"Shall we discuss animals this week?"
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion


SARX: For All God's Creatures
October 2018

Among the fast-growing number of people who are engaging with animal issues are many Christians who are keen to explore the connection between concern for animals and faith in Christ.


This essay is the introduction to SARX's October 2018 newsletter.

"Shall we discuss animals this week"... Surely not a question raised within most church small groups or Bible studies? Discipleship, leadership, apologetics, evangelism, devotions, spiritual gifts – fine, but not animals!

Are not animals in the same category as soap operas, tea and crumpets, Doctor Who, support for your favourite football team or your guilty pleasure of choice? We love them, but we don’t connect them to our faith or expect to discuss them within our small groups.

fruits and vegetables

Yet our society is fast changing and few people could fail to notice the rocketing interest in animal issues. Whether it be the astonishing increase in vegan products in our supermarkets (sales up over 1,500% in the last year), the rapid explosion of the annual Veganuary campaign (up 183% in 2018, with 168,542 people signing up) or the endless array of new vegan business start-ups, cookbooks, YouTube channels, events and eye-opening documentaries, animals are becoming an ever more prominent issue for people in the UK.

Among the fast-growing number of people who are engaging with animal issues are many Christians who are keen to explore the connection between concern for animals and faith in Christ. Such people are doing pioneering work in their communities and taking the initiative to bring the conversation into their small groups and Bible studies.

These individuals include Mike and Lisa from Norwich. After discovering the horrendous cruelties inflicted upon billions of animals in the meat and dairy industries, Mike and Lisa resolved to go vegan:

“As committed Christians we felt that love and compassion must also be applied to those innocent, defenceless animals that God had created, as well as to human beings.”

Cow face

Encouraging others in their community to consider animal issues as important faith issues, Mike and Lisa opened their home to interested people to regularly share a vegan meal and discuss all manner of questions including what Jesus would do and say today faced with all the facts relating to factory farming and its disastrous effects on His creation.

“Through our group we have endeavoured to encourage each other when faced with opposition within the church and to find answers to questions levelled at us by those who can see nothing wrong with eating meat and fish and who feel justified to do so because Jesus did in his time.”

Susan from the New Forest brought the topic of animals to her small group’s attention by providing them with a stunning vegan feast. Surely one of the most effective methods of vegan outreach!

She served up stuffed vine leaves, guacamole with taco chips, pesto lasagne, vegetable chilli with coconut yoghurt mint dip, a tahini dressed French bean and courgette salad, a salted caramel chocolate tart and a spiced plum cake with coconut cream. Susan explained:

“I thought it’d be helpful to begin by giving folk an experience of abundance and feasting, so I hosted and cooked a ‘vegan feast’. That reassured folk that a vegan diet didn’t mean boring self-denial. I really enjoyed doing it and it gave us a lot to talk about.”

vegan meals

This meal was followed by an animated discussion referencing an article on veganism in Premier Christianity, a Sarx video reflection from Steve Chalke and verses from scripture.

“Some have said subsequently that they felt really challenged. One man talked about the prompting of his conscience and that, if you’ve had it, to ignore it is not God’s will.“

Following a sermon from a Sarx speaker at Leicester Cathedral, Canon Johannes Arens welcomed members of the cathedral community to consider the question “What about the animals?” Canon Johannes led a lively group conversation which resulted in its members feeling challenged yet inspired to further consider their lifestyle choices, particularly at mealtimes:

“Throughout all this period of time we looked at our calling as stewards of God’s creation and it was interesting to see that many people never thought of their personal consumer choices related to God’s call to care for the earth. Following the sermon and the evening discussion some people went away intent on looking at and possibly adapting their choices.”

These are just a few examples of the growing number of Christian animal advocates who are bringing the debate about animals into the heart of their worshipping communities.

If you have been exploring animals within your community, or are keen to do so in the future, we would love to hear from you. Please do get in touch!

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