Saturday 14 January 2023


In the coming season of Lent,  Church groups will be meeting in many places to discuss a variety of subjects. I suggest the most urgent subject would be how the Christian Church and Christianity should be preserved in this country, and indeed in all Western nations.

     Pope Benedict, lately deceased, spoke of the increasing secularisation of society, which is very evident across Europe, and perhaps to a lesser extent across the United States. In Europe the word Christian is omitted from all documents, and the progressive idealism of so-called intellectuals, is to be able to express oneself in a manner of living which reflects a hedonistic lifestyle, with freedom of sexual activity and to indulge in any form of enjoyment. Any form of religion is seen as an irrelevance.
     Consequently, the task facing the Church is monumental and gives some members a sense of inadequacy and hopelessness. One of the greatest hindrances to Church growth, is the lack of commitment. Jesus always expected commitment and His parables reflect this.
     We have to ask why we Christians are not making an impact, and one suggestion may be to look at the comparison with Muslim people. Consider their commitment. Regular attendance at the Mosque on Fridays (their holy day), with men in the ascendance. Devout defence of the Koran and their prophet Mohammed, and any abuse of either would provoke strong reaction, whereas we Christians let Jesus’ name be taken in vain without a murmur, and let our holy Book be mocked and ridiculed. I fear the general record of attendance on Sundays is not as regular as other faiths.
     The words of Jesus compel us to take action, ‘Go into the world and make disciples’ .This command was given to the disciples and is a continuing commission which we are bound to obey, for the Bible’s words are not just for first century Christians.
     The word ‘go’ means to reach out. The Bible reminds us that people cannot believe if no one tells them, and we have to think of ways to reach out.
I have always enjoyed reading Church magazines, and have read a wide variety. They almost all tell about what has gone on within the parish over the past month, recipes for cakes, hobbies people pursue, and general chatter for the interest of members. Surely there should be articles with a spiritual message  using the magazine as an outreach to people who are not members.  

     There are many organisations and business which publish articles relating to their work, using them to cause readers  to take further interest.

      For 17 years I edited a Church magazine, and considered a Bible teaching page an essential inclusion, and know it was read and appreciated.

     The aim is to tell people how the Church can be a help to them, what the services are and when, and describes our faith and beliefs.
     We have Church fairs and fetes with all kinds of stalls, and they attract a lot of people. But what effort is put into trying to interest them in Church attendance when they come. It is rare, if it even happens, for a prominent notice to be on display calling on people to come to a service.
     I have been to quite a number of village Churches, with very few people attending. Notices are placed around the villages to tell of social events, why not flood them with reminders of their village church and why it is there. Reminding them of how privileged they are in comparison to other districts, and calling them to thank God for being able to live in such surroundings.It may not work, but it certainly will not if we do not try.
     However, there is a compulsion to make sure they are going to hear a gospel message relating to Jesus Christ. There is no room for sermons on the environment, green or political issues, or as at one church I visited, where the Vicar told what her latest reading material had been.
     One thing is for certain, we can’t wait for people to make their own effort to come,  they need some persuasion.

     Jesus said all authority is given to Him and the Holy Spirit works through us to help us do His work.
     In so many Churches, we accept that people can bring their children for baptism, and we ask them to make vows and promises we know in our hearts they do not intend to keep

      Is it honest and a matter of integrity, that we pursue this course rather than demand some commitment for what is a sacred service? Just imagine the scene if all those who had made such promises over the years honoured their promises, our Churches would be full.
     There is often a sense of apathy in which it is declared, ‘there is nothing we can do’, If the Apostles and the first Christians had taken such approach, there would not be a Church.

      I recently watched a television programme on Christian World News, which is part of the Christian Broadcasting Network in the United States, and there was a report from Cairo which showed the suffering and hardship endured by Coptic Christians, forced to live by a hostile regime in abject poverty because of their Christian faith, yet such is their commitment that they happily remain faithful.
     Similar situations exist in countries like Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Islamic countries, where Christians face persecution for expressing their faith, and actual violence which often ends in death. 

     All such instances should both inspire us and make us feel rather ashamed at the feeble commitment we find in too many places.
Make no mistake, persecution could yet prevail here, which is why we have to be careful. Preachers have been arrested for quoting passages from Scripture in public, and  Christians have been taken to Court,  where they have been declared guilty and fined.

     People who have expressed their beliefs have been censured, and subject to hostile email threats. Freedom of speech is being increasingly restricted to those who oppose traditional beliefs and religion.

Legislation has been enacted in which anyone who criticises non-believers can be penalised, yet those who attack Christianity are not included in that law.

     Christian Legal Centres are now doing tremendously well in defending Christians who have been penalised for standing firm against those who want to stop people from praying ;expressing views on social media; not accepting alternate beliefs.

     Lent is an opportunity to revive Christian worship and Church attendance for all who are physically able to attend, and to encourage the defence of our faith and beliefs.   LGBT have  acording to recent census, 3.7% of the population but have attain ed much power by  a vigorous campaign, now let us make Christian views highly  proclaimed  throughout the nation.

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