Monday, April 16, 2007

Burn the pews?

“They have these so-called untouchable brown wooden pews. But why not rip them out and burn them? “Country churches can only survive if they are repossessed by the community... Like farmers’ markets, bring and buy sales, for the schools, for meetings. For the village community to be secure the church once again needs to be at its centre.”
Sir Roy Strong
The church owns lots of buildings that hardly get used and cost lots of money. It makes perfect sense to use them for other purposes.
  • What should be noted is that buildings are not special at all - church buildings are just halls, some of them well designed other not. They're not holy places. They're not sancturaries. Just walls and roofs. And it'd be good for the communities in which they stand to realise that they can come inside.
  • The second thing to note is that it would probably help if those who lead the tiny congregations in these places started faithfully preaching the good news about Jesus a bit more - because then these buildings might not be so empty on Sunday mornings. Teaching them to love Jesus, and to love the church that Jesus loves. Nonetheless, even if the building was full on Sunday it may as well be put to good use during the week.
It's still a curiosity that churches own buildings - not sure that ever happen in the early years of the church, and not sure that all that much has been gained since it started happening. Church is about people not buildings. And not just any people, those who are joined together with one another and with Jesus Christ.

Through the Spring we (at Reading University) studied Ephesians. The big theme of the letter is that God is bringing everything under the rule of Jesus - Jesus above everything. The way this is achieved is through the death of Jesus. And the way that looks in practice is the church. The church a people who would have been divided but are united to one another and to God in Jesus. A people who are Jesus' body - in union with Jesus because of his loving penalty bearing death in our place. Love the cross. Love the church.