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A Contagious Summer

Leviticus is a book of the Bible full of infectious skin diseases; weird rules about food and messy details of animal sacrifices. Can you teach this to teenagers? Nick Jackman thinks you can. He explains how they did it, before introducing us to this year’s Contagious conferences.

A Contagious Summer primary image

There are not many Sunday School curriculums or youth work Bible studies in Leviticus because it can often feel too much to stomach.

This is probably due to the detailed descriptions of animal sacrifices, or the random rules about skin diseases, or peculiar lists of unclean foods, and that’s before you get to the lists about unlawful sex! You can understand why Leviticus is often avoided in our church youth groups.

However, at Contagious last summer more than 850 young people and leaders throughout the UK discovered that the weird, random and complicated world of the Israelites has so much to say about Jesus. They were shown the immense value in the sacrificial blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sin and the joy of living a holy life for him.

A mix of teaching

Contagious taught Leviticus to young people in three ways – small groups called ‘SUS’, Seminars and the evening ‘Big Teach’.

teaching at Contagious

SUS groups of about 8-10 people provided a safe place for teenagers to explore the Bible together under the guide of an adult leader. Each morning the groups looked at one of the offerings in the first seven chapters of Leviticus and then were taken into the New Testament to see the fulfilment in Christ.

Seminars were led by experienced Bible teachers and involved explanation, drama, songs, games or visual displays. Leviticus was presented in imaginative ways including dressing up in High Priest costumes, acting out the Day of Atonement, quizzes on clean and unclean foods, and songs written by the team that covered the main teaching points.

the ark of the covenant at Contagious

In the evenings all the young people and leaders gathered for worship, icebreaker games, interviews, and a ‘Big Teach’ where the Bible teaching throughout the day was applied to their lives. Worshipping in a large community of other young believers and sitting together under the preaching of God’s word was so inspiring. Young people saw how relevant the Bible is to their lives and they were spurred on to live for Jesus.

We also set up a real-life tabernacle. It was constructed at ¾ size and there was a re-enactment involving the High Priest’s call to repent, life size animal models, smoke pellets burning on the altar and fake blood splattered over the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place.

the high priest

There was a contemplative silence that fell over the 330 people at Contagious East as they watched the ‘scape-goat’ led out of the enclosure and disappear out of sight in the distance, followed by a tangible joy as the trumpet blast sounded, and everyone cheered as the High Priest declared that Atonement had been awarded to the people.

Plans for 2017

Contagious continues to grow year on year and as we now have eight conferences throughout the UK including two new conferences in Central England at Kingham Hill School. We are excited about partnering with CoMission church leaders to plant a new ‘Pilot Central’ conference and a new Nano Central alongside.

Contagious 2017 logo

In 2017 we will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We’ll dig deep into God’s Word to understand the truth of the gospel and challenge young people today not to be performers, but reformers.

FIEC National Director John Stevens has teenage children who attend our residential camps and he said:

“The great strength of Contagious is that it is utterly unashamed about teaching the Bible to young people. It does not patronise them but assumes that they are able to take the word of God seriously. In an atmosphere of fun, deep foundations are laid to enable them to grow as disciples and servants of the Lord Jesus.”

To find out more visit contagious.org.uk

Nick Jackman photo
Nick Jackman

Nick has served in church youth ministry for more than 20 years for The King’s Centre Chessington, Danbury Mission and Beeston Free Church before taking up his current role as Director of Contagious. Nick’s wife Tracey has also served on Contagious, their two older children love Contagious East and their youngest son is so excited about being old enough to join Nano this summer.


Follow Nick Jackman on Twitter – @NitchNick