Tuesday 24 February 2015

Church Profiles - Some Clues

You know how it is. Your current ministerial posting turned out not to be the New Jerusalem you were sold. And the congregation is starting to realise that you're not exactly the Archangel Gabriel yourself. And so you take yourself off to the jobs pages, and you find yourself trying to decipher the terminology.

Just what is a fellowship trying to convey when it's using a piece of ecclesiastical jargon? Is Laudian higher than Traditional?  Who raises their arms highest - a charismatic or a high church vicar at the Eucharistic Prayer? Here are the clues you need

Affirming Catholic: We're keen on everything. And very affirming. We affirm lots of things. In a very gentle, affirming way. Not too specific. More kind of Affirming Fuzziness.

Alternative Episcopal Oversight: See "Forward in Faith".

Anglican - We think a term nobody understands may be better than "Church of England", which everybody does.

Catholic: Not actually proper Roman Catholic. Cos if we were we wouldn't need to say Catholic. And you wouldn't be looking at our profile, would you, Sandra? If you get the job as our minister we'll call you "Father" whether you like it or not. Unless Sandra gets the job, in which case we'll call her "Reverend Sandra", as "Mother" just sounds a bit scary and Psycho-esque.

Celtic: Not really Celtic.

Charismatic: In the 60s we had prophecies, healing and speaking in far-ancient tongues. But we've tidied that down to tweed and Matt Redman.

Conservative Evangelical: God writ it. So you'd better live with it.  (Dietary restrictions subject to New Covenant).

Dignified worship: No children

Diverse: Irreconcilable

Ecumenical: Average worship.

Emergent: Like "Fresh Expression", only vague.

Evangelical: We've all sinned. And now we're all much better. But them out there..... oh boy... God will meet them where they are. And make them like us.

Environmentally-sensitive: Pagan

Forward in Faith: We are dedicated to the unity represented by the Bishop, so much that we got our own.

Fresh Expression: Almost completely meaningless. Could be a hymn-singing creche in a tennis club, a family service in a 13th Century church, "Swimming Pool Church" (no petting, smoking or forcible baptism) or a bunch of hipsters getting together each Sunday to have a "who looks most like Moses" competition.

Inclusive: Welcoming of people of all genders and none; all sexualities and none; all viewpoints except the ones we disagree with.

Laudian: Keen on dressing up. Not too worried about why.

Liberal: Tea lights, pebbles, 1970s hymns played on an 1870s organ. We're progressive, we're hip, we're welcoming, we're loose on doctrine and tight on finances. We're the Church of the future. We'll all be dead in 20 years and the building will be a snooker hall.

Liberal Catholic:  We strongly believe in many things.  But mostly incense and copes. Oh, do we love incense! Incense, don't you love it? And chasubles....

Liturgical Renewal: At the cutting edge since 9am, sometime in 1950.

Milenial: Like Millennial, but mis-spelt.

Millennial: The Reverend Mumford and his sons welcome you. Rend your Collective, not your hearts.

Missional: See "Fresh Expression"

Modern Catholic: You might think "electric guitars and loads of incense". You might be disappointed.

Open Evangelical: Like Evangelical but with a longer timescale on Creation. Non-judgemental on sexuality. Not actually judgement. We wouldn't like to judge. Not in a judgemental way...

Post-Evangelical: Big on love and forgiveness. "Over" all that judgement.
We're not of Paul! We're of Jesus! We're post-evangelical, and post-ironic.

Post-Modern: It's not about the grand narratives. It's about the small stories. And my small story is "How do I feel?"

Reform: Reform is something that happened once. In the 16th Century. Let's not do it again, eh?

Rural: Ten churches. And the vicarage is haunted.

Spirit-Led: Erratic and uncontrollable.

Strong Choral Tradition: The organist is in control. The organist has always been in control. The organist will always be in control. The organist has sign-off on the Church Profile. 

Traditional Catholic: Like "Catholic". But remove all references to Sandra. And move to 1894.

Unique Challenge: We've seen off six ministers in as many years.

Welcoming: Needy.


  1. Oddly enough, while flying back from an environmentally-sensitive Imbolc service at Wite Nancy in Bollington, I spied the chapel at the former Salesian seminary in Pott Shrigley which is now indeed a swimming pool church http://res.cloudinary.com/golfbreakscom/image/upload/c_fit,w_860,h_568/shrigley-hall-swimming-pool.jpg

    1. If it were Church of England, that could be the talent pool.

  2. Now I know that you're dreaming. Because us being a very traditional/modern/evangelical/liberal/catholic/fx/ladian/anythinggoes parish resemble all of these categories. We have one or two of each and if you come to a Sunday service, your prone to meeting the choir on reception, the church warden on flower arranging and the flower arrangers singing. The Vicar is playing the organ, while the curate is wielding the thurible (being a migrant from Cuba only cuban incense from cigar ash is permitted) The Organist is presiding at the Eucharist and the Arch Deacon is lying in the corner with a brown bag over his/her/its head in case a bishop appears and gets mugged by the 8 OClocker(s) who have finally managed to get out of their pews due to the three, competing worship bands, blocking all of the aisles. In the corner, Mrs Sharples in composing the parish magazine with crayons and 54 under two's, gratefully discarded by parents who than buggered off to the pub. A fairly normal Anglican Church, on a typical Sunday.

  3. Wot, no Charismatic Catholics?

  4. Just returned from meeting about writing Parish Profile. Won't tell you how many of these phrases we used!

  5. Indeed! Where are the Charismatic Catholics!

    1. I've no idea. Has anyone sent out a search party?

  6. It's a myth that rural vicarages are haunted. They're just so sodding cold all the time that at 3am passers-by see pale faced occupants shrouded in blankets with their miserable unsleeping faces pressed to the window panes. They're looking out over the frozen parish and dreaming of Tahiti.

  7. I heard on #SkyNews that some Charismatic Catholics have been arrested at #Heathrow due to being noisy and singing Graham Kendrick Hymns while waving their arms in the air and flailing them about in the faces of Armed Police. They were apparently on their way to Rome to denounce the Pope as an imposter, as they believe that The Bishop of London is the true Pope.

  8. I am a churchwarden in the Reading area and have been invited to an important meeting organised by the Bishop on something called 'Partnership in Missional Church' - PMC for short! Can anyone offer any advice?

    1. My Reading parish has been invited too; we think we may not be taking up the offer, because we've already written a Mission Action Plan and started doing it. But we'll find out about it first before finally deciding.

  9. Ha! This is hilarious. Wickedly accurate. Can you do a follow up post for the types of parishes? e.g. 'challenges of a deprived urban parish' coupled with very middle class congregation photo = help us feel good about giving sandwiches to the homeless. 'church hall that welcomes the whole community' = Weight Watchers use it on a Thursday afternoon and never put the chairs back properly.

  10. I love this post! As for the Charismatics, I suspect they have met whoever it was they summoned while Speaking in Tongues, and It has eaten them all up....
    Dear ArchDruid, as a newcomer to this blog, may I enquire what is the imposing figure in red to the right of the picture? Is it a Wicker Man getting his toes wet in a water meadow, or is it Grendel looking for his Mum? Only asking.

    1. Welcome aboard! Yes, it's from the original Wicker Man poster. Not the crappy remake where Nicholas Cage got his knees broken (rightly, in my opinion).

  11. I second Tanya's proposal for a followup article. Because there is sooo much truth in her brief statement of need :)

  12. It would also be good to decode the buzz words in the profiles submitted by applicants ie "intentional" = I do what I want to do

  13. Thank your lucky stars that you don't have the Wee Free to worry about...

  14. Terrifyingly and hilariously accurate. (Speaking as an ex-Anglican liberalish-neo-traditionalist Catholic.)

  15. Eight O'Clock Christians: We attend early services so we don't have to mingle with the other church folk and it makes it easier to be seated for brunch.

  16. In sum, the Episcopal church of today is totally confused and drifting about. No wonder it's membership is declining exponentially!

  17. I really should try to keep up, I know. Only just got round to reading this but you have hit a number of nails on their heads - thank you! I had a little moment of my own on the labels we claim for ourselves: https://wordpress.com/post/sharedconversations.wordpress.com/90


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