Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Faith for the Fainthearted - The Church, Part 2.

Last week we spoke about what some of the costs and benefits of being part of a Church might be. The opportunity for community, for spiritual and mental growth, space for you and a place to love and be loved. This, is weighed up against how flippin' annoying church can be sometimes and that, like an human institution, it can get it spectacularly wrong sometimes. You don't need examples, I know you have seen it all before. But for me, the vision of what it could be has tipped the balance and I am committed to it (God help me!) but getting to this place has been no easy journey let me tell you!

Because even if that vision of church as community hub and spiritual watering hole sounds fantastic to you then unfortunately the situation in the church today is such that just wandering in might be a rather difficult thing for you to do. I often joke with a friend of mine who also came to church in later life that being an adult coming into the church rather than being raised in it, is like being an alien landing on Planet Christian. You don't speak the same language, for a good proportion of the time you have no idea what is going on and when you do finally get what is going on you are always the one saying 'Do we have to do it like that?' and that can be an interesting person to be!

The Church, in all generations, has been given the task of making God, faith, the whole shebang, make sense to the people of its time. Sometimes the church is really great at that. Sometimes, and I wonder if we are in one of the times, it is a bit rubbish really and the whole thing can get a bit mysterious. In a bad way.

If you have not been raised going to church and therefore have learned the lingo then you will struggle to even decode the service board to know what on earth you should expect of any of these things let alone knowing when you should stand up or sit down or say something in the service itself. This, I must stress, is entirely not your fault and I think is rather unfair really.

A huge part of the responsibility for rectifying this lies with the Church and I am hugely passionate about that. Because underneath those layers of what at times can seem like impenetrable 'Church Culture' is a two thousand year old heritage full of richness and beauty and wealth. Underneath it all is a place where I have discovered life, hope and been changed for the better and I am not the only one. I really, really, really hope that the Church of this generation will do something about making these riches accessible to people today.

But that doesn't mean that Church is a closed door to those of us who come into it with no prior experience. We have many advantages. Not being raised in a tradition or even in a religion means that we are not wedded to a particular way of doing things. This means that you can try out a whole range of styles without prejudice and preconception. I have been part of churches with a stage and a band up front and ones with incense and hundreds of years old services. I loved them both. Us newbies can be intrepid explorers of the spiritual landscape, going into territory that others find it deeply uncomfortable to go.

And as explorers we are also questioners. The church needs people who ask 'Why?' A LOT. Never be afraid to ask why things are as they are, or what things mean. You may uncover for other people the gaps in their own knowledge which may start them off on their own voyage of discovery. Celebrate your role as a challenger and don't be afraid of what you don't know. A lot of people in Church don't really know either, they have just grown too afraid to ask. Be an Asker!

And I also hope this blog can be a place for the spiritual explorer to find support and companions on the way.In the next post I will do a little decoding for you on what some of the Church lingo you might encounter really mean. And if you do have any questions you can contact me with any questions under the 'Want to Chat?' Button above or through Facebook or Twitter. I'd love to run a retreat one day for all of us explorers to come together and support and learn from one another. So wherever you are on your own spiritual journey, take heart and be bold. It really is well worth it!

No comments:

Post a Comment