Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Atheist Church shows us what we are doing right

The Guardian recently published this article about 'atheist church'. The stated aim of the project is laudable: to help non-believers "live better, help often and wonder more".

 What will help achieve this? According to the Guardian, the founders 'admit they nicked the best components of church, like group singing, interesting talks and community building'.

This is huge! We have got so used in the church to being humble and/or embarrassed about what we offer, that we often forget just how great it can be, and what a unique experience it offers.

Group singing we know people like - any football crowd shows us that. And church is one of the few places other than sports events that people get to do it. This is a large part, I think, of why carol services are so popular.

But 'interesting talks'? We agonise about decreasing attention spans, and here are people saying they think an interesting talk - combined with group singing and a sense of community - is worth getting out of bed on a Sunday morning for, even without believing in God!

OK, it probably helps that this 'church' is run by comedians. Even I, a vicar, can sit still for much more stand up comedy than sermonising. But many of the skills involved are essentially the same, and indeed the best preacher I know also does a great stand up comedy routine!

I suggest everyone interested in church growth reads this article, and that we spend some time thinking about what people who come to church are coming for besides the faith element. And what those who don't come to church value about it when they do come.

We can't make it Christmas every day; but we should be able to manage 'interesting talks'.

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