Over the past month, we’ve been publicising and inviting people to our new Sunday afternoon service, Engage. Perhaps you received a flyer with a copy of Luke’s Gospel or a newsletter through your door. Your first thoughts might be “Well that’s nice of them to invite me, but what’s the point in going along to church?”
It’s not that you are hostile to Christians. You’re not a dyed in the wool atheist. You’ve got no axe to grind for Richard Dawkins. You are open to the possibility that there might be something more to life than our existence here, something spiritual. You’ve even prayed from time to time. But church isn’t really for you.
There might be two reasons why you think church wouldn’t be for you. The first is that maybe you’ve tried a church before and to be honest you didn’t feel like you fitted in. Church was somewhere that you went along, stood up, sat down, sung some songs, read words from a book listened to someone talk at you and then went home again. If that’s you, then the first thing we want to say about Engage is that we will try to ensure that it’s not like that. The idea behind Engage is that it will be somewhere that you can come along and in a relaxed environment talk, listen, ask questions, offer opinions, challenge and object. There’ll be no such thing as a stupid question or a silly answer. Our aim will be to find out together what the Bible says and what it means to know God. We will pray together because we believe prayer is a good thing but we won’t just give everyone a book with words to read out. We’ll give people the opportunity to ask for prayer, to talk about what is happening in their lives and to talk to God about their hopes & fears, worries and dreams. And of course, there will be no compulsion
The second reason why many people feel that church isn’t for them is a question of relevance. Sure, you sometimes wonder about things like life after death and whether or not there’s a God or god but is it really the most pressing thing and is church really going to give the answers?
It can seem irrelevant to be talking about God when there are so many more immediate concerns. There are the bills to pay. There’s the real question about whether or not I will be able to get enough food in this week and whether there’ll be enough credit on the electricity and gas cards. I don’t know whether I’ll have a job at the end of the month. I’m worried about debt. I want to make sure that my children are doing okay. I find it really hard now to go and visit Nan because each time she seems more confused. I wonder if this is the last time she will recognise me. With all of those things happening, “religion” can seem like a bit of a luxury and what after all does a book written 2000 years ago have to say about those situations. Isn’t it just going to be full of superstitions and attempts by primitive people to make sense of the world in the absence of all the knowledge we have today?
You are right to ask those questions and raise those objections. Over the next couple of weeks we are going to include two extra articles:
Engage: Why Bother (Part2) – Why bother with the Bible?
Engage: Why Bother (Part 3) – Why Bother with Jesus?
Have a look at the articles when they are posted. The aim of them is not to attempt a comprehensive answer to those questions but to start to introduce some answers that we have found helpful as we’ve thought about questions of faith ourselves. Our hope is that these will start to open up the sorts of conversations we hope to engage in at our new Sunday meeting.
Engage will be every Sunday at 5pm. It starts on the 8th November