Tuesday, August 28

Don't feed the sheep brains

This week, work has sent me to two co-located conferences which are, ostensibly, about increasing workforce diversity.  I say ostensibly because there is a great deal which has been covered in the first conference that I do no see applying directly to my public sector position, yet I am finding the information to be of value in thinking about the Church and the Good Work which I see myself being called to.  A comment which the first presenter made stuck with me enough to go into my personal notebook.

"We are all zombies - we mindlessly go through the same motions, day after day, with our behaviour, emotions and decisions based solely upon past patterns and external influences."

As soon as I heard this, I thought about my own church. They are good enough people, mind you (no overt brain-eating), but it resonates with his statement.  Week after week, month after month, the same V2 liturgy, the same problems within and outside of the congregation and the same approaches to solutions.  "The Church is greying - let's have Peter, Paul and Mary give a concert to connect with the 'kids'." "We need more education and spiritual growth - We'll hold a one-time Thursday morning study of X, or maybe we could have a few weeknights watching one of those edgy 'Emerging Church' videos."

Even those within the online 'radical reform' community (some of which are kind enough to grace these pages with their thoughts), it seems that the polemic has a 'call and response' feel to it.  Every time I read a story in the news about Cardinal so-and-so or Archbishop this-and-that saying or doing something horrible, I can lay $5 I don't have that my blog reader will be filled with witty and sharp expositions of exactly how unchristian these leaders of the Church are being. 

Now, understand that I am not saying that there isn't some value to these things (if nothing else, it prevents some of my online friends from wearing orange).  What I am saying is that we have all done these things for some time without any altering of the status quo.  If one expects things in our churches to change, if we wish to see our world to change, we must change.

We must have a radical re-envisioning of what church is, what it means and how the faithful celebrate it.  Yes, open table and communion before baptism are small steps.  Changing liturgy times, days and places are others.  At the root of the matter is to see what does and does not address the needs of the 'unchurched' and applying the basic teachings of Christ to these needs.  Do we need to have Eucharist every week? Do we need to have a dedicated service at all?  Do we need to have a dedicated sanctuary?  We don't need to think outside the box - we must throw the box away.  Can we get our respective Leadership to buy into these ideas?  Honestly, I don't know and don't care.  The Boss (not Mr. Springsteen) has told us we are to do so.

Feed my sheep.

...and I'm pretty sure He didn't mean brains.


  1. How about an idea of "Whenever you shall have need of me you shall gather in my name."? Can be a quick prayer, a full blown ritual or something in between. Really we should go through the stuff that my rites and rituals are composed of to see if they help you form a frame work for this practice that you seem to be seeking. It's far less regimented, far more able to be done on the fly or as full on service. I think there should be some form of regular ritual but maybe not quite so frequent, say every 4-6 weeks just a thought.

  2. One other idea to toss out there. Why do the unchurched need a church? Maybe they are good without it. Maybe the idea of rechurching everyone is out dated.