Turning Up

There are a number of reasons why church statistics make for depressing reading these days. One reason that I’m not sure we give nearly enough attention to is how often people come to church.

I find myself regularly in conversation with people who seem to believe that they come to St Mary’s far more often than I see them there.

When I was young, you used to hear people talk more about the benefits of weekly churchgoing. I’m not sure you do hear that much these days. Is it that rather than being a way of life, Christianity is seen more often than it used to be as something you fit in to your way of life?

I think that you get more out of going to church by going weekly. The cycle of the seasons makes sense. You get nourished regularly. (If you don’t get nourished, go to a different church or work out ways of topping up your God experience online or elsewhere). You also get more of the chance of the joy of friendship which isn’t just a sideline. Friendship is one of the ways that God touches us.

Turning up is also an offering. It is the offering of time that is so precious these days. Of couirse, not everyone ever turned up every week. But more did once.

A big part of the decline in actual bums-on-pews numbers could be resolved by rekindling the idea of weekly churchgoing. Once upon a time churches told people to do things for to do otherwise was a wickedness and a sin. In its day, that worked in its way. It doesn’t now. And I thank God the world has changed in a way that makes that sensibility untenable.

I’d rather tell people about the benefits of turning up. But then generally speaking, I’d rather be a priest who preaches joys not woes.