In an otherwise excellent article about church planting in urban areas (‘A Time to Plant’, July), I was disappointed to read the phrase ‘while churches in rural areas often struggle’. This reinforces an unfairly negative and unhelpful view of rural churches.
Many rural churches are demoralised, but while some struggle to pay for their clergy and buildings, they may be very effective as the Body of Christ. It is not unusual for parish residents in a small rural congregation to represent 5% or more of the total parish population. If an urban church had even 2% of their parish residents worshipping there regularly it would rightly feature in several inspirational articles.
Furthermore, many rural congregations are slowly growing. This often seems to happen when they are rooted in their communities and totally connected with them.
So what can the wider Church learn from rural churches? A starting point has to be overcoming the negativity that has so often taken hold and having faith that God can and will use smaller churches. Then there has to be an expectation that things will change, a hope for a better future, and finally the Church has to love its community and be inclusive of all.
Rev Ian Hill
PASSING IT ON
Peter Gladwin’s testimony is an example of how when you are forgiven much you love much (‘This is My Story’, July). Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins and we have to tell and show others that he loves them and wants a personal relationship with them.
I too am an evangelist and cannot and will not stop telling people about God’s love for them. I don’t believe in keeping this hope in Jesus to myself. It is to be shared, without judgement of others. I was hungry and someone cared enough to share their bread, so now I need to share my bread with the hungry around me.
Praise Jesus for rescuing Peter and using his testimony to rescue others.
When a free sample copy of Premier Christianity dropped through my letterbox I must confess I wasn’t particularly enthused, as my wife and I are already supporters of a number of Christian charities and good causes. But I was more than pleasantly surprised at the subject matter and how it was presented in such an informative and challenging way. I subscribed and look forward to what future issues will bring. Congratulations on bringing Premier Christianity magazine to our nation. It is much needed for Christians and non-believers alike. Keep up the great work!
To describe people who argue that we have given control to Brussels as ‘Little Englanders’ or ‘Little Britains’ is offensive and prejudiced (‘Remain’, July). These terms are often associated with English nationalist parties and shouldn’t be used in a magazine like yours.
People had genuine concerns that Brussels had too much control over the UK and certainly not everyone who felt that way should be referred to in such an argumentative and patronising way. To be frank, Sir Simon Hughes should know better. Making such sweeping generalising statements is judgemental, and as Christians we should avoid words or phrases that can be deemed as such.
DON’T GROW UP
The last paragraph of ‘Playtime Postponed?’ (July) was wonderful, but it took a long time to get there! The author wrote: ‘Colouring in a picture that someone else has drawn isn’t really art.’ How sniffy a comment is that? Some of the greatest artists had their work ‘coloured in’ by apprentices.
Why not resist ‘growing up’ if being grown-up means taking on traditional indicators of adulthood? Who says you have to? You can have a career, family and responsibilities without having to ‘grow up’.
The verse quoted about putting away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11) wasn’t talking about colouring books because Jesus said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 18:3). Keeping a childlike heart of openness, trust and creativity is a spiritual necessity.
I found Justin Brierley’s comments in the ‘Faith Explored’ article (July) on suffering insightful. I am an experienced neonatal intensive care and paediatric nurse. I have nursed many newborns and children who have not survived. I celebrated with my brother and sister-in-law on learning they were expecting a child after nine years of trying, only for him to die at birth.
It is tragic that so many children die of cancer, but is the news of an elderly man shooting his wife because he could no longer bear seeing her deteriorating dementia any less tragic? Dementia is no less tragic than cancer and the elderly do not suffer less than the young.
The death of a child has a special poignancy and there are aspects that affect the bereaved in a way nothing else does, but no loss is ever the same as another. It is not valid to see one type of death as evidence of God’s lack of concern. Human suffering is a phenomenon in itself and is not meaningfully quantifiable because we all experience it as individuals. God alone knows us in our entirety.
V M Burton
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@rev_b_randall An important article by Ed Mackenzie in @Christianitymag on ‘Why the Church needs to recover family worship’. Gist? Faith begins at home.
@ecarsontc Sally Phillips profile interview. What a great, and honest, piece of writing
@FubziSmith Enjoying colouring July’s @Christianitymag while listening to #methodistcon
Dear editor, Sometimes I think it is assumed that Christians have the memory of a goldfish. I can remember what we have just sung in church. I don’t feel the need to sing that rhyming couplet again. Or, indeed, again. I remember when hymns had several different lines and, in many memorable cases, several verses, with all of the lines containing different words. I appreciate that in this day and age this seems inconceivable. Do we think if we sing the same four lines repeatedly the Lord will be bored enough to speed up his return?
‘There is nothing new under the sun’ says Ecclesiastes 1:9. Try telling that to the person who sat next to me in church this week during one of those ghastly open prayer times. I think every other word he used was either ‘just’ or ‘Lord’, or quite often both together.
I would absolutely not disagree that God is, indeed, Lord, but if Fanny Crosby can write 8,000 hymns in a lifetime, could we try to expand our vocabulary? How about other names for God? Abba Father! Ancient of Days! The Amen! And those are only suggestions from the ‘A’ chapter in the Christian dictionary I am currently writing to put an end to this ridiculous trend. I shall be sure to send you a copy and look forward to your fulsome review.
I am a grown-up. I assume you are too. I have put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11). I don’t need things repeated, nor did I need the feature you recently included on adult colouring books. I can only assume the next issue will include a spread on ‘Preaching the Gospel Using Etch A Sketch’.
Rev Roger D Votional