New directions for the Church 8: Admit the contradictions

This post continues my series about future directions for the Church. Here I argue that ministers and church leaders need to be more open and honest about the contradictions contained within the Christian beliefs we have inherited.

In an earlier post post I argued that we need to accept more readily that Christians believe different things. Church leaders often give the impression that there is one thing called ‘the Christian message’, so that everyone who engages in mission and evangelism is promoting the same thing. As long as they offer this sterilised fantasy to people who can see the contradictions perfectly well, Christianity is being discredited.

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With unaffected love

When a nine-year-old girl, whom you’ve never met before, gives you one of those fierce hugs that only children give, you know it as a life-defining moment (one that you’ll probably remember as you’re dying), and even more so when the hug comes with the words ‘You’re such a nice lady’.

I wonder if this is the form of greeting given by angels to heaven’s new arrivals.

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New directions for the Church 7: Decentralise

This post continues my series looking for new ways to conceive of the Church and its role. Here I focus on the management of the Church of England. I have no significant expertise in this matter but I think the direction of travel is clear. We should plan to do it well rather than trying to hold onto a failing system.

The failing system is the idea of having a full-time stipendiary priest in every parish. For 50 years it has been whittled away. As each vicar departed a neighbouring vicar would be asked to take over an extra parish, thus reducing the number of clergy. We wouldn’t have the money to pay as many as we did.

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Acts of the Imagination pt 1 - The leap

Modern Church is thrilled to be supporting the Greenbelt Festival this summer. For us, it is a real leap of imagination – out of our comfort zone and into a place where anything might happen.

For two generations Greenbelt has stood for open, thoughtful, imaginative, and inclusive faith, and we are proud to be even a small part of its work and witness.

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New directions for the Church 6: Accept diversity of belief

This post continues my series looking for new ways to conceive of the Church and its role. Here I argue that we need to accept diversity of belief as normal and not treat it as a problem.

I have been critical of the post-1970s version of Evangelical Christianity that dominates the thinking of church leaders. One of its characteristics is the fantasy that all Christians believe, or should believe, the same things. We don’t, and never have done. The idea that we ought to discourages honest expressions of doubt, and encourages those with a little theological training to imagine they know all the answers.

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