Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land: Re-shaping the Church for a Changed World


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Format: Paperback (126 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-78959-246-7

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The most devastating experience of God’s people in the Old Testament was the exile. But rather than being destroyed by their circumstances they emerged with a fresh understanding of God and committed to new ways of worshiping him. The Covid pandemic can be seen as our generation’s exile. Have we emerged with a fresh understanding of our faith, new ways of being and doing church, a reinvigorated commitment to the mission task?

Mission, particularly the clear proclamation of the Gospel, is the core task of the church, our response to Jesus’ Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). We each have our part to play , learning how to sing the Lord’s song (the gospel) for our current context, which is not always entirely friendly. Every Christian community, every local church, needs to be able to sing the same song through the quality of their life together. When new people join us, we need to offer them a positive experience: comfortable facilities, meaningful worship, relevant teaching, and, above all, a genuine, warm welcome. If this isn’t part of the bed rock of our churches, any message we may proclaim will likely fall on deaf ears.

For years John Marsh has been teaching the Bible in an engrossing, compelling and easy-to-understand way. Alongside this he has been continually evangelizing and growing churches. Now he brings it all together in this beautiful, helpful and challenging book. Get it. Read it. And do it.

Robin Gamble, founder and leader of Leading Your Church into Growth

John Marsh brings to his writing an amazing set of talents and experience. As a musician, he understands the roots of worship and mission; as a teacher, parish priest and archdeacon, he knows both the Church and the world in which we live. The title captures the essence of his message. Lay and ordained will draw richly from the reservoir of wisdom he offers.

Stephen Platten, former Bishop of Wakefield

Written with engaging simplicity and sparkling enthusiasm, this book brings to life Jesus’ own deft and loving touch, both in his own ministry and in that of the earliest Christian community. The author sees a gripping parallel between the emergence of the Church from the Covid era into the post-modern world, in which so much has changed, and the return of Israel to the promised land after the Babylonian Exile. It should be prescribed reading for any pastor in the Church.

Henry Wansbrough OSB, theologian, Ampleforth Abbey

John Marsh has faithfully and fruitfully served the church in the North of England for many years. Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land contains much distilled wisdom and helpful challenge as we journey with Christ into culturally new terrains, proclaiming the faith afresh in each generation.

Matthew Porter, Vicar of St. Michael-le-Belfry, York

John Marsh shines some light on the post-modern, post-Christendom, post-Covid landscape to explore how we sing the Lord’s song in this strange land and so to proclaim afresh the gospel in a generation that has lost its perception of the God to whom the scriptures bear witness. Here is a wholesome mix of the pastoral and evangelistic which has been characteristic of good mission in most generations.

Mark Sowerby, Bishop, Principal, The College of the Resurrection, Mirfield  

The Covid pandemic caused great suffering and loss. It brought the routine life of many churches to a halt. But it also gave time to reflect. To what extent do we go back to normal? What needs to change? John Marsh has made good use of that time. I commend his reflections as we seek to ‘Sing the Lord’s song’ and remain faithful to the mission Jesus has given us, in the ‘strange land’ of post-Covid Britain.’

Graham Cray, formerly Bishop of Maidstone and Archbishops’ Missioner

“Let the fire fall!” – the 1950s Pentecostal chorus voiced the cry of God’s people for renewal. John Marsh shares his own life-story of making Jesus known in the power of the Spirit. Using a set of lively biblical themes, he encourages and promotes a missional stance for today. But what response will the Church make? A remarkable piece by a remarkable preacher, teacher, musician and soul friend.

John Lawson, Principal, Mirfield Hub, Leeds Diocesan School of Ministry

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