Jesus teach about the importance of forgiving?

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Parables: The Unforgiving Servant

What did Jesus teach about the importance of forgiving?

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Jesus taught people using stories called ‘Parables’. The Unforgiving Servant is a parable about forgiveness. Watch the film here and think for yourself: Are there things that you would forgive and things that you wouldn’t forgive? Should we forgive other people? When you do things […]

The Baptist Church

What's life in a Baptist Church like?

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The Baptist Church

What's life in a Baptist Church like?

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What makes a Baptist Church different from other Christian churches is partly found in the name. Unlike some other churches the Baptist Church does not baptise infants but instead once a person has made a commitment to the Christian faith then they will be baptised […]

The Church of England

What is life like in the Anglican Church?

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The Church of England

What is life like in the Anglican Church?

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The Church of England – also called the Anglican Church – has a long history. Its buildings which are used for worship on Sundays can date back hundreds of years. But despite its age, there is a lot of life and activity in the church […]

Churches Organisations

What organisations help Christians work and worship together?

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Churches Organisations

What organisations help Christians work and worship together?

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  • Timeline

Churches Together

Do Christians from different churches ever meet together?

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Churches Together

Do Christians from different churches ever meet together?

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There have always been different ideas around in the Christian Church. The Bible teaches that some things are really important – and on others we can agree to differ. Churches are united in central beliefs – for example, those in the Nicene Creed – and […]

Churches Together

How do churches work together in their communities?

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Churches Together

How do churches work together in their communities?

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Why did Jesus pray that his followers  ‘may be one?’ (John 17:21). What is the importance of unity for the church? How do different Churches in our communities meet and work together in? How do they celebrate their faith and share their commitment to loving […]

The Nicene Creed

What do all Christians believe?

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The Nicene Creed

What do all Christians believe?

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In AD325, the Emperor Constantine called together 120 bishops from across the Roman Empire, to agree on a statement of what all Christians believe (The Creed). The Nicene Creed is named after the place where they met. Christian churches are united by this one statement […]

Not just Sunday…

What happens in churches during the week?

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Church during week

Not just Sunday…

What happens in churches during the week?

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Church is about more than what happens in the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. Jesus taught that his followers should love their neighbour and the local church provides a place for many Christians to serve the people in their communities during the week. Try to […]

Worship in church

What happens inside a typical church?

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Worship in church

What happens inside a typical church?

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The Church in the Bible

How does the Bible describe the Church?

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The Church in the Bible

How does the Bible describe the Church?

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  The Bible used a lot of word-pictures to help early Christians understand what the Church is designed to be. Church is a body – Jesus’ body, with Jesus himself as the Head (Ephesians 1: 22-23). Bodies are made of different parts – hands, feet, […]

The Early Church

What were the very first churches like?

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The Early Church

What were the very first churches like?

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When the Bible talks about church, it isn’t really talking about a building. ‘Church’ is the name given to people who follow Jesus, who meet together to worship God and learn to do what God asks them to. It is the people in the building […]

Dedication

What happens in a dedication service?

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Dedication

What happens in a dedication service?

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Some churches believe that being baptised is something people should decide to do when they are old enough. But they still think that welcoming children into the church is important. In these churches, you might find a ‘dedication’ or ‘thanksgiving’ service. Infant dedication is a […]

Jesus is baptised

What happened at Jesus' baptism?

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Jesus is baptised

What happened at Jesus' baptism?

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Baptism was already popular in the time of Jesus. It demonstrated a person’s commitment to living God’s way rather than their own. Jesus had a cousin called John who baptised people. He was known as John the Baptist. John was a preacher. He told people […]

Rites of Passage

How do Christians celebrate big life changes?

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Rites of Passage

How do Christians celebrate big life changes?

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What are the big ‘milestones’ you’ve experienced in your life? Maybe you can remember the first day you went to school. Maybe it was a time you moved to a new place to live. Maybe you’ve even moved country. Life is full of these big […]

Jesus’ Teaching: Prayer

What did Jesus teach about prayer?

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Jesus’ Teaching: Prayer

What did Jesus teach about prayer?

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Prayer is important for Christians, as they believe it is one of the main ways through which our relationship with God can grow deeper. Just as we grow closer to our friends when we spend time with them, so Christians believe that in spending time […]

Jesus’ Teaching: Faith

What did Jesus teach about having faith?

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Jesus’ Teaching: Faith

What did Jesus teach about having faith?

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The dictionary states that the definition of faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Jesus had absolute faith in God the Father and encourages people to have the same faith. One day Jesus’ disciples asked him to increase their faith but he […]

Meet a Christian…

What unites Christians?

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Meet a Christian…

What unites Christians?

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Christians come in all different shapes and sizes, but they do have one thing in common – they believe in Jesus Christ as somebody special who has changed their life. Hear some stories here.

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What is a Christian?

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Perhaps the clue to what a Christian is can be found in the name. The word ‘Christian’ is actually a nickname – it literally means ‘little Christ’. It was a nickname given to men and women in the first century who went about talking about […]

Timeline of Jesus’ Life

What do the Gospels tell us?

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Timeline of Jesus’ Life

What do the Gospels tell us?

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What do we know about Jesus? How do we know about his life and work? What are the key features of Jesus’ life?

Jesus and the Christian faith

Why do Christians worship him?

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Jesus and the Christian faith

Why do Christians worship him?

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Jesus spent 3 years meeting and teaching people. When he died he left a devoted group of a few hundred followers. Today, 2 billion people worldwide call themselves Christians. What makes Jesus so central to Christians’ lives today? For many, he is seen in the […]

Jesus today

Why do people choose to follow Jesus in the 21st century?

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Jesus today

Why do people choose to follow Jesus in the 21st century?

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It’s easy to think of Jesus as somebody who lives in history books. But Jesus is really important to Christians– not just as somebody who said and did amazing things 2000 years ago but as somebody who is a friend to them today. Most Christians […]

Celebrating Easter

Why is the Resurrection so important to Christians today?

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Celebrating Easter

Why is the Resurrection so important to Christians today?

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If the first question about the Resurrection – Jesus’ return from death – is ‘Did it happen?’, the second is ‘Does it really matter?’ Take a look at these films to find out how Christians have responded to that question.

The Resurrection

What do Christians believe happened on Easter Sunday?

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The Resurrection

What do Christians believe happened on Easter Sunday?

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What happened on Good Friday is important to Christians. But Jesus’ death on Good Friday isn’t the end of the story. Christians believe that Jesus did not stay dead, but came back to life three days later on Easter Sunday. This is known as the […]

Sin – what is it?

What do Christians mean by the word 'sin'?

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Sin – what is it?

What do Christians mean by the word 'sin'?

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Christians often talk about Jesus’ death as a way of bringing forgiveness for sin. But what is sin? Play the game and then read the explanation below. To play the game: The aim of the game is to fire a cannon ball from one side […]

Jesus’ death

What do Christians believe about why Jesus died?

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Jesus’ death

What do Christians believe about why Jesus died?

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Jesus died by being crucified. ‘Crucifixion’ means nailed to a cross. The cross was then lifted up outside the city walls (in Jesus’ case, Jerusalem) so everybody could see it. The people on the cross were then left to die in the hot sun. It […]

The Easter Story: Doubtless

Is the idea that Jesus came back to life too much to believe?

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The Easter Story: Doubtless

Is the idea that Jesus came back to life too much to believe?

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Would you believe that a dead person could come back to life? It would be understandable to doubt it. One of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, has gone down in history as the one who doubted the reports of Jesus’ resurrection. This film is based on that […]

The Easter Story: Talk of the morning

What happened on the first Easter Sunday?

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The Easter Story: Talk of the morning

What happened on the first Easter Sunday?

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The gospels say that Jesus didn’t stay dead. Lots of witnesses saw Jesus die on a cross on Friday – but by the Sunday there were rumours that the tomb was empty and that he had appeared to some of his followers – Mary Magdalene […]

The Easter Story: The Centurion’s story

What happened when Jesus was on the cross?

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The Easter Story: The Centurion’s story

What happened when Jesus was on the cross?

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The Bible says that Jesus died by being crucified by the Romans – that is, being nailed to a cross and left to die. The gospels quote a Roman soldier who watched Jesus die as saying ‘Surely this man was the Son of God.’ This […]

The Easter Story: Undeniable

What happened to Jesus' disciples after he was arrested?

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The Easter Story: Undeniable

What happened to Jesus' disciples after he was arrested?

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On the night before Jesus died – the night of his arrest – Jesus’ disciples ran away, scared for their lives. Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends, but even he let Jesus down. During the Last Supper, which happened only hours before his arrest, […]

Jesus’ miracles: Turning water into wine

How did Jesus liven up a wedding party?

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Jesus’ miracles: Turning water into wine

How did Jesus liven up a wedding party?

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According to the Gospel of John, this was the very first miracle – or ‘sign’ as John calls them – which Jesus did. Jesus, his mother and his disciples were all guests at a wedding in Cana, in Galilee. At the reception, the wine runs […]

Jesus’ miracles: Power over nature

What did Jesus do in the middle of a raging storm?

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Jesus’ miracles: Power over nature

What did Jesus do in the middle of a raging storm?

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The Gospel writers were keen to show that Jesus had power over nature. One time Jesus and the disciples were in a boat on the Lake of Galilee late one night. A storm began. It was so strong that the boat they were in was […]

Jesus’ miracles: Raising the dead

What did Jesus do in the face of death?

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Jesus’ miracles: Raising the dead

What did Jesus do in the face of death?

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The gospels include stories of Jesus bringing people back to life.  Two of these are the raising of Jairus’ daughter and of his friend Lazarus. The story of Jairus’ daughter begins when Jesus is met by a large crowd on the side of Lake Galilee. […]

Jesus’ miracles: Healings

What happened when Jesus met people who were unwell?

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Jesus’ miracles: Healings

What happened when Jesus met people who were unwell?

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The stories about Jesus tell us that he healed many different people with all kinds of problems. The blind, the deaf, those who could not speak and those with diseases all found healing by Jesus’ touch or his command. But Jesus is also seen to […]

Jesus’ miracles: the feeding of the 5,000

How did Jesus treat people who were hungry?

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Jesus’ miracles: the feeding of the 5,000

How did Jesus treat people who were hungry?

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Miracles are often seen as signs by the Gospel writers to explain what sort of God Christians believe in and how Jesus his Son shows that. This story shows that Jesus can supply the basic needs we have – in John’s version of the story, […]

Jesus’ miracles: Jairus’ daughter

Jesus brings a girl back to life

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Jesus’ miracles: Jairus’ daughter

Jesus brings a girl back to life

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There are several stories in the gospels of Jesus bringing people back to life. In one story, Jesus heals a 12-year-old girl who has died. You can read about it Mark 5: 21-43 or watch a version of the story here.

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What is a miracle?

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When Christians talk about a miracle, they mean an event that is not ‘normal’ – that is, one that should not be able to happen according to the laws of nature. The Gospels describe 35 miracles that Jesus performed. Over half of these 35 stories […]

The Unforgiving Servant

What does it mean?

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The Unforgiving Servant

What does it mean?

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The parables were stories Jesus used which enabled him to explain his teachings in a way he knew that the people would remember. They were also a means in which he could teach tough principles that were central to the Christian faith. One of these […]

The Lost Son

What does it mean?

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The Lost Son

What does it mean?

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‘The Lost Son’ is the third of a group of Jesus’ parables about the idea of losing and finding. In the first one, a shepherd has a hundred sheep and then goes looking for one who wanders off. In the second one, a woman who […]

Prodigal Lost Son

Parables: The Lost Son

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‘The Lost (or Prodigal) Son’ is a very famous parable. It is the last of three parables Jesus tells about ‘lost’ things – first a sheep, then a coin, then finally a child. In the parable, the father represents God. The son represents the people […]

The Good Samaritan

What does it mean?

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The Good Samaritan

What does it mean?

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We all have people that we find difficult to love, those we would rather not know or cannot ever say anything good about. Jesus is asked a question “Who is my neighbour?” – that is, whom am I responsible for? He does not give a […]

Parables: The Good Samaritian

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One of the most famous parables of Jesus is known as ‘The Good Samaritan’. Samaritans were a group of people living next door to the Jews. (The Jews were the first people to hear Jesus’ story.) The Jews and the Samaritans were enemies and avoided […]

Jesus’ parables

What is a parable?

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Jesus’ parables

What is a parable?

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A parable is an imaginary story used to teach people a moral lesson (for example, how to treat people in need) or a spiritual lesson (for example, what God is like). In some ways, stories help people to understand things better. But Jesus also said […]

Jesus’ teaching: Money

What did Jesus teach about money and giving?

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Jesus’ teaching: Money

What did Jesus teach about money and giving?

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Money. It can do wonderful things and change lives for the better. Equally, it can be a cause of stress, arguments and leave our lives in a mess. Having too much can make you greedy for more, having too little can make you desperate. The […]

Jesus’ life and ministry

What do Christians believe about Jesus' life and ministry?

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Jesus’ life and ministry

What do Christians believe about Jesus' life and ministry?

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Jesus’ family Perhaps one of the most famous stories about Jesus is his birth: God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was […]

Questions about Jesus

What do we know about Jesus?

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Questions about Jesus

What do we know about Jesus?

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Did Jesus really exist? Yes. The New Testament part of the Bible tells us about who Jesus was, what he did, and why. But other writings by people who weren’t Christians also talk about a man named Jesus. Roman and Jewish historians such as Josephus […]

Christian Festivals

What are the big events that happen during the year?

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Christian Festivals

What are the big events that happen during the year?

  • Festivals
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Our calendar year is divided into four seasons – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Each season has its special characteristics, colours and associations. For example Autumn is often associated with harvest, and the orange and yellow leaves that blow around in the blustery wind. It […]