Thursday, March 22, 2007

Guid gear .....?

Holy Trinity church I sometimes wonder, as a member of a very small congregation with a picturesque but chilly building in which to worship, what it must be like to belong to a city church. A church, say, on a busy main road at the heart of a city in the Central Belt, a city with a cosmopolitan population and a university or two. I have never belonged to such a church, my arrival as a Christian corresponding with my arrival in the sticks.

On Monday evening I was invited to join the Lent study group in a church with which I do have a strong connection, St Michael and All Saints', Edinburgh. I am used to groups of between five and seven, I suppose, and we can't meet in the church as we'd be hypothermic within half an hour; we meet in the Rectory. So here was the first difference: we met in the side chapel and the church was warm. There was a faint suggestion of incense in the air. But there wasn't a huge crowd - I'd say nine, of whom two were clergy. So I felt very much at home, and enjoyed myself immensely.

So: is it the case that there will always be a small core of people in any church who will turn out to learn and to examine - to think not only about scripture but about their response to it? Or are there indeed congregations which swarm in great numbers to extracurricular activities? I'm talking Scotland here - the USA is quite another kettle of Pisces. (Pun)

Responses welcome - that is not a rhetorical question!


  1. Anonymous11:12 PM

    ...comes in sma' graith, och aye?

  2. Anonymous2:54 AM

    Chris, I know you are interested in the Scottish experience, but I am pretty sure that the answer to the question you raise is the same here in the U.S. as there. Even very vibrant and large churches consist mostly of pew potatoes, those who come on schedule, sit through a liturgy, go home, and put Christianity in a box with their Sunday shoes for most of the rest of the average week.

    Even in our church of about 4,000 members, most are Sunday Spectators at best. We have a large number of Bible study small groups and a variety of other extracurricular activities only because the place is so big that even a small proportion is enough to support the programs.

    When I belonged to a much smaller parish, the situation was the same, except that the pool of possible participants in extracurricular Bible studies was so small that we never could keep one going for long.