The Church of England has recently published a guide to the “Top Ten Facts About Christenings“. It is a starter for ten for people making enquiries about their local church and “getting little Timmy ‘done'”.It seems to have picked the same scab that The Weddings Project picked for a lot of vicars….. it educates people about their rights (something vicars don’t like to admit people have) and their responsibilities (something many vicars insist people should be born with pre installed like iOS6).
I am not a cradle Anglican. I may have mentioned this once or twice. I wasn’t even a churchgoer. I grew up with the belief that The Church TM didn’t have anything to do with ‘people like me’. In all honesty, the church treated me like a pariah when I was a teenager with a Helloween patch on the back of my denim jacket – I managed to attend for 5 weeks. When I arrived at university this is what I told Ruth: The church does not want people like me in it. The David Mitchell portrayal of the Evil Vicar isn’t just a cultural stereotype, it is often the real lived experience of a first time enquirer.
“Hello, are you the vicar? I am just ringing to ask about booking a venue…..”
There are two responses to this phone call:
a) [a brusk] It isn’t as simple as that! You are not simply booking a venue…
b) Congratulations. That’s great. Let’s have a chat about how we can help you celebrate the gift of a new child/celebrate the love you have for each other as you come together in holy matrimony…
I have sat in a room and watched both of these happen. I know which one I picked up as good practice.
The Church TM is a daunting experience for those of us you refer to as ‘unbelievers’. Walking through that door for the first time is a real challenge. If your first instinct is to trip someone up on their way in for the first time you will probably never see them again and neither will anyone else.
There is a massive theological issue at stake here. Jesus is the incarnate God who had a table ministry. He welcomed everyone in. Regardless of their religious literacy. Regardless of their knowledge of canon law or the parish system. Regardless of whether they had the language to ask for a service rather than a booking.
“I didn’t realise we could get married in church vicar”. Happy to help.
“Can we have Timmy done?” Why don’t you meet me and the church wardens on Sunday and we’ll help you along the way?
“Will I be able to bring my son with me, he’s got Asperger’s so he may not be the most well behaved.” That’s fine, everyone is welcome here. If we can cope with a noisy vicar like me I’m sure we can cope with a little noise. After all, some famous guy said ‘let the little children come to me’.
Filed under: Britain, Christianity, Church, Church of England, CofE, Evangelism, Faith, Jesus, Marriage, Religion, Wedding, Worship, Worship Resources, Young Adults | Tagged: Britain, church, Church of England, England, occasional offices, UK, wedding, weddings project, welcome | 2 Comments »
A society which allows large numbers of its citizens to live in poverty is unlikely to be sustainable. We have seen, since the 1980s, how whole communities hit by economic contraction can sink into a kind of collective depression from which some, especially young men, seek to emerge through violence, gangs and other destructive (and self destructive) ways of life.
Nick Morgan linked to the Church of England’s report on Welfare Reform on The Book of Face. It is a long read but has some good insights into the current UK government’s policy and how it relates to our faith.
I think the key phrase in the above quote is “since the 1980s” as it is telling about the current trajectory of the UKs economic policy. This report doesn’t quite give a bloody nose in the way that Faith in the City did to Mrs Thatcher’s government, but it does point out many of the failings of the current regime.
I’m about to have a bishop arrive at my house to discuss how we engage with young adults 20-40 as church. I just clicked on this link as I was going through my overflowing inbox.
I am struck by the humility of everyone speaking to camera. I’m also struck by the apologetic nature of the comments. How do we as The Church ™ continue to instill an atmosphere that whether explicit or implicit makes younger people feel that they are interlopers? The image says ‘leaving’ but I suspect that ‘leaving’ is a million miles down a road not traveled.
Last night I was asked how I ended up as part of the church. As I told my story I recounted that at 18 years old I thought that I wasn’t allowed in church. People like me are not acceptable in church. We’re not good enough.
Is this the lived experience of most young people or is it the prevailing media narrative as told through film, sitcoms and newspapers?
I’d better dig out the hoover before the bishop arrives.
Filed under: Alt. Worship/ Emerging Church, Christianity, Church, Church of England, CofE, Emerging Church, Faith, Fresh Expressions, Pioneer, Pioneer Minister, Pioneer Ministry, Religion, UK, Video, Young Adults, youtube | Tagged: Christianity, christians, church, Church of England, CofE, faith, Fresh Expressions, Pioneer Minister, Religion, UK | Leave a comment »