Most people have questions about God, faith and what it means to be a believer. Here you can get some idea of how Christians view the world, and what we believe in.
Why do we ask the question?
You may be looking at this page because you have experienced a sense of God’s presence in your lives, or perhaps because you have had some contact with a church community. Most of us have been to a baptism (christening) or to a church wedding – possibly even our own – and we have seen a Christian community which has a story to tell, not just in the words or actions of a service, but in the way we gather together in friendship and fellowship, united with a common faith. But each member of a church community started by asking questions and exploring what faith might mean.
What does it mean to be a Christian?
What Christians experience
There are different ways of describing the experience of faith. Words such as ‘spiritual’ or ‘assured’ and ‘comforted’ can be used, but our common experience is that we feel we are not alone, but in relationship with God. If you pray and feel that someone is listening, then you are expressing faith in God; if you experience love and compassion in your life, then you are experiencing something of God. The Bible says “God is love. Those who live in love, live in God, and God lives in them.” Within the Christian community we experience love and relationship through our fellowship with each other, through gathering in worship, and through the sacraments (which is what we call the ways in which we experience God’s presence in the world).
What Christians believe
Christians are not unique in speaking of feeling the presence of God in their lives. What is unique is that we speak of Jesus Christ as ‘God with us’. God being born amongst us as Jesus Christ is the most profound gift we have been given. The Bible tells us the story of God’s relationship with his creation from the beginning and, through God’s inspiration, the Bible can help us to understand how we should live our lives.
As Christians, we understand God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Father: God is a God of love, who cares for the whole of creation and for every human being as God's beloved children.
Son: God was revealed to us in the historical person of Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus' life, death and resurrection that we make sense of life before and after death. It is also the key to knowing and loving God.
Holy Spirit: God is alive and active today through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspires faith, truth and justice in the world. The Holy Spirit helps sustain the life of the world, gives spiritual gifts to the church and bears spiritual fruit through changed lives and a transformed society.
What do Christians do?
Christians seek to deepen their relationship with God and express that relationship through serving him and his world.
We do this through:
Worshipping together: When we gather we listen for the Word of God in the Bible and in preaching; we look for the presence of God in the sacraments. These include baptism (christening) but, most importantly, Holy Communion (also called the Eucharist). In Holy Communion we find the living presence of Jesus by following the commandment he gave to us before he died.
Praying: We believe that our relationship with God is improved through prayer. Prayer is like talking to God, telling him our concerns and offering him our hearts
Serving: Christians seek to live out our belief: we serve God by making a difference in our local communities and in the world. You will find Christians in many communities making a bigger difference by working for the vulnerable and those in need.
Community is important
We know that we can read the bible, pray and find ways to serve individually but Christianity is about relationship and community. That is why we have church. Church may be seen through the people who meet in a traditional building. But it could be seen in a small house group, through people meeting in a school hall, community building, in the workplace or even through the internet. The important thing is that it contains Christians who are seeking to deepen their relationship with God. Together.
The Church of England is one of the Christian churches in this country and we seek to work with other Christian denominations as much as we can. The Church of England seeks to serve every community in the country. We do this by dividing the country into parishes - each one with a church. So you are never far away from a Church of England church. Our churches have different styles and different traditions but each is seeking to help people in their journey with God.