Are worship styles part of the church's decline?

12346»

Comments

  • This.

    I wish our place had personality.

  • Yes, Pomona - a splendid post.
  • I happen to know the GenX top age band because I was born on it. It's a pretty hard boundary in the UK thanks to a certain female prime minister. Basically, we are the first lot of people who were too young to vote her into power. It went deep, particularly among the working class, those who expected an apprenticeship and then to work for the same company for forty years, this never came to us. So are we nearing retirement? Well only if twenty years to go is nearing retirement!
  • My dad is at the top of the Gen X age band and is retired! But to be fair, I think retirement in his industry is generally rather early - but, 20 years is not a long time and I think churches need to be prepared. But yes, I agree with your post- my parents are both working-class Gen Xers and it rings very true. I'd also say that they're the first generation where the rejection of established religion as a repressive authority figure became mainstream. Both my parents were raised in churchgoing homes (RC and CoE) and both stopped going as soon as they possibly could. I'd say actually younger generations are perhaps easier to reach actually - many of us associate church with grandparents, and paganism remains a draw. Of course, paganism isn't church (!) but because we were more likely to not be raised in a church, religion is less offputting. I definitely know a lot of people my age and younger who are much more religious than their Gen X parents, and that's across different religions actually. But I do think how churches respond to Dead Horses will make or break how well they can take advantage of this.
  • Mark BettsMark Betts Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    Pomona wrote: »
    ....issues of the parish priest and local squire being in cahoots causing a lot of Victorian church decline for instance)….
    I thought the Victorian era was when the last huge revival took place - both evangelical and the Oxford Movement.
    I agree that we need the Holy Spirit to breathe on us afresh, although likely very differently to how others here would see it.
    Yes. I'll agree with that part.
    A sense of authenticity and depth to a church can make up for a lot.
    Yes, I've been thinking for years that for all the efforts to try to be relevant and appealing to young people, modern services lack depth - good liturgy can often make a difference, but that is sadly lacking too.
  • People abandoned church for two reasons - unable to engage with aspects of required belief & a loss of trust in those who demanded respect rather than earned it. The church has been its own worst enemy.

    People are not joining the church because it is not on their radar; some dislike any idea of conformity (why can't I believe what I like); it's frankly embarrassing to be at; leaders aren't like them, don't talk like them and many (sadly the AoC included) say stuff that they don't follow through, implying even they don't believe what they are saying.

    Lack of authenticity again I have to say: we claim to be different, to offer something, but for many churches it is the same old stuff repackaged.

    As some one who is on the cusp of retiring the picture is becoming bleaker. We have a retiring generation who have no experience of church, are working longer (pension changes), have lots of hobbies (less time for church) and will be looking after grandchildren (no energy left). Yes God can change this but people will have to commit to God's work again if the church is to grow.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    While the expression "fresh expressions" has been commandeered by yet another wand-waving hope-group, fresh expressions of old truths, fresh expressions expressed with integrity rather than twee earnestness or pompous self-righteousness, can go a long way to convey the numinous Pomona speaks of. Tired cliches whether of word or gesture, especially delivered from a sea of hypocrisy or bland self-righteousness dressed up as faith, these work wonders in delivering church buildings to the real estate markets for re-development as apartments or brothels.

    Or both.

    The churches that I see growing are not petri dishes of tired liturgical formulae or vacuous condemnations from nineteenth idiot fringes, but energized, embracing, inviting cultures of words and actions imbued with a living God-Spirit, backed up by acts of love and inclusion, delivered with enough humility to reassure those who reject hypocrisy that these stumbling believers just might be onto something beyond banality.

  • Zappa wrote: »
    While the expression "fresh expressions" has been commandeered by yet another wand-waving hope-group, fresh expressions of old truths, fresh expressions expressed with integrity rather than twee earnestness or pompous self-righteousness, can go a long way to convey the numinous Pomona speaks of. Tired cliches whether of word or gesture, especially delivered from a sea of hypocrisy or bland self-righteousness dressed up as faith, these work wonders in delivering church buildings to the real estate markets for re-development as apartments or brothels.

    Or both.

    The churches that I see growing are not petri dishes of tired liturgical formulae or vacuous condemnations from nineteenth idiot fringes, but energized, embracing, inviting cultures of words and actions imbued with a living God-Spirit, backed up by acts of love and inclusion, delivered with enough humility to reassure those who reject hypocrisy that these stumbling believers just might be onto something beyond banality.

    That, Zappa, is what we try to do, despite being a Fresh Expression, at least in theory. No-one raises hands though - we even sold T-Shirts at one point bearing the motto "Ex-Happy Clappy" - a bit smug perhaps but we had and continue to have rejects from the Happy-Clappy end who sometimes need a bit of light relief as they work their feelings through.

    How I'd know we were imbued with a God-Spirit I'm not entirely sure; we are an inclusive safe space where we try to provide an environment where other churches' cast offs can come together.

    What I've found is that so often people my age (50) and younger (still thought of as "the younger members" in so many congregations) aren't actually consciously rejected by mainstream church. Rather we find ourselves round pegs in square holes. I expressed this years ago when the kids (now 10-14) were but babies but the view was that that's the church, that's God's people, not your job to try to make it suit you, etc. Etc. And we tried. God knows we tried. But when you've got the only children in the congregation, when none of them are the slightest inclined to carry incense or candles at the front, you find you also can neither benefit from nor contribute to the church life; you start dreading Sunday morning and trying to get everyone up to be bored for an hour, and you know full well that you're inoculating them really well against attending church as an adult.

    That's the simple reality. I think we'd have abandoned church altogether had our FE not existed. At beat we'd be taking it in turns to go without the kids.
  • Thanks KarlLB. That is a moving and meaningful post, your experience could have been my wife's.

    But - and please don't take this in any way as a criticism - what you've said does raise a question or two. Your church clearly picks up disillusioned folk from mainstream churches, and that is highly valuable. My anecdotal experience is that's true for quite a lot of FEs. But (i) how will they cope when the supply of ex-church folk dries up, as it will over time: and (ii) how many are really managing to reach out to the growing number of folk who've never had any church connection?
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    Well, if the supply dries up we're not needed any more, but I'm not sure it will; while mainstream church remains difficult for many families - we have a significant degree of neurodiversity, especially autism - in our congregation which I can't help thinking is significant; whilst LGBT+ folk continue to get rejected; then it seems we will continue to have a role.

    Reaching further out is a challenge we're starting to examine; it was the original intention of the FE.
  • I think neurodiverse and disabled people are probably the groups (I am in both - using the terms separately as I know some ND people prefer) where worship does make the biggest difference, and unfortunately usually in a negative way. Older church buildings are usually better acoustics-wise (wood, stone etc absorb sound better) but are usually dire in terms of accessibility. Churches (and society generally) usually forget that accessibility for wheelchair users isn't the only kind of accessibility needed, and it doesn't even have to cost money! Having clear instructions in service booklets, not frowning if people (including adults - so many people think of autism and ADHD as something only children have) have to get up and wander and make noise, not forgetting that ambulatory wheelchair users (people who use wheelchairs some or most of the time, but can also walk) exist - lots of little things like that.

    Even outwardly inclusive churches tend to be pretty bad on disability/neurodiversity issues (and also class, and race) and sensory needs mean that disability-unfriendly worship styles are part of that, and this applies to all worship styles. I think pretty much all worship styles can be made disability-accessible, and they also pretty much all can be very inaccessible - for eg as someone with ADHD and PTSD who needs predictable moments of Doing Things that I can mentally prepare for, unprogrammed Quaker worship is a nightmare! Yet Quakers are outwardly perhaps less obviously inaccessible, and certainly all the Quakers I know pride themselves on how accessible and inclusive they are. But they're also all non-disabled/neurotypical, white middle-class people and accessibility issues that I or Karl would see would just not occur to them.
  • Being in one of those liturgical churches par excellence ,I wonder what you mean by "petri dishes", @Zappa ?
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Being in one of those liturgical churches par excellence ,I wonder what you mean by "petri dishes", @Zappa ?

    To be fair, he is speaking specifically from within an Anglican context.
  • I just want to speak up for the good in declining churches. The focus on "growth" is frequently a misnomer anyway.
  • Mr Cheesy: While I agree with you up to a point, I have in some circles heard a "narrative of decline" which basically says "we are in decline because we are being faithful to God"; indeed it takes a certain pride in the tribulations it is facing. However I can't accept this as surely the churches want to grow as more people follow; also, they are seeing rejection of fuddy-duddy and irrelevant church practices and think that is means people do not wish to adopt the counter-culturalism of Christianity itself.
  • Mr Cheesy: While I agree with you up to a point, I have in some circles heard a "narrative of decline" which basically says "we are in decline because we are being faithful to God"; indeed it takes a certain pride in the tribulations it is facing. However I can't accept this as surely the churches want to grow as more people follow; also, they are seeing rejection of fuddy-duddy and irrelevant church practices and think that is means people do not wish to adopt the counter-culturalism of Christianity itself.

    This is probably a whole other discussion - but I think there is a real problem with "needing" growth to keep the institutions running.. and the pastors employed..
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    I just want to speak up for the good in declining churches. The focus on "growth" is frequently a misnomer anyway.

    I'm sure there are good things going on in declining churches, but are you able to unpack this thought a little?

  • My observation decline that can be understood as predestined (let the reader understand) is quite a comfortable state to be in. You do not need to have any change, what is the point you will die anyway and therefore you can keep things the way that makes things comfortable for you like an old pair of slippers.
  • Churches which are in decline need to change to attract new people or they will die. ( Maybe some need to. )
    If we change our service style but don’t attract new people, what does that tell us?
    Where do we go from here?
    We just die quietly?
    I think there is far more to it than this.
    Firstly I don’t think that by changing our worship style alone we will suddenly fill the pews, or the chairs if we get rid of the pews.
    We need to change our attitudes and approach; we need to want to share the gospel, we need to discover how to do that in the context of where we live.
    In some places starting a food bank, or a variety of small groups to suit the demographic, or some other method might be used to get to know and be known in the community.
    Then if they are drawn to want to share in worship, maybe we do need to make our services more accessible, but within our own tradition. We do not need to abandon our faith tradition or worship style, though perhaps we may need to adapt them.
    We do need to get to know people. And try to meet them where they are.
    That still leaves more questions than answers.
  • I think that while declining churches are not good per se, I do think that perhaps churches need the humility that hitting rock-bottom might bring. I would say that while some churches see their decline as proof that they're pleasing God by not pleasing the World, perhaps God is trying to teach them another lesson. Then again, those churches often point to liberal church decline as proof of liberal wickedness....

    Are there any stats on megachurches specifically with regards to growth and decline? Of course megachurches vary with regards to doctrine, but I would regard megachurches as a warning regarding the dangers of sacrificing everything in order to boost numbers. Prosperity gospel peddlers are part of why I don't think 'liberal/mainline decline, conservative growth' is helpful at all - many megachurches are fairly explicit in teaching the prosperity gospel, so their growth shouldn't be seen as a good thing by orthodox Christians, regardless of their surface conservative Christianity. Many large vibrant churches (with no specific denomination or worship style being targeted here) are whitewashed sepulchres and we need to be alert to the temptations therein. We of course also need to be alert to the temptations of being small in number and also small in welcome - being a newcomer in a small close-knit church can be incredibly difficult.
  • The question I would ask at this juncture is, is there any evidence that changing worship style reverses decline?
  • Pomona wrote: »
    Many large vibrant churches (with no specific denomination or worship style being targeted here) are whitewashed sepulchres and we need to be alert to the temptations therein. We of course also need to be alert to the temptations of being small in number and also small in welcome - being a newcomer in a small close-knit church can be incredibly difficult.

    Not all large churches are prosperity gospel temples and not all small churches are bastions of love and care. Any church might be - and all could become - exactly as you say.

    It just so happens that in this rather large town (250,000 and growing) there are no megachurches (unless you exclude the several thousand who attend a revolving door series of masses in the RC Church). The only whited sepulchres are the rapidly declining traditional denominational churches who resolutely refuse to change or to get involved in addressing the many social needs in the town. It is frankly hard and to be really honest, embarrassing, trying to work with them: they are so far removed from reality. It's all about keeping the doors open - but for what?

    Most of them would be classed as MOTR liberal or high AC. Sad. In the vacuum the evangelical wing has moved in.

  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    I just want to speak up for the good in declining churches. The focus on "growth" is frequently a misnomer anyway.

    I'm sure there are good things going on in declining churches, but are you able to unpack this thought a little?

    I'm a bit sorry for mentioning it as it appears to be a tangential aside to the thread. It's a bit too much to unpack here, I suspect.
  • ExclamationMark's post has made me think about the issue of 'shelf-life' for styles, movements etc. The evangelical end of the spectrum has, so far, been able to adapt and change more readily than some other traditions.

    But for how long?

    How sustainable is it in the longer term?

    I think it was here, aboard Ship, that some years ago now I saw a link to fascinating 1920s footage of an Anglo-Catholic procession in London. It was vast. I couldn't believe how many people turned out for it. Lots of cubs and guides, uniformed groups, lots of other people, lots of banners and what-not.

    Now, I'm not saying everyone involved would have been in the pews every Sunday but it was clear that the whole thing was strongly embedded in the community.

    Those days are gone.

    Likewise, a century ago there were a whole plethora of Anglican religious orders and societies setting out to restore monastic practice or to tackle social issues etc. Most of them have folded. Only a few from that era survive.

    I can think of 1980s 'new churches' which used to have several hundred members that now struggle on with a few dozen.

    Perhaps fluidity is where it's at?

    But then, is the close-knit congregational model sustainable? At least in the way we've come to understand it?

    Whatever we may think about 'revolving door' masses for increasingly migrant RCs, there may be a small prayer group or lectio-divina study group in there somewhere. Who knows?

    It takes a huge amount of energy and commitment to keep a congregation going. Yet without the 'gathered' or the 'intentional' aspect we can end up either with 'filling station' Christianity or no core to which people can adhere, to whatever extent they wish to.

    That applies whichever worship style we use.

    No idea what the answer is.
  • I see no difficulty with the 'filling station' Christianity which seems to be looked down upon, by those who see themselves as the chosen ones. In any church there will be people who are fully committed as well as many others who may have some or many doubts but who hang on all the same. The people who go to Mass to 'fulfil an obligation' should be commended, for wishing in some way to continue their relationship with Christ and his Church rather than be disparaged. (Sorry, I am not particularly getting at GG here, but it is a view which is often expressed on these boards.)


    In our fairly large parish with about 400 attendees on a Sunday there are many whose connection with the Church is mainly their attendance at Sunday Mass, but there are equally good numbers who give valuable service and time to the maintenance of parish life in all its aspects - not only the high standard of liturgy. there is a welcoming team, a rota of readers and communion helpers, a children's liturgy group, a youth club, a baptismal and also marriage preparation group, a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults group.
    We work with Christian Aid, with SCIAF (Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund),we are a Fairtrade parish, with Fresh Start (providing people who have been homeless with starter packs and we have a St Vincent de Paul Society.


    I am sure that there are many churches of varying sizes and varying denominations who will have many similar organisations functioning in the name of the religious community.

    While we do our best to encourage as many parishioners as possible to take an active part in the general life of the parish we are grateful and glad and hopefully welcoming to those who simply come to the church as one would go to a 'filling station' and we hope that their attendance helps to give them strength to carry on with the activities of daily life.
  • I should have mentioned on the more prayerful aspects of parish life there is a weekly 'Holy hour' of prayer as also 30 minutes of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament before the daily Mass celebrations.There are some smaller prayer groups as well as Bible study groups.
  • Forthview, I meant no offence. I was simply 'reporting' and reflecting on something ExclamationMark had referred to. It didn't mean I agreed with him necessarily. It's more a case that I'm not as accustomed to that form of 'filling station' approach coming, as I do, from a similar background to EM - although increasingly finding myself at odds with that approach.

    FWIW I've always been impressed at the annual Churches Together services here when, during the short feedback reports presented by each of the churches, the RCs give theirs. It's full of impressive stats about home visits, the work of the St Vincent de Paul society and much else besides.

    I live in a small town and there aren't that many RCs around but I love them to bits - they are very ecumenical, very engaged with the life of the community and there are small groups and studies and so on that are loads better - in my view - than anything on offer at the evangelical churches in our area.

    Hope that sets the record straight.

    Peace.
  • GG I specifically said that my comments were not aimed at you but rather at the generality of comments like that.
    I think that it probably has something to do with the perception of 'church' which both Catholics and Orthodox have and that which many Christians stemming from the Protestant Reformation do not share..

    My impression ,and of course this may be wrong ,is that they tend to think of 'church' specifically as their own group/parish or whatever one calls the group of Christians who meet under the one roof. They may be vaguely aware of a larger 'church' beyond their
    group. They may even have some idea of the' Church Catholic' but it is a very vague idea.


    For Catholics ( and Orthodox) the Church is very much a visible thing which can be seen in its local manifestation under the roof of the church which they usually attend, but they are aware that each local group is part of that worldwide Church. For Catholics particularly, possibly even more than Orthodox, centuries of teaching about the importance of attending Mass, leads to a greater number who do attend, even simply regularly at Christmas and Easter, even if they do nothing else to keep themselves in touch with the Church. The church building,seen as the House of God,is more important than that of a meeting place for the community.

    GG no offence was taken and I always enjoy reading your comments.
  • With respect - and not directing at anyone in particular here - our traditions are different and it is a bit of a pointless thing to take something that works (or fails) in one context and talk about it in another context.

    My tradition values (or at least valued) hour-long sermons with no formal liturgy at all. I believe that at certain points in history, this was an attractive thing and people would attend church to hear the soaring rhetoric.

    I don't think this has ever really been a big part of Roman Catholic or Orthodox services.* It might well be the case that changing these to include longer sermons would drive people away. Or maybe it would make no difference at all.

    I really think the differences between Christian denominations and group are so significant that if we didn't know any different we would assume they were different religions. So it really doesn't make any sense to talk about the generalities of what might or might not be driving people away. It is all about context.

    * I don't know for certain as I've literally never been to either
  • In spite of many outward differences in worship and organisational patterns I have no difficulty whatsoever in recognising those who do not belong to the organisation generally known as the Catholic Church as brothers and sisters in Christ and indeed whether they know it or not, as members of the Church.
    Granted that there are differences in understanding, because of our imperfections, but we know , ultimately that all of us, even non-Christians, are beloved children of God. The closer we are to Jesus, the more we realise that the differences amongst us are, in the final analysis of minor importance.
    On a personal level I have attended services in various Catholic rites,including that of the Ordinariate, Orthodox liturgies, Anglican services, high and low and all points inbetween, Presbyterians of all stripes (apart from the Free Presbyterian church)Lutheran services both of Reformed and episcopal organisations, Baptist services and even the Salvation Army. I recognise them all as my brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • I'm not suggesting otherwise. But our practices, styles, liturgies and even thought processes are significantly different. So different that an observer might be hard pressed to place them as forms of the same religion.
  • Now ,I have never been to an American style mega-church, but in all the others which I mentioned earlier then name of Jesus was mentioned and honoured, the Word of God was read and the Gospel of Jesus preached. Anyone looking beyond the superficial external differences would see the similarities.

    It is a bit like going to different schools.Some schools will have the pupils in uniform,some will not. Some schools will place greater emphasis on free expression on the part of the scholars.Others will place great weight on order and discipline.Yes,some times a casual observer might not notice that they are all schools,but surely all would see that attempts are being made to fit young people for life in the adult world.
  • Whatever we may think about 'revolving door' masses for increasingly migrant RCs, there may be a small prayer group or lectio-divina study group in there somewhere. Who knows?
    I wish that were the case but it isn't - up to 8000 through over the weekend and that's it - a feeding station much the same as we evangelicals up the road or round the corner.

  • I think in many ways RC churches are far stronger when it comes to parish activities than AC churches - so while I can be a little critical of the 'filling station' approach, my criticism is always meant for AC or even MOTR Anglican churches where aside from perhaps church adjacent activities like bellringing or flower arranging, there is absolutely no kind of parish activity to get involved in. I sympathise with harried priests with several parishes to serve, but I actually do agree with ExclamationMark (and many younger ACs would too) that much of Anglo-Catholicism is digging its own grave. It's frustrating because it really doesn't have to be that way at all. I hope my criticism of small, very inward looking churches wasn't too subtle because of course, churches of all sizes can have problems reaching out to others, the problems are just different. My church background (if you can call something that began when I was 17 a background) is All Souls Langham Place style conservative evangelical Anglicanism, and I think perhaps that influences my preference for a more austere, monastic-flavoured Anglo-Catholicism. Churches that are all about tat and nothing deeper are just as sepulchral as any other, IMO.

    GG - Anglican religious orders are booming in some parts of the world. They're in a very healthy state in much of sub-Saharan Africa, and are growing rapidly in the Solomon Islands. They're also developing within the Anglican church in Korea (Protestantism in Korea is mostly Presbyterian or Methodist in origin so it's not even within a state church kind of context). Over here the male orders (almost entirely monastic, mostly Benedictine) are doing the best and I think out of those the Franciscans are growing quickest. The male orders are generally much younger than the women's too. The women's orders started at a time when they had to be teachers or nurses etc in order to be allowed (monastic orders were seen as too Catholic by a still suspicious CoE) and couldn't even take solemn vows until the 20th century. Generally with Anglican religious orders in the West, the state has largely taken over from the social role so the most monastic/enclosed tend to do the best - I suppose it's just the least subject to fashion. But then, a form of religious community full of young people now happens at Lambeth Palace every year with the St Anselm community, so I don't think it's dying, just evolving. I do have a lot of thoughts on how best to sustain the religious life in the CoE and in general the emphasis on priesthood within vocations discussions is probably the most harmful.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    I'm sorry, but this is what I mean about context. One specific church congregation can do something and it be a "success", another within a different context can do something similar and it be a "failure" - to the extent that identifying the elements of "success" and "failure" within worship styles without considering context is a wholly pointless task.

    People who go to a Coptic church probably know why it is that they are going. In purely numerical terms, if each Coptic church has an extra 10 people this year, in this country, that's probably going to be a considerable growth rate. If they only retain the size of their congregations, that's probably bucking a general trend.

    But if someone sat down and identified the elements of why this imaginary group of Coptic churches was growing - in an effort to apply the rules to a Independent Reformed Evangelical Baptist church plant, we'd probably agree that was pretty ridiculous.

    The Copts might have something to teach the Baptists about growth. Or it might be that there is something else altogether going on - to the extent that comparing growth rates is entirely pointless.
  • Pomona

    Religious orders and what is or is not a religious order is quite complex.

    When you stop looking at what calls itself a religious order and look for characteristics then it quickly becomes clear that there are Protestant ones (even if you exclude Taize). The big group that challenges the ideas most are the old diaconal orders that make up the members of Diakonia World Federation who apart from groups such as the Methodist Diaconal Order has groups such as the Deaconesses de Reuilly. Before anyone brings it up yes I know that the Methodist Diaconal Order was only one of many including CofS, URC (defunct) and Anglican. It is just the most vibrant today in the UK. The boundary is therefore properly blurred.

    You can ask what is the difference between the St Anselm Community and the annual intake of volunteers at Corrymeela who live, work and pray together for a year or the very evangelical group (sorry I have forgotten the name) that puts together flats of young people to live together for a year in an urban deprived area.

    Then where do you put those who live in a house with the Jesus Army? Then look at the old Moravian Settlements such as that at Fairfield. Then there are the Anabaptist communities.

    This is before I go onto the dispersed Ecumenical communities of the early twentieth century or the current round of neo-monastical communities which vary widely.

    Once you start opening the gate you realise this is a wide and diverse stream which does not easily lend itself to neat definitions.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited November 2018
    Yes.

    I am no great fan of the Willow Creek approach (do you remember that?), but its virtue was that it worked out its modus operandi only after it had done a fairly comprehensive sociological study of its local area. Of course they wrote books about it and, as a result, other folk tried to copy Willow Creek on their own patch. But these often failed as the context was different and they hadn't done the groundwork first but had hoped for a quick-fix one-size-fits-all remedy. (At least that what I picked up anecdotally. I do, however, have personal knowledge of a church which tried "Alpha" in a very different context to South Kensington and found they got nowhere with it).

    Now one might argue that the Gospel and, indeed, the Church ought to be unchanging rather than governed by cultural considerations. And I can see that one could devise a church which was so culture-bound that it lost its cutting edge and its soul. On the other hand we can see Paul presenting his message differently to Gentiles and Jews, and finding the latter much more responsive as there were fewer cultural barriers. Equally one could think of the "good soil" in the parable of the sower and suggest that farmers and gardeners in different places make sure they choose the right seeds and cultivation methods for each context. For instance we have a soggy, shady area at the back of our garden, so have planted ferns there. They thrive, but they wouldn't do well in full sunshine on sandy soil.

    Of course, worship styles are but one facet of this contextualisation.

  • Pomona wrote: »
    I think in many ways RC churches are far stronger when it comes to parish activities than AC churches - so while I can be a little critical of the 'filling station' approach, my criticism is always meant for AC or even MOTR Anglican churches where aside from perhaps church adjacent activities like bellringing or flower arranging, there is absolutely no kind of parish activity to get involved in.

    I'm a bit confused by this comment. The MOTR Anglican church I go to is very involved out in the community as well as within the church. Every parish priest I know goes out of their way to serve everyone in the community spiritually, not only those who attend their church as with some other denominations. They are called out at night to administer last rites. They take funerals, weddings and baptisms, take communion to individuals at home as well as to residential homes, run groups for carers and toddlers, food banks, messy churches, drop-ins, etc etc.
  • This is what I most hate about Christianity: the quickness to take swipes at others, to take offence about something that might be vaguely said in our direction, the busybodiness of other people trying to correct each other.

    Just get on with your own thing. What's the problem?
  • I don't this - we're having a discussion in which we, coming from our different backgrounds and experiences, make our various points. I don't read it as folk "taking swipes" at each other.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    This is what I most hate about Christianity: the quickness to take swipes at others, to take offence about something that might be vaguely said in our direction, the busybodiness of other people trying to correct each other.

    Just get on with your own thing. What's the problem?

    My post was not meant to take swipes, but to reveal what I observe from close quarters, but which some people more distant don't see. I hadn't taken offence, nor did I intend to give any. Shouldn't we help each other to see things from another point of view?
  • Raptor Eye - I'm a bit confused by your response. By 'parish activities' I mean things like Bible study groups, lectio divina groups, Mothers Union etc. Perhaps 'church activities' would be better phrasing. In my experience Roman Catholics and evangelicals have much more in the way of church activities than MOTR or AC Anglicans (and as an Anglo-Catholic I include my own churches here!), in many churches there will be say bellringing and the altar guild (or equivalent) and not much else. I didn't mention how involved clergy are with the local community at all and am a bit puzzled as to why you interpreted my comment as criticising them.
  • I took 'parish activities' to mean all activities which connect the church to the parish, within or outside of the church building and\or congregation, Pomona. Perhaps my experience is not typical, others might let me know, but the MOTR churches I am familiar with do all I have mentioned, plus run Bible study groups, prayer groups, Mothers' Union meetings, etc. They are far from the image that you portray.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    The amount of parish or community involvement may well vary from church to church, depending on available (or not!) human resources, and demographics.

    Our Place has had a long history of disengagement from the people actually living in the parish, at one time being seen (by those 'inside') as being a little Anglo-Catholic refuge (or perhaps 'ghetto') from the raging liberalism 'outside'.

    Nowadays, we are trying bravely to make some impression - 'keeping the rumour of God alive' - in our local 'community' of poor one-parent families, transients, students, and folk of other faiths.....the worship style, in a sense, is neither here nor there.

    If peeps really cannot stand the vestments and incense, or Communion every Sunday (!), we are always happy to signpost them to our next-door charismatic-evo parish, or a small Baptist congregation meeting in the local Community Centre, with both of which we have good and friendly relations.
  • [
    Pomona wrote: »
    Raptor Eye - I'm a bit confused by your response. By 'parish activities' I mean things like Bible study groups, lectio divina groups, Mothers Union etc. Perhaps 'church activities' would be better phrasing. In my experience Roman Catholics and evangelicals have much more in the way of church activities than MOTR or AC Anglicans...
    And don't forget the RC Social (= drinking) Clubs! Don't know whether these are as widespread now as they used to be but they;re still to be found.
  • Cathedrals can be very useful as 'filling stations' as well, either for regular churchgoers struggling along in their own little shack, or for people who really can't face regular church but need something big and outside themselves occasionally for spiritual sustenance. And the music.... oh the music!
  • Pomona the crucial word is 'your experience'. There are shipmates who have experienced the opposite. My move from a Nonconformist church to a high AC meant no increase in Bible studies but when you add in rosary group, weekday masses and quiet hour you end up with a very different picture.
    Albertus wrote: »
    [
    Pomona wrote: »
    Raptor Eye - I'm a bit confused by your response. By 'parish activities' I mean things like Bible study groups, lectio divina groups, Mothers Union etc. Perhaps 'church activities' would be better phrasing. In my experience Roman Catholics and evangelicals have much more in the way of church activities than MOTR or AC Anglicans...
    And don't forget the RC Social (= drinking) Clubs! Don't know whether these are as widespread now as they used to be but they;re still to be found.

    Actually, as the Social Clubs have an odd relationship with the parish (well odd to us non-RCs anyway) in that they are I think technically independent but often created to raise money to build the church. I think in parishes where they exist, probably, there is less activity that is church sponsored because quite a bit happens at the Social Club.
  • I have heard of these Social clubs and I only know of one such in Edinburgh which was used to help finance the parish in a working class district of the city. However in the past many RC parishes here used to have Bingo in the parish hall to help with the finances of the parish. You might find it amusing to read this little ditty (not copyright, I am sure !) which refers to many changes in RC practice about 50 years ago

    Latin's gone, peace is too, singing and shouting from every pew
    Altar's turned round, priest is too, commentator's yelling 'page 22.'
    ,Communion rail's going, stand up straight, kneeling suddenly is out of date

    Processions forming up every aisle, salvation's organised single file,
    Rosary's out, psalms are in, hardly ever hear a word about sin,
    Listen to the lector, how he reads, please stop rattling these rosary beads

    I hope the changes are just about done, please don't drop bingo before I've won.



  • I have seen several Roman Catholic Churches in the North West of England with the Social Club right next door.
  • The former Mrs BF and I used to regularly attend barn/folk dances held in an RC Social Club in the neighbouring town.

    Modern church, Club/Hall in basement, excellent facilities, and IIRC, much used by church and locals. I expect they charged market rates for the hire of the hall, so it must have been (and hopefully still is) a useful source of income.
Sign In or Register to comment.