Wednesday 6 December 2017

The Seven Deadly Sins of Church Committees

And on the eighth day, God created Church Committees. God was well rested and wanted to create something that was really hard to get perfect.

There is a curious paradox. The belief is that baptism frees us from original sin. And yet on many occasions at a Church Committee, some fairly fresh sin can often be freely seen.


Normally seen as soon as volunteers are required. Everybody has agreed something has to be done. But who can do it? It's a real dilemma. People have the most brilliant ideas. And it's true that, just because you have an idea you shouldn't have to do it yourself. But surely you could give it a bash? Tell you what, everybody go off and have a pray about who might be able to do it. And then the pastor will twist some arms in the traditional way before the next meeting.
Can also be seen by those who are only on the committee because they meet up in the pub afterwards for a spot of light character assassination. In these cases it can be seen in longing looks at the clock, as they calculate how long it will take to drink three pints and when last orders is.


Not necessarily of people per se. Maybe of the situation of other churches that are doing rather better in numbers. The church in a village envies the church in the town, right on a market place where people come in on market days to look around and magically decide to come on Sundays. Whereas the people in the market place reckon the village church on the hill has got it sussed. Because their parish isn't all shops and offices, and they're a part of the community. People say hello to the vicar in the villages - they wave cheerfully as she flies past in his Mondeo on her way to minister in one of the other villages. Whereas if the vicar here goes out in the town in his cassock, people shout "pervert" at him.

There's another type - Past-Envy. The kind of sad nostalgia that remembers how there were 200 kids in Sunday School and old Fr Theobald walked around town in his cassock and people would bow to him in the streets, and all church repairs were done at reasonable prices because of his Masonic connections. Whereas this new woman has probably never been invited to join the Lodge in her life.


We'd love it if the congregation could meet its financial obligations but the church is getting older/full of young families/all dead and we wouldn't like to ask for money as that would upset people and by the way, there's a rumour we might have to share a minister with Upper Gangling and we think that's really unfair and we should have our own minister and which manse will they live in and does that mean our expenses will go up because of the extra travelling? And we'd better get Midnight Mass every year and Harvest on the 3rd Sunday in September because we always have.


The record for resigning a church post and being persuaded to stay is seventeen times in one meeting, by James Arbuthnot Arbitrage, Church Warden of St Saviour's, Salisbury. Revd Hassett should comfort himself that possession of no backbone is a physical condition rather than a sin.


Those biscuits when you arrived weren't really your thing. You prefer chocolate choc-chip Hob Nobs and these are those weird sweet pink wafery things that nobody knows where they come from and you don't know what they're called but just the one and you've eaten all the weird pink biscuits again haven't you?


Seems unlikely, I'll be frank. Very few people join a Church Committee because lust. And even those who do, will soon have their ardour dampened by two hours of discussing how the gate in the porch used to swing in the other direction, but they had to change it because it was blocking the pavement.


Why would you want to be in charge of the flower arranging rota, just because Gwladys is? Why are you making such a fuss about the flowers arranging rota organiser not being an elected post? What makes you think Gwladys is not going to win the election - when her entire extended family is on this committee? Why should your aunt having been the founder of the flower arrangers make any difference?
Oh. Now you've forced a vote. Why have you forced a vote? You're not even interested in flower arranging. You're allergic to flowers.

Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!


  1. What? No lust on the committee? Haven't you met the member who only joined to spend time near the minister and now tries to convince them what an amazing assistant and life partner they would be?

  2. Peter: not in my church, I devoutly hope. I'm RC. If there is anybody so afflicted in our parish, they should have gone to the church next door. Where the minister is at least marriageable.

    1. Mim, I wouldn't count on no one lusting after your priest. I didn't say the minister was unmarried. Some people want an affair with a married minister, or to get them divorced from the current spouse.

  3. Lust? O for the happy days of yore, when all that disturbed a parishioner's fluttering breast was what colour of slippers to embroider for the curate.


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