January 2020

March 18, 2020

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

How do we view our success as a church? Do we judge it by the use of our building? If so our thriving community use with three to five hundred people through the doors each week, depending on programme is surely success. Do we judge it by numbers in church on a Sunday? If so we may be less inclined to see ourselves as successful. Wouldn’t it be good to have fifty to sixty people in worship, Well we have done  at least that for four consecutive Sundays in December; 1st Morning Worship + Lights of Love; 8th Messy Nativity & Gift Service; 15th Morning Worship + Messy Church + members representing us at St Chad’s 60th Anniversary; 22nd Morning Worship + Candlelight Carols. However I am not sure that either of these measures help us gauge our success as a church.

The purpose of a church is summed up in two closely related aims, to build the Kingdom of God on earth and to share the good news of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. The measuring of success in these is much more difficult and uncertain. Perhaps we could use criteria such as how many people does the church come into contact with, how many conversions to Christianity we have seen, how many organisations we are involved in, how do we engage with politics, what is our response to social issues, how do we interact with other Christians. If you want to see how Christians should behave and how they should deal with issues that confront them read the Epistles in the Bible. We could have our own Epistle Challenge to read each epistle and reflect on it over the next few months. A suggestion on how to do this comes later in this Newsletter.

For now let us unpack the criteria a little beginning with ‘how many people does the church come into contact with?’ By this I don’t mean how many people come through our doors. I mean what is the sum total of the people that members of the Beacon Church Centre come into contact with each week. That is our sphere of influence. Our words, our language, our actions, our lifestyle, our thoughts all come into play here. Are we good ambassadors for Christ? Perhaps the simplest criterion to assess is ‘how many conversions to Christianity we have seen?’ One of our tasks is to bring people to Christ so that he may bring them to faith. How often do we do this?

Our third criterion ‘how many organisations are we involved in?’ is related to our first criteria. It is no good bemoaning the lack of, for instance, youth clubs or complaining about the attitude, ethos or inactivity of organisations if we are not prepared to get involved in them ourselves.  The next two criteria ‘how do we engage with politics?’ and ‘what is our response to social issues?’ are closely related. We are all very good at complaining about decisions made by local and national government, perhaps we should get involved with local political party groups and try to shape them for the better. It is great to collect for foodbanks, baby boxes of hope, Newstarts, and other charitable work but what are we doing to change the system so as to prevent the situation that causes such needs. Finally, ‘how do we interact with other Christians?’ Do we see them as competitors or as co-workers, are we envious of churches like Moneyhull, Vineyard, St Luke’s Gas Street? Perhaps we should ask what we can learn from them?

Finally, have you been changed, has your faith been deepened, is your lifestyle any different this year than last year? If not what are you going to do about it?

Ian Ring