Monday, November 14, 2005

Priest Idol

I've just watched the TV's latest serving of the current craze of reality TV - Priest Idol. The cameras are following the new vicar of a failing church in the north of England. Like so many churches in the UK, it owns a large old building which has seen better days but with a congregation averaging three.

It seems like the mighty organization of the church could not even find a native of the UK willing to take on the thankless task of reviving this dying flock - we had to import an unsuspecting candidate from the states. He has already received some advice from a local comedian on his communication style whilst preaching.

The priest has started his mission by focusing very much on the young people of the town. If the initial response is anything to go by the road ahead is very bumpy. One girl in response to the question Do you ever see yourself going to church? She said "In a box!" - think she meant a coffin. The other replies were not much better. The consensus was that church was irrelevant and boring in the extreme.

It continues to amaze me how we, the church at large, manage to take the most incredible, awesome, dramatic and life changing story and make it boring and uninteresting to so many people. We seem to have managed to obscure the basic truth that God is desperate for relationship with his creation with rules and rituals. I know we don't want to change the message, why would we want to its the greatest story ever told - God wants to give us a hope and a future, but lets find better ways to share this great news.

What saddened me most in the programme was after the priests numerable efforts to try to get some young people to church a few finally did turn up for a service. They were full of mischief and were clearly a handful. I'm not sure if the camera showed all the going ons but they were given a lecture on respect and told to remove their hats. (in fact one lady actually went behind the row they were sitting on and snatched them off.) These guys were just in the doors and we were again telling them you are welcome but only on our terms and by our rules. Some how I find it difficult to reconcile this with how Jesus related to people - he seemed to be the life and soul of the party.

Let the party begin!


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