Christianity Explored with Rico Tice
Everyone uses filtering questions to get a read on someone they’re getting to know. In Christian circles, you’ll hear a question about someone’s preferred bible translation or favourite hymns or worship songs. Another filter question is, “Which evangelism programme does your church use?” In the UK, the two most likely answers are Alpha or Christianity Explored and the answer tells you many things about the church member’s congregation.
Christianity Explored grew out of the work that The Revd Rico Tice was doing in his role of Minister for Evangelism at All Souls’ Langham Place. It came after Holy Trinity, Brompton’s programme, Alpha. Like Alpha, CE is based around a friendly model of evangelism where people share a meal and hear or watch talks intended to open people up to hearing the Gospel.
In CE’s case, the focus is on using the text of the Gospel of Mark to introduce attendees to Jesus. Shortest of the 4 gospels, Mark is very straightforward. It is the easiest to grasp the message. The Christianity Explored course then seeks to answer three questions; Who was Jesus — what is his identity? What was his mission — what did he come to do? And finally, what is the call he makes on his followers? Those three questions around identity, mission, and call sum up the course very tidily.
The course is distinctive because, like the bible from whence it is taken, it is very counter cultural — it does not sell short the problem of sin or the holiness of God. It also does not try to steer attendees toward charismatic church practices such as glossolalia (speaking in tongues). Most clearly of all, it maintains the position that the bible is the authority in the Church.
The basic course came into being in 2002 and then videos and booklets were in place by late 2005. In the early days, Tice was aided by Barry Cooper and Sam Shammas. Cooper and Shammas have moved into other endeavours but Tice is still hard at work as the person in charge of evangelism at All Souls’ Langham Place where he’s been since 1994.
Asked as to how the tool has spread, Tice said, “There are no official numbers as to the numbers of people who’ve taken the course but it is now formally translated into 25 languages and 60 or more informally. What happens is that someone finds the material useful and they do an informal translation and as interest builds a formal translation is done and it spreads from there.”
The course has been taught in over 130 countries.
Tice is convinced that the Covid-19 restrictions have helped open up people to the message of the Gospel. He said, “There are three things that have been shown to us by the events of the last year: 1.) We humans really are fragile; 2.) Diaries full of cancellations have proven that things aren’t necessarily going to happen the way we’ve planned; and, 3.) We are called to be in relationships…like Genesis 2:18 tells us…it’s not good for us to be alone.”
He reports that Christianity Explored has found an even greater audience during the times of lockdown. “Something about the restrictions and being able to participate from home in your slippers is appealing to many. People can participate from wherever they are online and it seems far less threatening than sitting down around a table of people of mostly strangers. So, despite Covid-19, the work of the gospel continues to go forth.”
Married to Lucy, who came to faith after attending a Christianity Explored course at All Souls’, the couple have 3 children.
Last month, his book, Faithful Leaders was published by The Good Book Company.