I'm not sure why, but this morning I am angry. Ok I do know, but I don't know why it is now that I am angry.I have written copiously about the traditional church, so I'm sorry to say this is more of that, but on a different level you will be pleased to hear. I think I am writing about it so much because God has put it on my heart and I just don't know what to do with it.
SO my main gripe is that parish churches - and I am speaking mainly about those known to me local to me, but I know it's a wider issue - are failing. They have minimal congregations, largely made up of the blue rinsers. Stuck in their ways, not willing to change or see that they even need to. Do they care that in 20 years time, when they are all dead there will be no one left? I hate seeing churches closed. It pulls at my heart. Not for the lack of believers as there are believers out there, and in many cases growing congregations - just not in the traditional church buildings. No, it is for the very fact that those buildings have been built, in many cases hundreds of years ago, for the very purpose of worshipping God. People have been worshipping in them for so many years and yet they end up closed, and turned into housing or bloody supermarkets (as noted here in Alans blog). What on earth is that about?
As I have said previously, I am an architecture fan. I love looking at old architecture, seeing the years of use that a building has had, the worn down steps from years of people kneeling at the altar, the marks on the ceilings from centuries of candles burning underneath... These buildings are full of our history and full of Gods love. And we let them close down, deconsecrate them (and thats another thing - is that even possible in a spritual sense?) and let them become 'just another building'. I know in some cases this is done very sympathetically but it's not about the aesthetics for me.
So, why does my church - part of the Church of England, but definitely at the far end of the spectrum - have to hire a sports hall each week for us to worship when the village church is practically empty? Is this not completely the wrong way round? There are people out there that want to believe, that want to worship, that need something more. This is not about falling numbers, they are rising in our church. So... why, oh why can't the Diocese see that we need more of this? Why do Vicars, Bishops, whoever makes the decisions just stick their ground and not see that change is needed? Oh, it makes me so angry. I feel sooo angry right now (we had a sermon on revival in our area this morning, so that's probably why now). Why don't they sodding well wake up?
Wake up oh sleeper!... (Eph: 4:14)
As I've said previously this is not about getting rid of the traditional - I know people like to worship in different ways - but just to make room for something else. Try something different. If you want to get people in, you need to provide what they need. I want to see the parish churches in our area packed to the rafters. I want to see people in them filled with Christs love, worshipping for that reason, not because they are going out of habit, because that's what they do on a Sunday.
I've an idea that keeps coming back to me and I have no idea about how to deal with it. I am sure it is from God because the more I ignore it the more it comes back. It's not a new thing - it occured to me in my old church too. But the idea is to have kind of a travelling service. One that has a band and a good preacher (or preachers), a basic format initially, that goes to a different church each month, once a month. The main premise of each service would be to work with the parish to get people back in to that church. It wouldn't be about getting people into our church, but back to their own parish church. This could start small with just a few churches so that each church had one of these travelling services maybe once a quarter, but with the plan to get people back in, get them involved and then they eventually take over the running of this quarterly service. From there who knows.... This service could ahve all sorts, from the basic servcie to then follow up evenings hosted by the parish for those that want to know more, which could then lead on to other things... The church is so often literally at the heart of the community and it should be so on so many levels, not just becuase it's in the centre of the town or village.
I do not mean this to be like a plant church taking over another. It needs to work with the existing churches, in order to appeal to the people in their parish, with the general aim to get people back in so they can run with the idea and grow. I know I should be doing something with this but I have no idea where to start. It's not that I want someeone else to do the work, I am happy to work hard at this, but I need doors to open. If it is of God I need him to open those doors for me, and if not , well then Lord, please stop bringing it to my mind because it is very frustrating.
BTW does anyone know where I can get figures on congregations from? I'd like to see where congregations are growing and where they are depleting, just so I can do a bit of research!
Ok, rant over, anger is poured out. Will let you all know if doors do open...