Monday, June 05, 2006

Church attendance update

So, you'll remember we're going to church to get Eben in to the local school. Well we hadn't actually managed to make it there until yesterday. Too much going on frankly, family stuff, Louis etc. etc. What we didn't want to do was to sporadically turn up, so we waited for a clear run of Sunday's so that we could get there regulary and get our faces known.

Jesus what a chore. I was in a foul mood all morning, having, theological, sociologic, ethical and personal dillemmas, which turned me into a complete bastard to be with. On the 10 minute walk there, we discussed that if need be Nicky would go on her own, as she didn't have the same issues. This made me feel like crap and I said no, no, it's something we really should do as a family, but if something needed doing in the house then that would take precedence.

And then we got there.

I've been to loads of churches in my time and on most occassions, I quite enjoy it when I'm there. Good sing-song, bit of a sermon, that if delivered by a decent orator is worth a think about, even if it's totally cynical and a few other bits and bobs that you can put up with.

Few things about our new church.

1. It's a modern building. Pine beams and arches, boring as sin. No feeling of grandure, more a feeling of Youth Club.

2. The standard weekly service is 2 hours long - yes 2 hours. 12 hymns, countless frippery and rubbish.

3. There is a distinct feeling that the good folk don't like kids. Within 15 minutes of the start I was in the back room with Eben watching Storykeepers, which is dull as dish water.

4. Extortion. The opening 10 minutes of the service was all about how big a part of being a christian is about your commitment to giving. This was sporadically sprinkled with more requests for money throughout the ceremony by all accounts. During the interval - yes interval - we are asked to donate money for biscuits and tea which is when I put my pound in. Straight after the interval they hand round the felt bag and I've used all my money, so I look really stingey.

5. The peace comes at about 11.15 just as Louis needed feeding, which meant a processionof awkward looking parishoners shaking hands with a woman with her tit out. Nice.

6. The least spiritual ceremony i've had the displeasure of attending.

7. The most uninspirational and boring deacon, I've been unfortunate enugh to listen to.

8. Boring hymns. Nothing written before 1988. Need I say more.

We left in disarray frankly. Our only hope is that half term meant a lot of absence from all the nice people. I'm certainly not willing to go every week. Nicky's comment was she sat there thinking 'do you lot really believe all this'. That's a very bad sign she can normally suspend her natural instinct.

Christ knows what we're going to do now.


Curmy said...

2 hours Six ! Was it a Catholic Church ?

Span Ows said...

Oh the irony of the last line!

Did you ask him while you were there? ;-)

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

LOL Six! Sorry for laughing because I know how much it means to you to get Eben into the school but I couldn't help it. I take it that it's a full on evangelical C of E? Those sort are all the same with the money bit and the hymns I'm afraid! It's a life commitment and a life style and choice, all consuming but then if you have the faith then maybe it's the kind of thing you want and need. They'll have you out on the streets in no time at all bringing God to the godless!

Like I said I have no problem with people with faith and/or religion. It's the organised stuff that gets up my nose!

Good luck and let us know if you persevere a la Bunyon!

Curmy said...

Six, I think it's so sad that people who live in cities have to worry so much about their children's schooling.
Although there are dis advantages to living out in the back of beyond, by and large the parents round here don't have to agonise about their choice of school.
Had you ever thought of becoming a country bumpkin ? !

Paul said...

We went to church when my wife's niece was up for election to one of the church affiliate groups - it was one of those happy clappy churches - the whole thing freaked me out.

Good luck.

Curmy said...

I agree with you paul, I prefer the old fashioned service.

Six Years Late said...

Curmy. No it wasn't Catholic it was a C of E. Far too earnest not enough humour. Unfortunatly I don't see ourselves moving out of a town. I realise that there are drawbacks, but if things are desperate we will go the private route, it's not going to be particularly easy financially, but it may have to be done.

Six Years Late said...

Mags, i will keep you updated. we're definitly going again this week to check out whether it's different with a few more children there. it may lighten the whole thing. Unfortunately it's not going to shorten the length of the service.

Les Paul Junior said...

I do hope it's better next time. The fact that you know what to expect may make it a bit easier for you.

Curmy said...

I don't understand why these Evangelical services have to go on so long. It must put people off, and it's so against the reserved English nature, to have all these trendy hymns ,clapping etc.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Curmy, if you love Jesus then you must show that you love him by worshiping long and loudly, going out on the street and proclaiming your love to the godless so that they may see the light and by crippling yourself financially in order to demonstrate that you are totally serious about your love. That's what evangelicalism is all about.

Six, you may score better with the younger people and their families but try not to be disappointed if you don't in the longer term. The younger evangelicals are terribly earnest and remarkably persistent.

I help out at a local playgroup which is run by evangelicals R us. Individually they are lovely people and to be honest they do an awful lot for the children and youth in the large village where I live. One or two I would count on as friends but they never miss an opportunity to attempt to draw me in despite the fact that they know after 5 years I do not take the bait. They never give up. Nor do they miss an opportunity to speak of their love for Jesus and of their faith, in ordinary conversation.

An example: Man I know does incredible work for orphan charities in Romania which I fully support in many ways. He has a 14 year old daughter. We are chatting about every day stuff when he tells me that daughter has a new boyfriend. She told them about a week ago. Do Mum and Dad mind that he's a much older man she asks. They are perturbed and uneasy, Well it depends say they. He's wonderful says daughter, I know that you will approve because you love him already and now, I love him too. Someone we know they ask, still worried. Oh yes says daughter, you know him very well. Jesus is my new boyfriend and I aim to keep him as my boyfriend for life.

Now there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of this if it's what you believe and I am very happy that the 14 year old is finding the sort of love she seeks at the present time but why did he feel the need to share this with me when he knows how I feel about organised religion?

I share my experiences however I only offer one piece of advice: never start a conversation on homosexuality with them!

PS: These lot are pretty good at what they do. They feature regularly in church publications worldwide as a sucessful and fast growing congregation who seem to have found the right approach in spreading the word. Perhaps Six's lot will still be in the learning stage.....hopefully :-)

flyingfinn said...

Hi Six,

Is this a CofE church? I doubt this was a High Anglican service which are very traditional, and have a very 'catholic' feel about them. Very similar the the Lutheran mass, infact. Did you have litany in the service? They are my favourite parts.

Within the CofE, even though they have a liturgical mass, each church has a certain amount of autonomy as to how they conduct their services.

But if you were expecting to find an upbeat, modern service, instead of a traditional one, then the CofE wasn't the place to find it.

flyingfinn said...

And sorry, I must say, none of you really seem to know what the word evangelical means.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Finnster, I am interested in what you believe evangelical to mean...honest, hand on heart.

I always thought that evangelical worship was protestant and firmly based upon the new testament and on M,M,L and J in particular. I also thought that evangelicals were known for their rather zealous (I would say OTT but that's merely a very personal opinion beased upon experience) enthusiasm for their beliefs and for their worship and for their go out there and get 'em approach to ensuring that others are 'enlightened' in the way they have been. Taking this into account evangelicals rarely miss an opportunity for a spot of recruiting and also for outlining their love of JC and their faith in God because they see their faith as life encompassing! Or have I got it hopelessly wrong?

I am genuinely interested in your views on this.

flyingfinn said...

Hi Mags,

The word 'evangelical' has two meanings. The first meaning is 'according to the gospel', and 'gospel' means 'good news'. So this makes all Christians who truely believe and have been baptised in the Spirit evangelical.

The second meaning is a bit more doctrinal in nature and describes how salvation is obtained. 'Evangelical' in this sense, means that salvation is gained by faith in the Atonement through the sacrifice of Christ. This is a largely Protestant belief. Another way of putting it is, and this was a view championed by Martin Luther, that salvationis by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide).

Evangelical has been, and continues to be, a word misused, to describe fundamental Christian belief, or a few rogues who have preached the Gospel for their own ends. And please no one confuse fundemantal Christianity with zealousness for the faith, because all Christians should be zealous in their faith, looking to serve God in all that they do.

I hope that helps. :-)

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Thanks Finnster. I don't think that our opinions as to the meaning of the word are that far apart in terms of the four gsopels etc and I certainly do not confuse zealousness with fundamentalism. Like I said I have a lot to do with evangelicals where I live and have a lot of respect for various inidviduals. I just dislike their organisations!

And don't get me started on Luther and the Peasants Revolt etc. Theologically speaking, he may have had a great mind and some interesting ideas but he let down those who needed him most when they needed him most.

flyingfinn said...

Hi Mags,

Luther is actually one of my Christian heros.:-D The church I belong to is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which is the state church. Luther propbably did more than anyone of his time to not only bring Christ back to the people, but to ease the terrified minds of the people. He was a man passionate about his faith, and though I don't agree with everything he said, mainly concerning the Jews, he was a brilliant theologian.

Lucy said...

Just a thought Six but you and Eben could go together and leave Baby at home with mummy while things are difficult.
It may be different from church to church but at our local Cof E its done on the childs attendance rather than the whole family.
Obviously it can depend on just how many families are competing for each place, but if it is that in demand, I believe they look at what else you do in the church as well as the Sunday service.

Six Years Late said...

That's probably what we'll do, only problem with that though is that Eben won't be tolerated in the main service and it'll take a while to settle him in the creche, so it'll mean no one's in the service.

Anonymous said...

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