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What Lies Ahead for the Church in 2011?

We look back on 2010 with some satisfaction. With a small but dedicated staff at The Baptist Times, we have made many good contributions to our denominational life in Great Britain over the year.
 

We are, though, only a newspaper, and our job is primarily to report on what other people do. Looking back through the record of the last 12 months has been a humbling experience.

 

There are examples of heroism, self-sacrifice, creativity, commitment and generosity. We have been privileged to tell these stories.

 

What lies ahead for 2011 is shrouded in the darkness that has always enveloped the future, and for which we should be grateful.

 

We hope and pray for good things for ourselves and our loved ones. However, we cannot protect ourselves against all events, though we can prepare ourselves: we can practice patience, strength of mind, openness to the help of others, and trust in God, and in the end most sorrows pass.

 

What lies ahead for the church? In the wider world, we expect more pressure on Christians in Iraq and in Palestine. Tensions between Christians and Muslims in Muslim-majority countries are unlikely to subside.

 

 

 

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The churches of Europe will continue their battle against secularism and apathy; the churches of the United States will continue to struggle with issues of culture as well as theology; the global South will increasingly take on a leadership role.

 

And here in the United Kingdom? For the first time in years, there are encouraging signs. The church is probably growing again. We can, humbly but confidently, look forward to brighter days ahead.

 

The challenge will be to live not just as Christian citizens of this country, but as citizens of the world: to remember that Christ was born for all, not just for us, and to proclaim his universal lordship.

 

Mark Woods is editor of Britain’s Baptist Times, where this column first appeared.