Thursday, 17 January 2013

Stressy Church - A Pastor's Guide

It's not everybody who inventts a whole new model of Church. But we seem to have managed it for the 44th glorious week. And so
we have the joy of announcing the invention of "Stressy Church".

Now, the rules for Stressy Church are simple:

Ask everyone who's ever been hurt in any way to come to the front for prayer. If anyone is left in the congregation, accuse them of having "hearts of stone", and ask them to come to the front so they can receive a "heart of flesh".

Tell people that everybody else thinks they're no better than they should be.

Announce that you need a volunteer to assist with Junior Church. Say if they don't get another helper in the next ten minutes, they'll have to bring the Junior Church in with everyone else. Point out that little Merlot has been eating blue Smarties from her 43rd Xmas selection box since 6am.

Treat every liturgical act as if it's a performance. There's no better way of getting the people taking part to be really stressed.

Tell everyone that feeling bad is a sin. Tell them that worrying about difficulties shows a lack of faith. Then ask randomly God-chosen volunteer-victims to come down the front, and ask how they're doing spiritually.

Announce you're publishing the secret list of gift-aided monthly donations. Make it clear that you won't name names. Instead you'll describe each giver in terms such as "spotty bloke who clearly isn't the bank manager he claims to be, to judge by his so-called tithe."

Announce that the next verse is to be sung by "just the left-handed baritones."

Declare you've had a vision that one of the members of the congregation has a secret sin. Point out that the doors are locked, and nobody goes home until someone fesses up.

Introduce Archie, who's going to do the next reading, "but he's very nervous, so try not to notice if he's hyperventilating."

In the notices at the start of the service, mention the ancient sandstone mine under the chancel/Moot House/choir balcony that geologists say will collapse in about an hour.

Hold the Doily throwing service on the same night as the Mega-tea-light ignitathon and the Ritual Refilling of Lighters.

Break the congregation into groups of four, then give them ten minutes to write the next hymn. And then perform it.

Introduce the "Alphabet of sin". Going round from A to Z, ask everyone in turn to suggest a sin that starts with that letter. NB when I say "suggest", I don't mean "suggest doing that sin". That wouldn't just be stressy church. That would be wrong church.

Tell everyone, "Now we're friends, I'd really like to share my inmost feelings about you."

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