You can always tell when an election is nigh when the news letters from the various political parties land on the front door mat. The LibDem news for Aughton, the Tory gazette for Ormskirk. One, maybe two editions. Then no more, until the next call to the polls.
Unlike CONSIDER, our church’s monthly newsletter, which is published each month (with a July/August edition for the summer) and delivered to every house in the parish, with a print run of 2670. Without fail.
I’m not quite sure when CONSIDER actually began. I know the basic concepts were recommended by a working group chaired by Gordon Phasey, who sadly died last year in Ilkley. I arrived with edition #252 which makes the first edition (long pause for me to consult my calculator – that can’t be right) some time ago. But it was very much the vision of my predecessor, Eric Bramhall, in the late 1970’s.
I remember attending a diocesan seminar on evangelism with Eric who explained to us his strategy. Essentially the first stage in sharing the gospel is to make regular contact with as many people as possible, and with Christ Church being a parish church that means every home in the parish.
This means CONSIDER is written for those who live in the parish rather than church members. And we aim to maintain a spiritual agenda. My opening letter, all 365 words, seeks to relate the cross of Jesus to everyday situations for “we preach Christ and him crucified.”(1 Corinthians 1:23). And we aspire to keep our parishioners in touch with what is happening at Christ Church without being in-house.
Very frequently, often in Cafe Vista, I get feedback from people who live in the parish and do not attend our church. I am amazed at how many tell me and here I quote “from cover to cover.” Members of other churches, even, tell me that they know more about what is happening in our church than their own. And it is so encouraging when people sign up for Alpha through reading CONSIDER.
Over the years the method of producing CONSIDER has been transformed by huge advances in technology, originally an electric typewriter and Gestetner, today QuarkXPress and Risograph. But what hasn’t changed is the commitment it represents.
For CONSIDER takes a huge number of dedicated disciples to deliver, about 80. That’s why we can do it while the political parties cannot despite the best of intentions. There are some things only churches can do.
Yesterday an important milestone in the life of CONSIDER took place.
For 35 years Laurie and Claire Hughes have been at the heart of producing CONSIDER. Claire with the content and layout, Laurie with the production. Both were also distributors. Now they both feel it is right for them to stand down.
So in Jesus’ name a huge thank you for their dedication over such a long period, above all their consistency and reliability. These are the two qualities in discipleship that count. Forget brilliance if it is spasmodic and unpredictable. It’s simply keeping at it, month by month, year by year, at a good standard. The Bible falls it faithfulness. And here we may encounter God’s hesed, his steadfast love.
So well done, Laurie and Claire, good and faithful servants! And thank you to all who make CONSIDER happen. At the moment we need four more distributors