Thursday, January 21, 2010

Would I go there?

Several times recently I've been asked if I would be comfortable going to the pub. It's an interesting question. I've never really been much of a pub-goer. Even in my youthful days when it was all the rage, I never really felt at home in the cultural setting of the lounge of the "Dog and Duck".

The thing is, I don't really have what you might call a pub memory. Now I don't mean that I've forgotten any and every visit. Just last year when Anne and I were waking in the Dales we had a really nice lunch in a typical country pub, and I remember that clearly!!

What I mean by a pub memory is a cultural background. I literally don't know how to behave in those surroundings. Do I sit down or stand at the bar. Do I talk about philosophy or football? What's the etiquette for getting attention when I want to buy a drink? Do I take my used glass or ask for a clean one?

While church should always remain attractive, simply being attractive is not going to change anything much for all those people who do not have a church memory or even a Christian memory. For those people I'd be guessing that as far as they are generally concerned, church does things for church people.

Perhaps if we began to explore how we can help people with no Christian memory discover how to relate to God where they are, we might begin to help them form a memory that will move them towards a deeper relationship with him.

I wonder what that kind of church might look like.


Wiggy said...

I agree with you - and think that we need to go a stage further - instead of trying to bring people into church - an atmosphere which is unfamiliar, uncomfortable and alien because of its heavy cultures, what if we made the pub, the cafe, the betting shop, the park, the streets - places where we start from, not places which we attempt to take people from...

Richard Pool said...

Absolutely! Isn't it interesting that Jesus never seems to invite someone to meet him in his controlled environment. He invites them to come to him not his temple or his church.

When I think about "into church" I think less about our building and more about a relationship with Jesus.

That can happen anywhere.

Ricky said...

People (used to) go to pubs for the very same reason as church - i.e. it is a place they feel comfortable and welcomed. Perhaps surprisingly both are suffering from the loss of community within society.

Perhaps with church we might be in danger of losing sight of church for those within and without the christian community. To both their are different needs, albeit the same objective.

Yet for both the primary consideration and reason for church is the meeting of God through an encounter with His presence - and perhaps the threshold for this and its difficulty - is to counter the unbelief so prevalent in society and the media in particular.