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We update our blog several times a week, with news and comment on ministry, theology, the Bible, liturgy and issues of the day.

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Posted 12 May 2021

Forthcoming Church Society webinar for those involved in revitalisation ministry.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 4 May 2021

Ros Clarke analyses the responses to the Growing the Church survey so far

There’s still time to complete the ‘Growing the Church’ survey. We’d especially value more responses from those with experience of team ministries or non-parish projects, but please do tell us about your joint benefices as well!

We’ve been looking at two things: combining parishes (whether into united benefices, teams, groups etc) and non-parish projects (e.g. deanery projects, diocesan projects or detached projects). While the number of responses is still too small to be statistically significant, I think there are a number of useful observations already.

No numerical growth
There is no evidence at all, so far, that either of the approaches we have asked about leads to numerical growth.

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Posted by George Crowder, 3 May 2021

George Crowder considers the contemporary obsession with corruption.

We are very exercised by corruption.  We are concerned about it, angry about it, fascinated with it, and obsessed with it.  As ‘other news’ starts to take more of the headlines, revelations about political foul play beat a well-worn, almost weary path into the light of public scrutiny.  Questions rage about taking advantages and abusing privileges, about fraud and cronyism. 
When we are not exasperated by corruption, we are entertained by it.  The BBC’s Line of Duty series has us all on the edge of our seats with the dramatic turns of the plot.  Then we are wracking our brains to work out the identity of the shadowy puppet-master behind the spidery network of corrupt officers in the police force. 

Our obsession with corruption is a positive obsession.  We hate it; we want the perpetrators rooted out and punished.  It offends something deep inside us, a sense of fairness and rightness.  Being anti-corruption is something that reflects our creator.  As Christians we relish that; it’s a seam that runs through the Bible, our faith and our lives.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 30 Apr 2021

Ros Clarke reviews this podcast on Christian friendship.

Christian friendship is a great blessing, isn’t it? Having someone you know and trust to talk to about life, work, family and faith is such an encouragement through hard times and a delight in happy times. Christian friends Anna and Charley let us eavesdrop on some of their conversations in their Shielded by Grace podcast. Anna Putt is married to a minister and a mother of young children, while Charley Maidment is a single woman who is a teacher.

They bring their different perspectives to issues such as lockdown life, how we change, and even friendship itself. As they note, Christian friendships can cross generations and don’t depend on shared interests or circumstances. Whether or not you are in a similar stage of life to Anna or Charley, you’ll find them good companions in the faith, as you listen in to their podcasts.

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Posted 28 Apr 2021

The 2021 Junior Anglican Evangelical Conference is now open for booking!

The life to which Christ calls his followers is one of service, suffering and hardships of all kinds. Those whom he calls into ministry can expect the struggles to be all the more intense. And yet it is through the flames that genuine faith is proved and godly character is formed. At this year’s Junior Anglican Evangelical Conference we will consider a number of the characteristics that we all need to cultivate to enable us to face difficult situations with the grace and mercy of our Lord. Chris Moore will open the conference helping us to think about ‘Patience with People’, followed by Martin Davy on ‘Humility in Difference’. Kirsten Birkett will speak about ‘Perseverance through Discouragement’ and Helen Thorne will look at ‘Gentleness to the Weak’. Lee Gatiss will give the pastoral charge from Titus 3 on ‘The Mercy and Grace of God’, and the conference sermon will be given by Bishop James Newcombe.

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Posted by Jonathan Frais, 23 Apr 2021

Jonathan Frais reviews Paul Williams' book on self-control.

Willing But Weak: Fighting to put Self-Control at the Heart of Christian Discipleship, Paul Williams

This is a small book with a big aim: to fix self-control in our minds as something extraordinary. The message works out of a particular New Testament book, Titus, where self-control expresses the grace of God in our lives. Strikingly, although in Titus other groups need to be taught self-control, for young men it is the single direction given. In the light of this, Williams makes them the foremost people in his mind.

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Posted by George Crowder, 19 Apr 2021

George Crowder examines the issue of self-identity and finds the answer in Christ.

What is the true self?  Is the ‘real me’ the mostly secret thought-life of my consciousness; the person no-one ever really sees?  Or is the ‘real me’ the person I am in the eyes of others; the person I may well not be aware that I really am?  Is the ‘real me’ the set of aspirations I have for myself; the person I really want to be?  Or is the ‘real me’ a result of my social background and genetic make-up; the person I really can’t help being?

This is an important question because an emphasis on self-identity undergirds many current social campaigns, political exchanges, academic debates and cultural projects.  By dint of this, it is notable how quickly almost any issue can become personal (a point Carl Trueman makes in his recent book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self).  This dynamic finds a parallel in the Bible, where every point of doctrine has an individual life-application, and every story forms part of our shared faith-narrative.

Thus, it is particularly pertinent to consider what scripture has to say about the identity of the self: the self that is drawn into the story of salvation, the self that is steered by the teaching of the gospel.
In the New Testament, Paul the apostle speaks about two selves – the old self and the new self.

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Photo by Photo by Elina Krima from Pexels

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 16 Apr 2021

Ros Clarke reviews this podcast about terminal illness, death and bereavement.

“In my late thirties I was diagnosed with incurable cancer. It will kill me, if nothing else does first.”

Todd Billings, author of “The End of the Christian Life” and host of the podcast of the same name, speaks with all the authority of experience about suffering, death, mourning and hope. In each episode Todd speaks with someone who has a different perspective on this subject including scholars, pastors, funeral directors, and those who suffer themselves with incurable illness. The podcast carefully unpacks some of the false promises that churches explicitly or implicitly teach, and the ways we could all be better prepared to face the end of our lives.

For me, 2020 was marked by grief and loss as friends and family members died one after another and I was privileged to witness extraordinary faith as they faced the end of this life with confident hope for the next. This podcast was recommended to me by a friend who has been in palliative care for several months. She knows more than most of us about facing the realities of death head on.

The podcast has much to offer pastors for counselling Christians and their loved ones through terminal illness, death and bereavement, as well as to inform their regular preaching. For thoughtful believers struggling with their own suffering, it may also be appropriate, though I would be cautious about recommending it to those in the emotional maelstrom of recent diagnosis or in the immediate aftermath of bereavement.

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Posted 15 Apr 2021

Church Society are holding a webinar for ministers in turnaround or revitalisation parishes in London, the South East and East Anglia.

Are you a Bible-centred, orthodox minister of a Church of England parish… who’s leading a church not used to a Bible-centred ministry…?

Today, many enthusiastic and gifted evangelicals are being appointed to parishes that have little or no experience of a Bible-centred ministry, or at least not for some while. Such parishes are often referred to as ‘Revitalisation’ or ‘Turnaround’ parishes. This is an exciting and in many ways immensely challenging option - just in case you haven’t noticed!

But it can feel lonely and isolated. Meetings and conferences with your Evangelical peers can seem very remote to your current experience. Your questions, worries, issues and fears are often very different to theirs. Where can you go to find some long-term experience of the issues and opportunities, the highs and the lows? And godly wisdom as you grapple with them? Where can you meet, and build friendships with, others doing what you’re doing in London, the South East and East Anglia?

Answer. The Church Society ‘Turnaround’ Minister’s Webinar!
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Tuesday 22nd June, 10am - 1pm on Zoom. Book now!

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 12 Apr 2021

The latest edition of The Global Anglican is now on its way to subscribers.

This edition of The Global Anglican includes an important piece from Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya, on the biblical imperatives to consider with respect to tackling corruption. Archbishop Wabukala is the Chair of the Kenyan National Anti Corruption Campaign Steering Committee, and has served on the committee for a number of years. As part of our ongoing commitment to making the journal truly global in its outlook, we are delighted to publish on such an important subject from someone with such experience and wisdom as Archbishop Wabukala.

Peter Jensen’s editorial opens the journal, as always, this time reflecting on the power of words: God’s good, true, pure word, and our self-serving words which can destroy. He concludes:

Bad doctrine, which is a travesty of the gospel, is doing much harm. But just as harmful is the careless or self-serving language by which other believers are traduced either secretly or publicly.

To repel Satan in his assault on you, is to put on the whole armour of God, especially to buckle on the belt of truth (Eph 6:14). And it is to commit yourself to pure speech:

Not the speech which follows the world in foul language and in blasphemy. So frequent has this become in entertainment, let alone the marketplace, that it is fatally easy to allow our minds to become infested with obscenities and to begin to use them ourselves.

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