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An interview with Tim Moyler – Living & Telling faith as a way of life

15-7-19 CROP

How did you come to faith? 

I’m not from a church background but when I was brought up, church was much more  part of local life. The family did have contacts with the local church in Margate and it was through the church that I got connected with a whole bunch of people who were putting on a Christian musical locally. Because I had contacts with the church, I think they probably assumed I was a Christian and they asked me to sing the lead part in this Christian musical which was quite interesting! I was glad to do that being a musician. It was a great opportunity to stand on the stage The Beatles had played on, so I said yes. 

It was when I started connecting with these people from different churches that I noticed that their lives were different. I think they probably realised that I wasn’t quite what they originally took me for. But they were just so kind, lovely, inclusive and welcoming. They fed me, read the Bible with me, prayed with me and took me in as part of their community. It was in that process that I started to discover a lot more about what was motivating their lives and what had changed their lives. I discovered it was Jesus who was doing all the transformation and making them who they were. 

They made it clear to me that Jesus wanted to get a hold of my life too. They would say ‘Are you ready to become a Christian?’ I’d say ‘No, no, I’ve got too many questions. I’m not ready.’ Looking back now I can see that if such a thing as an Alpha course existed, I’d have been there like a shot. On the 27th April 1975 I found myself in a church meeting on a Sunday evening. The gospel was spoken very clearly and stirred something in me. I found myself standing on my feet and inviting Jesus into my life. It was a very interesting journey for me and not one that I would say is typical for most people today. 

This happened when I was 22.  From then on, it was a process of discovering more about Him. Not coming from a church background I had a lot to learn. In my late teens and early twenties I’d been involved in local bands, lots of drinking down local pubs, but I had ended up on antidepressant tablets and having regular panic attacks. My life was very rough when I started to connect with these Christians. From the day that I invited Jesus into my life, I’ve never had another panic attack and I’ve never taken another antidepressant tablet. I was not just saved, but I was healed. Again, that’s not a typical experience for most people, but for me, it was the journey that God took me on. It showed me right from my early days as a Christian that God always has so much more for you than you can imagine. Salvation is an important part of that – an essential part of that – but there’s always so much more. 

What is Living & Telling and how did it start? 

Living & Telling is a series of training sessions which are designed to envision, train and equip Christians to share Jesus naturally and helpfully as a way of life. It’s a course that I inherited during my time in Agapé UK from its previous version which was created in 2004 by the then national director David Wilson. I started using his course with local teenagers who were going off to university. 

I was at a church in south London and it really bothered me that I was hearing story after story of churched young people going to university and not connecting with a local church, not getting stuck into the Christian Union (CU) and falling away from their faith. It was some years later that I discovered that this was not just happening in my church, but this was quite a typical experience for churched young people. They would get to their university years and would find they didn’t have it in them to survive those years. 

I always think of university as being the whole wide world in microcosm. If there is anything you want to discover or try out, go to university – you’ll find it there somewhere. If you’ve got young people who were raised in a Christian bubble, I think they are prone to being sucked into all sorts of unhelpful things without having the opportunity to evaluate them alongside people that they’ve trusted growing up. 

I was passionate for this not to happen to my own kids who would soon be going to university. And not just mine, but other young people in the church. In 2007 I decided to run a version of David’s Living & Telling course and I pitched it and adapted it for school leavers. It was just a small group but it’s so interesting that one of them has just started as one of the leadership team of the new HTB plant in Exeter. Another is leading a national movement amongst students in the UK. I’m not saying that it was just down to Living & Telling but it’s great to know that we played a part in their journey and we were able to give them some useful tools and training to get them off to a flying start when they got to university. Instead of them being those who just consumed university life, we were sending them off prepared and ready to be proactive in sharing Jesus whenever they had the opportunity. 

In the autumn of 2008, when I got to Devon, I connected with Dave Pegg and he has been my right-hand man over the last ten years working with me on the course. He has brought the most extraordinary range of gifting and really caught my heart for where we wanted to go. Without him, Living & Telling wouldn’t be where it is now. 

Between us we decided we would run Living & Telling in Exeter in 2009. We promoted it to school leavers that we were connected with. We soon found that adults wanted to come along too; those who felt they had never been prepared by their local church to share Jesus confidently with the people around them. That’s been the pattern over the years. Although we pitched it primarily for those going to college and university, it’s always attracted people of all ages.

Can you tell us a little about the structure of the course?

Over the last ten years Dave and I have developed the course and we’ve added things that we’ve found helpful in our own journeys. So many people were asking how they could get hold of the Living & Telling course and we couldn’t really give it to them because it was all on bits of paper, it was in our heads, we used video clips and all sorts. Dave and I realised we had to write this down in a form that we could hand over to people. About four years ago, we started a process of pulling the course apart, restructuring it and rewriting it. We kept all the brilliant stuff that David Wilson had included in his version, but added new content that we’d been developing. 

We very quickly realised we needed to film all of this so people could just show the videos, then get people to talk about it and process the content of those sessions together. I tried to raise some funding to enable us to do this in a good quality format. After a year I gave up trying to raise funds as nobody seemed interested. Dave and I decided we were going to get on with it anyway, even if we just filmed each other with a mobile phone. 

We turned our new version into film scripts, and as we were doing that and talking with Christian leaders who were involved in national and regional ministries, we realised they wanted to be part of the project. Before we knew it, we had a whole team of amazing presenters and we were able to allocate a session to each one of them. The last year has been a process of filming these amazing people, editing the videos and getting them into a format so they are ready to be downloaded online free of charge. We wanted to make Living & Telling as easily and cheaply accessible as possible, while not compromising on the quality. People will not realise that we had to do the whole thing on a zero budget. God has provided everything and everybody that we needed at every step of the process. 

The course has ten sessions. It covers themes such as: God’s story, my story, and their stories. It has a strong emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit throughout our everyday lives and also the spiritual battle we find ourselves in day by day. Running through the whole course is discipleship. In the training, we are getting people into pairs to have conversations, to try out the material with each other as well as working on their own story. 

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What sets this course apart?

We say to people that this really is a course for churches and groups who are looking to encourage, empower and equip Christians to become more confident in sharing their faith but in the context of ongoing discipleship. For us, this is what makes it feel like it’s different to some other courses that are available. Discipleship is a theme that is so strong and evident throughout the whole course.

Evangelism may bring up different ideas to different people. What do you think is the best way to share the good news of Jesus with people today? 

It has to start with prayer. We have a whole session in the course on this. I think that it is recognising that the Holy Spirit is already at work in the lives of the people around us. As we pray, we find ourselves coming into partnership with the Holy Spirit. We find ourselves on His agenda rather than our own. 

We feel that Living & Telling can help people discover a whole new adventure and sense of fun in working with the Holy Spirit in what He is already doing in people’s lives. Instead of it being something scary and off-putting for ourselves and possibly for others, we want to turn the whole thing on its head and Living & Telling can help people to do that. It really does encourage and empower as well as train and equip Christians to look at discipleship and sharing this amazing news in a fresh way.  

What do you think are the biggest barriers to people sharing their faith today? 

I think you could come up with a whole list of reasons why people don’t share their faith. But when we think about these reasons, and we can all think of what it might be for ourselves, we have to ask the big question: Is this actually a reason or is it perhaps an excuse? When I look at my own life I recognise that what I thought were justifiable reasons were actually only excuses. I had to get to the point where I confessed these things to God and ask for God to help me in a new way to become someone who was more helpful to the people I connected with day by day, rather than being the person who walked away from them because I was a scaredy cat. 

Are people open to hearing the gospel in your experience? 

As someone who is not an evangelist I don’t find it easy or natural to share the gospel with everyone I meet. But God has taken me to a place where I get really excited when somebody asks me a question about my life, about God, the Bible or anything. I’m no longer afraid to respond to those questions. I think it’s because I’ve discovered that the whole process of evangelism is not something that I have to make happen. The Holy Spirit is the one true evangelist. He initiates it all, but joining in with Him is the fun part. When He is the initiator it means that He is doing what is best for that person, rather than us trying to decide what is best for that person. People are open to the gospel because He is already at work, drawing them to Jesus.

That’s very freeing for us.

It’s very releasing. We have a bit of a mantra in Living & Telling and say that sharing our faith is about talking about Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God. A lot of people find that phrase very releasing. If we are prepared to make the effort and do what we can do, God will do what only He can do. 

For those who are scared or think they cannot share their faith, what advice would you give them? 

I totally identify with you. I spent 20 years of my life as a Christian avoiding every opportunity to engage people in conversation about my faith. It was only because of loyal friends who helped me get out of that hole that I’ve been able to discover the joy and the release, even as an introvert, of giving away the best news I have ever heard. To keep it to myself would make me very selfish indeed. If you are scared there is a journey for you to go on. Living & Telling will take you by the hand and take you on that journey. 

How can people find out more? 

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Tim Moyler is married to Angie, a graphic designer and lecturer. They live in Woodbury, Devon, where Tim is on the leadership of a local church. They have three grown up sons, a beautiful daughter-in-law and have just become proud and besotted grandparents. Tim worked for 20 years in book publishing before joining Agapé UK in 2000 to help churches run the Jesus Video Project. In recent years he has focused on training and mentoring Christians and he also helps out at South West Youth Ministries. Although his taste in music has dramatically widened over the years, he is still in love with The Beatles. It’s no surprise that two of his sons are in the music industry and the third sings in a gospel choir.