Monday, 14 June 2010

Bastions of Boredom

Was reminded of this Video recently from 'Work of the People' and so post it to respond to Lesley's post earlier today: 'What do you think of Jesus and the church'. Also, in some way, to give some background to another reason why people land up leaving church, when they just give up on attempting to contribute. This adds to Suem's post a little while ago on the 'Leaving Church' topic.

It seems the world of blogging which ordained folk have so taken to heart is populated by alarming entries wondering what the church can do to arrest the problem of declining numbers and also delusions that sermons are actually good because a survey revealed they were the least unpopular moments in a service!

Whilst it is always easier to suggest solutions rather than fully defining what the problems are, it is becoming increasingly obvious that letting go of traditions, rituals and preferences (and all the etcs.) that, in the main, are held onto by clergy, is actually both the problem and the solution.

So many of the issues with church come down to the 'what' and 'how' we do things rather than the real meaning contained in the 'Why'. A key lies in re-developing a sense of curiosity and imagination in all of us that longs to share Why?



Suem said...

Thanks for the link and the interesting post. I loved the images in this video, so vibrant, rather unlike the church!

Al said...

Thanks for the vid and links.

I think the 'why' and 'what' are definitely significant, and probably intertwined. What are we to be, and why? Was it Jesus' intention just to have a happy club of smiling zombies? Or are we to be incarnational in our world as he was in his?

I don't think 'church' was ever intended to be an event you invited people to. So, tweaking the style or presentation of the Sunday meeting (music, sermon, or whatever) is pretty much missing the point if that is the only reason the church exists.

I like what you say about curiosity and imagination. I think there are a lot of both in our world, and we need to present a setting where they (curiosity and imagination) will be accepted instead of stifled. But it still has to be about more than just a Sunday meeting.

Lesley said...

Thanks Banksyboy.. so you would recommend that we ditch the sermon and utilise people's creativity?

Sam Charles Norton said...

Hmm. Interesting vid, well put together, but... (puts on grumpy hat) there is the faint whiff of baby-boomer narcissism here, 'we're so special' etc - which we are - but we're also profoundly sinful. There is an inevitable tension between church and world; that is, to be a Christian is to, in the end, NOT be happy in our present world, and a church which seeks to make people comfortable is not the Body.

Peter Banks said...

Thanks, Sue, pleased I finally responded to your blog post!

Cheers Al, you make some really interesting points which I am totally with you on. I have a growing concern about the way 'church' is seen as that 'thing' that happens on Sunday. I included an excerpt from a Rob Bell Q & A at Greenbelt '09 here: Spinal Tap meets Chequebook Worship

And Lesley, the answer to your question is yes and no! What I did want to convey is that despite the conclusions that many clergy drew from the recent survey about church where the sermon came out as the least disliked aspect of services that sermons are good, see The Church Mouse blog here. The sad truth is they are usually really naff, boring and uninspiring.

Furthermore the church is one of the only places you get the proclamation approach to passing on information, it doesn't happen in education or business. An interactive, collaborative approach is the norm (better) and empowers the workers ;-)

Big thanks for kicking this one off!

Peter Banks said...

Hmmm, Sam! I have been pondering how to respond for a while...

Firstly he doesn't claim 'we are special' specifically but does say the church 'splats' right brained, creative people. I naturally agree we are profoundly sinful yet we are also profoundly forgiven. I so want to see the church enter into the 'joy of your salvation' we pray for.

The sadness I feel is that the right brained people are being forced out of churches, either by resistance or boredom. This will eventually mean churches (and worship) will only be even more boring... I guess the left brained people will then just revel in their safe, sad places inside whilst us right brainers will carry on trying to be salt and light outside.

Sam Charles Norton said...

What is meant by "the church is afraid of right-brained people"? Because the church has in historical terms been an immense patron of artistic creativity, of all forms, music, sculpture, carving, tapestries, painting, architecture... I suspect the critique is accurate for one particular subset of "the church" (what I have often called Protestant Modernism, culturally dominant in the US) which is, I would heartily agree, much too left-brain.

NB he does equate being right-brained with being 'special' (the language he uses is being 'original, one of a kind, you'd think every Christian would want to be this way but....') The really dodgy thing about the vid - and indeed your comment! - is the subtext that right-brainers are better, or more holy, or closer to God, than left-brainers. Would you accept that what we actually need is a creative balance of the two?

BTW I think his points about 5yr olds are very sound - we're all born artists and losing that is part of the Fall - and I especially agree that 'being creative' ought to be one of the hallmarks of the church. It's the denigration of left-brain that I disagree with, not the positive side of right-brain.

Peter Banks said...

Cheers Sam, and I'm trying to get away from my desk ;-)

I think you have identified the shift in attitude towards creative people in the church that has been evolving over time. Certainly, originally, the church were patrons of artists but gradually the 'powers' became more and more suspicious and applied pressures on artists to deliver specifically tailored music, art etc. The artists rebelled subliminally by sometimes disguising bawdy music and even erotic art into an acceptable 'churchy' style which the clergy wouldn't recognise but the more worldly-wise punters did!

This mistrust of artists grew over time so taking the Spanish religious sculpture supposedly designed to 'encourage' folk back into church through fear, it is photo realistic modelling, dire from an artistic point of view! From there on things have worsened.

I absolutely do NOT think right brained people are better and more holy, in fact, I think we have the potential to be very unholy! This is very much part of the problem because the times right brainers are visibly and shamelessly unholy they are perceived as different to left brainers who then tend to mistrust right brained folk. Left brainers tend to want to maintain the status quo and resist change and adventure thereby potentially stifle God given imagination and creativity.

SO, totally agree, we surely do need one another... However, I long for (some) left brainers to realise what a sensitive lot we are!!!

Bit like the parable of the prodigal son maybe ;-)

Steve Hearn said...

I am a right brain artist/cartoonist and I am very special! I am a child of God, can't get more special than that! But when we see the opinions posted here, it shows us a glimpse of the reason why people leave, inside the Church there is little agreement on anything! Church spends most of its time arguing inwardly. Now I am not saying we are not allowed a view point, but Church is too good at wasting time doing this. People just get fed up and feel that they are not making a contribution to anything real. Oh and if I can't be happy in our present world, then I would rather not be a christian! Give me an agnostic faith and let me get on with it, while the Church continues to argue......

Peter Banks said...

Yo, Steve, good to hear from you again! Thanks for your perceptive comment, takes a right brainer to know one! Must have a catch up some time?