I have kind of stolen this off somebody on Facebook. So credit to whoever it was. (Whoever it was - I'll credit you on Facebook).
It was to do with village churches, where the congregation may no longer be able to support a regular church life anymore. And yet the pressure, on congregation and minister (normally, but not always, Anglican) is to keep the roof on. And the church members spend their energy, and their money, on keeping the roof on - against time, weather and lead thieves.
And if you're a passing believer, or even just a passing person who likes churches, you know how it is. You've driven or cycled across the countryside, and you see there's a worshipping community in a village, and you go to the church and find out what sort of worshipping community is. And it's a community that meets at 4.15 on the fourth Sunday of the month, between Candlemass and Harvest, and the Sunday next before Christmas. And spends a lot of the rest of their time raising money to keep the roof on.
Well, why keep the roof on? Who actually needs the roof on? If the community wants the building, but never worships there, then literally let them have the "wayside shrine" that is really what they want. Knock the roof down (and sell off the lead, obviously). Send someone round every five years, to check the walls are still safe. And, if they're not, knock those down as well. Otherwise, let the weather smooth the edges off and tumble the stones down
|St Brian's, Chipping Norton, was much more picturesque after they let it fall down|
People like to wander round desolate churches. There's a sense of plangent melancholy and times past that you can't get from a living building of worship. Grief, you could even have a tea light dispenser, with the funds going to the nearest viable church.
In many ways, a church with no roof is, to modern sensibilities, the equivalent of the Rollright Stones, Stanton Drew or Stonehenge - a picturesque symbol of former lives, which once held unimaginable rituals. Those who just like having the reminder can enjoy the outline of the church building - and you can still hold Harvest Festival or Christmas services in the ruins. Let's face it, the nearness to Nature might even enhance the experience.
And the local Christians can spend their time and money on a living expression of worship, in the size of community that will support a community of faith. Everyone's a winner.