Saturday, 25 January 2014


Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has been Rethinking Advent to Candlemas.

Thom Shultz writes about The Church’s Frightful Kodak Moment.

The Diocese of Bath and Wells has issued a set of Social media guidelines. Scott Gunn suggests some additions:
New commandments: Thou shalt Tweet…

Vicky Beeching writes in the Church Times that Children must learn to live in the online world.

Malcolm Round writes Love Your Church Minister.

Gillan Scott of the God & Politics in the UK blog writes that The Church of England still needs to wake up and smell the coffee over church growth.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 25 January 2014 at 11:00am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

Thom Schultz helpfully provides the Church the example of Kodak (now bankrupt & liquidating, following the digital camera revolution---which it invented), and asks

"It’s time to re-examine everything we’re doing and re-evaluate. Ask big questions."

Great! Yup, overdue.

But then *shrinks* down to

"Is the old Sunday morning formula of half singalong and half lecture what works anymore? Is that performance on Sunday morning really how we want to define the sum total of the church anyway?"

Following the exortation "Don’t just tweak. Revolutionize."?

No, we've got to go DEEPER than that. Increasingly, people want nothing to do with "God" (or anything that can be even vaguely construed as "religion"). We have to understand ALL the ways "God" has become So Ugly---and yes, we have to consider DROPPING the "G word" altogether---or futzing around w/ worship is the proverbial rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic (or 50 new models/price-cuts of Kodak film cameras!)

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 25 January 2014 at 8:13pm GMT

Christmas has overwhelmed Advent which isn't in the least penitential these days. However, no need to panic this is the Church with its Advent Carols Services, Christingles etc, inculturating (as it should) and recognising that the modern Christmas is celebrated in the anticipation rather than the event itself.

So riding to the rescue comes the Kingdom Season which is very reflective and quite penitential.

That's it sorted ... Advent is the new Christmas and the Kingdom Season the new Advent and as for after Christmas and up to Candlemas ... well as Miranda indicates, we're still working on that one.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Saturday, 25 January 2014 at 8:35pm GMT

Personally I think the Bishop of Stepney made some of the best points in this continuing discourse on growth: that churches don't only grow in numbers (and may not) but hopefully grow in community, and grow deep.

One feature of some popular middle-class churches is that they operate something like a club. People feel comfortable in them. They can meet their friends there. But to an extent, that can be sort of self-serving if one is not careful.

The business metaphors, and the managerial business leader images, leave me stone cold. To my mind, community is not a business. Real growth perhaps is more about authentic engagement with culture beyond our own.

There is room in the church for all kinds of traditions, and wide diversity of expressions. Numbers may be encouraging, but they are by no means the compelling measure.

Unless you want our churches to be modelled on some of those US mega-churches, with their drive-in celebrations and feel good, and their drive out again, to lead their comfortable and sometimes unchallenged middle-class lives in the suburbs.

Just some thoughts.


Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 25 January 2014 at 11:20pm GMT

"One feature of some popular middle-class churches is that they operate something like a club"

My daughters' friends are the epitome of the middle classes. Professional parents, high academic aspiration and achievement, orchestras, DofE, likely to end up at Russell Group universities doing "traditional" subjects. Many of them were raised within churches, largely Methodist and Anglican.

They see their own churches, whether they still attend or not, as basically decent. But they then reel off a long list of the city's fringe churches, most of which have at least one representative in their school, and list their offences of misogyny, homophobia and so on.

A problem that the NHS has is that most people are satisfied with their treatment but believe that they were lucky to get it in a generally failing organisation; that's how they square their personal positive experience with the wider media narrative, inaccurate though the latter may be. It seems to me that once people start to think "well, my church is OK, but churches more broadly are bad" (even though, in fact, most churches are _not_ filled with wild-eyed homophobes) then the problem is that they become nervous of identifying with a church, because they suspect others will think of them as bigots. So extremism will drive people away even from moderate churches.

The same appears to be true, mutatis mutandis, in other faiths; Muslims at my daughters' school are if anything more condemnatory of the small handful of fundamentalists than anyone outside Islam, because they see the damage that the public narrative does to the broader group.

No church, other than the Quakers and the Unitarians (both of which, the latter in particular, are sometimes regarded as "not real Christians" by other Christians) , has been willing to stand up and unequivocally support same-sex marriage and therefore, by implication, the decent treatment of people irrespective of sexuality. Most of them have been out to the DIY store to buy a large kit of panels and nails, so that they can look busy over the coming years building a fence to sit on; Pilling, for example, is little more than an elaborate exercise in prevarication. So young people see the church as a combination of bigots, and people who are unwilling to condemn bigotry. They have many other demands on their time. They don't care sufficiently about churches to either tolerate what they see as the failings, nor are they invested enough to try to fix it. So they walk away. And they will stay away.

But hey: if the Anglican Church wants to spend the next five years in cynical prevarication (oh, sorry, "facilitated discussion") while its membership dies and isn't replaced, that's their decision. But without resolving the issue of sexuality (and, honestly, the CofE must realise that there is only one resolution, full equality) it will become a crank organisation for obsessives, treated with contempt by the majority of the educated population. CofE as UKIP?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 26 January 2014 at 8:41am GMT

"...the Quakers and the Unitarians (both of which, the latter in particular, are sometimes regarded as "not real Christians" by other Christians)" Interested Observer

Quite. I didn't know of this particular 'No True Scotsman' trope until I took part in the Pilling Review. I mentioned the Unitarians to one of the bishops and he bit my head off with "They aren't Christians!" This was the same bishop who, having having listened politely to the intimate details of my life story, said "Thank you for that, but I haven't changed my mind." Also, at this same Pilling meeting, two gay members of clergy cancelled their attendance because they were afraid of the repercussions from this bishop.

And no, it wasn't the Bishop of Birkenhead.

So forgive me if my faith in the value of the 'faciliated conversations' is non-existent.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Sunday, 26 January 2014 at 11:26am GMT

What Interested Observer says here makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Sunday, 26 January 2014 at 7:36pm GMT

I assume (hope?) Concerned Anglican is being ironic. In that case I would agree with him/her. In fact I don't think the calendar should be revised to fit in with commercial-popular zip-bam-boom Christmas celebrations beginning in October. I think the C-of-E (I imagine that even in the UK the Methodists, Catholics and Reformed churches are a bit more 'puritanical' in this respect than the C-of-E or not???) should be less worldly and help us to understand and appreciate why we have a liturgical year. Away with Christmas carol services, decorated Christmas trees, Father Christmas, and Nativity Plays during Advent. Alas most C-of-E churches (at least in the Diocese in Europe....) seem to have these and more still. How would it be if we became less 'worldly' and listened and help our flocks listen as well to what the church is saying (or should be saying) during Advent? I'm a Yank of course, so probably just don't understand the nostalgia.......

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Monday, 27 January 2014 at 9:48am GMT
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