At Elmstead many, if not most of us, became Christians as adults, and so know what it is like to live without God. We also know that getting to know God can be a challenging journey. So we really want to make it as easy as we can for people to connect with us and to help people explore the Christian message for themselves.
Here are some ways to explore the Christian faith at Elmstead:
Our Sunday service is our most important meeting each week. We’d love to see you even if you are new to all of this!
Essentials is four interactive sessions exploring the basics of the Christian message.
The Word One to One
A guided read through of one of the eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ life. Contact us if you would like someone to show you how this works over a coffee – there is no commitment for you to continue beyond that first session.
Here are some reasons why we are convinced that every person should at least explore the Christian faith:
Because it is true
Jesus must be the only person in human history who could say “I am the truth” without sounding totally ridiculous. The more you look at Jesus, the more you see: He is all that humanity was made to be, and that He gives us a perfect picture of what God is like.
The Bible is a unique book. Yes, other religions have holy books too. Some are collections of spiritual writings that have no coherent message. Some were written by specific individuals claiming to have received visions from God. The Bible was written over 1,500 years, by more than 40 different authors, and yet it tells one clear story; of the Creator God, of His dealings with humanity and of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Christians are not perfect people, but they are changed people. They have come alive to the truth of who God is, and have been transformed by this new relationship, as their character becomes increasingly like that of Jesus. Maybe you know such Christians, if not we’d love to get to know you and share with you some of what God has done in our lives.
Because it is good
Love is the supreme command of the Christian faith. Love God, love people. Imagine a world where every person did exactly that, honestly and from the heart, every moment of every day. That is the world Jesus promises.
Unity in diversity. No other movement in the world reaches across such a broad range of people groups. The Christian message is literally for people from ‘every tribe, language, people and nation’.
Even in smaller church communities like Elmstead you will see the diversity. And yet this gloriously diverse range of people are deeply united – we in fact become family to one another – because of the transforming power of the Spirit of God.
We know this is not what every church actually looks like yet. We at Elmstead also have much progress to make in our love and our unity. But the Bible’s view of church is good and beautiful, and any church who really follows Jesus will show these marks of being God’s people.
Because it is realistic
Sin is not a popular word in our culture. But the Bible shows us that it is a real problem, and it is a problem with our hearts. A simple way to explain sin is the attitude that says, “Shove off, God. I’m in charge, not you!”
The result of this attitude is that we have an inclination to serve only our own interests, and therefore potential for great evil. This is not to say we are all as bad as we can possibly be, or that we are incapable of doing good. It simply means we fall far short of who God made us to be.
Our sin is not only offensive to God, but it also requires Him to deal with it. So His good and right response as a just God is to place us under his judgement. But the bible also teaches that God is rich in love and wants to save us. Which he did by sending his own son, Jesus.
Now as we come to Jesus, God forgives us and starts to fix our hearts. So no, Christians aren’t perfect people. They are simply forgiven people in whom God has begun to work.
Suffering is a sad but daily reality in this broken world. For some it becomes evidence that a good God cannot possibly exist.
However, the Bible is very honest about suffering. It shows that suffering came into the world because of human sin and God’s response to that sin. It should help us know that things aren’t right between us and God.
But the good God of the Bible doesn’t stand aloof from this suffering. Rather in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, He enters into it, to suffer more than any other person has suffered, in order to pay the penalty for our sins.
Suffering continues to be part of this world, even if you are a Christian. The difference being a Christian makes is we have the love and support of God and his people, and we are confident of an eternity where sin and suffering will be a thing of the past.
Because it is eternal
Heaven and hell are real places. The life that God offers is called eternal life. It’s not just the life we have now, but going on forever. It is a full, overflowing life in a living relationship with God and His people, which begins now and continues forever.
Jesus has said that he will one day return to this earth, and bring in a new creation where sin and suffering are a thing of the past. But only those who have trusted in him will enter this new creation.
Those who resist God’s gift of forgiveness in Jesus – who prefer to live life without God – will instead enter hell, a place Jesus says will be full of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
We don’t find these easy truths to accept and teach. But if you take Jesus’s teaching seriously, they are impossible to ignore.