During Lent, Alison Richards and I attended a course called, 'Going for Growth' at St John’s College, Nottingham. It was a very good course, stimulating and challenging. We began with a Pathe Newsreel of Billy Graham at Wembley in 1954. In his conclusion the commentator said that the mission throughout Britain would go some way to 'filling the churches which are almost empty', which I thought was an interesting perception for almost 60 years ago.
There was much in the course for reflection and in this season of Easter leading up to Pentecost at the end of the month (27th) via Wesley Day (24th), I just want to write some ideas to think about, which I jotted down during the course.
- Jesus said, 'I will build my church' ( Matthew16:18) and 'Go therefore and make disciples' (Matthew 28:19).
- Church is a continuing community of Christians, not an attendance event.
- Many people behave as consumers with regard to church.
- 'Only grief produces newness.' (Walter Bruegemann)
- 'Church' is what happens when people encounter the Risen Jesus and commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter in their encounter with each other.’ (Rowan Williams)
Pentecost is the time when we think about the coming of the Holy Spirit and the empowerment of the infant Church. The power of the Spirit has not diminished and waits for us to take hold of it to enable us to be the people God intended us to be, his people in his world. There are many calls on our busy lives but being the church in the world is basic to our Christian discipleship.
Going to church has long been a Sunday occupation but being the church, the body of Christ, is our real calling. Being present with one another in worship and fellowship is of course important, so that we can worship God together and support one another, yet that should be the launching pad for our discipleship throughout the week. For being a Christian, a follower of Jesus, is whole life and life long.
May God bless you with the power of His Spirit this Pentecost and always,