As I write this, I’m gearing up for a big family wedding. Tomorrow, we’ll hear the happy couple make their vows, ‘till death do them part’.
Weddings like this are slowly becoming rarer, as fewer couples want, or feel able, to make a life-long commitment. This decline is a sad reflection of wider society, where flexibility and freedom are often valued much more than faithfulness and fidelity.
As always, society’s changing attitudes impact the church, for richer and poorer. Commitment to the church seems to look very different in 2018 than it did in 1948. It’s tempting to try and turn the clock back, but that’s never possible, or even desirable. Instead, we need to learn how to ask for and demonstrate commitment in the age in which we live. It’s one of the biggest challenges and opportunities the church is facing.
That’s what this issue of the Magazine is designed to help with. John Funnell kicks us off with a look at financial giving, and especially what that might look like for new Christians in more deprived areas. Richard Underwood reminds us of the devotion of the early church, while Nichola Napper takes a fresh look at one of the best-known examples of personal commitment in church history.
Elsewhere, Andy Christofides looks at the particular challenges men often face in being committed to their local church. Paul Daniel rightly suggests it’s usually better to encourage those who appear not to be committed, rather than just complain. Finally on this theme, Jonathan Stephen shares how his views on the biblical arguments for church membership have changed over his ministry.
As always, there are plenty of other articles too – from seaside evangelism to the virtue of patience, to innovative ways of reaching out in Asia. Our prayer is that this issue of the magazine will play a small part in encouraging you and your church in your devotion to one another and to Christ. Before you turn the page, why not make that your prayer too?