Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Union with Christ

Introduction

A couple of things recently have been prompting me to write something about what it means for us to be united with Christ. For my part, I think it is one of the key doctrines of the New Testament – I'd say an understanding of union with Christ is essential to an understanding of justification; it's fundamental. It also seems to be a poorly understood doctrine. That's not to say I do fully understand it; I don't, of course I don't. But I think that, by God's grace, I am starting to have a faint idea of some of what it means. So I'll try and write about that. I'm writing for Christians, but others are free to read it.

What Does "Union with Christ" Mean?

The best place to start is probably Romans 6:1-13

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
Romans 6:1-13, ESV

What, according to Paul does it mean for us to be “baptised into Christ” and into his death?

Paul says that our baptism into Christ means that we somehow share in Christ's death – we are crucified with him (v6), we died with him (v5) and are buried with him (v4). Therefore we have been raised in him (v13) and live in him (v11).

Note that Paul doesn't write here that Christ was crucified for us and therefore that we should give our lives for him. Nor does he say that we are compelled not to sin because of what Jesus has done for us, which is what I imagine many of us would say in answer to the question of verse 1. Paul writes that we have been united with Christ in his death and in his resurrection – that because he has died, we have died and because he has been raised, we have been raised, therefore we should be living like it. Christ is not just the pattern for us to follow; he is the template in which we live.

Paul uses the same idea in Colossians 2:20

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations...?
Colossians 2:20, ESV

"In Christ"

We see the same idea especially in Paul's use of the phrase “in Christ”. I used to think that it was just a throwaway phrase Paul used because it sounded nice, but it isn't; it's fundamental to what Paul is saying and in my opinion is the key to most of Paul's theology.

Paul uses “in Christ” as a way of referring to Christians (e.g. Romans 16:7), but far more often in connection with the blessings we have received. For example:

“the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”
Romans 3:24

“no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”
Romans 8:1

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”
2 Corinthians 5:17

“In him we have redemption through his blood”
Ephesians 1:7

“In him we have obtained an inheritance”
Ephesians 1:11

“In him you.... were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”
Ephesians 1:17

“God... made us alive together with Christ ... raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:4-6

Where do we have to be to receive God's blessings? In Christ. How do we receive God's blessings? In Christ. Where do God's blessings lead? Into Christ.

“speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ”
Ephesians 4:15, ESV

Or see 1 Peter 1:8, where the Christians to whom Peter is writing are said to believe into (εις) him.

Tenses

This brings us back to the idea that our union with Christ is something which is ongoing – it is true in the past, present and future. We have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), therefore we should be dying to ourselves (Colossians 3:5), and we will one day die in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16), unless he returns first. We have been raised with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6), we are being raised in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:10) and we will be raised in Christ (Romans 8:11).

As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:

We are ... always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:10-11, ESV

This is then wonderful grounds for our assurance. We are in Christ, who lives forever. So when (and if) we finally die, we remain in Christ and so still live. That means that we have a sure and certain hope of the resurrection, because Jesus has been raised and we are in him, as Paul argues in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “the dead in Christ will rise first.” (cf 1 Corinthians 15:17).

Jesus and Union

But it is not just Paul and Peter. Jesus also speaks about it at length in John 14 and 15, where we see that it is all intertwined with what it means to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit and with the relationship between the members of the Trinity.

“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
John 14:20, ESV

At the start of John 15, we also see that being in Jesus is the key to being able to bear fruit, and that those who do not abide in him are ultimately thrown into the fire and burned (John 15:6).

Colossians 3:3 - "Hidden in Christ"

So, to come back to one of the questions that prompted this, what does Colossians 3:3 mean when it says “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”?

This whole idea of dying with Jesus and rising with Jesus is a big theme in Colossians 2 (e.g. v12-13). Paul goes on to apply it in 2:20 – that because we have died to the “elemental spirits of this world”, we shouldn't be living worldly lives (in this case submitting to silly rules). Instead (3:1), Paul tells them they have been raised with Christ, and therefore should be setting their mind where Christ is.

That's the context for 3:3, so in context Paul is telling them that their primary identity is in Christ. After all, they have died in him, and have been raised in him. They are only really alive in him. Christ is where they are, so that's where they should be focusing.

The “hidden” refers forwards to v4 - “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Their new, risen, in Christ, selves are not obvious. It will only become clear who we really are when Christ appears, and us with him (cf Romans 8:19). For the time being, what is in Christ is hidden.

1 Corinthians 6 and Sex

Another application of this is in 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul links the idea of our union with Christ with the idea that sex is an expression of and brings about union between man and woman. Paul therefore argues that for someone who is united with Christ to be united with a prostitute is crazy. Of course, the linking of union with Christ and union in sex both point forwards to the perfect consummation of the union between Christ and his bride the Church that awaits us in heaven.

Summary

Union with Christ is the means of our salvation – God counts us as righteous because and only because we are in Christ. We are raised from the dead both spiritually and physically only because Christ has been raised from the dead and we are united with him.

Union with Christ is the goal of our salvation. We are growing up corporately into him, and one day we will be perfectly united with him. This means our current union with Christ gives us a sure and certain hope for the future, because we know that what happens to Christ will also happen to us, just as what happened to Christ in his incarnation, rejection, suffering, crucifixion, resurrection and glorification is also happening to us.

Union with Christ gives us our identity - if we are in Christ, we are who we are in Christ, and nothing else.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bad Language

There's an interesting discussion going on over on internetmonk.com about the American Evangelical reaction to bad language and cultural Pharisaism. It's a discussion that needs to be had, and which I think I might need to reference later.

Here is an older item on the same subject and the same site. FWIW, I think I agree with it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Scars

One of the best ways of recognising bodies is by the scars. Scars define and make us who we are.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

NT Wright, Justification, etc

This is triggered by reading this. NT Wright writes about his view of justification here. I've done a bit more reading around than that, but not a huge amount.

My gut reaction is that it's yet another example of poor communication. When people criticise Wright, quite a lot of what they write tends to show they haven't actually understood what he wrote, or if they have understood it, they haven't checked whether what he says is right. On the other hand, I'm not convinced that Wright is helping his cause by some of the language he is using. Historically, my loyalty would be to the people who are criticising him for being too liberal in his views of justification. Currently on this one, I think he gets a bit more of my sympathy though.

For example, Biblically, of course justification is past, present and future. That is the way the word is used. It doesn't tend to be how the word is used in historic evangelical theology though, largely because evangelical theology (as many other types of theology) tends to be defined by what it has fought against. So in the Reformation, Luther et al were fighting against a wrong, process and work-based view of salvation, which included nonsenses like indulegences and so on. As a result of that, their theology adopted a strong emphasis on the initial action of God to save us, and underemphasised the fact that God's saving and justifying action is past, present and future. Because it is God's action, the past guarantees the present and the future. As I understand it, NT Wright is trying to re-emphasise the balance. The problem is that people see him trying to re-balance what Luther stated in an unbalanced way, and think he is agreeing with Luther's opponents.

On the other hand, there are omissions in what Wright says that I don't fully agree with. For example, Wright's article that I link to above doesn't even mention "sin", which is a fairly important concept with relation to justification. He does however say that "'Justification'... is God's declaration that the person is now in the right, which confers on them the status 'righteous'." Wright also validly emphasises God's incorporation of those he has made righteous into his people, though does so without mentioning the key element, which is incorporation into Christ. It is through our incorporation into Christ that we are united as a new people.

That's just a few of my quick thoughts. I'm not meaning to judge or accuse anyone, but I think we could all do with trying to understand other people and where they are coming from before disagreeing with them. Irony duly noted.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

All Hallows, Cheadle

When visited:

Sunday, 5th December, 10:45am

Location:

On Councillor Lane, Cheadle

Welcome:

I was with someone who was well known in the church, so I got a few people talking to us. Not at all sure whether people would have spoken to me if I'd been on my own.

First Impressions:

Probably about 50 people there, with a fair range of ages, sitting on nice chairs arranged so that it felt fairly full, but with room for more. It's a 60s building, with quite good natural light. The reputation of the church is solidly evangelical.

Type of Service:

10:45 morning service. It was fairly informal mostly - quite a bit of banter between the leader and congregation, both when the minister was there and when other people were. It started with the fairly new vicar reflecting on his three months in the parish and thanking people for helping him to settle in. Most of the service was then a chap who'd been to India over the summer and worked with the family of the (Indian) parish assistant. He and the PA both then talked about the work the church was doing over there, particularly with some poor villages. This was done in chunks (using powerpoint), interspersed with the normal liturgy. See my thoughts on materialism and social action. Most of it was fairly encouraging and challenging.

Music:

Mostly modern (post 1995) hymns with a few golden oldies, sung using either hymnbooks or OHP, with large print copies of the ones on OHP available for those who wanted. Played well and unobtrusively by a band.

Sermon:

None as such - the stuff on India took its place.

Website:

yes - fairly basic

Overall:

This was far from a typical service, so I can't really say a huge amount more than I've already said.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Materialism and Social Action

I was at a church service this morning (blog entry to follow), where someone who had made a recent trip to a poor area of India was talking about it.

Much of what they said was great and encouraging, but two things stuck in my mind as clashing.

One was the continual emphasis on how happy all the children, especially the Christian ones were (in contrast to here). The other was commenting on how depressing the poverty was and how good it would be to change it.

This got me thinking.

A lot of the time we talk as if we want to bring other people up to the same standard of living that we enjoy (or, more often, don't enjoy). But isn't that just us being materialistic and wanting other people to be the same. What if it's better being just above the breadline?

Compare Proverbs 30:8

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.

Wouldn't a better conclusion from looking at situations like that was that having lots of money doesn't make you happier?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cartoon about church publicity

There's a funny cartoon about church publicity here. NB - I don't think churches should necessarily "get people in" to do the marketing; I think most non-dead churches have at least one person capable of putting together a basic website or blog about the church. It's easy!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Why a Good God Should Allow Suffering

There's a lot of rubbish spoken about the idea that God is infinitely good being incompatible with the truth that there's suffering in the world. There are a lot of good anaswers to it from a Christian point of view; the best ones centre on Jesus.

That's not what I'm trying to do here. I'm going to try to show why it's plausible that the idea of an inifinitely good God should lead to an expectation that there will be suffering in the world. I'm not saying these arguments are watertight - it's just to get people thinking. Oh, and they're mostly working from the writings of John Piper.

A) An infinitely good God would want others to appreciate his goodness, power, etc. to the greatest possible extent If God is infinitely good, then he will want people to have an accurate view of things, including his own nature, so that they can enjoy him.

B)God's goodness is most visible when you can also see the absence of goodness You can only see how good things are by comparing them. I used to think the school I went to was ok. It was only when I went into other schools that I appreciated how good it was.

A) and B) imply that a good God should permit the existence of things that are not good.

C) God's power and sovereignty are more visible in him working through and despite evil rather than just working in good. Makes sense. How awesome a god would be who could use even people and actions opposed to him for his purposes!

A) and C) imply that people appreciate God better when seeing him working though evil, and hence that an inifinitely good God should be seen to work even though evil events.

St James, Didsbury (C of E)

When visited:

27th November, 2005, 10:30am

Location:

Just off the big corner in Wilmslow Road, Didsbury

Reputation:

St James and the daughter church, Emmanuel, have a reputation as strong open evangelical congregations. St James is supposedly the more stylistically traditional of the two.

Type of Service:

According to the website, it should have been Morning Prayer, being the 4th Sunday of the month. The weekly notice sheet on the website did not indicate otherwise. Searching afterwards, I did however find a mention that it was a combined service at Emmanuel at the bottom of the monthly events planner thing (pdf rather than html).

What Happened:

There were four of us there - me, a bloke aged 20 or so and a young couple of East Asian extraction. The building was dark, quiet and locked, with no indication of why. The noticeboard showed only details of last week's services.

Website:

yes - it looks ok, but the "weekly" notice sheet has been known to be three months out of date.

Overall:

This is a church that is either actively trying to discourage new members or that has a grossly incompetent communications system. I might try again, but if I was looking for a church to settle at, I wouldn't go back here.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Oh yes, and while I'm at it...

As I seem to be in a mood for commenting on things that annoy me, here's another one. Real Player. It's just plain nasty. Oh, and the link goes to a set of articles which I pretty much agree with as to why.

Adults Acting as Children

No, not talking about infantile behaviour.

There seems to be an orthodoxy in filmmaking that if you want to get someone to look 16, you need to get someone who is 19 or so. That's complete rubbish. It really annoys me when I watch a film, and there are a bunch of 20-something blokes or women dressed in school uniform and acting as schoolkids. I know what teenagers look like; I'm a teacher. But what you get in most films, even some big budget ones, tends to look like adults dressed as teenagers. It's pointless and it's annoying.

If you want an actor who looks 15, get an actor who is 15.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Christian Dating

Here's 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, using the NIV footnotes instead of the main text:

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to acquire a wife in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

So what does this tell us about dating (as just one application)?

  • We should always act in a way that is holy
  • We should act in a way that is honourable
  • We shouldn't be driven by passionate lust
  • We shouldn't wrong others
  • We shouldn't take advantage of others

Now whatever you think of dating, and for my part I think that the whole Josh Harris thing is largely just semantics, this seems like very good advice.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Relativism and Atheism

It's important to be clear what we're talking about. I'm using the following definitions:

atheism - the belief that God does not exist

relativism - the belief that no one point of view is more valid than others

agnosticism - not being sure whether God exists or not

When two or more people have a discussion or an argument, they are usually coming from different points of view. Each of them will have their own experiences; each of them will have their own backgrounds; their own reasons for believing what they believe. Sometimes one point of view will be "better" or "more valid" than another For example, the view of a professor of engineering on how a car engine works is probably going to be better than the view of a six-year old child, because they have had more opportunity to become well-informed, and to experience the car engine itself.

But sometimes neither person is in a better position to know, and then it just comes down to people's background, what they assume and what they believe. If we find ourselves in that situation - where the only reasons for disagreement are background and assumptions, then it is a good idea to admit that at the end of the day we don't know, we can just have an opinion.

If God doesn't exist, then no-one can have a "better" or "more valid" experience of God than anyone else, which means that we are all groping in the dark. We could have two people meeting one another and one of them believed in God, and one didn't believe in God. Neither of them could have any real evidence for their claim; they would both be believing things entirely on the basis of their backgrounds and assumptions. But that means that we couldn't tell who was right.

At the end of the day, the only way that Atheism cannot explain why many people do believe in God is by saying that people sometimes believe wrong things because of their experiences, or because they want it to be comfortable to them, or something. But whenever they admit that, they are cutting the ground from under themselves, because if those reasons can make other people wrong, it can make them wrong too.

If an atheist is being logically consistent, they can never be sure. They can never say categorically "God does not exist" - it can only ever be "I can't see how God can exist" or "I don't think that God exists". But I wouldn't call that atheism; I'd call that agnosticism, as it's saying that at the end of the day, you're not sure.

Does God Exist?

This is hopefully going to be the master index for a series of things I'll write on the topic. If the links below don't work, that means I've not written that bit yet!

Da Vinci Code, etc

A review of a book, which shows why Dawkins' arguments against God don't work.

A discussion of Pascal's Wager (aka why it's a better bet to be a Christian than not)

  • The "Problem" of Evil
  • Thoughts on Psychology

    This is another one of those index pages I'm trying to use to provide some middle-term structure to this site.

    Psychology of Communication
    Reflecting on how people tick (or should do)
  • Opposing people
  • Teaching Deficiencies
  • Synthesis
  • Hope
  • Theism
    Random Stuff about me
  • Friday, November 18, 2005

    Scott Adams on Intelligent Design

    Scott Adams (author of the Dilbert comic strip) has written an interesting article on the subject of the Intelligent Design / Evolution debate. I think it's especially interesting because it reflects my disillusionment a few years back with a lot of the debate...

    Adams' original article.
    follow-up

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Christ and Creation

    Was looking at Psalm 8 today, and thinking about v3-8 - the "what is man...?" bit, and reflecting on how it works.

    Here are a few thoughts:

    The context is clearly about God's anointed king being rejected by the nations, so it seems more than fair for "son of man" to refer to Christ. It's quoted in Hebrews 2, where it's clearly applied to Jesus, but as an archetype of people. Jesus is made lower than the heavenly beings and then exatled as a result.

    But where it got really interesting was in asking how this relates to the mandate given to Adam in Genesis 2. He's told to rule over the animals, birds, fish, etc; this seems to be what Psalm 8 is primarily referring to, except that in Hebrews 2, Psalm 8 is treated as being about Jesus and his exaltation.

    I think this shows that Jesus' exaltation and rule is a fulfilment of the mandate given to Adam to rule, and so that Adam's mandate reaches a greater fulfilment in Jesus and then in our exaltation and rule with Christ.

    Cool...

    Thoughts on Theology

    This page is meant to function as a kind of repository of thoughts of mine on theology and so on.

    Church Politics, etc
    Church Meetings, Planting, Evangelism, etc
    Miscellaneous (and not yet sorted)

    Letter to Rowan Williams

    Was directed to a letter that a meeting of Evangelical Archbishops wrote to Rowan Williams. I thought it was very good, insightful, and highlights some of the main feelings of evangelicals towards the current situation. Praise God there are still archbishops standing up for this kind of thing!

    On the other hand, it turns out that the letter was released without the consent of many of the signatories. In addition, it is much more Christian to talk about these things in private, and only publicise rebukes if the person fails to respond. Not so good then.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    metablog - New Site Design

    OK - I think I've figured the template out pretty completely and redesigned it. Still wondering how to get graphics hosted as a blogblog template...

    If anyone reads this, let me know what you think of the new layout.

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    Personality Tests, etc

    Myers-Briggs, IQ tests, etc..

    I think they tend to provide valid descriptions, which can be useful for understanding people in a broad-brush type way.

    I don't think they are necessarily complete - they leave off important information. Neither do I think the different categories they come up with are necessarily independent - one might well have a strong link to another. Nor do I think they are prescriptive. But they can be useful as a descriptive tool.

    I guess the real dangers are either when we take them too seriously and feel restrained by them, or when we think that someone's score on an IQ test, for example, affects their value. Real value comes only from God, and has nothing to do with IQ, M-B personality type, or anything like that.

    Big Five Personality Test

    Only came across this today. But am trying to write some self-descriptiony thing...
    Big Five Test Results
    Extroversion (28%) low which suggests you are very reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and private.
    Accommodation (58%) moderately high which suggests you are, at times, overly kind natured, trusting, and helpful at the expense of your own individual development (martyr complex).
    Orderliness (46%) medium which suggests you are moderately organized, structured, and self controlled while still remaining flexible, varied, and fun.
    Emotional Stability (80%) high which suggests you are very relaxed, calm, secure, and optimistic.
    Inquisitiveness (86%) very high which suggests you are extremely intellectual, curious, imaginative but possibly not very practical.
    Take Free Big Five Personality Test
    personality tests by similarminds.com

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

    So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
    And took the fire with him, and a knife.
    And as they sojourned both of them together,
    Isaac the first-born spake and said, "My Father,
    Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
    But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?"
    Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
    And builded parapets and trenches there,
    And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
    When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
    Saying, "Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
    Neither do anything to him. Behold,
    A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
    Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him."
    But the old man would not so, but slew his son, -
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

    Wilfred Owen

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Messed up ideas of sin

    If you ever see the word "sin" mentioned, chances are it's in the context of people doing things wrong, like murder, sleeping around, stealing, sleeping around, eating chocolate cake, sleeping around, etc. I disagree.

    Biblically, people don't go to hell because they kill other people. They don't go to hell because they sleep around. They don't go to hell because they eat chocolate cake. Biblically, people go to hell because of how they act towards God.

    Look at this bit from Romans 1 (NIV)

    18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    It then goes on to talk about how their rejection of God works out in all kind of problems, many of which are to do with sex. But they are only symptoms of the real problem.

    People don't go to hell because they kill, or because they sleep around, just the same as people don't die because of a cough. People might die because of what causes the cough, and people might go to hell because of what causes them to sleep around.

    So what is the real problem?

    verse 21 - "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God, nor gave thanks to him"

    The real problem, and the essence of sin is that we don't thank God enough, and that we don't treat him as if he is God - we don't glorify him.

    That is what sin is, and we all do it all the time.

    So any questions involving "sinless atheists" or "sinless Muslims" are rubbish, because sin is about not treating God as God. We all do it.

    St Thomas, Stockport (C of E)

    When visited:

    6th November 2005, 10am

    Location:

    Between the A6 and Upper Hillgate, roughly level with Stockport College

    Welcome:

    Friendly. People came up to me beforehand and afterwards to talk and made an effort to shake my hand at the Peace. Was offered tea at the end, and a lift...

    First Impressions:

    From the outside, the building looks quite forbidding. Inside it's an attractive Georgian neo-classical building, though the bits that aren't easily reachable are very much in need of redecoration. The building could probably seat 400 or 500 - there's a large balcony all the way round. There were under 50 there. Oh that God would send revival!

    Oddly, the people there were very much split into two groups. The congregation mostly sat right at the back. Because of the balcony, there's a kind of walled stage at the front, where the choir, servers and minister sat, all robed. The choir were facing each other, and everything involved people from the stage doing stuff on the stage. Even the gospel procession stayed on the stage, and the opening procession didn't go through the congregation. I guess this created very much the feeling of a show. Most of the congregation were retired.

    Type of Service:

    Sung Eucharist, sung to the "Hillgate Setting", which seemed too hard for anyone except the choir. One of the readings was from the Apocrypha, complete with "this is the Word of the Lord" at the end.

    Music:

    Organ, well played. Hymns mostly "golden oldies". Choir were pretty good, not much audible singing in the congregation.

    Sermon:

    Speaking on the Parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew. Spent the first few minutes doing some interesting-ish though not especially connected general thoughts, then explaining that the "day and hour" referred to Jesus' crucifixion and the parable wasn't about judgement at all, which seems odd in the context...

    Website:

    not that I could find

    Overall:

    Another church which, sadly, will probably die soon if it doesn't change. Looking at the great building and the potential, it is a real spur to pray for God to act to change us as a church and to change the nation.

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    St Mary's, Cheadle (C of E), 6:30pm

    When visited:

    lots of times. I'm writing about the 6:30pm service, which has a different feel to the various morning services.

    Location:

    Right in the middle of Cheadle village, at the junction of Wilmslow Rd and the High St.

    Type of Service:

    Usually modern liturgical but fairly informal Evening Prayer, though this does vary. We have less liturgical services every so often, along with youth-led services, more liturgical communions, Festival services four times a year with a big choir, ...

    Welcome:

    People on the door welcoming. New people sometimes get spoken to beforehand, always afterwards if they hang round. We also do free pizza beforehand in the Upper Room (above Somerfield on Wilmslow Rd) to which anyone is welcome. People do find it a friendly church.

    First Impressions:

    In a really quiet week, there might be under 100 people there; a busy week we can get over 200. Good age range - the 20 or so younger teens leave part way through the service for their groups, the older teens stay around until the end, then leave. There are also a good number of OAPs, and most of the age groups in between too, including young adults. There's also an opportunity to pray with people at the end of each service. My least favourite thing is the lighting (old suspended bulbs with no shades) - I find it really difficult to look forwards during a service if sitting at the back.

    Music:

    Varies between one person on a keyboard doing golden oldies-type stuff and full youth band doing mostly loud modern stuff with a few golden oldies thrown in. Singing is ok, but not amazing. Sounds a lot better at the front than the back...

    Sermon:

    Usually 30 mins or so expository, with reasonable application. Tendancy to be waffly at times, but sometimes very good. Once a month or so there's an "Open to Question" service, where it's attempting to deal with a relevant contemporary issue with the opportunity for questions at the end.

    Website:

    yes, and it's ok

    Overall:

    I'm fairly happy here, though it's definitely not perfect (not least because I'm involved).

    metablog

    OK - that's the backlog of stuff I was meaning to put online cleared. This blogger thing seems quite good - though I'm currently trying to change the graphics at the top. I'm fine with editing the template and so on, and with uploading graphics via the picture submission thingy, but it seems to do some resizing or something to the uploaded files, which creates slight distortion in the graphics. Doesn't seem to be anything in the help files about it either.... Will go away and think on't.

    St James, Gatley (C of E)

    When visited:

    Sunday, 9th October, 2005, 10:15am

    Location:

    on Church Road, Gatley

    Welcome:

    A few people smiled at me as I came in. I didn't quite make it to the end of the service. There was a bit of talking beforehand, but not to me.

    First Impressions:

    The building seemed to have too many pews in - too little leg room for most of the people there. I sat on one of the few pews with decent legroom - back corner, as usual. I guess there were a few over 50 people there, mostly but not all older. Oddly, very few people sat next to each other - most were lined up along the central aisle.

    Type of Service:

    Communion, as usual, except that it was a special service with the Sunday School in (which seemed to consist of three children at the front). They had apparently been working through "the Eucharist" in their lessons for a few weeks, and were in to see how it was done. This meant the vicar (leading) kept explaining what was being done. In general, I found his reasons to be good ones, but not for doing what they did. For example, he said that the reason they processed in was to show they were coming from among the congregation. IMHO, the best way to accomplish that is to have the people sitting in with the congregation, then have them go up to the front, and to do so without silly clothes. The processing, to my mind, gave the opposite impression to what he claimed its purpose to be. That all made it feel a bit like a post facto justification for what was being done. Oh, and I'd have been content with a "we do it this way because we've always done it this way" explanation, even if I'd have differed over the practice.

    Music:

    Organ and fairly traditional hymns. Singing wasn't great.

    Sermon:

    A female lay reader was speaking. The first few minutes were ok and connected to the passage. She then wandered off, via considering issues of euthanasia to talk about how all ethics were relative except doing what was most loving to other people. Can't say I agreed...

    How I felt:

    I've been to higher Anglo-Catholic churches, and been fine with them. But something here made me feel increasingly uncomfortable as the service went on - I can't put my finger on it, but it got so much that I eventually walked out during the administration of communion.

    Website:

    none that I could find

    Overall:

    I wish I could work out what it was that made me feel especially uncomfortable. Even without that though, this is a church I'd find it very difficult to be at home in.

    St Mark's, Edgeley (C of E)

    When visited:

    22nd May 2005, 11am (Trinity Sunday)

    Location:

    Berlin Road, Edgeley. Just across the reservoirs from the back of Alexandra Park.

    Type of Service:

    Communion (twice a month at 11am)

    Welcome:

    Not much beforehand (though a bit). The Peace was done right at the end of the service, just before tea and coffee. This worked really well. I got chatting to the guy next to me, and found that I'd been to school with his daughter.

    First Impressions:

    Building is essentially a warehouse, but done up as a C of E church. There were 50 or so people there, with a good spread of ages, though no teens. Sunday school went out part way through, they came back for communion. There's evidently quite a bit going on beyond Sundays - there are homegroups, a young adults' group, etc. Seems to be straight Anglican with good efforts to be accessible in terms of music, structure of the service, etc.

    Music:

    Keyboard and small band or organ (varied from song to song). Kids song near the start, otherwise singable modern / good traditional.

    Sermon:

    Preaching on the Trinity, and focusing on the need to know God from all the Scriptures. I agreed with everything he said, but maybe a clearer focus and more application would have been helpful. Difficult to know exactly what it's like usually, whether expository or waffly.

    Website:

    not that I can find.

    Overall:

    Seemingly fairly healthy church. I could probably be comfortable here.

    St George's, Stockport (C of E)

    When visited:

    5th June, 2005, 10:15am

    Location:

    huge building on the A6 about 1 mile south of central Stockport

    Welcome:

    Very little beforehand, friendly afterwards. Was invited for a coffee in the church hall, but had to dash.

    First Impressions:

    Vast building - can seat over 1000. Some banners, etc at the side, but no real impact due to the sheer size of the building. Around 100 people there - fair mix, but with heavy weighting towards the elderly. The cynic in me would suggest a connection between almost all the young adults and the large number of banns being read. The church felt very empty, but they seem to be persisting with a formal arrangement of seats, etc.

    Type of Service:

    "St George's Service" - fairly traditional, straight down the line Anglican communion. Hymn book and printed liturgy booklet with readings on a seperate sheet. Administration was from both the nave and high table things.

    Music:

    Organ with choir. The choir were ok, but a very long way from where I was sitting. Otherwise, the singing was poor. I don't see how it could be otherwise in that building used as it was.

    Website:

    basic information

    Sermon:

    Pretty good and faithful to the passage (Matt 9:9-13, 18-26). Shame they stuck with the lectionary messing about with the passage... It was quite challenging, but not rammed home.

    Overall:

    Lots of potential, and I could settle here if I wasn't already settled. In the long term, I think they'll need to do lots of stuff outside the box to survive.

    Holyrood Abbey Church, Edinburgh (C of S)

    When visited:

    23rd October, 2005, 11am and 6:30pm

    Location:

    To the NE of central Edinburgh, just near Sainsbury's

    Welcome:

    People shaking hands on door, some members of the congregation spoke to me, generally welcoming but not in-your-face. Good.

    First Impressions:

    I guess about 150 people there morning and evening, with a wide range of ages.

    Type of Service:

    The services were done almost entirely by the minister from the central pulpit (the only exception being a children's slot in the morning service, for which he came down to the front). Apart from the singing, the minister was speaking almost all the time.

    Music:

    Piano, well played in traditional bar-type style (though I guess they'd not like me calling it that). Hymns were mostly "golden oldies", well sung.

    Sermon:

    Both showed good understanding of and work on the passage. The morning one (on Jesus' encounter with Zacchaeus from Luke 19) was excellent. I disagreed with some of the exegesis in the evening one (on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16), but can't think of a much better explanation of a very difficult passage. Both could have been made even better by more clear and challenging application.

    Website:

    yes, pretty good

    Overall:

    Doctrinally solidly evangelical/reformed, traditional Presbyterian. I get the feeling they maybe recognise the need for change in the long term, but find it difficult because they've got very good at doing what they do.

    Trinity Church, Cheadle (Methodist / URC)

    When visited:

    21st August, 2005, 10:45am

    Location:

    on the edge of Massie St car park, Cheadle

    Type of Service:

    nothing unusual advertised, but the chap I spoke to at the end said it wasn't at all like the normal one, and normally they did something much more like a traditional Anglican morning prayer.

    Welcome:

    Nothing beforehand, but a mature gentleman came over to speak to me at the end in a friendly way.

    First Impressions:

    Good accessible space (we have been known to borrow it for some functions!) Building would seat over 100, there were about 50 there. The median age was probably over 60. The service was opened by a mature gentleman speaking inaudibly and almost unintelligibly, then a middle-aged lady took over for the rest of the service.

    Music:

    Organ with a non-robed choir. Mostly traditional methodist hymns. Singing wasn't great.

    Sermon:

    None!!! The theme of the service was "the five senses" and there were waffly/meditative bits aout using our senses for God throughout the service. They were ok-ish, but no real challenge or use of the Bible.

    Website:

    surpringly stylish

    Overall:

    This doesn't strike me as a church that's especially likely to grow without major changes, and probably not of the kind that I saw.

    Bethany Community Church, Gatley

    When visited:

    4th September, 2005, 10:30am

    Location:

    just off Church Road, Gatley

    Type of Service:

    "Family Service", but the "family" aspect of it seemed to be a few games for primary kids in the middle, with nothing for everyone else to do at the same time.

    Welcome:

    Quite friendly. Several people came over to talk both before and after the service and I was asked to stay afterwards for coffee and birthday cake.

    First Impressions:

    New building (2002), very nice with comfy seats and what seems to be a church hall being built. Seating capacity over 160. About 50 people there at 1030, I guess a maximum of 70 during the service. There was a fair mix of ages, with more Afro-Carribbeans than I'm aware of in the community and a clear female majority. Two seemingly interchangeable middle-aged women up front during the service. There were some teenagers on the row in front of me, who kept going on about the church being great afterwards, but didn't actually seem enthusiastic about anything in the service.

    Music:

    Band with singers, mostly modern emotional-type stuff. Congregational singing was ok. There were some enthusiastic people at the front with waving flags, hands in the air, etc, but the others seemed a bit more subdued.

    Sermon:

    not entirely sure there was one. There were several bits of speaking, none really attempting to explain the Bible. The Bible wasn't actually opened until 1120 (Parable of the Lost Son, but the main thing that was done with it was "imagining what happened next") and the service ended by 11:40. The theme of the service was "taking the next step".

    Website:

    not that I could find

    Overall:

    Friendly, and great welcome, but the service was like eating a pillow - bland, fairly uniform consistency, but I don't think I actually got anything out of it.

    Chelwood Baptist Church, Adswood Road

    When visited:

    8th May 2005, 10:30am

    Location:

    Adswood Rd, just the Cheadle side of the West Coast Main Line

    Type of Service:

    Fairly informal "normal service", no communion.

    Welcome:

    Generally good. A few "hello"s at the start, people chatty and welcoming afterwards - tea and coffee offered.

    First Impressions:

    The building is basically painted breeze blocks with banners; about 50 seats were out, and it got to be about half full. There was a healthy range of ages. It came across as quite working-class (that's not a bad thing). Seems to be lots of football-based work and outreach - the church has a 5 a side football pitch.

    Music:

    There was a clavinova-type keyboard at the front, but no-one playing it. Songs were projected onto the wall via Powerpoint; most of the music was MP3s played through the PA system, there was one Hillsongs DVD at the start. Singing was pretty good on the ones they knew, and there didn't seem much resistance to old or new stuff.

    Sermon:

    It wasn't the regular "minister" doing it. There was a long thing read from the "Make Poverty History" website. I was pleasantly surprised when there was a sermon later. It was 19 mins on social justice. It wasn't a Bible-centred sermon, but I didn't disagree with anything that was said (except for a "legitimate" misapplication of the parable of the banquet) and it was Bible-influenced. There were Bibles (NIV paperback) round the church, but they didn't seem to be referred to.

    Website:

    www.chelwoodbc.org.uk
    (Internet Exploder only)

    Overall:

    Definitely a Christian church, and seems to be fairly healthy and growing. I think they'd probably benefit more from a slightly more Bible-centred approach to preaching and understanding. I'd be reasonably happy coming here, as long as they let me preach from time to time!

    Holy Trinity Platt, Rusholme (C of E)

    When visited:

    11th September, 2005, 11:30am

    Location:

    on the Manchester edge of Platt Fields park, just near the Curry Mile

    Type of Service:

    Morning service. There was another one at 9:15, which had lots of kids' activities, so this was probably aimed more at people without young children. Sheet given out with songs used at the various services that day and with responsive confession, collect, etc.

    First Impressions:

    It's got a reputation as the major evangelical Anglican church for students in Manchester. Church building probably seated about 350; there were around 200 there, mostly young adults but ranging from 18-70 or so. Pretty good, since it wasn't quite university termtime yet. Kids would probably have been to the 9:15. Powerpoint used extensively - for hymn words, before the service introducing church leaders and the vision of the church as well as for the sermon.

    Music:

    Band with singers. Visible but not conspicuous.

    Welcome:

    Quite friendly. There was a slot near the beginning of the service to greet people near us and tell them something we were thankful to God for. We continued the conversation afterwards and I also had a good chat with various clergy.

    Sermon:

    Very good; the curate speaking on the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30). Clear, from the passage and challenging.

    Website:

    www.plattchurch.org

    Overall:

    Good - think I could feel at home here quite quickly.

    Ivy Cottage, Didsbury

    When visited:

    18th September, 2005

    Location:

    On Barlow Moor Road, heading West out of East Didsbury.

    Type of Service:

    9:30 service (there's an 11:30 too, which I guess gets more students)

    Welcome:

    People shaking my hand as I walked in. No-one went out of their way to speak to me.

    First Impressions:

    Seemed like a converted house, with a couple of large rooms knocked together. Probably around 200 people, with the mean age probably in the 20s - lots of kids.

    Music:

    Band at the front. Very good indeed and well led. The "worship leader" worked through Psalm 24, and it was thoroughly excellent. Songs were mostly very modern settings of Bible passages. I didn't know many of them, but that didn't matter too much as they tended to be repeated. Words on screen via PowerPoint. There was a slot in the music talking about confession and realising our weaknesses before God with an opportunity to go forwards and wash hands - seemed to work very well.

    Sermon:

    Basically paraphrasing the first chapter of "Everyone's Normal Until You Get to Know Them" by John Ortberg. Disappointing, since the rest of the service would have build up brilliantly to a good expository sermon, whether on Ps 24 or not. It was the first in a series working through the book too. Still reasonably challenging, but it's better to have the Word of God than the word of John Ortberg, and I'd guess Ortberg would agree!

    Website:

    Yep, and it's pretty good.

    Overall:

    Seems to be a lot of variety within the leadership team. The prayers, for example, were focusing entirely on wanting to get outsiders into the church so they could know how wonderful fellowship was, which seemed much more "cuddly/woolly", and the sermon not being expository generally seemed to fit with that. On the other hand, the singing, etc was what I'd have expected of a good and strongly evangelical church with charismatic leanings.

    South Manchester Family Church (newfrontiers)

    When visited:

    10th July, 2005, 10:30am

    Location:

    the sports hall of Parrs Wood School, Didsbury

    Welcome:

    People on the door welcoming; little else. I saw some kids doing aerobics to "worship music" in a side room on my way in. No-one asked who or how I was.

    Type of Service:

    "Regional celebration" (several congregations together), with visiting speaker.

    First Impressions:

    Service was due to start at 10:30 with prayer at 10:15. I arrived at 10:20; there was no sign at all of prayer and the service started 10:39. There were probably around 250 people there, with very few over the age of 50.

    Music:

    Decent and fairly loud band at the front. Words on powerpoint, which seemed appalingly organised, often not getting to the verse by the time we'd finished singing it. Congregational singing was ok, but not great.

    Sermon:

    The sermon started well, talking about how our identity should be in Christ. However, after about 10 minutes, the preacher started going on and on about a prophecy he'd had. The good bits could have been done better, with more authority, more content and the same passion, from the Bible. The sermon ended with lots of people going forwards to have hands laid on them and fall over. By that stage, it was past the advertised finish time and I left.

    Website:

    Flashy

    Overall:

    Hmmmm. The impression I get is that the advertised product is better than the actual one. They seem to know what they should be doing... I could be really at home in a charismatic church, but not when they do some of this stuff.

    St Ambrose, Adswood (RC)

    When visited:

    15th May 2005, 9am

    Location:

    Adswood Rd, just Stockport side of the Adswood shops.

    Type of Service:

    Liturgical mass - liturgy assumed and not printed that I could find. Whole service was under 50 mins.

    Welcome:

    Nothing. I spoke to one guy on the way in (I asked whether it was the right door to be using), and the priest on the way out, and two people shook hands with me during the peace. No other interaction with people; no conversation.

    First Impressions:

    What looked like the main door wasn't open - I had to find a side door. It is a big, long basilica-like building with colonades down the sides and everything happening at the front. Some gaudy Catholic decoration, some pics done by kids from the school. The building would have seated 200; there were about 40 there. Books were needed but not handed out - we were expected to know and take them from a pile near the door. The chap leading it had a thick Irish accent, which was difficult to understand for the first few minutes.

    Music:

    Organ music. The singing was shockingly poor, verging on inaudible - I've heard much better at school.

    Sermon:

    It was Pentecost, so it was on the gift of the Holy Spirit. Reasonable links to the usual passages (Babel, etc). Not too sure about him saying the first 11 chapters of Genesis were all just myth. No real application given. No sign of Bibles.

    Website:

    none that I could find

    Overall:

    If you want church on a plate, with no demands, nothing whatsoever you have to do except turn up, this is the place for you. I doubt it will do you much good though...

    St Chad's, Cheadle (RC)

    When visited:

    25th September, 2005, 10:30am

    Location:

    On Stockport Road (A560), coming out of Cheadle Village towards Stockport

    Type of Service:

    10:30 mass

    First Impressions:

    Big cuboidal building, Room for 200, probably over 100 there, with lots of kids. Atmosphere of being a good family church.

    Welcome:

    None, but there was a queue of people so I could see which sheets to take. No-one spoke to me before or afterwards.

    Notes:

    Sheets didn't help much, as the bits that were printed weren't the congregational bits of the liturgy! Hymns weren't announced either. Was definitely some praying "through Mary" doing on, which isn't great.

    Music:

    Singing, no instrumental accompaniment. Singing wasn't too bad given that. Quite interesting. Would of course have been easier if there was a hymnbook where I was sitting rather than at the end of the row, or if the people sitting there had thought to pass me one...

    Sermon:

    Hardly mentioned the passage, mostly about a member of the congregation who'd died in the last week, and not that challenging.

    Website:

    Not that I can find

    Overall:

    My guess is that there's a really strong sense of community among the families here, and that's what keeps them in. It felt like that afterwards.

    St Cuthbert's, Cheadle (C of E)

    When visited:

    15th May, 2005, 10:30am (Pentecost)

    Location:

    currently meeting at Brookhead Primary School (bottom of Councillor Lane), while their building round the corner on Stockport Road / Cuthbert Road is redone

    Type of Service:

    Family Service

    Welcome:

    Very welcoming after the service, even from people who didn't know me (I sat to avoid the ones who did). Tea / coffee / squash and biscuits provided afterwards. Not a lot beforehand, except from the few people who knew me.

    First Impressions:

    Meeting in a primary school hall, with a well done large banner at the front to provide a "churchy" feel. Probably around 100 people there, good mix of ages. Powerpoint used for songs, liturgy, etc. Seperate songsheets provided for those who wanted them. No robes or anything - it would have seemed silly to have them.

    Music:

    Small band with two singers. Songs were generally modern; singing wasn't great but could have been a lot worse.

    Sermon:

    A friend from St Mary's was preaching! Very accessible to all ages and helpful, about how the Holy Spirit's coming at Pentecost latched onto the Jewish firstfruits idea. Usually when I hear the minister from St Cuth's speak, he's pretty good and expository with a fairly relaxed style. I was surprised and disappointed that there weren't many Bibles around and few people had brought them.

    Website:

    www.stcuthberts.org

    Overall:

    Friendly, welcoming church. A bit more passion wouldn't go amiss though.

    St Gabriel's, Adswood, Stockport (C of E)

    When visited:

    several times in 2004, 9:30am

    Location:

    just off the junction where the shops are in Adswood

    Welcome:

    Generally very friendly and welcoming. Whenever I go, I feel like I'm really encouraging the other people there.

    First Impressions:

    Pretty basic building, with a screen and "altar" at the front. 20 or so plastic seats - regular congregation numbering in the teens, average age probably over 60. The vicar, being around 40, was usually the second youngest person there, with me the youngest. It's part of a team ministry with St Mark's Edgeley and St George's Stockport.

    Type of Service:

    Eucharist - seasonally varying liturgy printed on sheet with readings and hymns on seperate sheets.

    Music:

    The vicar with his guitar. Singing ok, given the numbers, etc.

    Sermon:

    Generally nothing I'd disagree with, but not especially expository and little challenge.

    Website:

    none that I could find

    Overall:

    The people there really do not want to see the church die, but sadly it does seem to be heading that way, despite the fact the people there are so lovely.

    St John's, Hartford, Northwich (C of E)

    Location:

    at a fairly major road junction in Northwich, Cheshire

    When visited:

    28th August, 2005, 10am

    First Impressions:

    The building was fairly full, with well over 200 people. Nice new socialising area at the back of church

    Welcome:

    Pretty friendly after the service - free drinks and cakes provided. Lots of people talking - I mostly spoke to the few people I already knew.

    Type of Service:

    "Family Worship with baptism". Printed sheet provided with song words and basic liturgy.

    Music:

    Band playing well but not ostentatiously, mixture of modern stuff and traditional. Singing was pretty good.

    Sermon:

    Excellent. Mike Smith (vicar) preaching on Jonah 3-4. Very accessibly done with very good use of powerpoint. He preached the passage, clear for everyone on both judgement and mercy, challenging for both Christians and non-Christians.

    Overall:

    Great. Reinforced the reasons I aim to come here when in mid-Cheshire.

    Website:

    www.stjohnshartford.org

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Cheadle Hulme Methodist Church

    Location:

    Station Road, Cheadle Hulme, about 200m Bramhall side of the station.

    When visited:

    29th May 2005, 10am

    Type of Service

    morning service, not communion.

    First Impressions:

    The building is essentially a 100º degree sector of a circle, with tiered seating. Colourful banners at the front, ones round the back giving titles of Jesus with illustration. Looks pretty nice actually.

    The service started at 10am with about 90 people and a very kid-friendly service complete with puppet dramatisation of the reading. At 10:30, it split into a "more traditional service", a "cafe church" and childrens' groups. Lots of older folk then arrived, so there were over 150 in the main service. Good mix of ages, including teens and young adults.

    Welcome:

    None. I was given a hymn book and notice sheet as I came in. Otherwise, no-one greeted me either beforehand or afterwards, though it seemed very friendly otherwise.

    Music:

    From 10-10:30, a band with drums, singers, etc. Great to sing some lively songs passionately and loudly. They had lots of potential, but sometimes needed to know what they were doing in advance... Most of the songs in the "main" service used the organ. Sadly, I noticed quite a few older men in the congregation refusing to sing the one modern song the band did during the main service, even though it was pretty sound and done fairly quietly. The teens and young adults seemed to sing the older hymns though.

    Sermon:

    Following a lectionary, while recognising it wasn't ideal. The sermon was on the end of Matthew 7. It was clearly from the passage and was definitely ok, but didn't even mention judgement, which is a big theme in the passage. It did, however, have challenges as to how our daily lives should be affected, which is always good. Piles of Good News Bibles were at the end of the benches.

    Overall:

    It feels as if there's quite a bit of (one-sided?) tension between some of the older members and some of the younger members, and it was unsettling that no-one greeted me really. There's a lot of good stuff going on here, but it seems quite a few difficulties as well. I'd probably fit in at least as much as I do anywhere else, but it might take a while.

    Website:

    www.chmc.org.uk

    Thoughts on Churches

    I decided it would be useful and interesting to travel around local churches and see what they are like. I'm putting some of my thoughts and impressions online in case anyone finds that useful. Please note that these are only impressions based on one or two services, and might well tell you more about me than about the church. For what it's worth, historically I'm an evangelical with a strong emphasis on Bible teaching and think that singing should be passionate, but am not especially bothered about muscial styles or formality of liturgy. I'm a regular member of St Mary's, Cheadle, which isn't perfect either.

    If you disagree with anything I write, or indeed with the idea of me writing this at all, do feel free to let me know via the comments section or via e-mail. An e-mail address that works is blogname@ntlworld.com where "blogname" is the name of this blog.

    I'll group the churches by Church of England administrative boundaries - seems as good a way as any!

    Oh, and here's a link to a cartoon to do with what I think about churches without websites.

    Cheadle Deanery
    Stockport Deanery
    Manchester Diocese
    Elsewhere

    testing...

    And this is a test to see if it works. This is a larger test. And I've edited it too!