Back to business. I’ve been having a quiet few days on the blog what with Holy Week and the joy of the resurrection to cope with.
Over that time, I’ve noticed a few articles appearing online which are well worth taking note of.
Firstly, the report which was headlined in the Sunday Times which was a survey of where the churches are. It is something of a tradition of the Sunday Times to carry surveys saying that the church is in trouble over the Easter weekend.
There’s a report about this one over on the Reuters site and it is worth looking at, together with some more analysis linked to over at Thinking Anglicans. Perhaps the least newsworthy item is that 76 % of Scots think the Church of England is out of touch. Well, you don’t say.
However, there’s things that are worth thinking about. The Sunday Times interpreted it all as meaning that there is a lack of moral leadership coming from the churches and that people are trusting clergy less. (Whether clergy are trusting the laity more or less is perhaps a much more interesting question).
Then over in the Spectator there is a rather depressing account of what it was like for Ysenda Maxtone Graham to go to a rural church for an Easter Day. It is worth a read even though you won’t like it. No, it is worth a read because you won’t like it. Before you click on the link, recite a bit of Burns a few times over. “O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”
Then, rather more positively but just a troubling is Andrew Brown’s very thoughtful piece on the Guardian website: How do churches get new bums on seats? Get rid of the boring old ones.
Really interesting analysis of why church-planting has worked for some people – because it produces the commitment in younger people that is needed to make the church swing which they are unlikely to throw at churches that are struggling which are full of older people wanting things not to change.
Now, the string that ties these three pieces of work together is a hunch that the two things which affect whether or not someone new will come back to a church and give it a go are firstly what happens there on a Sunday and secondly how they feel about those who are there on a Sunday. (And it is worth pondering for a moment which might be easier to change).
Now, is there any way we can talk about that? Does it fit neatly with the mission discourse of the Scottish Episcopal Church at the moment? I’m not so sure, but I rather think it matters that we find some way of having that conversation.
What do you think?