Between a Hard Rock and a Place.

October 15, 2008

The Most Unsuccessful Church In The World

Filed under: Church,Uncategorized — camharris @ 12:11 am

Preface:  I know it is quite popular to talk about church at the moment.  But I think it is important, so please forgive me if you are over it.  I am much happier just to get on with it rather than critique it, but I can’t sleep at the moment and Letterman is over.


Tonight is Tuesday night, and it is ‘church’ night for me.  Each Tuesday night I walk to a corner pub to talk with others about life, belief, struggles and triumphs (not the motorbikes, necessarily).  I have been thinking it for a while, but I believe it is the most unsuccessful church in the world, or at least one of the many ‘most unsuccessful churches in the world’.

It has only been running for maybe six weeks and no two weeks are the same.  I never really know who is going to turn up, or if I will look like the village drunk who drinks with or without company.  Now I am not meeting at the pub because it is a cool thing to do, or because it is in vogue for churches to be doing something different.  I am fascinated by meeting places that work, and the corner pub is one of those places.  It could be a café, bookshop, park or beach.  These places have some dynamics going on that I may write about separately, but for me in my locale, this particular pub will do.

So why are we unsuccessful?  Well, I think a lot of it has to do with how we look, how we function, how we market ourselves, and how we structure the evening.  Beginning with looks, I know it is an unlikely scenario, but imagine a small group of people sitting around a table on bar stools, talking.  I know – whacky.  For the newcomer, it may seem strange that we are not standing up, facing one direction and clapping in time to music.

When it comes to function, we are not doing too well either.  No one leads the group, no one is in a paid position, no one gives the notices or lets us know when to sit down or stand up.  We are all over the place.

Marketing our church has been woeful.  We haven’t put up signs, built a steeple or sent out brochures.  I invite the occasional guest but that has been rare.  Our numbers therefore are really low.  People are not regular, so we can’t really say we have a strong membership.

Structurally, we just engage in talking, and remind each other that Jesus is coming again.

A person once asked me, “But what are you going to replace going to church with?” quite worried about my spiritual well being.  I think I may have said something like a morning sleep or going to the beach, but later I thought some more on this.  I wondered what going to church had actually replaced.

These days, I have just taken to telling people pretty honestly where I am at.  I am not an open book, but I feel like at this stage of my life it is worth taking the risk to talk frankly to people.  I feel like I can do this in these kinds of settings.  There is no pretence, no expectation and no interruptions that will hinder my desire to connect with others who wait in expectation for Jesus to make his next move, or engage with people who believe something completely different.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with all the stereotypical church conventions or norms, but for me, I am gaining so much at the moment from just meeting.  Now of course there are people who go to churches who are relationally amazing, and that is fantastic, as long as they can do their relating between the final song and when the coffee urn is turned off.

So for the time being I am satisfied going to the most unsuccessful church in the world.  A random group of people, meeting honestly to see how we go in this life, waiting expectantly for the return of the king (a concept thought up way before Lord Of The Rings).

Until He comes.


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