Monday, July 11, 2016

Christ and his people

I’m planning to be a little more systematic about the opening devotions at PCC meetings for the next eight meetings.

As our opening thought from the Bible, I’m going to draw each time on one of the chapters from a little book by Mark Ashton entitled Christ and His People: Eight Convictions about the Local Church (Christian Focus Publications, 2016). 68pp ISBN 978 1 78191 829 6

I hope you’ll read along with me.

Mark Ashton was the Vicar of The Round Church / St Andrew The Great (STAG) in Cambridge until 2010. This book was written in the final months of his life, before he died of cancer. It originally appeared as a chapter in Persistently Preaching Christ: Fifty Years of Bible Ministry in a Cambridge Church (Christian Focus).

The book is highly personal. Mark tells many stories about his predecessor, Mark Rushton.

A large student church in Cambridge is of course not entirely typical and the context is quite different from ours.

You may not agree with everything Mark says, or you might not have put it quite like that, but I hope you’ll find the book stimulating and thought provoking.

Mark says: “These eight convictions are not intended to be an exhaustive account of how a church should run, but they are distinctive characteristics of the ministry of this particular church, and I dare to think they are sufficiently normative (as well as normal) that they may be a help to others.”

The convictions are:

 1. Bible: The word of God does the work of God through the Spirit of God in the people of God.

2. Local Church: The local church is the primary place where the Kingdom of Heaven impacts the kingdoms of this world.

3. Expository Preaching: Consecutive expository preaching by the pastor-teacher is the best normal diet of the local church.

4. Meetings: The meetings of the local church are for both edification and evangelism (with no sharp distinction between these).

5. Ministers: The ministers of the local church are all its members.

6. Focus: The local church should focus on doing a few things really well.

 7. Sacrifice: The local church exists for the sake of others.

8. Prayer: Prayer lies at the heart of the local church.

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