Un-church for the un-churched

2

16/09/2013 by Chris Green

scepticThere’s a little flurry of atheist ‘churches’ at the moment. Meetings of like-minded secularists who listen to some music, hear a talk, reaffirm their views, have a collection, and then afterwards have a cup of coffee and some home-made cake.

It’s very earnest (and therefore very funny), but they are deliberately trying to put into practice what they think: that religion has a number of good outcomes (morality, beauty and good works), and if we are ‘grown-up’ enough we can manage all those without having to invoke the idea of anything supernatural.

It is, as I say, very funny. And deeply ironic that according to today’s Times, one of them can arrange a secular harvest festival to collect food for the homeless, but they have to rely on local churches to distribute it.

But as I’ve thought about it, I’ve realise that they are missing not just one key element (God, obviously), but two – and they be missing it because we are not to hot on it either.

It’s obviously futile to do what we do without a living God – we have a weak, foolish, and unpersuasive message of a cross, and we rely totally on the Lord Jesus to win people for himself. We don’t replay the shared values of a metropolitan enlightened elite – we call people to die daily for the sake of a risen saviour.

But the other element these faux ‘churches’ are missing is fellowship. Love of neighbour, love of enemy, love of sister and brother. In these ‘churches’ I’d meet other educated, urban late twentieth century professionals who share the values of our day; in the gospel I meet a Chinese pastor imprisoned for his faith, Syrian Christians who have only their Lord for help, and a billion others from every place on the planet. They are not my like-minded friends. They are my sisters and brothers, closer than my family, in Christ.

As are the fifty people I meet with each Sunday at church. Not a club. Not friends. Not a mutually admiring metropolitan intelligentsia. Family, from the bottom of the heap.

But here’s the thing. I wonder if the ‘churches’ haven’t realised they need to copy that, because we’ve not made it that obvious. Church services are also places where you turn up, isten to some music, hear a talk, reaffirm our views, have a collection, and then afterwards have a cup of coffee and some home-made cake.

Please have a look at what they’re doing – and look hard in the mirror

The Sunday Assembly has a link here

Alain de Botton’s School of Life has a link here

And feel free to comment below:

2 thoughts on “Un-church for the un-churched

  1. Stephen Childs says:

    I have been part of churches where people regularly share the messy details of life out loud on a Sunday morning but also in churches where people are sharing the messy details of their lives on a daily basis without it being particularly visible on a Sunday morning. There are pros and cons to both, but as long as people are sharing each other’s lives that’s the main thing. Also, visiting a church and being part of a church family for the long haul are (and should be) different experiences. What you describe sounds more like the visitor’s eye view. Hopefully if people stuck around and talked to people they would see the fellowship more.

    • Chris Green says:

      Sounds like you’ve had a good experience. But there are churches where people go for years, and the only experience is what you call the ‘visitors’ one!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Publication of The Goldilocks Zone

Launch dayJanuary 18th, 2018
5 months to go.

Living as a Christian in the 21st century means we face constant battles to please God. That’s why I wrote ‘PURITY: Living to please God in an impure world – 15 daily readings in 1 Thessalonians.’

There’s only way to get it – by subscribing to my  email newsletter here.

Index

God, Suffering and Joy

A conversation between me (with cancer) and Michael (with Multiple Sclerosis)

Terms and conditions

This blog does not share personal information with third parties nor do I store any information about your visit to this blog other than to analyse and optimise your content and reading experience. I am not responsible for republished content from this blog on other blogs or websites without my permission. This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

I welcome your participation on the Ministrynutsandbolts site, and invite you to share ideas elsewhere on what you learn and read here. At the same time, I ask that you respect my intellectual property rights in the process.

You are welcome to link to my site or any specific post on my site, extract and re-post less than 200 words on any other site, provided you link back to my original post, or print my posts in any non-commercial publication (e.g., company newsletter, class syllabus, church newsletter, etc.), provided you include this copyright notice: “© 2017 Chris Green. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.ministrynutsandbolts.com.”

Please do not do the following without written consent: Re-post one of my posts in its entirety anywhere else on the Internet, use this content for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of my content, or alter, transform, or build upon this work.

If you have some use for my content that is not covered here, please contact me. If you would like me to do a guest post on your blog, email me at ministrynutsandbolts@gmail.com

Copyright does not apply to the titles of books, but transparency means I should own that the title of the blog is taken from the excellent ‘Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary ‘ by Aubrey Malphurs (Kregel: 2nd edn. 2009)

© 2017 Chris Green

%d bloggers like this: