Okay, tangent day today. I have just had a very interesting conversation with our curate this morning. Do you ever have those conversations where you suddenly feel God speaking out your mouth? (Well at least, I am praying it was God and not me!). We had been at a church council meeting together last night where we were particularly focusing on finance.
We belong to a reasonably well off church, if things are wanted to be done, the church community usually rallies and is able to ensure that things get done. However we have a majority elderly congregation. This means that it is a diminishing community as the elderly do have that unreasonable habit of going to meet their maker!
So we wrangle.......... we have an elderly congregation who find changing their worship style difficult to contemplate, however this leaves us with an ever diminishing number of folks worshipping with us. On the other hand we live in an area that has a very varied age demographic where there are a lot of young Christian families going to younger charismatic Churches in the two cities, 8 miles either side of us.
Now it has to be said that before my husband and I had children we would take a 6 mile car ride to worship at the more charismatic young church that we preferred to worship in. However we did make the conscious decision when we moved North to ensure that we moved to an area where we would be happy worshipping in our most local church. We therefore put aside our personal worship style preference to concentrate more fully on belonging to one church and community. We did not go blindly into this, when looking at areas to live we did consider and visit all the community facilities including the church. When we moved back South, we did the same thing again. In fact it has to be said that the first time we visited the area we presently live we arrived on a Sunday morning, heard a trombone in the worship as we parked the car and decided this is where we wanted to live! We then had to spend more money that we had intended on our home as they were all a little out of our league - Praise God - he works in mysterious ways!
Now having said all that, we have now left the church that is a 5 minute walk from our back gate. Not because we particularly wanted to but as we felt God calling us to our neighbouring parish - which is 20 minutes walk away. So I do feel a little awkward writing this as I do feel a little fraudulent - I do not live in my present church community.
What I felt God saying to me and our Curate this morning was that he is going to call back the young families in our area to worship in their local communities. That got us thinking. If people did this there would be several benefits:
1. The environment will benefit if people are able to walk to their church.
2. If people walk they will save money which they could put back into their local churches.
3. Those of us struggling to get our worship style more varied to take into account a broader age range in our communities will be better supported in numbers and therefore will be a visible force to encourage change.
Now I know that this is a bit of an 'ideal' outcome, however it has given me a new umph to get on and pray for more Local Worshipping Church Communities - it just seems to make so much more sense. I realise that for many this would mean forgoing the comfort and feeding that they feel they receive by travelling to other churches. However is the church only there for our benefit - I do not think so.
Father God if this is your desire, please use me to enable this to happen.