What is Church?

If you were asked to define church, I wonder what you would come up with as an answer? For many people, a church is a building, often with stained glass windows, a steeple and bells. Of course this is true in the same sense that a building with classrooms is called a school. However just as school without children is quiet and lifeless, so a church without people is like a museum or a shrine, it may be atmospheric and spiritual in some other worldly way but it lacks life. Of course simply filling a building with people doesn’t make it a school or a church, however lively they may be. It is only when those people are united with a common purpose that they become a living community that grows and develops organically around their shared values.

Churches have many things in common with schools and other community organisations, but what sets them apart is that the people who belong to the church are united in Christ. Not merely knowing who Christ is, but having an ongoing dynamic experience of Christ in their lives. On Sunday mornings we are looking at the book of Ephesians where Paul shows us how true church consists of people who are gripped by the lavish grace and wisdom of God. We don’t deserve favour like this and are powerless without God taking the initiative on our behalf. Although this grace operates in our lives individually, the outworking of it is that we become a community knit together in love.

At the end of chapter 2 Paul writes: ‘In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.’ Ephesians 2:22 (ESV) An evidence that the Spirit is truly working in the life of a believer is that they will increasingly sense that they belong to a local church. Our commitment and loyalty to Christ is expressed by our commitment and loyalty to each other. Here at Life Church we welcome everyone to our meetings at whatever stage they have reached in their journey with Christ. Once someone has been with us for a while however it is good to demonstrate commitment by becoming a church member. If you would like to find out more about this, then have a word with either Simon or me and we would be happy to explain further.

This blog post featured in the June 2012 edition of Lifelines

Jubilee

Are you attending a street party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee? For a monarch to reign for 60 years is a remarkable achievement and it is hard to imagine this being repeated by any of her living successors. Many of you reading this will remember her Golden and Silver Jubilees and some will even remember her Coronation in 1952.There will also no doubt be many of you who will be celebrating your own special anniversaries in the coming weeks.

The word Jubilee has its origins in the Hebrew Scriptures where it referred to a year of rest to be observed by the Israelites every 50th year. During the year of Jubilee, slaves were to be set free, alienated property restored to the former owners, and the lands left untilled. This process was designed to ensure that no one in the community became too rich and no one became too poor. Sadly in most societies, human selfishness leads to a widening gap between those who have and those who have not.

Living as we do in Hook, we enjoy a standard of living that is the envy of many, yet remarkably there are people living in our village who struggle to make ends meet. For a number of years Life Church has operated a food bank which has provided basic food supplies to help local families and individuals who are experiencing shortages. Food is donated by individuals and packaged up to tide people over for a couple of days while they try to find more permanent solutions. In order to make this service more efficient we will shortly be joining forces with the Hart Foodbank www.fleetmethodist.org.uk/foodbank.html which is one of a number of such centres up and down the country that are affiliated to the Trussell Trust.

If you are attending a Jubilee party this summer, I hope that you have a great celebration! At the same time why not consider supporting those less fortunate than yourselves by ‘Bringing a Tin’ to your event (see www.trusselltrust.org/big-lunch). You can drop any donations off at the Life Church Centre and we will make sure that they get to the right people.

This blog post featured in the June 2012 edition of Hook Focus

Dear Abdullah – by Robert Scott

DearAbdullah Over the last ten years or so, the Muslim world has increasingly had an impact upon our society and our political systems. Much of what we understand about Islam comes to us through the media, often influenced by suspicion and even hostility. In ‘Dear Abdullah’ Robert Scott encourages us to dialogue with Muslims and to find points of commonality to open up ways to share the love of Jesus with them. Utterly convinced of the uniqueness of Christ this book is written lovingly and respectfully to Muslims and Christians alike to help them understand that Jesus alone is the way to truly know God.
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