Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Church Holidays

Rather an ambiguous title, that, but I'm not referring to the festivals of the Christian year, whose memory still lingers in some of our national days off work. (Can anyone else remember the half way house of Ascension Day as a child? We were expected to be in school, but were taken en masse to the nearest church for a service, and then had sticky cakes and orange squash instead of those dinky little bottles of milk at morning breaktime).
Rather, I've been inspired by Lilly, who was wondering why we're so fearful of allowing our faithful the odd Sunday off. I guess that the reality in the UK is that a high proportion of the congregation are notthere every week; certainly, in the rural benefice where we lived before my ordination, "regulars" were those who came to a particular service, even if that one only happened once a month. However, generally when people aren't with us on a Sunday, they aren't worshipping elsewhere, either, which is such a pity. There's a whole world out there, which its sad to miss out on...I wish I'd done a tad more visiting before going full-time, but at least I know something of what's on offer.
One of our recurring problems as we try to move things on in Charlton Kings, is that so many of the congregation have literally not worshipped anywhere else for a good 40 years. We can tell them that other places do things differently, but their mindset is such that they can't fully grasp that, and so believe that "the way we've always done things" is the only valid expression of church there is. We would love to take them for little outings to experience wider horizons in worship, but suspect there would be an outcry if there were no Parish Eucharist on even one Sunday. If we did arrange for a service while we went elsewhere, no prizes for guessing which members of the congregation would not be on the coach :-(


Tom said...

With the Bishop's permission ( its amazing how that deflects the aggro) - shut down completely one Sunday - give everyone a random ticket to one of say 20 other churches in the area -- meet up the next Sunday to discuss instead of the sermon - agenda it for the next PCC - have a big graffitti board for things that people found helpful or creative - eyes may be opened and hearts may be set on fire

John said...

Sundays off can be a great refresher for everyone - we have occasionally taken "holidays" to another local church and it's fun and enlightening (if only in the "thank goodness I don't come *here* every week" sense!). And lack of experience of anything else can be, I know, a severe hindrance to trying anything new; or, indeed, to trying anything old, either.

pax et bonum

Humble Secretary said...

Can you offer them some inducements to go and snoop around at other churches - like they can get two helpings of eucharist? Else encourage them on an low key unofficial "mystery worship" project - where they go out in twos or threes and have to find one thing they liked more and one thing they liked less about the other service. Or would they prefer to eat glass.

dave paisley said...

Working with our Diocesan youth program I get to travel to other parishes several times a year anyway, and it's always fun to see what you can learn about how other folks do things. However, Ivy Beckwith's original post (that inspired Lilly's) was about taking a break from organized church altogether.

While that's frowned upon for the laity I believe bishops take a pretty dim view of that for the clergy ;)