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A better story | The coming of the kingdom

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’

MARK 1:14–15

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘sons of thunder’), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

MARK 3:13–19



73% of young adults raised in Christian homes in the UK have left church by the age of 35 (Barna, The Connected Generation). That’s a shocking and painful statistic. Because behind it there are real lives, real experiences, and real churches.

If we look at the reasons why people leave church, it’s not that they’ve suddenly rejected Christianity as untrue or stopped believing in God. It’s that they don’t see its relevance to their everyday lives and concerns.

I am increasingly convinced that we could be failing to capture the hearts of this generation not because our gospel is too radical, but because, all too often, it’s too safe, too shallow, and too small.

So, what’s the answer? It’s contained in the two passages from Mark’s Gospel above, where Jesus proclaims and embodies ‘good news’ that centres on the coming of God’s kingdom and prioritises disciplemaking.

In the first-century world of Jesus, people knew that their world wasn’t as it should be. They were restless and longed for something better. They knew that their God, who was the Creator God, had promised to sort it all out and put the world to rights (Isaiah 9). The good news that Jesus proclaims in Mark 1 is that God’s kingdom, God’s sovereign and saving rule, has begun. God’s long-awaited victory over evil and the rescue of his people is taking place in and through him. This is life-changing and world-changing news.

In the second passage (Mark 3:13–19), Jesus appoints and goes on to train 12 disciples to show the world what it looks like when God becomes king and new creation starts to kick in. Jesus spent three years teaching his disciples to do the things which he said to do. In the aftermath of his resurrection, he sent his Spirit upon his followers and told them to get on with the job of doing in the world what he had been doing among his own people.

It is quite literally nonsense to call Jesus ‘Lord,’ and not do what he said. The challenge of Jesus is to embrace the good news that he proclaims and embodies, centred on the coming of God’s kingdom, and focus on making 21st-century disciples who relate this gospel to every part of life. If we do this, we could not only reverse the departure of young adults from the church, but transform the world around us.

Paul Woolley

How might you communicate this truly good news, for the whole of life, to a young adult you love who has dropped out of the church? Join the conversation below.

The Whole Life Podcast

How do we connect the Christian story to stuff that’s not in the Bible, like stand-up comedy, today’s politics, and AI? To find out, listen to LICC’s brand new series The Whole Life Podcast, hosted by Paul Woolley and Grace Fielding. Together with guests like Pete Greig, Paula Gooder, and Makoto Fujimura, they discuss how the Christian faith really does speak to every part of life – and what that means for us.


  1. I’ve colleagues at work who use Jesus as a curse – lovely people but who obviously don’t know Jesus. I’ve wondered how to best talk to them but I think if I approach them and say that Jesus, the name I know and they use, is Good News 😊 and has changed my life for the better. It might start a conversation and make them think.

    By Becky Hardiman  -  15 Jan 2024
  2. Instead of starting by assuming we know what might be wrong with anyone’s world we could try being a genuine friend. We could listen and build a relationship and understand that person’s world and when we feel we have a good understanding, we can speak into it with the wisdom of Christ’s teaching.

    I often feel that Christians speak as if they know what is troubling others and what is wrong with the world; we make assumptions about people’s “God-shaped hole”, when we don’t know them; we assume that what we perceive as a problem is their problem; that our anxieties are their anxieties; we cannot accept that they might be pretty happy and contented as they are. They feel that we build a relationship with them as a discipleship target rather than as a genuine friend. That approach turns people off.

    Speaking with genuine wisdom and love founded on Jesus’s principles is founded on building genuine relationships. No matter how good our intentions are, I think about going out and building trusting relationships first before thinking about building disciples.

    By Tim Mercer  -  15 Jan 2024
  3. I became a Christian at the age of 15 (now 66) and have at time “dropped out” of church attendance, collective worship etc…….but never out of “Church”. God calls us to Himself…..not to a particular denomination/meeting house/prayer group, so when somebody starts to “drop out” the better question is “where are they going and why?”……dare I say it might be wrong for them to continue to attend where they are….God has other plans.
    As “Church” our role together is to be a picture (where we are) of what God is like…..showing what God can and will do. That might include helping a younger person (in faith) find a more appropriate community for them to be in as they “grow” in discipleship. I believe most people leave a church setting because it is not where God wants them to be going forward; and rather than looking at them as becoming “lost to our Church”, we should encourage them to be “found in God”…wherever they may be. How many of the chosen 12 were chosen to be based at one temple community?……………… is a clue.

    By Nigel Sabell  -  15 Jan 2024
  4. Whole Life Christianity, particularly when it is lived relationally in both society and the church, is an imperfect, incomplete example, model, sign and symbol of the final coming of the Kingdom of God. The more Christians there are in society the more the prospect of the Kingdom becomes attractive and understood. We have the best story available so we should be praying for a re-awakening, something only the Holy Spirit can bring about.

    By David Child  -  19 Jan 2024

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