Wednesday, 2 July 2014

They don't believe in God but they miss Him!

This post again draws on the talk by Bishop John at the llm conference (June 2014).

48% of under 30s answered none to the religion question on the last census. And yet less than half that number said that they are atheists and a large proportion said they were spiritual.

Spirituality is alive and well and these spiritual people are looking for something. These are the people many churches refer to as spiritual seekers.

These people, and many others, are sad that they don't know God or even know where to go looking for Him. This is where we are needed, we the body of Christ, we the Church; we are the ones who know God and can make God accessible.

How do we do this?
1. Befriending
We go out into our communities and meet with people.   We meet them where they are and we get to know them, person to person.  Through friendships we can share our faith and allow others to know what we believe.  We can be as explicit or subtle as we wish and as is appropriate for the relationship in question; we are guided by them and ourselves and God.  The best way to help people understand God is for them to see our relationship with God.

2. Opening the doors
We no longer live in a culture where the church is a known and understood entity which anyone is happy to visit.  Most people are extremely unsure what they will find if they go into a church, in fact they're not even sure if they're allowed to open the closed doors they find facing out into the community.  And that's the first thing every Church can do; open the doors of the church every day, and better still, have doors with glass which people can see through.

3. Helping our communities
There is a huge shift in morality in our society, even for Christians.  Instead of the church being a valued part of society, the church is now seen as toxic.  We need to renew our church and be clear about our non toxicity.  One of the best ways of doing this is to be active in our communities helping those in need.  This could be food banks or kids clubs, elderly lunches or community choirs.  What it is matters much less than the fact that the church is alive and seen to be a positive part of the community.

4. Accepting requests readily
The Church at a local level had always been in the business of helping society hatch, match and dispatch.  However not all of the Church of England 16,000 churches are happily accepting one off requests from the people in our care.   It may seem like they are "using us" for their life celebrations, but we need to see it more as us caring for our communities.  Let's accept the request for a christening and invite them to toddler services and Messy Church or other family services.   We never know who might just be waiting for the invitation.

There are so many ways we can be the conduit for faith for our communities, these are just a few; what matters through it all is that we are open and loving and genuine in our desire to reach people and help bring them to faith and see them become disciples.

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