Joanne Pasquale, whose son has Down's syndrome, explains why...
New Year is always a boom time for health and fitness clubs. The guilty aftermath of Christmas excess produces a spike in gym membership. Of course, the number of guilt-induced resolutions that actually result in long-term change is debatable. I went for my first run of the New Year on 1st January, 2013. I haven’t yet been on my second one.
It would be no surprise to learn that the sale of Bibles and scripture-based reading material sees a similar spike at the start of the year. I can’t be the only Christian who has resolved to commit to an extended daily ‘quiet time’ with God. For real, this time… I promise.
But, like so many well-intentioned resolutions, ‘daily’ can soon turn into ‘when I remember’, and then the guilt sets in. The theory is willing but the practice is weak, to paraphrase St Paul.
So, in a practical frame of mind, we’ve put together a variety of features this month that we hope will help to boost your spiritual, pastoral and church life in 2015, in hands-on rather than purely theoretical ways.
I’ve been asking innovative church leaders about the steps they’ve taken in order to see their churches grow and distilled them into ten practical suggestions. If your church is stuck in neutral when it comes to numerical growth, it may help you to change gear in the coming months.
Joy Tibbs provides a how-to on planning the perfect church weekend, aided by some hilarious anecdotes from Adrian Plass. It could make the difference between a soggy stopover and a faith-building break.
Sadly, January also typically sees a rise in suicide rates, and Will van der Hart gives a hugely helpful guide to responding sensitively and pastorally.
If making time for the Bible is something you (like me) struggle with, then read John Pritchard’s guide to getting the most out of your Bible. Gaining a fresh perspective rather than trying the same thing again and again is often the way we make progress.
Finally, the way we read scripture is also addressed in this month’s Faith Explored. Emerging church leader Brian McLaren and evangelical Andrew Wilson continue the conversation Steve Chalke recently began (you can watch them debate the issues at premierchristianity.com/bibledebate).
Whatever 2015 brings your way, I hope it includes fruitful growth for you and your church community.