Tag Archives: Back to Church Sunday

Time to leave Jerusalem

In the opening  chapter of Acts the resurrected Jesus tells his followers not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for the promises of the father- The Holy Spirit. The disciples are excited at the prospect of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel- they still don’t get it! Only a few verses later Christ tells them to be his witnesses on Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria and the ends of the earth and then he disappears! As my friend George Lings would say, the message may have reached the ends of the earth but the church has set up a number of mini-Jerusalems. How many Christians effectively reach out beyond church walls other than through blitz events like Hope and Soul in the City and specific ministries like Street Pastors?

Some would say that the church is obsessed with Jerusalem and making it look better, bigger, slicker and brighter- when the real need is to set up camp in Samaria or even venture to the ends of the earth. As a church we tend to focus on people who are like us- Churched- those comfortable to be our people. What about the de-churched on the fringes of Samaria who are at least 3 times bigger than we are and many of whom don’t like who we are? What about the non-churched where we could come into contact we a group amongst the under 45s who are 6 times greater than that age profile in our churches? There is some excellent news and stories around the Back to Church Sunday initiative for which we should praise God, but we can’t ignore the facts that around 40% of the populations have had some experience of church yet have not returned- was it really their fault. My friend George suggests that the complex DNA have the church has  dominant Anglican genes called worship and pastoral care and that evangelism and mission genes are recessive. For a national church, the Church of England, the number of people who appear to be deeply alienated from us is disturbing. It’s time to leave Jerusalem.

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Saying sorry…should we do it more often

sorry1I read yesterday that the Pope had apologised to native Canadians who were physically and sexuallyabused at church-run boarding schools they were forced to attend and it got me thinking. What if all denominations decided to hold a “we’re sorry” service once a year? This could  provide an opportunity to formally and symbolically apologise to anyone who has been damaged in any way by the church; it may be even something that the church could take on the road. After all, we have an annual  Back to Church Sunday event here in the UK where the focus is to invite folks back to something they have loved but just grown out of the habit of attending. What about the scores of people who don’t go to church because of some desperately bad experience they have had, and for which individual ministers or the church corporate has still not apologised? I realise that sorry is often not enough, but it is a start and probably the place Jesus would like to see us begin. 

See full report at-  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/5245526/Pope-apologises-to-native-Canadians-over-boarding-school-abuse.html

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