When I asked friends to say whether I should rant about the Church of England, wise friends said "No, if it doesn't further the gospel." This is wise, and absolutely the right answer.
But the ironic thing is, that's exactly what my (deleted) rant was about. The furthering, or not, of the gospel.
Does "The Church Institutional" further the spread of the gospel in our nation or not?
This will be an emotional and anecdotal post. It will probably not be a biblical exposition of ekklesia passages.
What is our job as a local church? Broadly, to tell people about the good news of salvation through Jesus and urge them to turn to him. To do that we need to know people in order to tell them. Know their problems, their joys, their kids, their hobbies and where they hang out. Know what they have faith in. Know what they think of God. Know their history. Know them. And, has been pointed out thousands of times this week, to Love our neighbour (which includes your scary would-be enemy). We've been urged as a (local) church this month, by the vicar and others, to GET OUT of our building! Each of us, vicar, wife, and all, should be seeking to make the most of every opportunity for the gospel. That doesn't necessarily mean preaching at every opportunity, and it certainly doesn't mean judging behaviours we don't participate in. But it means being open to talk when given the opportunity.
For me personally, it means YEARS living here and meeting people, getting to know them, and praying that God would use hopeless me to build His Church.
We see little signs of God's saving grace in the lives of people as we go along the road, and so we keep going. Following his lead, knowing Him more, speaking about Jesus.
So. What is the BIG CHURCH up to along the way. The thing, whatever it is, which issues press releases, and creates websites such as Just Pray, and writes reports on issues facing the church at the moment.
This should be a good thing, shouldn't it? But hang on. Here's some text from the Just Pray site, from the page entitled, what is prayer:
Read that again: "Wanting to pray is the beginning of a relationship with God that can grow and grow."
I do not agree with this! The Church of England is putting heresy in my mouth! The beginning of a relationship with God is NOT wanting to pray! That only comes through my justification, by faith in Jesus Christ. The one who bore my sin in his body on the cross. Who washes me clean so that I can have a relationship with the God who made me. Oh - he's the one who doesn't get a mention on the prayer website, by the way! The great high priest! Why must he find his way on to a christian prayer website?!
This is slightly besides my point though.
My point is that they claim to speak for me, and my local church but they do not. We strive on a daily basis to teach the people in our pews (well, comfy chairs) the truth, to equip them. But today the Church of England has undermined our teaching, yet again, under the guise of reaching out to people.
In the storm in a teacup (or mug of decent coffee) which has brewed today The Church spokesperson has said "In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly, but the fact that they have insisted upon it, makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech."
This in response to DCM, the cinema advertising people, saying that their policy is not to show any poliical or religious content. Why does christianity get to be exempt from this? DCM says that people won't want to see this advert. I wouldn't want to see an excerpt from the Koran, or any other religious text when I go to the cinema. Do you?
Why must the Church spokesperson make it "chilling"? Why not accept that there is no religious advertising?
A plea to finish:
Church of England: Please quietly go about supporting your pastors. Help them. Listen to them when they are tired. Ask how you can help more. But please stop making big pronouncements (especially when they are wrong and counterproductive). That's our job! The local church who actually knows who it is speaking to. If, ABC, you want to teach on prayer, do it in your pulpit on a Sunday, or to your friends in the pub.
And everyone. Please keep speaking the truth. "For God so loved the world that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."