Re-imagining the Church of Ireland
Imagine the Church of Ireland was doing what it was set up to do! Believing the Bible, spreading the Gospel, building up believers, sending out missionaries to Ireland and overseas. Given the present reality in the Church of Ireland, that would take a lot of imagination. This is not to say that there aren’t any churches doing this - there are some - but they are the exception rather than the rule. Most of the Church of Ireland is busy dying. Having long abandoned the God of the Bible in favour of a more tame god, one that looks like a liberal, middle-income, harmless, slightly leftist leaning really nice guy, the Church of Ireland has effectively nothing to offer. Certainly, it’s still there for picturesque weddings, baby baptisms and funerals, but nobody’s paying attention anymore. It’s simply irrelevant.
But why does it have to be that way? Why can it not rediscover what it is meant to be all about? It’s not ‘rocket science’ to know what the Church should be about. It’s right there everytime we go through a prayer book service, everytime we see an ordination, everytime we witness the institution of a new Rector, not to mention in our baptism and confirmation services. At the centre of all of these is the life-changing, mind-blowing, heart-racing power of the Gospel. The truth is we have a tremendous message about a living, reigning, and returning Saviour, Jesus Christ, our Lord. It’s the number one, top priority message that the world needs to hear - and only the Church can deliver it.
So, why are we busy dying? Why aren’t we busy about this message? Why aren’t our Synods full of plans and excitement to get the Gospel out? Why isn’t the Church of Ireland producing Gospel men and women who are willing to risk everything to bring the good news to every part of Ireland and beyond? Why are we busy conforming to the world when we should be busy conforming to Christ? Imagine a company that no longer believed in its product. How long would it last? In this day and age, hardly any time at all. Similarly, the Church of Ireland has no right to continue to exist and call itself a Church if it no longer believes in its product.
So, imagine a Church that ‘did what it says on the tin’ - that actually believed in its own product and eagerly went about getting it out to the world! What would the Church of Ireland look like if it did this? One thing is for sure, it would probably look very different from the way it is today. So, maybe it’s time to consider abandoning the irrelevant little politically correct god that wouldn’t say ‘boo to a goose’ and confront the world with the God of the Scriptures. Imagine a Church of Ireland like that! Now that would be a church! Such a church would be exactly just what is needed and would never cease to be relevant to each successive generation of Irish people.