I do weary, at times, when people lament 'the state of the church', as if we were called to a state of fashionability or trendiness: a theatre, supermarket or night club. I am, in fact, hugely encouraged when I see how many churches engage with the needs and sores of society, from a Christ-centred, Biblical perspective. During Lent, what better words of advice for mission than those of Lesslie Newbigin's WCC pamphlet, 'Mission in Christ's Way':
"It was the scars of the passion in his risen body that assured the frightened disciples that it was really Jesus who stood among them. It will be those same scars in the corporate life of the church that will authenticate it as indeed the body of Christ, the bearer of his mission, the presence of the kingdom. It will not be enough for the church to place a cross on the top of its buildings or in the centre of its altars or on the robes of its clergy. The marks of the cross will have to be recognizable also in the lives of its members if the church is to be the authentic presence of the kingdom. I find it remarkable that this aspect of the biblical teaching has been so much neglected in the missiology of the past two hundred years, and that missions have been seen by contrast in triumphalistic terms. It is remarkable that the consistent teaching of St Paul about the nature of the apostolate has played so little part in missionary thinking. When his claim to be an authentic apostle of Jesus was questioned, as it was especially (it seems) in the congregation at Corinth, Paul's reply is always, in one way or another, to affirm that he has taken his share in the sufferings of Christ."