You might have seen the article in Christian Today entitled Vicar says church must shed its boring image which quotes Rev Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes saying “The church needs to be challenging. It needs to be exciting for people. We need to enthuse people about the idea of Jesus so that it’s not a case of why don’t they believe but rather how can they not? I want to have people talking about what the church does, to have people talking about God, whether or not they come to church services. We need to accept that Church has sometimes been boring for some people. So there are two things we have to do. First, we need to make sure everything we do as a church is really high quality, and secondly we mustn’t wait for people to come to us, but go out to where people are, whether it be schools, the local play park or the shopping areas.”
I read the title of the article with a heavy heart; despairing that again the Christian press was allowing us to be labelled as boring. But once I got over myself and started reading I realised how true Miranda's words are for some. Many people live in places where their parish church is stuck in the past; where nothing has changed and the idea of church is a terrifying prospect.
We are blessed to live in a thriving parish where the church is well known and valued and where lots of fun things happen; of course we don't touch everyone in the community, but we keep reaching out and inviting in. I suppose I could even take some credit for some of this; but let's be clear that it's not about me, it's about a passionate church, fantastic people and an inspirational God.
Yet I believe we also suffer, as a church in our community, from the "boring" church image which the body of the church projects. The press likes to highlight the outdated ideas and age old debates; the organisation of the church is held up as old fashioned, sexist and out of touch. Much as we who love the church and are called to serve God within it try to explain the reality of the local level outpouring of God's grace; the image on mass is overwhelming and can drown out our small voices.
Is our church boring?
Not in the least.
It's exciting, fun and loving locally.
It is adapting and developing regionally.
It is trying to move forward and change without loss nationally.
It is holding together through debate and relationship internationally.