Misunderstanding the Church Pt.2

Living in the last dim rays of gospel light in Western culture can give the church a strong sense of isolation and marginalisation. The vestiges of public sympathy and visibility which may have been enjoyed in previous generations has diminished to the point where most of our work is undertaken in a context of obscurity…

Even this, Lord Jesus?

Ours is a hyperbolic age, a time when words have become a devalued currency, where sentiment often masks a lack of substance, and where things that seem too good to be true most often are. In this kind of atmosphere it can be difficult for us to give oxygen to the comforts and counsels of…

5 things that I can do about racism

Sometimes a problem seems so entrenched and so impossible to scale that giving up is the easiest option. That is as true of an untidy study as it is of global poverty, or endemic racism. Not knowing where to begin, and feeling unclear about what one's responsibilities are, can lead to defeatism, defensiveness and denial.…

Filtering for Repentance

One of the many vulnerabilities of the contemporary evangelical church is a stubborn mistaking of quantity for quality. This can be true at a local and global church level where attendances (or more recently 'hits' and 'likes') can be the marker for how well things are progressing and how much interest is being shown. It…

Some implications of an empty pulpit

Whether your cup is half empty or half full in the current global crisis, whether you credit or descry online ministry, the fact cannot be avoided that the era of vacant church buildings and silent pulpits is a significant and sad chapter in the history of the church. We are in the midst of a…

An uncertain sound

There is a famous anecdote about a church producing some signage for the gable wall of their building, with the proud boast, 'God is the answer'. An overnight graffiti artist, with a strong instinct for philosophy and irony, corresponded with the statement by spraying the words 'What is the question?' This story, be it true…

Learning the deeper lessons

These are undoubtedly the strangest of days. We are in a state of upheaval and disruption, and we have no idea when or if normal service might resume. We are living in a cultural pause, an on-air silence which becomes more uncomfortable by the day, an interval which is quickly seeming to be longer than…

Will the plague come near to our door?

The first Lord’s Day since the Covid-19 Coronavirus began to reach our shores has passed. In most fellowships in the UK and Ireland some mention will have been made of it, and perhaps some low key precautions put in place. Along with the ubiquitous hand sanitiser tubs, and the comedic elbow bumps, there has also…

3 Christian responses to Coronavirus

Every day delivers fresh headlines, and further fuel for fear, about the global rise and spread of coronavirus. News broadcasts carry dramatic images of cities on lockdown, politicians visibly sweating from the symptoms of the condition, and a growing sense of inevitability that a pandemic is on the horizon. As cases mount up across the…

Why we still need nuance

One of the unfortunate things about words is how readily weaponised they are. Language, by its very essence, is in constant flux, embodying the tension that will always exist between tight definition and everyday use. This is something which is irreducible, a simple fact that bears no resistance. With the advent of a new textual…