coincidences does it take before they cease to be coincidences
and instead form a pattern, something to be taken note of?
It seems that every ‘church’ related monthly publication I
have read lately is talking about ‘Lay Leadership’ -
asks, ‘The Reformation, what does it mean today?’,
offering a plethora of replies, with their common thread being
that faith can be accessible to all not simply a select,
'In Gear' magazine challenges with articles such as
‘Church where the people are’, suggesting that Church
isn’t about buildings but about meeting the 85% of people
who do not attend our ‘Sunday buildings’. Meeting them
where they are - at a car boot sale, a farmers’ market, down
the pub or in the cafe. I can certainly attest that many faith
filled conversations are shared at St Arbucks in Market
Lavington and The Southgate Inn in Devizes.
Branch' speaks of ‘Down to Earth. Bringing people and
nature together, promoting Eco-Church as an activity that
involves the whole of the church in becoming more sustainable.
And, finally, 'Countryway' dedicates it’s entire
January issue to Developing Lay Leaders, with articles from
Anglican, Catholic, Methodist and United Reformed Church
I particularly enjoyed the piece by Revd Robert Barlow,
Priest in Charge of Teme Valley South Churches, who blamed the
Victorians for taking worship from what was, a ‘whole church
and community’ activity involving the Parish Clerk and local
ragbag village band and ‘improving’ it. This
involved the installation of pews to keep the congregation
orderly; an organ played by the (supposedly) more controllable
vicar’s wife(!!) and the sacking of the band and Clerk.
Worship was organised and performed by the vicar and became a
professional service offered to the village by a qualified
practitioner. Churchgoers were no longer participants
As Christians we consume: in communion or the Eucharist
we eat the bread and drink the wine; in worship we feed on
God. But God sets limits on our consumption and our Christian
calling is to service. In being part of a church it’s not a
question of whether a church is providing what we like. What
matters is whether we can be part of a community in which we
contribute. Can we, as the pre-Victorians did, have worship
which is the offering of the whole community to God? If it’s
occasionally a bit scruffy I don’t suppose God will mind.
Lately, whenever I see signs of new growth and vitality
in the church, the common thread is that it is no longer
Cafe worship; Messy Church; Open the Book; PILOTS;
Eco-Church; Child Friendly Church; Dementia Friendly Church.
faith, at it’s very best is the work of the whole people of
God. Yes, our ministers have a particular calling, training
and responsibility within that but they are not the Church. We
all are. And only together can we know and share the precious
gift of Christ.
May God bless you richly in your common
life of loving service together.