St George, Stamford

In the attractive Lincolnshire town of Stamford are five medieval churches, all worthy of inspection and the tourist’s delight. Alas, when I called last month, one was unavailable, its doors locked, its insides a mystery. Yet this I did not begrudge. Its noticeboard advertised a series of expository Bible sermons from First Corinthains; its website makes clear its evangelical pedigree. Unlike other churches of the town which were left open but had the feel of a museum, this was primarily a place where God’s word was preached. It was not open for private prayer or the lighting of candles; it was open for hearing the preacher at the advertised times and for responding to the gospel. Although opening might have allowed the offering of tracts and other witness, which the other churches singularly failed to do, St George’s closure I rather respected. If a church preaches not the gospel, woe to it, regardless of how many tourists gape at its pillars, admire its tracery and gaze at its ceilings.

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 

1 Corinthians 9:16, New King James Version