An interesting discussion arose at work today about what people understood a Church of England church to be.The thoughts ranged from."I don't like all that overhead projector stuff and happy clappy stuff." to "How does anyone sit through all that liturgy when they don't know what or when to sing, or stand up or sit down, for that matter." On the whole, people wanted what they were if familiar with if they had gone to church as a child. Others who occasionally wandered into a church, did not want to be challenged by new songs or appear to stand out.
I can really relate to these comments because when The future Curate decided that he would like to go to church (not just accompanying me to keep me happy) he decided that he had to go to the Methodist church. We happened to be living in Gibraltar at the time and I had been attending the Gibraltar Cathedral. The Methodist church has an amazing church and cafe (the Carpenter's Arms) above the shops in central Gibraltar. It doesn't even look like a church from the outside. It challenged my whole concept of church. I didn't know the Methodist service, they sang many unfamiliar modern songs and they were incredibly warm and welcoming. There was no running away at the end of the service, people wanted to know about us and talk to us. And I felt uncomfortable! So, like The future Curate, I was a beginner and had to really work out my relationship with God. Funny how He works.
Since then, for all sorts of reasons, we have had to change churches on several occasions. Sometimes this has been as part of The Curate's training, sometimes it has been because of location changes, but I have become intrigued at how churches welcome (or don't) any newcomers. I certainly feel that The Curate and I have been on a training course on 'meeting and greeting' . I hope, that when the time comes, we are able to bring some of the warmth of the Gibraltar Methodist church into the Anglican churches that The Curate serves in.