A firends blog considered really the effect of the new culture in which we live and tried to understand 'where we went so wrong' as her title post declares. Here is her post and my response. I am posting here because this is just where I feel God is leading me to respond in the future through my ministry and so I want to remember these points and words.
Sunday was an exhausting day, and I only did half of what the vicar went on to do. However, the issue which arose for me was this:
We did a baptism (I say ‘we’ because I led the service and preached – 3 mins only and my vicar did the baptising bit) on Sunday after two services. There were about 120 people there, predominantly young – 20′s-ish folk. The couple weren’t married, and I imagine a lot of the young parents there weren’t also. When they arrived they wouldn’t come inside until the vicar went out and called them all in – despite it being past the time of the service. I was in a cassock alb, and clearly a ‘church’ person. Hardly any of them could meet my eye as they walked in and I handed them a book. Yet, probably 90% of them were wearing poppies.
So, as a group they understand to a certain extent doing something altruistic, even in the most minor sense. Doing something (such as buying a poppy) which is ONLY for someone else, and not something they will ever see a direct result of is a good thing. Yet the vast majority of them were so out of their comfort zone in a church. They didn’t know how to behave, whether we were going to be criticising, judging or exclusive, or just plain weird. The service went well, although the responses were almost inaudible, despite there being so many there and them all being urged to participate. The sermon was well received as I saw some people visibly soften when i talked about Jesus’ light shining through the darkness of death.
Yet it seemed so alien to them to have been there. They obviously love the couple so much that they were prepared to put themselves through that. It was a palpable experience of what the Pope keeps referring to now as “Aggressive secularism”. How did the world ever come to this? And what has the British Legion done to achieve its aim so successfully? Is there a ‘secret’ that the Church could use, an idea or focus that we could tap into so we have the same positive effect on people that Remembrance Sunday does? Rona iwanttobeavicar.com
Fresh expressions of church really come in here as we encourage congregations to explore ways of telling people about God in places where they are. In the church I think we are providing people with a space where we can show a glimpse of Gods love. We are a people who have met God.
We attract people by revealing God. Its God job to meet them and we often never really know how or when that will be.
The British Legion is selling something while the church is offering a life style which demands action. I think people are so used to deciding now how they will live that buying a poppy is part of that choice while going to church is less of a choice than a whole lifestyle change.
You either dress in Gok style or you don’t. Its a bit similar. I think Gok style is ridiculous while others think it is stylish and fun. I would not be seen dead in Gok style unless in a drama!