Monday, October 05, 2009

A church near you, part 2

Thanks to clever cross posting wotsits, the original "church near you" post spent today up on FB where responses were too interesting to leave alone there.
Here are some

Caroline 2 suggested
a place to be encouraged
a place to dream
a place to share

a place to question

a place for doubt

a place to get away
a place to come home

and Karen a place to cry
a place to be comforted
a place to learn from all ages
a place to be

I'm now getting really excited about this - and about how to make it real in the life of the churches I serve. Because, of course, I can't claim that all of that is really true of the life of either of my congregations.My hope is that by the time we reach Easter next year (via another PCC Quiet day at the beginning of Lent) ,both may have arrived at some sort of vision statement that can become part of our conscious DNA, an indicator of priorities. Caroline 2 wanted to substitute "Community" for "place" - and of course she's right that this is how it should be (though the original context of giving out a bit of smiley advertising at a community event meant that focus on the building was simpler to explain...specially as we were partying in the park just the other side of the churchyard wall). Goodness - if we actually offered churches like that, they'd probably be full overnight.


But as soon as you start defining what you are for, the possibility of being judged and found wanting looms large. As I commented in the other place, I have nightmare visions of a spiritual Ofsted inspector marking hill & valley in terms of their compliance with a tick list ...In the wake of the "Family snapshot" questionaire I offered in the valley earlier this summer, I'm well aware that the old adage about meat for some being poison for others remains very true. I wonder if it's equally true that what encourages one might disturb or depress another...And it matters so much that the church should try to be all things to all men at some level - because it's disturbingly common for tentative explorers to turn their back after one single negative experience...and, sadly, to confuse God with the church that exists to do God's work.

I recognise too that however much I may understand and believe that it's NOT my task to ensure that these churches "pass" - I'll see any "failures" as my failures.
Of course, if my churches live up to these visions, then I can cry, I can be encouraged, I can doubt, and I can grow - so maybe the messiah complex might eventually be rather less of a problem! It's something to pray for, anyway...

1 comment:

Caroline Too said...

and as you 'fail' Kathryn, do you think that your church family might give you the space/place to cry?

and if not immediately, do you think they might learn with you?

just maybe?