Monday, 7 December 2009

Why will people not go to church?

O.k. so that is the question but what is the answer. You will find no shortage of theories about this and I guess there will have been a number of blogs on it in the past and will be many more in the future. However, working for a church and dealing with loads of people on a weekly basis it does often baffle me why it's so hard to get people into church. In a culture where people are up for trying anything how come no matter how many invites I put out at the various groups we do as a church there are still so many people who are unwilling to just come along on a Sunday and have a look? I mean they're happy enough coming to whatever it is they come to (Elmer's Patch, Hot Potatoes, Kids' Cafe etc) and they seem to know the people from the church a little bit, at times they even seem to quite like us. So why not try out church on a Sunday?

I have no answers to this apart from a growing realisation of how weird a church service is for people who are not used to going to them. For a start there's singing and I mean singing with music. If you're not used to going to church there's a good chance you never sing and haven't for many years. You feel like an idiot if you join in the singing and you feel like an idiot if you don't. Then churches tend to talk about things which people never talk about. For example churches talk about love a lot and the average person never talks about love and is a bit uncomfortable with the way the word id thrown around in church. The listening to a guy speak for 30 minutes. When do you ever do that? Apart from university and church I'm not sure I've ever sat and listened to a person speak for that long!

I get some sense of this when I got to other churches and I feel out of place. I don't know the songs, I don't know the format, I don't know the people and I don't connect with the person talking. I just feel uncomfortable. However, I guess my reason for writing this blog is to try to get one thing straight in my head and that is - 'Church is always going to be like this!'. You see if church was just a meeting then we could make church not like this. We could work out the things which make people comfortable and which people connect with we could try to put those things in place until we finally create a meeting which people can attend with complete comfort. The thing is that church is not a meeting but a community and it takes time to become part of a community. Until you become a part of that community yourself you will always be on the outside looking in and feeling slightly uncomfortable.

So my desire should not be for people to simply go to a church meeting but rather to have a look at the community, see if what they declare with their mouths is real and then enter the community. So come to church - not because you'll feel comfortable but because it's by seeing the community that you can examine whether what we say actually has anything to offer!

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