Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 19 December 2015

Mark Hart Church Times Evangelism: maybe talk less, but do more?

Richard Moy Men Only? A charismatic crisis in New Wine/HTB leadership

Tim Wyatt Church Times Fill the hungry with good things

Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, Huffington Post UK Peace From the Middle East

Jody Stowell Independent As a vicar, here’s what I think when you all pile in at Christmas after a year of church avoidance

Kelvin Holdsworth 12 tips to get people to come to Christmas Services

David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, Church Times O come, all ye (occasionally) faithful

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Sara MacVaneRod GillisErika BakerFather Ron SmithTim Chesterton Recent comment authors
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Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

pace Mark Hart….I’m pretty sure it was Stevie Smith not E M Forster who said ” poor talkative Christianity”….its a good phrase.

Pam
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Pam

As a regular churchgoer, do I agree with Jody Stowell’s opinion piece – yes and no. Yes – it is Christmas every day because of our Lord’s presence. No – because many who attend once a year think Christmas is only once a year. Still, one more opportunity to reach minds and hearts.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Christmas services are undeniably more popular. Maybe that’s because services at other times of the year can be poor? For all the talk of Good News, in many churches the only time of year when there is a sense of good news is Christmas.

Pete Broadbent
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Pete Broadbent

@ Perry Butler – it was Mrs Moore in Passage to India “Poor little talkative Christianity” after hearing “Bo-um” echoing in the caves. However, some of us would argue that what she experienced wasn’t the authentic deal…

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I was very impressed with Jonathan Clatworthy’s comment on David Walker’s article, that rejects the idea that we should see Christmas attendees as people who need to have their hearts and minds reached – the implication being that they come to church for shallow reasons and need us to teach them to see the deeper truths.

http://www.clatworthy.org/2015/12/christmas-worship/

Gerald Beauchamp
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Gerald Beauchamp

pace Mark Hart/Perry Butler: The phrase ‘poor little talkative Christianity’ is used by the character Mrs Moore in Forster’s ‘Passage to India’.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

I stand corrected! Thanks + Pete and Gerald.Happy Christmas all!☺

Pam
Guest
Pam

Thanks for the link Erica. I read Jonathan Clatworthy’s words with interest. I think some people attend only at Christmas/Easter because there’s a spark of interest and some people attend for nostalgic reasons. Either way that’s great. I’m a regular attender who often feels that church is not the place for me. However, I keep going because it is a place where fellow-believers teach me things. And I also believe church is important to God (just my take on many passages in the Bible).

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Interesting article by David Walker. I’m very grateful to have been delivered years ago from the sense of annoyance at people who only come to church at Christmas. Now I’m just glad to see them, and I think ‘Well, it’s up to me to help create an act of worship that helps them connect with God’. I’m not, however, as negative as David Walker and Jonathan Clatworthy about the appeal to the mind. After all, the Lord’s great commandments include loving God with all our minds. Nor do I think that faithfulness necessarily means affirming that occasional churchgoers are right… Read more »

Brian Ralph
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Brian Ralph

Quite a number of years ago now, I attended one of the many evangelical churches in Sydney on Christmas day choosing one easy for my 90 years plus mother to attend and going at 9.30am rather than 8am for the same reason. The minister in collar and tie conducted a service in which the only thing Anglican I recognised was the Creed. I walked out when we were asked to raise our hands if we were saved. My mother and sister soon followed. I emailed the minister and asked why there was no Communion service and was gobsmacked to be… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

“Poor little talkative Christianity” – a marvellous phrase which could almost be adopted as the new motto for Thinking Anglicans with all itts many and varied comments and opinions. Long may TA chatter away on into the New Year to educate, inform and entertain its readers. Christmas Blessings to one and all, not least to the TA Editors.

Rod gillis
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Rod gillis

@ Tim Chesterton, “Many of them struggle with ….idea of eating someone’s body and drinking someone’s ….exposing their kids to that language …when we had regular Morning Prayer …there was a way in for folks like that”. Of course we would need to be careful that the morning prayer service did not contain any language about death on the cross or dying for our sins. In fact, we probably should cover those big altar crosses in case any of the kids ask, ” daddy, what’s that for?” May have to have the parish public relations committee check out the hymns… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Perhaps it would be best for the unchurched folks whose raised this concern in conversation to skip worship and go to a movie or concert or something instead.”

They don’t need your advice to tell them to do that; that’s exactly what they are doing. Fortunately, there is such a huge audience for the CofE that it can afford to be picky about who it reaches out to, which is proven by the swelling numbers in churches all over the country.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Interested observer,”They don’t need your advice …that’s exactly what they are doing.” Interesting observation. I’m guessing the whole of your response is tongue cheek as mine was to Tim. The last number of years I was in parish ministry ( retired 2012) our parish church had a family Eucharist Christmas Eve late afternoon with a modified Eucharist with a children’s mini-drama instead of sermon. The congregation numbered about four hundred or so. Many were visitors attending with family only then. The service and the the hour offered allowed opportunity for inter-generational Christmas Communion. The children, even if not yet… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

While I agree that churches shouldn’t be exclusive, Interested Observer, the growing churches tend to be the very evangelical congregations that pull no punches about the cross. (Though I suspect their success has more to do with simplicity, accessibility and social support than it does a particular theology.)

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘The folks Tim is referring to must be a tiny statistical minority with a concern that frankly ranges somewhere between the tedious to the neurotic’ Your sensitivity to the feelings of my unchurched friends is breathtaking, Rod. And frankly, I wasn’t aware that, on ‘Thinking Anglicans’, being a minority meant that the rest of the church was free to ignore you. Like you, we have a 4.00 p.m. family Eucharist with impromptu nativity play on Christmas Eve, and it’s very well attended. However, I notice that only about half of the people come forward to receive Holy Communion. I have… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I wonder whether one of the reasons non churchgoers don’t attend Eucharist services is the same reason I prefer not to attend Roman Catholic services: half the service is about something from which they are excluded.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Erika, “I wonder [why] churchgoers don’t attend Eucharist services …” The notion our Eucharists “exclude” is a current Anglican phobia. In the old days R.C. Midnight mass was a draw for all kinds of protestants for a variety of reasons. We have to come to terms with the fact that the wide spectrum of society is just not interested in or engaged by faith. No number of welcome mats, no number of gimmicks, no replacing pews with comfy chairs, no modernizing of music nor reversion to choral music, no deployment of Walmart style greeters, no big screens with liturgies for… Read more »

Rod gillis
Guest
Rod gillis

@ 1:35 pm GMT “most people do accept what we are proclaiming..” that should read, “most people do not accept what we are proclaiming.” my bad.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Rod, I completely agree that a large number of people simply aren’t interested in church. That doesn’t change the fact that there are people who predominantly attend Communion Services and others who predominantly attend non-Communion Services. It has nothing to do with phobias, Anglican or otherwise, it’s just how it is. I don’t see the harm in trying to work out why some people prefer a specific form of worship. Who knows, we might even be able to allay some of their fears by talking about it. And I personally do not have a Roman Catholic “phobia”. I just don’t… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Erika, “I don’t see the harm in trying to work out why some people prefer a specific form of worship.” Nor do I, Eucharist, Evensong, Lessons and Carols, to each his own. However, these are variables from our offering of praise and thanksgiving that are not going to make much of a difference in overall social attitudes. There may be good reasons to schedule an evensong rather than a Eucharist. However, to return to the original point raised by Tim, scheduling morning/evening prayer rather than a Eucharist to meet the tender sensibilities of folks who are disturbed by Eucharistic… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Rod, we may be talking cross purposes here, and if you don’t mind me saying, I’m missing a level of reasoned argument for your assertions. Tim was simply talking about his own experience, as I was about mine. I don’t know what Canada is like, here in my corner of England we offer a spectrum of Sunday morning Services throughout the month precisely so they’re not all the same and people can choose the one they prefer. If people find morning prayer more accessible, and tell someone about this when asked, what is the harm in offering morning prayer as… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

I’m a bit unsure of the bearing of some of the comments above. Let me explain. In 1953, not long after the coronation of the Queen (she visited Edinburgh while we were there, and we dutifully gathered to watch the young Queen as she visited Scotland, waving our Scottish flags!), I was in Edinburgh with my family. I was eleven at the time. But I still remember the occasion vividly.It was a Sunday, and we attended the local Church of Scotland for the morning service. My father was a minister of the United Church of Canada, and before the Communion… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Many years ago it was quite acceptable for Morning Prayer to be used regularly as a form of Sunday Anglican worship. Generations of Anglicans were nurtured on this. No, I don’t want to go back to the days of having communion three times a year. But I don’t see the harm in doing what we do here at St. Margaret’s – having a monthly ‘service of the Word’ at which we can use less formality and more variety. Lessons and Carols on the Sunday before Christmas has also become very popular here; it’s one of our regular invitation services, and… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Erika, “I don’t know what Canada is like …” Its filled with folks who are passive aggressively polite. I do what I can to undermine the stereo-type. My countrymen find it disorienting apparently. Seriously, I think you are correct that we are talking at cross purposes. @ Tim Chesterton, “Your sensitivity to the feelings of my unchurched friends is breathtaking…” Don’t you find the term “unchurched” to be rather patronizing and lacking in sensitivity? My comment was directed primarily to your exampled suggestion to set aside Eucharist because someone thought the EP text was potentially disturbing. I’ve expressed my… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

re Rod and Erika’s conversation on modes of worship. Surely, the most important worship for Christians must be aqt the Eucharist. That is where ‘the rubber hits the road’. it is the only liturgical worship that foolows on the request of Jesus: “DO THIS, to remember me” – anamnesis, to bring me into your present! There is no substitute for followers of Jesus as encountered in the Scriptures.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr Ron,
Like about half of all Germans I was brought up as a Lutheran Protestant. We had Communion Service three times a year at New Year and at Easter and at the annual Confirmation Service.
I’m not sure that dismissing whole Protestant denominations as failing in their worship is entirely helpful.

“Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me” says nothing about frequency.

And I say that as someone who tends to avoid non-Eucharistic Services.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The first year I was retired I took advantage of being free on Sunday mornings to attend a variety of churches Anglican, United, Lutheran, Baptist. What I observed, worshiping in the pew, but being “in the business” as it were, was how much obvious planning and effort that clergy and others put into worship, sermons, children’s focus, music, attempts to bridge with the wider community and so forth. I suspect the same will be true of most churches for Christmas services whether the worship is Eucharist or not. When I was in harness I always made a point at festivals… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

A comment on who is allowed to receive etc: when I began to study for the priesthood (C-of-E), the very first thing I remember being told was “you never turn anyone away from the Lord’s table”, and though this is still (alas) not the CofE official position, I have seen it confirmed many times at C-of-E altars. So since I was ordained at an age when “who could care less” about rules, I have always said (in a loud voice) “I am not the host at this table, but he whose context is ever gracious and whose hospitality is ever… Read more »