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Hot debate on a hot day about Open churches

I am very grateful to Wingy for taking the time to comment about the  recent posts about Open Churches and church  attendance figures – if you go to the June 29th post on ” More stats and Ashby St Ledgers” you will find Wingy’s comments. I have always favoured having our churches open during the day – some I know are open at night as well. It was so good last Friday when I was travelling to Coventry on that wet day to come off the A14 into Rugby and find the village church where I served as deacon – at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore open. Turning the latch and finding a door opens I think says so much to passers by… I know some people truly worry about the safety of our buildings and I do understand that – and the ideal is perhaps to have stewards present on a rota as some bigger churches do – but that wont always be practicle for village churches… so to those of you who bravely open your churches every day a big WELL DONE.

Nick G has e-mailed about an article in

:guardian.co.uk/belief – ‘if religion disappeared, what would emerge in its stead’. – Im going to check it out now…

Not sure quite which article it is, but might well be this one:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jun/26/humanism-religion-atheism. Here is a taster written by Caspar Melville

The question: Can religion be replaced?

One of the first things I commissioned when I became editor of New Humanist was an attempt open out the opposing positions within humanism about what should replace religion. It was a debate between Dave Belden and AC Grayling about whether humanism should be, or become, more like a religion. Belden (who is now managing editor at the non-denominational spiritual US magazine Tikkun), in a piece entitled Is it time for humanists to start holding services? wrote that while humanism had done well to meet the philosophical challenges set by religion, it did less well reproducing the kind of “vibrant social connections” that religion provides. He was rather stirring, in fact:

We are a tribal species. We need communal rituals, songs to sing together, not alone in our rooms. We need ways to care for each other, inspire each other, develop ethics and teach them to our children.

He goes on to suggest that “an overly rational approach to life can be cool, even chilly”, so what was needed, in his view, was more church fetes, bible groups, coffee mornings, singalongs and ceremonies. Only, without the God bit. After all, he is a Unitarian.

Its quite a challenging article but worth reading… Im convinced that if only church groups could be more welcoming, inclusive and flexible in their style ( and not only on Sundays)  that more people would find relevance and meaning in what they are offering. I have always found such a wide gap between the Jesus I read about in the gospels in his tunic and sandals touching those with society has rejected   and  ending  up on a  cross and the rules and regulations and neat tidiness of much of what we do in our buildings and teach in doctrine. One day maybe I will find the link, maybe I wont. Goodness me, I much find something of a link as I wouldnt have been ordained for 22 years in parish ministry and still as keen as ever. Maybe, in a funny way, having this passion for re-ordering and putting in loos is about bringing the everyday stuff of life – which can be messy – into our church life and embracing it. Just like Jesus embraced the mess he saw around him.

Thanks also to Graham Sharp from Christian Resources for his comment which i will copy here:

I’m an associate of Christian Research and find it frustrating that the media keep picking up on some fairly old projections. Dry statistics are meaningless and always need interpretation. Church leaders and commentators who are obsessed with ‘church attendance statistics’ as the arbiter of ’success or failure’ need to reflect on what the church is really about! To imply that Christianity is in decline because fewer people attend church every week is akin to saying drinking alcohol is in decline becasue fewer people go to pubs every day. We know that’s not the case – people are ‘drinking’ differently and people are doing curch differently – not just on Sundays, not just in church, not just CofE…and so on.

For Christian Research, I edit a publication called ‘Quadrant’ which regularly contains articles that illustrate exciting community and social initiatives – an immense amount of Christian discipleship being enacted and very little of it in church on Sundays!

If you want to receive Quadrant, you just have to become a member of Christian Research.

Best regards

Graham

Keep the comments coming – Paxtonvic is very busy  with  your views so to calm me down and anyone else feeling the heat, here is  some ” clarkia” growing abundantly in my garden…

clarkia

June 30, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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