So we went to church again today, to the matinee show at 10:45 that caters to families. It was totally different to the 9:00 morning service:
- The church was packed to the gills.
- There was even more repetition of songs saying ‘God is strong, he will protect me, I’m desperate for Jesus (they really sang that), I’m nothing without God, I love him so’, following along with a pop band.
- The charismatic tall Mark Strong-lookalike vicar was not there, instead we had the older lady who felt like your home tutor in primary school, reading through a lot of community announcements and struggling a bit with the interactive sermon.
I’m sounding already like an ass by critiquing this. I am obviously not the target for this kind of service- it’s aimed first of all at people who believe, among whose number I am not, and secondly it’s aimed at families, hence being called the ‘family service’. They had kids blowing bubbles during the prayer list. They do prayer every day at 7:45 am and pm, as well as a prayer day when people come in and pray together.
I find it amazing that this is real. It seems they really believe in prayer? Or is all of this tongue-in-cheek? Who can say. It probably is nice – as I said last week – to think nice thoughts about others. Yeah, not much point in arguing about it- it’s not a waste of time if they get something out of it.
The sermon was quite limited, and mostly comprised of kids coming up and hanging paper leaves on a dying apple tree. I think the message there was a bit off, ie-
The preacher said there is life in this tree yet. We can help this tree by giving it love. Here are some green shoots. Let’s help it some more by adding some more leaves. What shall we write on this leaf? Children? OK, write hope on the leaf. Next leaf? Charity.
Soon the tree is covered in paper leaves.
Now we’ve helped the tree. It looks a lot better, doesn’t it?
Huh. I’m thinking, well, we’ve decorated the tree. We haven’t helped it. It looks better on the outside but its still dying on the outside. So is this like the prayer stuff? We feel better but reality hasn’t actually changed. Maybe this is my feeling about church so far, especially this family service. Too much rejoicing and not enough inner contemplation. What are we all so happy about?
I wanna feel guilty in church. And if not guilty, then contemplative. I want the lecture on morality. I want to be taught something, or at least have someone try to teach me something. I want it quiet, thoughtful, and when we sing I want there to be some poetry and meaning in the hymns we sing, not repetitive pop. I want to be part of an ongoing tradition that has lasted for centuries.
This new style seems like pandering. Church is boring? OK, so we’ll make it fun. We’ll take out most of the content. We’ll add in pop songs with needy lyrics and video screens with dodgy powerpoints. What is left then is more like a Butlins camp.
Ha, I said I wouldn’t criticize! Now I am definitely being an ass. And it’s true they are doing tangible charity. They collected canned goods for Harvest which will go to the needy somewhere. They sponsor kids round the world. If you believe in prayer- then so much prayer is doing great work.
Like I said, it’s not for us, and not targeted at us, and no doubt it serves very well as a community hub. It was packed! Babies were baptized, people were raising their hands to heaven during the songs, kids got involved and the community did something together. That is some good energy.
I guess we won’t go to the family service again. I’ll take the heavier, quieter one. Actually we will try the Baptist church next week I expect. Never done that before. Any tips on what to expect?