Sunday, March 05, 2006

What's the point of church?

We should above all be honest and ask ourselves what we gain from religion. What is the use of all the preaching, baptizing, confirming, bell-ringing, and organ playing, the community houses with or without motion picture equipment, the efforts to enliven church singing, the unspeakably tame and stupid monthly church papers, and whatever else may belong to the equipment of modern day ecclesiasticism?

Will something different eventuate from all this in relation to the righteousness of God?

Karl Barth

Last week I was handed the minutes of the Ministry Committee at church going back as far as 1973 when the church moved into the current building. As secretary of the Ministry Committee I should keep hold of these, I was told. Fine.

I've read through a few of the minutes. I've found it quite depressing. Year after year it seems the church has been doing the same things. Year after year this committee, and by extension, the church, has done things like set the date for the harvest festival service. All I can think is: what's the point of it all? What are we doing? Why are we doing it? I just found the above quote from Barth and it summed up for me the situation.

All this church has done is hold services and has done very little else in terms of outreach, social justice, working in the community, or experiencing the power of God. Is this liberal? Is this Christian? Is this Unitarian? All we have done is maintain ourselves, conservatively doing what we've always done because, well, we've always done it.

All we've done is maintained ourselves, and, actually, we haven't done that. The membership of the church in 1983 was 155. In 2005 the membership was 59. This seems to confirm to me that left to itself British Unitarianism is going to be dead in 20 years. This will happen, unless we find our Gospel, our Voice, and do something.


Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

It's ironic that when its primary goal is to preserve itself, a church will die. I'm reading Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and in it he writes about how individuals and groups enclose themselves in "circles of certainty" - from this perspective, they exist to affirm a preconceived notion of present and future rightness. In doing so they are oblivious to reality - so fixed are they on what they think they know.

The relevance of church ... certainly a question I ponder this morning as I prepare to bicycle there. I have little hope (still, a little hope) that what I hear today there will help me to cope with the personal and familial issues that feel to be crushing me right now.

5:18 pm  

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