Adventures in Generosity

The occasionally coherent ramblings of a Stewardship Advisor in the Church of England

Archive for heritage

Let yourself be built ?

Hmmmmmm the parish church. Ancient monument, architectural gem, heritage site, place of worship or money sucking millstone strangling the life blood of the C of E ?

I used to be 100% sure exactly where I stood on this one. Yup, burn the font cover, pull down the rood screen and above all tell those nosey parker ‘pickle it in aspic’ hideous stained glass adoring anoraks at the Victorian Society where they could stick their butt numbing pews !

But …

We live in a spiritually hungry age. Yes I know, secularisation is rampant, Dickie Dawkins and his buddies are taking over the airwaves. But despite what the Daily Mail says, people are seeking.

And if they are seeking – where will they look ? What does Christianity ‘look’ like to the average wanderer in the street ?

The fact is, ask any 4 year old to draw a church and they won’t produce a sandstone, single storey, glass vestibuled, double glazed and fully DDA compliant ‘church in a box’.

To many, the Parish church is Christianity – that leeky tower, those bells, those b!**dy pews and all that stained glass are Christs ‘brand image’ – as powerful a symbol as the Golden Arches of Mcdonalds.

Looking back at ‘The Diana Effect’ it was clear that people needed a place to run to in times of uncertainty. So where did they go ? you guessed it …

The argument that flogging the lot and starting over, would release vast chunks of funding to ‘real’ mission is all well and good but isn’t it just further evidence of our loss of confidence ? We’ve bought into the tabloid myth that ‘if the church sold all its buildings it could do some good in the world’.  Instead of being proud of what we’ve inherited and making the most of it, we’ve become embarrased by it.

But …

 What if we actually started using the buildings iconic status as a draw, combine the shiny and alluring ideas about opening up the church hall for community use and instead  open the church doors – surrender ‘our worship space’ and make it an exciting and interesting space to be used.  Perhaps if we can get the community thinking of the inside of the church as relevant, useable, an enjoyable place to be they might stick around after aerobics and find out what else is going on ? 

Mission doesn’t have to be all about new and shiny, it can be about taking the best of the old, combining it with the best of the new and producing something that honours our inheritance as well as our vision. 

One thing I will never change my mind on though ….

The Victorian Society can have the pews !