In the current issue of Day by Day with God
Find out more about Day by Day with God September to December 2013:
I came across a challenging comparison recently: a successful department store and a local church. The department store has a welcoming, bright ground floor, often full of wonderful (expensive) perfumes. Even if I'm not buying these luxuries, the smiling beauty-counter assistants make me feel welcome as I head for the escalator, which gives easy access to the next floor. There I find the clothes I'm more likely to be looking for. But prominent signs draw me into other parts of the store, inviting me to explore and spend more time (and money). The department store has studied the way shoppers think and makes it easy for them to move to the next level.
In contrast, local churches can be bewildering places for newcomers. Most churches welcome strangers and most will show a newcomer to an empty seat for a Sunday service. But then what? If I want to find out more about faith in September, I might be fine. Churches running Alpha or Christianity Explored courses often start one in the autumn. But if I come along to your church for a wedding, a Remembrance Sunday service or Christmas celebration, will I have to wait until next September to find out more about following Jesus? That's like a department store with an escalator that only works for a month of the year.
This is where we come in as members of the congregation. Each day, as we use these notes to help us live lives rooted in the Bible, God builds us up as individuals. We are also called to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). But that's not all. We are called to reach out to others. You might not see yourself as an evangelist, but we each have a part to play in building God's kingdom, putting faith into action and words: 'Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have' (1 Peter 3:15).
As you use these notes between now and Christmas, ask God to help you put faith into words, so that someone new can discover that God loves them and Jesus died to restore the relationship God wants to have with each of us. Get together with a Christian friend to pray that the seed of God's word planted in your life will bear fruit in the lives of others.
29 September-12 October
'You raise me up'
27 October-9 November
The quest for joy
Amy Boucher Pye
24 November-7 December
What brings delight to God?
Celia Bowring has always worked alongside her husband Lyndon in pastoral ministry and, since 1983, at CARE, focusing especially on writing prayer resources and other publications. They love living in London and have two grown-up sons and one daughter.
Amy Boucher Pye is a writer and editor living in North London. She is writing her first book, tentatively entitled Beloved Am I. An American by birth, she delights in all things British, especially her husband and children.
Jane Grayshon, a midwife, mother and vicar's wife, is a popular speaker and writer of nine books including her bestselling autobiography and, most recently, a poignant book that sheds light on a child's experience of abuse (www.janegrayshon.com).
Rosemary Green divides her time between her supposedly retired husband, her local church and her family, with 14 grandchildren aged from 5 to 24.
Liz Pacey is a Reader in the Church of England and works as a freelance writer and speaker. She is a compulsive knitter and runs courses exploring the links between knitting and spirituality.
Wendy Pritchard is married to John, who is Bishop of Oxford. She enjoys supporting John, tending her large garden, visiting her elderly parents and appreciating her four small grandchildren.
Mary Rimmer is a vicar's wife and mother of four - two at university and two at school. She is a regular New Wine seminar speaker and loves watching films, preferably with a bag of Maltesers to hand.
Jean Watson is a writer, a spiritual director and a director of a local counselling service. Her work has included teaching, editing and writing for different age groups and media - books, magazines, radio and TV.
Tracy Williamson shares a music and teaching ministry with blind gospel singer Marilyn Baker. Although profoundly deaf, Tracy loves to communicate and teaches in workshops and conferences as well as being the author of several books.