church change

What’s the story behind…?


church changeAt the back of our church was a small, rather drab, bookcase.  It was used to store songbooks, and Bibles.  But we had bought a larger new one, and we were going to redecorate, so we wondered about chucking it out.

The brakes went on.

Because fixed to the top of the bookcase was a small plaque, saying it had been given in memory of one of the founder members of the church, who had died distressingly young, by his widow.  Whose family still came.

And as far as I know, the bookcase is still there.


1.  Don’t just ask about the facts, ask about the story behind.  Not just, ‘Shall we get rid of the bookcase?, but ‘What’s the story of how we got the bookcase?’  ‘What’s the story behind why Fred always does the reading at the Christmas Eve service?’   ‘What’s the story behind  our policy on remarrying divorced people?’  Because there will be one.  Get to know the history.

 2. Give the story behind what you want to move forwards, and that must at root be the gospel story, however much local flavour you give it.  The gospel was the only story powerful enough to help that grieving family let go of the bookcase, and serve the rest of the church in a healthy way.

3. And never, ever, ever accept a gift with a plaque on it. Pulpits, windows, lecterns, pews, clocks – they become impossible to get rid of because of their emotional freight.  I’ve sometimes muttered that if I were ever involved in a major building project, I’d want a big plaque on the wall, saying “This building was opened in 2013, in the confident expectation that it will be demolished in twenty years’ time to be replaced by something better.”

OK, that third point might be a touch overstated.

3 comments on “What’s the story behind…?”

  1. Not hoping for the ‘Chris Green Memorial Wing’ at Oakhill then? Or a nice stained glass window of you preaching?

  2. Chris, I’m finding that discovering stories behind why we do we what we and when we do it are useful opportunities to get the Gospel Story across. It is the same when I get an answer back ‘we’ve always done that way.’
    This is especially so in Rural communities in West Wales. Where communities are changing rapidly. Here there is longing for stability and continuity. Reminding folks of the Gospel Story, helps them see that there is a Greater Story that offers that stability and continuity they are looking for.

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