Do as the old folk do
The comedian Peter Kay cracks a joke about not knowing which coloured bin to put out for the refuse collectors each week. He smiles at the audience, raises an eyebrow, and says: “I just copy old people.”
Why does that get a laugh? It’s not a joke about pensioners – there is no cruelty in it. It’s a confessional joke. It’s funny because most of his middle-aged audience recognise ourselves in what he says. And we realise those sitting beside us do to. But until that moment we all thought we were the only ones furtively glancing down the street each week to see which bins our older neighbours had put out!
It’s a joke that tells us something about our hectic, modern lifestyles. We live in a world where only people who are retired seem to have time to be organised enough to know whether it’s a green, black or brown bin day.
To flourish the church needs to acknowledge this and adapt. It is not sufficient to offer one major act of worship a week – the 10.30 Sunday morning service. For too many families Sunday is another working day; it’s a day the children play football; it’s the only day free to spend with non-churchgoing partners. For some it’s a genuinely important day of rest – to convalesce from the frantic week just passed.
Chilwell Road is recognising this. Alison’s World Space is an occasional midweek opportunity for contemplation of the issues facing the world and creative prayer. Colin’s Open Space is a new Tuesday lunchtime opportunity for communion and prayer. Sarah’s Play Church is a way of serving the families who may not have the time or inclination to bring their children to Junior Church on Sunday but appreciate the opportunity for spiritual reflection midweek after toddler group. She’s also running Messy Church at Wollaton Road.
The success of these ventures cannot be measured in attendance. What matters is that the church is open and trying to meet our spiritual needs at times that suit us better and in ways that are most meaningful.
There’s a much longer established service we hold that fits into this category too. It’s the fortnightly 9am communion. I recently discovered this and have been encouraging our young people to attend. They really enjoy it (as do their parents). It’s a tranquil, half-hour service with a short, focused address.
It’s a good introduction to adult worship for them. It’s also a good service for busy families who may not have time to attend the longer, later service. To encourage the teenagers to attend I’ve started a Breakfast Club afterwards. It’s been so enjoyable we’ve now opened it up to the whole congregation.
Apparently this service was initiated years ago because the Junior Church teachers were missing out on worship, but somehow we forgot about it. It has attracted only a small number of mainly older members of the congregation.
Which brings me back to Peter Kay. We obviously need to watch older people more closely – they know something we don’t! Come and join us for communion, prayer and simple breakfast fellowship and you’ll see what I mean.