Hope for the Church

There are many things that can cause us to despair the shape of the church today. Declining numbers, aging congregations and growing hostility can tempt us to think all is lost. However, there is reason to hope. 

child labour

The youngest workers  crawled underneath machines while in operation to gather up loose cotton. Many died when they got caught in the machinery.

In Britain – at the height of the Industrial Revolution in 1740 – poverty, social injustice, child labour, harsh living conditions and long working hours were rampant. Children aged five or six worked 14 to 16-hour days in mines, people were executed for petty crimes such as stealing a loaf of bread, drunkenness was rampant and gambling extensive. It lead philosopher Bishop Berkeley to lament that morality and religion had collapsed “to a degree that was never known in any Christian country.”[i] At St. Paul’s Cathedral London on Easter Sunday morning, 1740, only six people were in attendance for communion.

Jenny and I visited St Paul's Cathedral in 2012

Jenny and I visited St Paul’s Cathedral in 2012

It was in this context that God did a new thing: George Whitefield began to preach to coal miners in 1738. He in turn inspired the Wesley brothers, who turned Britain around.

Over the next five or so decades God transformed the lives of people and the society of Britain. Thousands upon thousands accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, slavery was abolished, child labour laws introduced, trade unions established, and prisons reformed.

Reflecting on the history of the church over a century later . . .

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[i] Introduction to the History of Christianity, Dowley, 2014

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One thought on “Hope for the Church

  1. Robynne Milne says:

    Hi Stephen

    I like this. May I reprint in The qb please? I realise you are aiming at the Australian church and wonder if it would be good to add that upfront of your localized comments.

    Today the Church in Australia is going through yet another difficult time, but it is certainly not the end. In fact, it is likely to be the precursor to a new move of God. History reminds us that God has moved powerfully in the past and is able do it again. It can help us to gain a renew perspective of the time in which we live based upon what has gone before.

    I trust you and Jenny are well.

    Kind regards

    Robynne Milne

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