When God gathers out of the Gentiles a people for His Name, in most circumstances He provides an ecclesial environment within which the new converts can grow and contribute to the wellbeing of others. For those of us who have the benefits of ecclesial life, we should pause and thank God for the stimulus to our faith that the interaction with fellow saints provides. We should also pause and pray for those in the brotherhood who are in isolation and do not experience the many helps of inter-ecclesial activities yet who maintain the Faith under trying conditions.

The benefits of ecclesial life are a latent blessing. They are sometimes unappreciated and lie dormant through lack of interest and commitment. Why is this so when there is a rich and fulfilling life to be enjoyed with families interacting with each other in the ecclesial environment? So much is offered in our ecclesial programs for positive and stimulating classes, gospel addresses, seminars, Sunday School teaching and fraternal activities, yet in many places support is declining despite the good intentions and planning of dedicated committees. The problem is not unique to any one area but perhaps it is mostly apparent in the more affluent societies within which the ecclesias are combating the inroads of materialism. A world that knows not God pressurises us on many fronts and the pressure is increasing. The effects are all too apparent with increasing demands in the work place and an increase in entertainments readily available to satisfy every whim or fancy. Of all the various groups in the ecclesial demographics it seems that the most vulnerable are the young marrieds who have a host of commitments outside the ecclesia which sap their energies and drain much of their spiritual inclinations. Parents are also too caught up in secular careers, too tired to come out to ecclesial activities and all too ready to “take a break” by switching on or going out to a vast range of relaxing entertainments. Yet whilst the flesh is never satisfied and yearns for more, the spiritual man is not renewed in knowledge and shrivels up due to neglect.

The answer is not to mimic the world by discarding the customary activities for something that is more novel, “attractive” and palatable to the values of the flesh. Nor is it to have an “ostrich” mentality and pretend that the problems will simply go away.

Brethren who hold “shepherding” roles in the ecclesia will be well aware of their responsibilities to feed the flock of God and to look well to the state of the flock. They as watchmen are conscious of their duty to warn of declension in the faith and to bring the ecclesia around the “bread of life” and the “wells of salvation”. They themselves will be very mindful of not neglecting the needs of nourishing their own families whilst being concerned for the wellbeing of the ecclesia. Yet if there are brethren and families of like mind and like commitment they, in unison of spirit and motivation, will reach out to the ecclesia and encourage those on the periphery to catch the spirit of zeal and enthusiasm for things of eternal worth.

One aspect of being Christadelphians is sometimes assumed without being aware of its real significance. We are by the grace of God, “brethren IN Christ “ (Col 1:2). Our former identities are submerged into a new and exalted status as brethren and sisters bonded together in the ecclesia with Christ as our individual and collective Head. Our “life in Christ” adopts a whole new purpose and motivation. We pattern our lives on the role model of Christ whose delight was always to be about his Father’s business and to do His will even being obedient unto the cross. Paul says simply, yet in such a compelling context, “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). Followers of Christ picked up this lowly spirit of dedicated service and saw in the ecclesia an opportunity to serve Christ by serving his brethren. They held a deep concern for all the members of the body and added whatever contribution they could to ensure its health and vitality and often expended all their energies for “the work of Christ” (Phil 2:19–30; 1 Cor 16:17–18; Rom 16:3–5). They supported each other in their individual and collective witnessing for the risen Christ and the world took note of a community who lived and breathed a commitment to Christ, their Lord and to each other. The three articles in this issue are seeking to address the focus upon Christ our Head, upon the importance of the three “pillars” in ecclesial life (Memorial Meeting, Gospel Proclamation and Bible Class) and to explore some of the many activities readily available for every member to take up and with earnest endeavour to make a positive contribution to the nourishment of the ecclesial “body”. It is so evident that we are living in the last days and, in the shadow of our Lord’s return to gather the brotherhood together, may there be a continuance in those noble traditions amongst us of ecclesial life and ecclesial commitment. In the case of decline we pray for God’s blessing upon those sincere servants of Christ who try with all diligence to “strengthen the things which remain” and for them to enjoy a resurgence of interest, support and commitment to that which is so precious amongst us.