The BT Christian Network Supporting Christians in the workplace
Who could have imagined that attempts to form a small prayer and Bible study group in a telephone exchange would become the catalyst that launched an international Christian Network? Well, that’s what happened in BT when in 2003 the organiser sought advice from the company about using email facilities to promote a fellowship in St Albans. Surprised and daunted when advised to seek official recognition for Christians across the whole of BT, but prompted by God, he decided to plough on with the task.
Soon a team of four passionate Christians formed a committee and began work to unify a small number of existing fellowship groups. Following further prompts from God, they appointed an intercessor to establish and run a prayer team. Eventually they drafted and submitted a business case for financial assistance; the company authorised it in March 2005.
With the full support of the company’s human resources team and underpinned by a new website and a PR campaign, the BT Christian Network (BTCN) was launched in April 2005. Among the key speakers at the inaugural event November 2005 was former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken. For the first time in BT’s history prayer and live worship music could be heard at BT’s corporate headquarters in London.
With over 1,100 members in 15 countries, BTCN is funded by BT and supported by the grace of God, who has moved men and women to actively promote the Gospel. The network’s vision is to make God visible through lives, by conducting all work with integrity and by blessing work colleagues. The BTCN has three simple objectives:-
- Be a central reference point for Christian information in BT
- Offer support and encouragement for Christians within BT
- Provide a Christian perspective on business policy and strategies
BTCN includes more than twenty independent geographic fellowships plus special interest groups, such as Worship, Young Professionals, Personal Assistants and Home Workers. As the specialist groups are geographically dispersed, telephone calls, emails and conference calls are the primary means of communication
Each of the fellowship leaders has an opportunity to discuss and review progress with the overall leadership team, whose role is to support the local groups, interface with BT, set the overall strategy and, coordinate key activities such as advertising. Many of the new members join BTCN through the website but in a big company people often don’t know each other so the leadership team has a role to play in helping people make contact. These contacts in turn strengthen existing fellowships and help to form new ones. The most recent example of a group being founded is in Puna, India.
What role does prayer play?
Prayer involves resting in God’s presence, interceding, listening, trusting and obeying. From Genesis to Revelation, prayer is the proven key which unlocks the blessings of Heaven. Besides individual and fellowship prayer, BTCN has a team of 60 intercessors providing prayer cover seven days a week. About 400 members also take part in an annual international prayer day. A prayer pack takes them through an hour-long prayer journey and provides an opportunity for everyone to experience God’s grace and to change things where they live or work. This year, prompted by the vision of one of BTCN’s members, they raised prayer to Heaven about the economic downturn before the extent of the difficulties even became known.
BTCN also runs an annual prayer conference to provide practical teaching for those who wish to take their prayer life to new heights. Held in the fourth quarter of the financial year, the conference highlights and addresses the challenges facing the company in the coming year
What activities does the Network sponsor?
In September 2007 BT became the first corporation in the world to officially recognise and run a Christian course called Alpha. With the support of BT, six Alpha courses have been run. Several non-Christians have learned more about the faith whilst some Christians have discovered a deeper relationship with God.
The annual conference provides the ideal platform to introduce high-profile speakers and raise interesting topics. The events challenge, encourage and broaden Christian understanding on many levels. Combined with the opportunity to network with like-minded people, it’s a good way to spend the afternoon. The stress workshop in 2007 offered a fresh perspective on relieving stress through a Christian approach. Co sponsored by other networks it proved very popular and the attendees found it helpful.
BTCN summer camp is a great way for members and their families to take part in a fun camping trip. The combination of engaging speakers, fantastic food and good company was a winning formula in 2008.
Other local activities carried out by individuals groups include carol services, diversity events, guest speakers, social events and film clips. BTCN is grateful that Christians can live out their faith inside BT through the grace of God and the support of the company.
How does the Bible fit in?
Individually and corporately Christians need to have the Bible at their very centre. Regular reading, trusting the promises and obedience to the commands are key to spiritual growth. In a busy work environment how can people achieve any of this? The BTCN website has a link to daily Bible passages and commentary that can be read in five or ten minutes; many members use them to start their working day. There are also one-line verses and supporting prayer which can be completed in one or two minutes a day. Several hundred members receive an email at 11 AM each Tuesday with a short, thought-provoking commentary based upon a Bible passage
More intensive Bible study is available via the local fellowships. There is also library of Bible study material which can be loaned out. The Bible in the year programme is now in its second year. It guides people on a year-long trip through the Bible from end to end. It recommends Bible passages, provides support groups and runs monthly conference calls that include worship, commentary and an opportunity to raise any questions or concerns. Hundreds of people have signed up to this programme. BTCN provide free Bibles to BT employees. Funded by BTCN members, the initiative has been running for only a few months but as already given away about 240 Bibles.
As the word of God, the Bible is alive and can speak deeply to people’s hearts. Nehemiah chapter 2 has been an inspiration to BTCN.
"You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." Nehemiah 2:17 (NIV)
Nehemiah 2 first came to prominence back in 1994 but it was not until 2003 that this scripture became symbolic, when BTCN picked up the mantle, through prayer and living out Christians values, to rebuild a spiritual wall around the company
Although not from the Bible another inspiration to BTCN has been a picture of flames of fire. As the flames come together so the fire burns brighter. So to as Christians come together they shine brighter. With the grace of God may this continue.