There is still hope for people like me.

On Monday night James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College in Salisbury, came to St Bride's Liverpool to tell us about his research on ageing. Growing older, he told us, is something people often fear. In our culture the elderly are often omitted from plans and arrangements so ageism becomes a barrier to inclusion.

Rublev's Trinity

‘A threefold cord is not easily broken’ writes the sage, Qoheleth, author of the book of Ecclesiastes, a book full of impenetrable conundrums, tensions and contradictions.

Much of what he writes resonates with despair and a general sense of the futility of human existence. Qoheleth is a prophet of doom. Or perhaps he is only that kind of prophet insofar as he is a teller of fables.

Stained glass window, Jensen Beach, Florida

Whoever you are, the forces running the world are on your side

Parthians, Medes, Elamites… Cappadocia… the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene… If you have ever stood up in church to do the Bible reading on Pentecost, you will remember. How did you get on pronouncing all those place names? This post argues that we should now add Lesbos, Kos and Calais to the list.

Wisdom

I missed an old friend’s funeral last week. I got the day wrong. Someone kindly sent me a copy of the order of service, but it was not the same.

It is hard to share in something that has already happened, especially when the deceased person has had a hand in shaping it. My friend had composed his own funeral service so, in a sense, he would have been very much present to it. I miss not having shared in the first few hours of his greater life, and of our collective loss.

In the first article in this series, I outlined the dire attendance scenario the Church of England is facing in the coming years. I made a pragmatic case for the liberal wing of the church to move from a general attitude of scepticism to one of constructive engagement with church growth, then offered suggestions as to some areas of strength which liberals might bring to bear to the work of growing churches.

In this second article I shall look at some recent research on church growth, what it may have to tell us about the ways in which liberal churches might approach the task of seeking growth, and reflect back as I do so on some of the liberal strengths identified in the first article.