Saturday, 19 February 2011

Who will we let in?

I have stayed away from the subject of church for the last few Blogs because I am struggling to deal with the insensitive attitudes of people . I want to believe that the Anglican Church is a broad church where there is support and encouragement to grow, room to express your doubts and lack of understanding, a place to be silent and  to explore that silence in the presence of God, a place to rant and seek God's compassion. Increasingly I find I can understand why people turn their backs on 'organised religion' and seek some other means of exploring spirituality. Often there appears to be a lack of compassion, empathy or humour between different groups even if they attend the same church. From my experience, I am pretty sure we were given a sense of humour to help us get along together a little better - as well as being given our two ears and one mouth. We need to be able to listen to each other and not impose our views without considering how they will be received. I fully support the alpha course where people are allowed to discuss and explore what they understand. This is how we educate today's young people - to think for themselves. More than once, as I have been leaving the church, I have heard the comment about a sermon - "I really wanted to stand up and say something when the vicar said that!". People are educated to debate and reach their own conclusions from the sound evidence that they are given. It needs those who have the theological, academic training and are secure in their faith, to be encouraging enough to allow people to express doubt and explore. They should not condemn or judge when people don't agree and are heading in a different direction. We should welcome debate because, if God is with us, He will ensure we will all grow and learn from each other. But if we only let in 'the right sort' (those who think like we do) and make sure our foot is against the door so it won't open for anyone else - I'm not sure I want to belong.

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