Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Patting People's Hands Until Everybody Dies

I'm a bit conflicted by the Guardian's report of a Church of England report of how the C of E is doing in working-class estates versus posh bits.

In one sense, the discovery that the church spends less on working-class estates is unsurprising. Working-class people never went to church in the first place. Many on these estates now are of other religious backgrounds. And if you went to the working-class estates I know best, with a message sharing "the beautiful shepherd", frankly you'd just get your head kicked in outside the One-Stop.

But I have lots of sympathy for the idea that clergy should be chosen for their keenness for evangelism - not just their pastoral sympathies. The Church as a whole has two choices, it seems to me. One is bringing good news to those who haven't heard it - identifying the right mission fields, making the right provisions, accepting that people may come to God who can't actually afford to pay a ludicrous amount towards keeping the building's roof on, because they're too busy scraping the money together simply to keep themselves going.

Or we can go with the "pastoral" model, and pat people's hands until everybody dies. One way gives the Gospel a chance. The other makes the minister feel useful. Not saying we shouldn't look after people - but that's a part, innit? Not the whole?


  1. I see no reason why Clergy shouldn't be issued with Helmets and Body Armour when they serve the mission fields of working class estates. Or, we offer courses in aggressive unarmed combat to serve a similar purpose.

    However, as someone who was raised on a multicultural estate in the EastEnd of London, I would dispute that Clergy never enter these places. In my childhood, the local, Catholic Parish Priest was a regular visitor, even if my father didn't want him there. He, by his perseverance, patience and a thick skin, managed to keep an eye on his flock, who attended his Primary School and followed up any welfare issues raised by the school staff -where social workers probably wouldn't go,he dared.

    Mind you, he was a hulking, 6'4,Former Rugby player, who'd frighten the life out of anyone who didn't notice his dog collar.

    The question for this type of evangelism, is are Anglican Clergy not issued with moral fibre during their formation and training?

  2. We got through a lot of something while we were training, I remember. Might have been Moral Fibre. Or was it Old Buzzard? I certainly remember some Speckled Hen. But there was probably some Moral Fibre in there somewhere.

    1. Moral Fibre is what Tories have for breakfast.


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