Monday, November 21, 2005

Service and services

Kez, commenting on the last posting, is right to suggest that we need to get out more. We've had a bit of discussion about this already on this blog.

But even getting out more doesn't alter the fact that we've got to think about what kind of service we offer those who come seeking us out. Alan's point is that there are still significant numbers of people who want the church. Indeed he argues that some are called to be church members to keep the church going for the benefit of its non-members. This is a distinctive (and possibly eccentric) spin on Archbishop Temple's idea that the church is the only club that exists for the benefit of its non-members.

I guess my bottom line is that I want people to meet and engage with Jesus. They might do this as they access a service we offer - whether that's a regular Sunday gathering or something special we do because they ask us (a dedication, wedding or funeral). But maybe they are more likely to do this if we go out looking for ways to make contact with them - in the pubs and clubs of our communities, at the school gate, at work, etc - as Kez suggests.

I say this because I don't think I buy Alan's idea that people are 'cultural Christians'. I'm not sure what he means by this beyond the fact that they hold residual Christian values (precious and in need of re-inforcing any way we can). I'm not sure what this has to do with knowing Jesus in a living and vibrant way that changes our values and lifestyles.

But I'm happy if 'cultural Christians' come to my church seeking a dedication (our alternative to baptising babies), a wedding or a funeral. It is a pastoral opportunity that enables me to talk about the Christian story and how it impacts on their lives. More than that, it's an opportunity for Jesus to touch their lives in unexpected ways. I'm all for it.

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