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The fragility of our walk

Fragile – not a word that appears in the Bible, nor one that we tend to think of as a desirable trait, yet I have heard two people use it recently to describe the Church in the countryside.  I suppose they mean that rural congregations and groups tend to be small in number, with ministry gifts and responsibilities tending to be in the hands of just one or two individuals.  They mean that many of

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The confirming power of God

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was at pains to remind them that “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2: 3-5).  He opened his first letter to the Thessalonians in a similar way;

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The Benedict Option

The ‘Benedict Option’ is an idea, a book and a movement, which has attracted great interest in the USA, and beyond, in the last couple of years. It is the brainchild of Rod Dreher, an American journalist and author Much of it is familiar. Its core argument is that, in post-Christendom, the Church, inspired by the example of Benedict of Nursia (480–537), needs to construct close, intentional, communities as contexts for evidentially living out radical discipleship

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Three elements of prevailing prayer

One of my favourite parables is found in Luke 18 where Jesus is teaching about how we should always pray and not give up.  The story is a simple one of a widow who kept petitioning her local magistrate to give her justice over a certain issue.  He refused to do so, being a man who wasn’t actually interested in justice, until he finally gave in, simply because he got fed up with her constant

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The community of the Church: Hopes and dreams

In the course of this short series of articles I have sought to make some suggestions that may inspire and encourage you to look at different aspects of church life in a new way, and to remind you to see church as the community of God’s people, just as the early church did. In making these suggestions I have tried to draw on my own experience and ideas to present things that are achievable for

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The community of the Church: Strengthening identity

Significant portions of the book of Acts are taken up with the question of how much of the Jewish law should Gentile Christians be forced to observe, and how much the Jewish Christians themselves should hold on to (See particularly Acts 15). It is easy to work out from some of Paul’s writings that there was a tension between these two groups over this matter, although it seems to me that the New Testament writers

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The community of the Church: Sacred spaces

The issue of church buildings has become a difficult one in recent years, particularly for those of us in small country churches and chapels where incomes are usually small, upkeep remains important and safety legislation imposes an ever-increasing list of duties and restrictions. The closure of such buildings has been a characterising feature of the rural church, giving the impression of a people without hope and a God looking the other way. Yet the community

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The community of the Church: Belonging to the community

Community is about belonging.  Everybody needs to belong to something, not just ‘signed up’ to it but really find themselves at home there, or else we drift, get ourselves isolated and then fall foul of doubts and darkness that overtake our minds.  The modern world is largely losing its sense of community, and mental health issues are sharply on the rise. The same is true of the church.  To belong to a church we must

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The community of the Church: Community – the outworking of love

When defending the validity of his ministry to the Corinthian church, Paul says that ‘the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power’ (1 Cor 4: 20).  Genuine love, which has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5: 5) and so does not come from our own resources, is a fruit of that kingdom and therefore is also not about words, although we do use words

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