Pastor’s Blog July 2019

This month marks a significant landmark for me. It is 30 years since I first entered full time ministry. In July 1989, Margaret and I packed up all our belongings and moved to Partington. Rebecca was 16 months old and Margaret was 8 months pregnant with Ruth. We arrived to a council house that was uninhabitable, well not quite, I slept there while Margaret and Rebecca stayed with my Uncle and Auntie in Lymm.

I want to reflect on those 30 years over the next 2 or 3 blogs.

It is an obvious statement but the world has changed in very significant ways. I can remember in 1989 watching the news as day by day the Iron Curtain came crashing down. Remarkable scenes as the Berlin Wall was dismantled and the year ending with the fall of Ceausescu, in Romania, on Christmas Day. In February 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison. In the blink of an eye, communism and apartheid were crumbling. I remember the feeling of wow, God is doing this. These were moments that I believe demonstrated God’s sovereign rule over the world and it created an expectation that God was about to act in this nation too. He has but not in the ways we were hoping for.

This country has changed too in noticeable ways. Church attendance has declined markedly. The number of people who profess to have no faith has increased to possibly more than 50% of the population. Marriage has been redefined, issues that were thought to be about personal morality have become issues of identity and justice and holding to the biblical position on sexual purity has become increasingly controversial. At the same time the church has become much more deeply involved in social action projects. Many churches are involved with the community providing help for those in debt or providing food parcels for those who are going hungry and in a huge variety of other creative ways. Therefore the context in which we are called to do mission has changed dramatically and we have struggled to come to terms with the new environment and the challenges it presents.

One huge change the impact of which we are still discovering is the development of the smartphone and social media. This has changed the nature of personal relationships, the nature of the media and entertainment industries. People have never been so connected and yet somehow so disconnected. There are many lonely people with hundreds of friends. The impact on our lives and on society is yet to be fully understood. Nor are its implications for Christian life and witness.

Thirty years on the world has changed, I’ve changed but God hasn’t, his purposes remain the same and so does our call in the world.

Phil Dixon