Who's this then?

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Stebbing, Great Dunmow, Essex, United Kingdom
The occasional blog of an Anglican priest in rural Essex

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

You search much deeper within, through the way things appear...

Have you ever been to Disneyland or Euro Disney (Disneyland Paris or whatever) or any theme park?

has it ever reminded you of a church?

I used to teach English at a University in Paris where many of my students (because they could speak English) got vacation jobs at the then brand new Disney Park at the opposite end of our RER Train line. It was interesting for me to reflect with them about the role playing and the fakery, the play acting that effectively encompassed the whole place; nothing is real.

The characters are being played by people who are not really Mickey or Minnie or Stitch or whoever. They are just doing a job, playing a role. The streets and castles and restaurants and venues are all pretending to be something they are not. They are in the business of entertaining us by deceiving us (though not maliciously) into an experience which though fun is ultimately like the food you get there; very expensive and not sufficient to sustain healthy life.

I'm beginning to see that church (not my church or your church but just generic church) can sometimes stray over into this kind of territory. We are so desperate to attract and welcome people, that we effectively put on a show that is not a true reflection of who we are as a Christian community. We want to welcome people, but to what? We over promise, then we under deliver. I suspect people see through that kind of thing pretty quick and don't come back. Church in that sense then is fake; we are not real; either because we only do God for an hour on Sundays, or because we are afraid that is the case, even if it is not.

If only we could be more honest about who we really are - a broken people, the walking wounded. Church should be a place where we don't wear masks - whether that's individually - "I'm OK really" or corporately " we don't mind what you think or do" (that's more a head in the sand than a mask.)

If people join our church just because they are welcome, but never move on into the transformed life of the Kingdom, then we are Disneyland, because we are only showing the surface, not the depth of our Faith and love. The lunch isn't free, it comes with a price, and no one should say its easy. Disney church will only show the niece bits, not the hurting, the resentment or the depression.

And if we spend all our time and effort making church services look cool and trendy, we have no time or energy left for the business of getting out there to invite others in (or indeed getting out there to listen to where others are at).

Rant over.

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