Tuesday, 25 September 2012

New Models of Church - the Church as Book Club

We are a narrative society. If you read a BBC or Daily Mail scare story, the pattern is always the same:


2) Boring stats (ideally just the scary ones)

3) Lots of human interest stories of people who have indeed drowned because of Global Warming / been infected by a disease that makes them sound like Lloyd Grossmann / met an Internet troll in an unlikely co-incidence / been exorcised by the Ovalteenies.

It's the narratives that grab your interest. You can see it in what people preach on. Nearly always the Gospel, sometimes a juicy adventure from the Old Testament. Very rarely (except at Westboro Baptist Church, perhaps) from the Levitical Holiness Code. In these post-modern, plot-driven times, even Paul's letters get little attention in sermons outside of some more evangelical churches. Who wants 20 minutes of closely-argued reasoning on what it means to be yoked with unbelievers when we can imagine what it's like to be swallowed by a giant fish, or wave-tossed in a boat, or pouring perfume over Jesus' feet? Doesn't compare, does it?

So here at the Beaker Folk we've accepted this, and gone in for Book Club Church. We're sending them away this evening to read the story of Zaccheus, and asking everybody the really important question - who actually was short? Jesus or Zaccheus? As we sit in our mootly circle tomorrow, everybody will be invited to bring their view, and all views will be given the same amount of respect that mine are accorded in the average sermon (let the Reader understand).

If it works, I may experiment with letting the Beaker Folk have their own opinions on other things. But I'll be honest, I'm not holding out much hope.

1 comment :

  1. I often wonder about those books of the bible that we don't read in church, until last week I went to an Evangelical Church and was treated to the whole book of Lamentations for the first reading.

    The Vicar followed up with a sermon of equal length explaining each verse. I have no problem with short sharp readings and sermons (the shorter and sharper the better) but going to a morning service and coming home at tea time is taking it a bit far.

    The lucky thing is that there is a coffee shop attached and we were able to retire there individually or as a congregation to use the facilities, while the Vicar with the stamina of Sampson continued.

    The heartfelt Amen at the end from all at the end of the Sermon, nearly lifted the Rafters.

    This has shown me that it's better to read the books at home and avoid hearing them in church. So, lesson learned.


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