I was slightly thrown when my 8 year old asked me yesterday what I was giving up for Lent. I hadn’t realised it had hit his consciousness, but there we are! For me it’s no more chocolate. But more significantly in the spiritual realm is what I intend to take up for lent. I am going to be praying for the church in Iran. Over that last couple of years I have discovered more about this beautiful country and it’s growing church. A church desperately in need of our prayers and our material support. Elam is a wonderful ministry supporting the Iranian church – led by Iranian Christians and their prayer diary is going to be the basis of my intercessions for the next 40 days.
In October we are reorganising our Sunday worship services. It’s a big deal for us, and we are trialling a new service pattern for 6 months. I am convinced we are on the right track, and yet I recognise that changing services styles and times is in itself not enough to lead us into the kind of growth and ministry I believe God has for us in West Bridgford.
For that to happen we need a revolution in our church culture and particularly our understanding of discipleship. What is discipleship?
February see’s the the Church of Englands governing body the General Synod Meeting, and for once there is nothing too controversial on the agenda. That doesn’t seem to have stopped the Daily Mail from declaring the church is about to go to the dogs due to a proposed review of it’s baptism liturgies:
Christening without much Christianity declares the headline, and if you read the article (I did – I wouldn’t recommend it) then it would seem that in a desperate bid to sure up numbers the church is considering dumbing down it’s liturgy to encourage more folk to ‘take the plunge’, or more accurately ‘dip their kids’.
The truth is, there is a motion on the agenda for the synod to look again at our baptism liturgy, but the reason for this is pastoral rather than evangelsitic in terms of ‘getting them in’:
The motion from the Liverpool Diocesan Synod asks for additional texts to be prepared as alternatives for passages in the Common Worship Baptism Services, which would be expressed in more culturally appropriate and accessible language than is perceived to be the case with the present services.
The desire is for a liturgy which actually connects with people in an understandable way, whilst at the same time, preserves the truth of what baptism signifies. Good liturgy facilitiates worship by giving us words we can make our own to express that which we may otherwise find difficult. Bad liturgy does the opposite, it gets in the way. In my view the, the current liturgy for the baptismal service contains some which is very good – the declarations – a clear summation of what it means to commit oneself to Christ, and some which gets in the way – the notorious prayer over hte water. I’ll be interested to see what comes forth should the resoloution be adopted.
For those who decry any kind of change, we could go right back to the practice of the Early Church and hold our baptismal service in a nearby river – the Trent anyone?
At our AGM this past April I focussed on what I feel God is calling us to give attention to in the life of St Giles. I outlined 4 priorities and one of these was prayer. Sue Ferraro has taken on the mantle of ‘prayer champion’ for St Giles, and whilst we are still figuring out all that entails, there is no doubt that a core component is to call people to gather together to pray. Our first prayer evening was fantastic, and we’ve decided to begin a monthly prayer meeting at St Giles. Obviously all are welcome to join us. We’re calling it ‘First Monday’. We’ll meet at church at 8pm on the first Monday of every month and spend time praying and in worship together. My prayer for this meeting is that in time it will become the spiritual engine of St Giles, place where we seek God and hear from him.
Our first Meeting is Monday 3rd August 8pm.
Bishop John Guernsey of the Church of Uganda in America is someone whose sermons I’ve recently discovered on this Interweb thingy and they’ve been a real blessing to me. Here he is on the ‘Prayer Driven Church’. I hope it inspires you as it did me.