Lesley wrote an interesting post this week about a lengthy charismatic service she had attended recently. The comments are equally as interesting too. The Anglican Church is so broad that inevitably people at opposite ends of it will probably dislike what the other end is doing. Some say this is a good point about the Anglican Church, others that it will be it's downfall.
I would say that this post is not a direct response to Lesleys post, as much of what she said I agreed with but I did find it particularly interesting as my church has been looking at the way they run their Sunday morning service recently. We are at the charismatic end of the CofE but even within that congregation there are differing opinions as to what should and should not happen within the service, how we should or should not treat newcomers. Ultimately one of the things that is valued most at our church is about seeing people come to know Christ, in a very real and honest way. I'm not sure that has been happening recently so it is great that things are being looked at right now.
But the thing is, everyone has their own way of meeting with God. For some that is a very reverential, quiet and liturgical experience. They value the tradition of the church, they value the respect, reverence and perhaps more inward approach. Others, perhaps from my tradition, would devalue that approach saying that it is filled with 'religious spirit', not honouring to God. I spent quite some time in a more traditional church and I did not enjoy it, it was not fulfilling what I needed. I would not choose to worship somewhere like that now, but I accept that people do and that they appreciate that style of worship. I also accept that people might come to a service at somehere more Charismatic and want to run a mile. The hands in the air, or being quiet waiting on God for 10 minutes might be far too cringeworthy for them. Indeed, my dad hates it! But therein lies the point - I would not expect my dad to enjoy the things I do, he is after all 35 years older than I am. He enjoys the traditional hymns, he is a bell ringer and enjoys that as part of the worship. I like modern music and the more free aspect to our services.
I have a passion to see the church revived, not as in revival, but churches revived to be the centre of their communities. But the more I look at this, the harder I find it. because there are SO many different appraoches to church, SO many differing opinions on what is right and how we should 'do' church. And above all there are SO many different people out there. How can we form a service that gives the Gospel in the way that every single person needs to hear it? For some stepping over the threshold of a traditional church building is just something they will never do, a hall might be less threatening. For others the village church has a sense of familiarity about it, somewhere their daughter got married, or their friend was buried. It is a place to sit quietly when they need some space. For some coming into a service with very loud rock music, and people waving their hands in the air, would send them running in the opposite direction. For others it's like coming home, they have a sense of the real lives being touched there.
There is no right or wrong answer. Lesley talked about a service where the worship was manufactured and the prophesies weak, which I can quite believe, the downfall of some charismatic churches is the personalities thriving in prideful adulation, but just as this is so, the more traditional churches downfall can be the opposite, the lack of commitment to the service, the music, or to the preaching. The lack of commitment to their community. Every church has faults and every church has it's own style.
I have been outspoken about some more traditional churches near me, I admit, but it's more because of their lack of interest in the community around them, in those that have not yet ventured in thtrough the South Door rather than how they do the service.
In this day and age the majority of people have a choice to travel to a church rather than attending their parish church (which may or may not be right or wrong) so perhaps an answer is to encourage people to travel to the service that suits them? then they can find one that suits their own needs. In terms of worship experience, we cannot expect every single church to offer what every single human needs. Can we? Are we all just too different?