I find church in the journey

I find church in the journey

I’ve always LOVED church.  If my parents said we were having a day off from the Anglican church we’d been at since I was two I would insist that we had church at home.  We had to have a mini service and there would be a plastic Vitalite tub for the collection.  Church was my favourite thing as a child.  I love going.  I loved the friends I had at church.  I loved the once-a-month Traidcraft stall where they sold those amazing peppermint sweets.  I love bring and share lunches and church away days.  Church was ace.  And so was God.

As a teenager, church was still amazing.  I had some of the best friends I’ve ever had and youth leaders who loved me absolutely.  Yet life stopped being so great.  Issues from childhood knocked me sideways and life became painful.  Church was an anchor in the midst of all that.

In my late teens my life went dramatically wrong. Continue reading

I find church to be a generational tug-of-war

I find church to be a generational tug-of-warI am grateful for the young people that I lead at Scum of the Earth Church because they keep me grounded in reality. The longer that you are a Christian, the greater is the danger of becoming insulated within the Christian culture. It happens almost imperceptibly. You get saved when you are young yourself, and you start hanging out with Christians. Then, perhaps, your old friends exclude you—or maybe you can’t handle their sinful lifestyles so you exclude your old friends. Either way, you start hanging out with Christians, and it is great—for the most part. Perhaps you get married; and if you do, you are one further step removed from the rest of the world because you are now supposed to be building a home together. That takes a lot of time away from the bright lights of the big city. Continue reading

I find church… anywhere except in church

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I’m a Mission Pastor, which means, yes you guessed it, I oversee our church’s missional outreach in the community. Most of what I do is about encouraging people to get outside of the church building. So my title for this post is a tad tongue in cheek, obviously I do love being in church too, and I’m also about to get ordained – just incase you thought this might be an anti-establishment post. But more and more I do think we just need to get out there, outside our comfort zones, beyond the barriers of bricks and mortar, signs and labels to just reach out and love our neighbours.

My passion is for finding ways of doing church that are new and interesting, that reach people where they are at, and that are relevant to people who, let’s face it, might never step foot in a church. You see, I think it’s just no good expecting people to come to us, then learn all our rules and funny ways, and maybe after all that, even ‘join up’. I mean, this is the age of Google, where we all want instant answers, new experiences and greater knowledge, often from the seat of our comfy old arm chair or blasted out through our latest shiny iPhone.

However this is also the pluralist age where people are more likely to call themselves spiritual than admit to signing up to any one particular religion. You know the type I’m sure – those who say they feel ‘at one with a higher being when out in nature’ (yes, hands up, I was one of them once) or that to them God is just the ‘essence of good’. We make God in our image, just like everything else – because in this day and age that’s what we do. Interesting though that research shows that of those people who call themselves ‘spiritual’, hardly any would seek to find any answers in a church.

So, I want to challenge the idea that church is a building that people come to, to meet God. It’s not a new challenge of course. You will probably know that the word church comes from the Greek ekklesia, usually translated as either an assembly or called out ones so it’s really always been all about the people and not the building at all.

As a bit of a pioneer I want to challenge what the word church means to people – all people. If Jesus is our role model, he went from place to place, from field to temple, market place to fishing lake. He went where people were and spoke to them of the things they knew and understood.

So then let’s ask ourselves, what does that look like today?

Well, how about church in the pub? Or down at the social club? Or in the community café? All of which our missional outreach currently involves. Sure these things don’t look like church and often don’t sound like it either, (and hey there’s beer in more than one of them which is practically heretical) but they are where the people are. They are where people are gathering. And in those places people are meeting Jesus right where they are at.

There is still a large portion of the church that believes mission is all about inviting people to come to church on Sunday. Well, it’s not, never should have been. And if I offend you with that well, sorry – not sorry. The years where we had a ‘captive audience‘, where people came to church out of tradition or duty are soooo long gone. Sundays (or any other day for that matter) there are so many other pulls on people’s time, so many more attractive things to do than go to church. Yes we might love it but we already know the Lord, we already have friends there, we are part of a community. Just think – why would someone come to your church if they had never been to one before or had never heard about the gospel? Why would they go to church instead of to the cinema, shopping, or out with friends?

So if you are asking me (which Katie has!) then I want to find church anywhere except in the church. What about in the cinema, down your local Lidl or at the gym? ‘Really?’ you say? ‘Well why not?’ I would answer. Why on earth not…


Jules MiddletonJULES MIDDLETON: Jules  is Mission Pastor at the The Point Church in Sussex. She is a wife, a mum of three and an Ordinand (training for ministry) in the Church of England. She is passionate about taking the message of Jesus outside of the church. She blogs about this and lots of other stuff at www.pickingapplesofgold.com and tweets @redjules

 

 

I find church better when I’m leading.

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I’ve been a curate (mini-vicar) for 9 months now, and in that time have had the opportunity to plan and lead lots of services at my local church. I’ve led the singing, led the prayers, preached the sermon, given out the notices, everything short of leading the Communion part (which I’ll be able to do from this July). All this has brought me to the shocking discovery that I actually prefer going to church and being church when I’ve got a focal role.

Continue reading

Easter- Essex Lent Blogs

EasterThis Easter feels a bit like a non-event. Easter day doesn’t quite have the same celebration feel when you haven’t done Holy Week.

Being a mum of two little ones has meant that my church involvement this year is at a minimum. I go to church on Sundays only and, if I’m lucky, I manage to catch some of the sermon as I attempt to keep my little monkeys under control. But that’s okay. Continue reading

Why Palms? -Essex Lent Blogs

Why palms?

Last week while out for a walk with my mum we walked a past a Macrocarpa tree. Although you may not recognise the name, you’ll certainly recognise this sweet smelling conifer. Now, my mum is a New Zealander and she told me that when she was growing up they used these conifer branches on Palm Sunday instead of palms themselves.

This got me thinking. Continue reading