As many of you well know, my sense of direction isn’t the best. Today it served me quite well. On trying to find my youth hostel, I managed to walk down a wrong street – which took me to a man putting up a sign in front of a church declaring that “London Christian School” met there. His name was Chris, he’s on staff at St Helen’s next to the gherkin, and he’s a good bloke. I learnt two things about England’s Christianity from this chance encounter and following conversation:
1) You can tell a lot about how England’s Christian education scene is different to Australia’s when you realise that the school with the name “London Christian School” was established last year and only has twelve students. Chris’ hope (and I assume the hope of many evangelical churches in the city) is that there will be lots more schools with lots more students popping up in the near future.
2) You can tell a lot about England’s churches when the answer to the question “Tell me about your church” is “Well, we’re all about Jesus – we preach the Bible straight up, I hope you’re into that kind of thing.” I chatted with Chris for a bit about the state of England’s churches, mentioning that I’d heard bits and pieces about the shocking state of the Anglican denomination. He replied that their church was one of the few Anglican ones that weren’t a waste of time, because of the very reasons that he straight up came out with – they preach Jesus and the Bible.
I’m beginning to think we’re spoilt in Australia. It seems that in the US everyone claims to be a Christian, and so you need to delve for a bit to find out if they actually are or not – you need to find out what they think about the Bible, and what they think about Jesus before discovering what they truly believe about Christianity. It seems in England, everyone claims to be religious, and yet don’t have any gumption to stand up for their faith lest they offend someone else’s religion. One must wonder whether their religion has any faith behind it at all.
At least in Australia, if someone’s not a Christian they’ll tell you. But to be honest, I don’t think it would hurt to have to clarify exactly what a Christian entails. Rather than just saying “I’m a Christian”, how good would it be if we made known what we actually believed – “I’ve been brought into a saving faith through Christ alone, and therefore live my life to glorify Him”. Rather than simply saying we’re Christians, using the Bible to express what we believe and why we believe it.
WE may know we’re Christians, and know what being a Christian entails, but do the people we’re talking to know that? Over here, you can’t assume that giving yourself the label “Christian” automatically makes you one. I wonder how many people in Australia are just giving themselves that label and we don’t even realise it – simply because we don’t have that polarisation between the Christians and the “Half-Christians”.
Can’t wait to go to St Helen’s tomorrow and see the church in action.