New directions for the Church 5: Open membership

This is the fifth in a series of posts looking for new directions for the institutional churches. Here I argue that they need fuzzy edges.

One of the unfortunate features of the post-1970s version of Evangelicalism currently so dominant is the presupposition that there is a clear distinction between true Christians and everybody else. In reality we are a mixed bunch. We all have different beliefs, doubts and practices. Becoming a Christian isn’t necessarily a big jump.

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New directions for the Church 4: Beyond church services

This is the fourth in a series of posts looking for new directions for the institutional churches. I am hoping we can move on from what I have called the post-1970s dominant Evangelicalism of church leaders, to find better answers to the problems that face us.

Here I question the way the churches’ contribution has been so reduced that services have become almost the only thing on offer. Once Christian churches, like other spiritual traditions, offered a worldview – an account of why we exist, how to live well and how to express and celebrate it. Now, it is easy to imagine that it offers just one more leisure activity to rival the gym and the television.

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New directions for the Church 3: explain how it can help

This is the third in my series of posts looking for changes of approach in church leadership, away from the post-1970s version of Evangelicalism that currently dominates its thinking and policies. Here I address the need for an outward-looking focus.

I share the archbishops’ sense of frustration. Although the number of full-time paid clergy in the Church of England is declining, there are still many thousands. If the Dalai Lama could command a workforce of this size, wouldn’t Buddhism take over the nation? What are we doing wrong?

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New directions for the Church 2: Kingdom of God or cult of Christ?

This is the second of a series of posts reflecting on how the Church is conceived by its leaders, and offering alternative approaches. The first is here.

In the first I described the Archbishops’ ‘global prayer movement’ Thy Kingdom Come. Martyn Percy’s characteristically robust critique of it is well worth reading in full, though Kieran Bohan has produced a useful summary. Here I ask: is the Church just one more club, or something more important?

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Church plants: Are they ‘relevant’?

The furore surrounding Angela Tilby’s Church Times article ‘Deliver us from the Evangelical Takeover’ (Church Times 27th April, 2018) has given rise to what many people probably see as a very large storm occurring, once again, in a very small teacup.

They are right insofar as it can be felt as a more compact, and therefore more intense, re-working of the murderous Church differences that prevailed in this country and on the continent in the sixteenth century, and thereafter in other guises. But they would be wrong to see them as another reason for dismissing the Church, and the Christian faith to which it witnesses, as ‘irrelevant’.

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