Church Vision - Part 1

New Year is a time we commonly reassess our lives and make resolutions. It's a good time to do the same for our churches and so on the first Sunday of 2017 I decided to set aside the day as a vision Sunday. This blog is an edited part of the evening sermon based on Acts 1:1-11 and Acts 2:42-47. I'm passionate about seeing the church grow in Rochdale and we're praying this will happen at St Luke's and St Peter's this year.

When I first came to the churches we met together to discuss what we saw as a good mission for our churches in Deeplish and Newbold. At St Luke's, this is what we came up with:

Go with the good news of Jesus to Deeplish and beyond Grow in the knowledge and love of God

And at St Peter's we said our mission is:

Sharing the good news of Jesus in Newbold and beyond. Growing together as we follow Jesus’ teaching.

I want us to focus on how we can do that in 2018. What is our vision for 2018 for completing this mission?

We read two passage from the book…

Church of England: Reviewing 2017 as a Conservative Evangelical

Well we've past the end of the year and the Church of England is still intact, well sort of. It was a very bad year for both conservatives in the Church of England and for the state of the Anglican communion. I'm sure I won't cover everything significant here (and of course my focus is somewhat on the negative 'issues' rather than much good day-by-day work in parishes), but here are a few of the things that took my attention.

1. Aggression continued to be aimed at those who are conservative on women's ministry The most obvious example of this was the selection of Philip North to be Bishop of Sheffield followed by an outcry and him stepping down (it should be noted this is the second time this has happened to him). This made it clear that no-one conservative on the ministry of women will be allowed to be a bishop. It also made it clear that the incoherent 5 guiding principles are not only incoherent, but also irrelevant. Despite a little outcry at the time, the…

A Vision for the New Year – 18 for ‘18

My magazine article for the January church magazine --
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19 NIV)
It’s a New Year, or at least it probably will be by the time you read this. It’s a time when we make resolutions and set goals. We want to do that as churches as well this year. As PCCs we met in November to discuss the future and our goals and plans. In those meetings, both St Peter’s and St Luke’s committed to seeking to reach more people this year with the good news of Jesus Christ.
We want to commit to following Jesus’ commands in 2018 and his final command before returning to his Father in heaven was to multiply disciples. That’s what we read at the end of Matthew’s gospel. Jesus, speaking to his eleven disciples (28:16) tells them to make more disciples (v.19). The goal of the church was always to grow!
When we talk about growth, it’s not simply about people in the pews or money in …

Light in the darkness

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5 NIV)It’s certainly dark at the moment! It’s that time of year when it’s dark when you get up, dark early in the evening (or more like late in the afternoon!)and even when it is daylight it can be pretty gloomy with heavy clouds and heavy rain!It’s dark in another way though. When Jesus’ disciple John wrote his book about the life of Jesus, the theme of darkness and light was prominent. Darkness points to active evil and rebellion against the Creator of the world. John pictures the world that Jesus was born into as filled with darkness and the same could be said now.Just in the last few weeks we’ve had revelations and claims about MPs and film stars relating to sexual abuse. In Rochdale we’re far from unaware of the reality of such terrible things and this is just one example of many where it seems like darkness reigns. The world can be terribly dark because of evil, as we humans reject God’s commands to …

Article IX: Of Original or Birth Sin (Part 2)

The concept of sin is increasing important for Christians and Churches to hold onto. In fact one of the great weakness of the church in the west and the Church of England, the denomination in which I minister, is that it has lost a grip on the doctrine of sin. It's particularly important, because the Bible is clear that sin has terrible consequences.

It's quite a while ago, but I did a blog beginning to look at Article IX of the XXXIX Articles of Religion which are the statement of doctrinal belief of the Church of England. This article focuses us on the stated doctrine of sin in the Church of England. Here is part 2!

IX. Of Original or Birth-sin Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth alway…

Happy Reformation Day - 500 Years Old Today!

"We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16 NIV) For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. (Romans 3:28 NIV) 
OK, so I know lots of people will be celebrating something else today, but that's a bad thing - seriously celebrating evil spirits and the devil what are you thinking of!

How much better to remember that 500 years ago today a monk called Martin Luther started a fire which spread across the western world and beyond. He had finally grasped, in the face of the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, that you could be declared righteous by God by faith and faith alone. Listen to what he said in his commentary on the book of Galatians:

God's Discipline and the Lord's Supper

Having preached through 1 Corinthians a while back, we’ve more recently been looking at the doctrine of Lord’s Supper as we work through the Thirty Nine Articles. I’ve been struck at how strong Paul is in 1 Corinthians 11 about those who take the Lord’s Supper unworthily.

If you know the book of 1 Corinthians then you’ll know the context of the church. It’s a church (like so many today) riven with sin - divisions, sexual sin, pride over spiritual gifts. The particular focus in 1 Corinthians 11 seems to be that when they meet for the Lord’s Supper there are divisions between the haves and the have-nots to the extent that the haves have so much that they get drunk (1 Corinthians 11:21)! Paul calls this “despising the church” and goes on to say that:
whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11:27 NIV)It couldn’t be much worse could it? Despising the church and sinning against …