"Antiquated, boring, dull, bigoted, unfriendly, inflexible, alienating, irrelevant, narrow, hypocritical, unreal, nerve-wracking, corrupt, judgemental. "
Just a few of the adjectives used about the church by people 'outside' it. One interviewee in a research project ('Beyond the Fringe', interviewing 60 agnostics about faith and spiritual issues) said “I think the established church could be tried in a court of justice and could be found guilty of killing off spirituality”
This is scary stuff for a servant of the institution like yours truly. The upside of the research is that people are more open to the spiritual than ever: over 70% of people report having had some kind of spiritual experience. So what's going on? Are most of them deluded? Or is God active outside the boundaries of the church in a way we haven't begun to imagine?
Yvonne Richmond, missioner at Coventry Cathedral, tells of how she felt God telling her to give up all her church involvement. She handed everything over (to the dismay of the church!), and over the course of the next 10 weeks saw 10 people come to faith in Jesus through the course of normal conversation. Most of these were into spiritual stuff: spiritualists, astrology, etc., and the starting point was to affirm their spiritual quest, and spiritual experiences. Most of Richmonds work since then has come out of that experience: how does the church connect with spiritual seekers? Especially when the same seekers describe it in the ways listed above. Answers on a blogcard please.....