Open To Question: Is Faith In God Delusional?

Many people find stability and hope in faith in God but can neuroscience now explain religion away as merely a brain-state?

In search for meaning, purpose and fulfilment billions of Christians trust in a personal God to provide that loving foundation for their lives. But as more research and discoveries about how the brain functions have been made can we confidently assert that religious experience is entirely a natural phenomen?
Has neuroscience filled a gap and squeezed out God?
Are we just our brains?

In this informal and thought-provoking Open To Question event Dr. Sharon Dirckx will address the challenge that faith in God is delusional. Her talk will draw on her research and experience and a neuroscientist and a committed Christian.
M2B’s Open To Question events are especially geared to friends who are sceptical about the claims of Christianity and have honest questions about Jesus Christ – his identity purpose and relevance for us today.

You can watch the interview, talk and Q & A here:
Part 1: The Interview

Part 2: The Talk

Part 3: The Q & A

Dr. Sharon Dirckx is Senior Tutor at the OCCA The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Sharon has a scientific background, with a PhD in brain imaging from the University of Cambridge and has held research positions at the University of Oxford, UK and the Medical College of Wisconsin, US.

Sharon’s first book ‘Why?: Looking at God, Evil and Personal Suffering’ (IVP, 2013) interweaves the stories of people who have suffered, with a practical look at some “why?” questions on suffering. Her latest book ‘Am I Just My Brain?’ (The Good Book Company, 2019) examines questions of human identity from the perspectives of neuroscience, philosophy and theology.

You can follow Sharon on Twitter @SharonDirckx

OCCA The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics is a centre of excellence that seeks to equip emerging Christian leaders into effective evangelism marked by academic excellence and integrity of character.
Find out more on: Facebook @theocca  Twitter@TheOCCA Instagram @occaoxford

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Film Edited by: Ben Horrigan studio91media.co.uk

Faith At Work: Hope In Difficult Times

Where do you find hope in difficult times?

Nadim Ednan-Laperouse experienced something no parent ever wants to face – the tragic death of a child. On a flight to Nice in July 2016 his 15 year old daughter Natasha died in front of him after an allergic reaction to a a store bought baguette.  What followed through the painful grief and desperate heartache was an extraordinary journey of hope.

In June 2019 Nadim and his wife Tanya set up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, in order to save other children from fatal food allergies. The charity has successfully worked with the government to change the food labelling laws known as Natasha’s Law, which passed through parliament in 2019 making full ingredient labeling mandatory from 2021.

The interview with Nadim and Tanya is available to watch here:

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Film Edited by: Ben Horrigan studio91media.co.uk

Open To Question: What’s The Wisest Investment?

In search of security and stability.
As the world comes to terms with the impact of covid-19 understandably people are concerned about finding security and stability whether it’s health, employment or long term financial plans. Perhaps we are more aware than ever before of the fragility and uncertainty of life.

So in a world of uncertainty what is the wisest investment we could make?

In this informal and thought-provoking Open To Question event Simon Pilcher (CEO USS Investment Management Ltd) shared his insights and wisdom gained from his 30 years of business experience in the financial investment sector and how his faith in Jesus Christ remains the unshakable foundation of his life.

M2B’s Open To Question events are especially geared to friends who are sceptical about the claims of Christianity and have honest questions about Jesus Christ – his identity purpose and relevance for us today.

The interview and talk are available to watch here:

About The Speaker:
In October 2019 Simon became the Chief Executive of USS Investment Management. The Universities Superannuation Scheme – the UK’s largest private pension scheme by way of assets. Simon is responsible for overseeing the investment strategy governing the scheme’s £64 billion in assets. When he’s not managing the long-term financial security of over 400,000 members, he enjoys growing vegetables and competing in triathlons. He’s married to Rachel and has 5 children.

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Film Edited by: Ben Horrigan studio91media.co.uk

Spotlight: Mike Lehan

One of the privileges of being involved with Ministry2Business is getting to meet a lot of people doing terrific work in different sectors and workplaces.
One of the challenges I’m aware of  is it’s very easy to feel isolated when it comes to living out our Christian faith at work. 
So, quite simply I hope these Spotlight interviews inspire and encourage us to see we’re not alone and we’re part of the bigger story that God is telling.

 

Introducing:  Mike Lehan CTO at StuRents.com & Founder of Ground Control Skydiving 
Mike is a systems engineer & technical manager; specialising in web applications, with over 10 years’ experience in full stack development and infrastructure. At StuRents he manages the tech infrastructure and is building a team of skilled engineers to ensure the business continues to grow. Mike and his family are active members of Redeemer Church in Chorlton.

 


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You can connect with Mike via LinkedIn

Film Edited by: Ben Horrigan studio91media.co.uk

Spotlight: Faye Briffa

One of the privileges of being involved with Ministry2Business is getting to meet a lot of people doing terrific work in different sectors and workplaces.
One of the challenges I’m aware of  is it’s very easy to feel isolated when it comes to living out our Christian faith at work. 
So, quite simply I hope these Spotlight interviews inspire and encourage us to see we’re not alone and we’re part of the bigger story that God is telling.

 

Introducing:  Faye Briffa Founder Ashfield HR 
Faye is an experienced senior Human Resources consultant with 20 years experience with AstraZeneca. At the start of 2020 she set up her own consultancy to provide personal and tailored HR support and advice suitable for small businesses, freelancers and charities.  Faye and her family are active members of St Martin’s Church in Heaton Norris.

1. Tell us a little bit about your business story – how and why did you get into the human resources sector?
I studied Sociology at University and always had a vague sense that Human Resources might be something for me. After uni, I faffed around for a couple of years, drifting through admin and temp roles. I then got a call from a temp agency to say that there was a six-month contract at AstraZeneca just outside Alderley Edge. At the time, I was just about to move to London, so I didn’t jump at the chance, however it was in HR so I reluctantly went for the interview and was offered the job. That was in 2000 and I remained at AZ for almost 20 years doing a variety of different roles, always in HR. When I look back on my time at AZ, and how I came to be there, I can really see God’s hand in the way my career has unfolded, in ways that I never thought it would. It kept me up North and provided me so much varied experience globally. I had the chance to fully immerse myself in all the key HR disciplines and experience lots of different HR challenges.
I loved working for AZ, however in 2018, I was told that my role was moving to Cambridge and we were offered relocation. We decided as a family it wasn’t right for us to move, and so in 2019, I took redundancy. I’ve always wanted to see if I could set up an HR Consultancy and so at the beginning of this year Ashfield HR was born…

2. So tell us what have been some of the encouragements and challenges you’ve faced as you’ve established your own company?
It’s quite daunting setting out on your own, especially when you’ve been used to a nice big corporate comfort blanket wrapped around you! I’m really grateful for early clients, and me having the chance to prove to them (and myself!) that they have made a good choice in working with me. This has been a real encouragement to me.
I guess in terms of challenges, there is one very big one that we are all currently struggling with, COVID-19. Starting a business at the beginning of this year was possibly the worst time to do so, and being so new, I obviously won’t get any financial support from the Government. That said, there have already been some HR opportunities coming along as I support small businesses through furlough, and potential redundancies discussions. When I went into this, I saw this as a 2-3 year business build phase and I have to keep reminding myself I’m only in month 4!

3What do you hope Ashfield HR will be able to offer a client that’s distinctive from other services?
My target client base is primarily small businesses who don’t have any in-house HR.  I’m aware there are a lot of offerings for this out there, many of which are very generic.  My aim is to offer a more personalised outsourced HR.  I’ve really taken the time to understand my current client’s businesses, understand their goals and strategy and then apply HR and what I offer into their own specific setting.  They often want very different things from their HR support and that’s great for me.  I’ve recently helped one client with setting up a streamlined performance management process and will hopefully provide some training to their line managers later in the year.  I’ve spent some time reviewing and recommending an HR system for another client, and for another, I’ve helped them with policies and their employee handbook.  It’s all very varied but tailored to what the clients needs at that point.

4. What has been a key lesson you’ve learned, or best bit of advice you’ve been given, and applied in your work? 

There are so many lessons I’ve learned over the years.  One that’s stayed with me and is all the more important to me now setting up a business is resilience.  For me, personal resilience is going to be the thing that really will shape how much of a success I make of Ashfield HR.  There will undoubtedly be knock-backs and bumps along the road, and I need to be able to pick myself up, put it behind me and move on.  Related to that, I’ve always found it helpful to remind myself that my work does not define who I am – that God doesn’t look at me in relation to my work status, how senior I am, how successful my business is etc. and there is something very freeing about that.

5. Your Christian faith is an integral part of your life – how does it impact and shape your work – where have you seen God at work through your work?
I’ve seen God at work through my work so much. As I said earlier, when I look back over my career and more recently through the set up of Ashfield HR, there has been a number of times that I’ve literally been blown away by God’s hand and direction on my life. The most striking of these was probably back in November time last year. I was having a bit of a wobble about whether I should do the business and was contemplating whether to just go and get a job. I prayed that morning that God would show me what to do. I got a text that afternoon out of the blue from a friend saying ‘I don’t know what you’re doing with yourself at the moment, but I think you’ve left AZ and I was wondering if you wanted to do some consultancy for our new business set up.’ They were my first client.

6. What does a ‘job well done’ look like for you?
It’s always been very important to me to work in a way that honours God and so for me a job well done looks like getting the right result for the client, but also treating people well, with respect, dignity, being honest, and generally acting with integrity that brings glory to God in the workplace. I appreciate that in order to achieve both, I may have to be selective in the clients I work with, and this may impact the profitability of the business, but I’m ok with that.

7. If you were stranded on a desert island…and you could have one luxury what would it be?

I’m quite ashamed to admit this, but it would be chocolate. I think I can get through most things with some of that around!

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You can connect with Faye direct: Faye.Briffa@ashfieldhr.co.uk or via LinkedIn
Image Credits:
Speed Bump Sign Photo by Makarios Tang on Unsplash
Chocolate Photo by Simone van der Koelen on Unsplash

Spotlight: Chris Air

One of the privileges of being involved with Ministry2Business is getting to meet a lot of people doing terrific work in different sectors and workplaces.
One of the challenges I’m aware of  is it’s very easy to feel isolated when it comes to living out our Christian faith at work. 
So, quite simply I hope these Spotlight interviews inspire and encourage us to see we’re not alone and we’re part of the bigger story that God is telling.
(NB: This interview was prepared before the covid-19 pandemic)

Introducing:  Chris Air Senior Associate at DAC Beachcroft
Chris specialises in non-contentious technology projects, commercial contracts and advising on data protection compliance. He has over 5 years’ experience in advising clients across a range of sectors including health, financial services, retail and manufacturing.  He is part of Vinelife Church Manchester.

1. Tell us a little bit about your business story – how and why did you get into the legal sector? 
After doing a chemistry degree between 2000-2003, I subsequently joined the military and served as a royal marines officer between 2004 -2010. As I was preparing to leave the military I spoke with various friends about career options and eventually decided that I would requalify as a solicitor. This involved me going back to study full time for 2 years, and I did the law conversion course and solicitor’s legal practice course at the college of law in Manchester. I qualified in 2014 and felt that my strengths and interests lay in working with businesses so although I trained with a high street firm (Fiona Bruce LLP in Warrington) I subsequently joined DAC Beachcroft in September 2014 and have been there ever since. I specialise in commercial contracts, technology and privacy work and enjoy the fairly broad range of work which this entails. Culturally, DACB is also a great place to work.  

2. What have been some of the significant encouragements in your work over the last year?
I was promoted in April 2019 after going through the promotion process at my firm – involving submission of a business case and interview process. I was really encouraged that the firm had acknowledged my hard work and commitment and was willing to invest in me. My wife and I had also had our first child a month earlier, so it was a time of real blessing.

3. Your Christian faith is an integral part of your life – how does it impact and shape your work – where have you seen God at work in your work?
God has opened doors for me, is a rock of faithfulness and has always taken care of me in terms of provision and protection. In my current role, I have a strong sense that He is in ultimate control, and that He will provide work even when there is uncertainty with the economy or in particular sectors or where there are factors which are outside of our control. This has given me a sense of peace regarding my work.

4. What has been a key lesson you’ve learned, or best bit of advice you’ve been given, and applied in your work?
A wise old friend told me that in terms of people, strength can exist in many forms, not just physically – and people who appear strong and tough on the outside can actually be very weak in other ways, and vice versa.  It has helped me to appreciate the depth of people (or lack of) and to look beneath the surface.

5. What tools have you found helpful to keep growing in your faith especially in the context of weekly work?Finally, if you were stranded on a desert island and could have one luxury what would it be?
I listen to podcasts from Tim Keller, on the train once or twice a week – his ministry is very much aimed at people who work and live in a major city (he is based in NYC), and the cultural challenges they face, like idolatry. I find it inspirational and it helps me to maintain a bigger focus on the most important thing in life i.e. Jesus.

6. If you were stranded on a desert island and you could have one luxury what would it be?
Toothbrush. I can’t bear not having clean teeth.

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You can connect with Chris via DAC Beachcroft
Image Credits:
Light Bulb Photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash
Toothbrush Photo by Henrik Lagercrantz on Unsplash

 

M2B News: Staying Connected

STAYING CONNECTED

As we enter week two of the nation wide shutdown I hope you are well and adapting as best as possible to the new challenges as together we do all we can to end the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Below are just a few updates that I hope will encourage you as you navigate your business priorities over the next few weeks.

Help for Business

The government’s dedicated website to help business access the right support and advice HERE. The website for the British Business Bank who operates the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is HERE.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has various support resources on their website. Here’s a helpful article they’ve produced:  ‘Simple Ways To Stay Productive Working From Home’.

Pro-Manchester, the largest business development organisation in the North West, also has a range of support resources and events which are now being hosted as webinars. Their article looking at online covid-19 scams is worth reading.

On a personal note – I’m here to help you. Obviously, I’m not a business owner, management consultant, investment expert, HR executive or strategic coach. But as a business vicar what I can offer is relational support – a confidential listening ear, a chat that’s off the record where you set the agenda. No judgments, no clock watching, no targets – just pastoral care that helps you grow. Feel free to email me to arrange a time to chat.

Thought Fuel

If you follow TED talks then you’ll know that talks on pandemics and viruses are attracting millions of views. Here are two that might be of interest:
David Heymann: “What we do (and don’t) know about the coronavirus”. He is a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He led the World Health Organization’s global response to the SARS epidemic in 2003.

Alanna Shaikh: “Why COVID-19 is hitting us now — and how to prepare for the next outbreak”. Alanna is a global health consultant who specializes in strengthening health systems.

In his latest Thought Economics interview, Vikas Shah speaks to five of the world’s foremost experts exploring the science and impact of viral outbreaks and pandemics.  The interviewees include Professor John Oxford (The UK’s top expert on influenza and Emeritus Professor of Virology at the University of London), Prof. Christian Bréchot (Professor at the University of South Florida and President of the Global Virus Network).

Chris Maguire, Editor of Business Cloud and founder of iMeg Partnership, in his inimitable style has written a funny and insightful article helping people understand the world of Zoom: “A beginners guide to Zoom (from a total virgin).”
If you like Seth Godin this short blog explores his unique perspective on the future of online interactions.

Finally, if you’re interested in something a bit different from a renown Christian pastor and author, you could try this talk by Rev. Dr. Tim Keller “A Biblical Perspective On Risk” Redeemer Church New York, which Keller established, has had a global impact especially in the area of integrating faith and work. This talk explores a distinctively Christian view of entrepreneurship and risk.

Stay Connected

The events we had planned for May and June has been postponed, and whilst meeting in person isn’t possible, we are planning to move interviews and panel events to online forums. You are welcome to join in with these upcoming meet ups on Zoom:
Change Makers. Thursday 2nd April 1.00pm – 1.45pm
An opportunity to pray for each other and our workplaces.
Join on Zoom. Meeting ID 847-807-555

Business Life Group. Friday 3rd April, 8.00am – 8.45am.
We’re continuing our bible study using Antony Billington’s resource: Exodus – Freedom To Serve God
Join on Zoom. Meeting ID 594-417-814

“Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.”
St. Paul to the Philippian Church, circa 62 AD.

Spinningfields Photo by Pete Horlock
Coffee Drinkers Photo by
 Joshua Ness on Unsplash

New Horizons For Croftons LLP

Croftons commercial real estate law firm in Manchester which was founded in the 1840s and advises more than 50 housing associations, has been acquired by Knights Plc.

In the deal with means that the listed firm, registered in Newcastle-under-Lyme, has taken the entire issued share capital of Simon Leighton Ltd, Arthur Chapman Ltd and Bob Adnew Ltd, the corporate shareholders of Croftons Solicitors. The Manchester law firm had achieved a revenue of £2.8m with a corporatised pre-tax profit margin of about 15 per cent in the year to 31 March 2019

Knights has said that following integration and “including the delivery of cost synergies”, the board expects Croftons’ pre-tax profit margin to rise to 20 per cent in the first full financial year after the acquisition. Chief executive David Beech said:
“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of Croftons (3rd Feb). The team is well regarded in the housing association sector, which typically brings recurring revenues from this highly defensive segment of the market. We previously set out a strong intent to expand in Manchester with our move to larger, modern premises in 2019 and look forward to welcoming Croftons to our growing team there.”

Simon Leighton, Croftons managing partner, added:
“We are excited to join Knights, a firm we see as a good home for Croftons in terms of culture and ambition. We bring particular expertise in the housing association sector and look forward to continuing to achieve our growth plans as part of a well-established and ambitious team.”

Simon serves as a Ministry 2 Business trustee and we send him and the team at Croftons our congratulations and best wishes on this new opportunity for the firm.

Original article and photo by: Jon Robinson Senior Digital Staff Writer, Insider Media Limited.
Read the article here

 

Bumper Numbers Of Students Join KPMG

Across September and October KPMG is set to welcome more than 200 graduates and apprentices across the business, including its advisory, audit, pensions and tax practices throughout region.

The firm now employs more than 2,600 people in the region across its offices in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle.

The new student cohort also includes apprentices joining one of the firm’s five apprentice programmes: KPMG360°, KPMG360° Digital, KPMG360° Business Services, Audit Apprenticeship and Software Engineering.

Christine Hewson, Northern chair at KPMG, said:
“We run excellent graduate and apprenticeship programmes that enable us to take on an incredibly diverse range of people and prepare them for careers right across our business.
The breadth, range and type of roles on offer is a world away from what was available when I first joined the firm 30 years ago.
The programmes now reflect the enormous impact of technology, emerging challenges and the rapidly-changing needs of modern businesses, but also the strength and scale of professional services in the North. The search for the brightest minds continues as we launch our 2020 programmes and build a team that can make a real difference. We want to hear from people of all backgrounds who are curious and take an innovative approach to solving problems.”

Original article written by Neil Hodgson for The Business Desk
Read the full article here >>

Spotlight: Suzanne Kelly “Financial Crime Protection”

One of the privileges of being involved with Ministry2Business is getting to meet a lot of people doing terrific work in different sectors and workplaces.
One of the challenges I’m aware of  is it’s very easy to feel isolated when it comes to living out our Christian faith at work. 
So, quite simply I hope these Spotlight interviews inspire and encourage us to see we’re not alone and we’re part of the bigger story that God is telling. 


Introducing:  Suzanne Kelly Implementation Manager at Handelsbanken
Suzanne currently works on the AML Programme for Handelsbanken at their head office in Manchester. As an Implementation Manager her priority is to ensure businesses are ready for the changes being delivered by the programme.  She has been a long term supporter of Ministry2Businessand is part of Life Church Manchester.

1. Tell us a little bit about your business story – how and why did you get into project management?
Since 2006, I have been working as a contract project manager with large companies in the financial services sector in North West. I went into the line of work when my company relocated from Manchester to Liverpool. There was an opportunity to take voluntary redundancy after working for over 20 years as an Accountant, a Direct Marketing Manager and as a Marketing lead in an integration programme with Littlewoods Shopdirect.

 

2. What have been some of the significant encouragements in your work over the last year?
I thought my first contract was always going to be the most difficult one to get and in some ways it was (it took 3 months) however, the reality was too good to be true I could only believe it was a God given opportunity. My first contract was at a contact centre in Widnes where I had worked in my Shopdirect days which had been part of a pre-merger sale to Littlewoods. Surprisingly, the contract did not come through my contacts but happened in such a random way it triggered my journey of faith with regard to God’s provision for my work. This experience confirmed to me our work matters to God as He takes care to place us where we can flourish. 

I’ve seen God’s careful provision again over this last year where I have been under contract at Handelsbanken in Manchester. Specifically I’m working with the Financial Crime Prevention team and this contract will continue for a further 6 months. During my time at Handelsbanken I have been able to bring my change management experience to the AML Programme to help support our UK branches to implement new systems and controls for financial crime prevention.

3. Your Christian faith is an integral part of your life – how does it impact and shape your work – where have you seen God at work in your work?
My Christian faith is a key part of who I am and how I go about all aspects of my life. God has been at work placing me locally in Manchester and allowing me to grow into roles enabling me to build on skills gained in previous roles. He has provided contracts at the right time and also contract gaps at the right time.  There were times when I was between contracts which meant I could support friends and family during periods of illness. Working in Manchester also meant I can be involved serving as part of the Ministry2Business team equipping me to fulfill my potential at work as well as understanding God’s plan for my work. I have discovered that God is interested in our whole life and not just where we spend our Sundays. He wants us to flourish and grow in all we do and when we bring him into our daily work lives then we bring in opportunities for Him to work in us and through us whilst we go about our work.
 
In particular, I found the LICC ‘Transforming Work’ course run by M2B in 2017 a valuable discipleship resource growing Christians to be a positive gospel influence in business.  This helped me understand that our workplace offers opportunities to develop relationships with people so that they may meet Jesus.  It was a great encouragement to join with other Christians working in Manchester and learn from each other about what it means to be a blessing to other people especially as we go about our work. The amazing reality is we go into every working day secure in His love and empowered with His Spirit. 

4. Finally, if you were stranded on a desert island and could have one luxury what would it be?
It would have to be music. I cannot imagine my life without the joy of listening to, and singing along with music tracks. However, I realise that on a desert island I wouldn’t have any electricity, so I would have to learn to play the guitar again (I had music lessons as a child) and that means I could make my own music. My luxury would have to be a guitar. (Note to self: start relearning guitar as you never know when you might be are stranded without power!)

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You can connect with Suzanne on LinkedIn
Image Credits:
Light Bulb Photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash
Guitar On Beach Photo by Ibrahim Rifath at Unsplash 

 

Events

M2B eNews

News

Open To Question: Is Faith In God Delusional?

Watch the Open To Question event with Sharon Dirckx, Senior Tutor at the OCCA The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics & author of “Am I Just My Brain?”

Read more

Faith At Work: Hope In Difficult Times

Watch the Faith At Work interview Nadim & Tanya Ednan Laperouse as they explore what it means to find ‘Hope in Difficult Times’.

Read more

Open To Question: What’s The Wisest Investment?

Watch the Open To Question event with Simon Pilcher (CEO USS Investment Management) exploring the question ‘What Is The Wisest Investment?”

Read more