Who organises the rota?

Calendar

While preparing my sermon this week I came across the following shocking statistic amongst various notes:

1,800 people leave the Church in the UK each week; that’s one every six minutes.

Sadly, in my notes I didn’t record the source of that statistic or the date for which this particular statistic was true. But in a sense that’s rather academic, the fact that at one point during the last five to ten years the estimated figure of people leaving the Christian Church in the UK was 1,800 per week is astounding.

1,800 per week. That’s just over 257 a day; a little over 10 an hour; a little under 6 every minute.

Now, given that this is the Church we’re talking about, presumably there’s a committee that manages all of this.

And a rota.

But as the lovely Jane pointed out: what happens if the person who organises the rota leaves, what then? Presumably nobody could leave after that.

Otherwise it would chaos. Imagine the phone calls trying to organise cover.

“Hello, erm … it’s my turn to leave the Church next week but I wondered if I could swap with you … oh? Oh, you’ve left already. Sorry I didn’t realise. Not to worry I’m sure I’ll find someone else.”

So, we just need to find that person who organises the rota, and nip this whole sorry thing in the bud.

Right, well that’s church decline sorted in one fell swoop. Next week Jane and I will be sorting out the problem of Church Unity.

New Argos monitor risers available

Argos catalogues used as monitor riser

Readers may be interested to learn that the Autumn/Winter 2007 edition of the patented Argos monitor riser is now available from your local branch of Argos.

The latest version is in a tasteful blue.

Monitor bug

In other news: I’m now down to only two monitors now. I look like such a noob!

My own second monitor has a bug in it. Literally a real live bug / beastie … well, it’s dead now. I’ve taken it over to helpdesk to see if it could be carefully removed. It’s sitting between the glass and the actual LCD screen. The kind techies said that they’d give it a look.

Update: the answer was no, they couldn’t remove it.

The Present Future

Book cover for The Present Future

While reading around the subject of Jesus saying:

“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”
(Luke 12: 56)

I picked up this book off my bookshelf: The Present Future: Six tough questions for the Church by Reggie McNeal.

Wow! Well there’s an author who doesn’t miss with any of his punches! It’s a book written with courage, insight, humour, honesty, a passion for Jesus Christ and a desire to see the Church move beyond its seeming current obsession with preserving the current status quo and moving towards being a powerful missionary movement: to face the future with imagination and courage.

While his focus is on North America, I’m quite sure that the picture McNeal paints in broad brushstrokes about the “current church culture in North America” can equally be said about the church here in the UK, if I understand correctly what the likes of John Drane have been writing about the situation this side of the Atlantic.

New reality #1: The collapse of the Church culture

Here’s what McNeal says on page one of chapter one:

The current church culture in North America is on life support. It is living off the work, money, and energy of previous generations from a previous world order. The plug will be pulled either when the money runs out (80 percent of money given to congregations comes from people aged fifty-five and older) or when the remaining three-fourths of a generation who are institutional loyalists die off or both.

Please don’t hear what I am not saying. The death of the church culture as we know it will not be the death of the church. The church Jesus founded is good; it is right. The church established by Jesus will survive until he returns. The imminent demise under discussion is the collapse of the unique culture in North America that has come to be called “church.” This church culture has become confused with biblical Christianity, both inside the church and out. In reality, the church culture in North America is a vestige of the original movement, an institutional expression of religion that is in part a civil religion and in part a club where religious people can hang out with other people whose politics, worldview, and lifestyle match theirs. As he hung on the cross Jesus probably never thought the impact of his sacrifice be reduced to an invitation for people to join and to support an institution.

Powerful, challenging but also exciting stuff. As fearful as I was about the Luke 12 passage a couple of days ago, I’m now going to look forward to putting this sermon together in the next couple of days.

You can read a little more on the Amazon UK website; you can currently buy the book on Amazon for as little as £6.15.

Under fire

Fire
Photo by Aleksandr Greckas, courtesy of stock.xchng

I’m preaching this coming weekend at Newport-on-Tay (Fr David‘s old stomping ground).

Preparation has started already … I don’t have the luxury of being able to write sermons during the day any more, sadly. And I’m supposed to be in Selkirk on Saturday helping Mum, so even my ‘safety day’ has gone.

I can’t even “recycle” an old sermon for that Sunday as I’ve never preached on that Sunday before (Pentecost 12) — I know: I’ve checked. And my word! it’s not as if it’s an easy passage to preach about either. Have a read:

The Gospel according to St Luke 12: 49-56

  1. “I’ve come to start a fire on this earth–how I wish it were blazing right now!
  2. I’ve come to change everything, turn everything rightside up–how I long for it to be finished!
  3. Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront!
  4. From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be– Three against two, and two against three;
  5. Father against son, and son against father; Mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; Mother-in-law against bride, and bride against mother-in-law.”
  6. Then he turned to the crowd: “When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, ‘Storm’s coming’–and you’re right.
  7. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, ‘This’ll be a hot one’–and you’re right.
  8. Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell me you can’t tell a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now.

Translation: The Message (also available free in electronic form as part of e-Sword.)

Prayers please

So your prayers please for me this week as I wrestle with the passage, and that I hear from God the right thing to say to the congregation in Newport. Pray that I may know how to interpret the present time!