Alongside listening to the new Coldplay CD, I've tried to listen to a couple of interviews with Chris Martin (lead singer) and other band members. There's an incredible contrast between a Radio 4 interview, which Martin walks out of, and the 90 minutes of banter and laughter recorded by Radio 1.
He comes across as 2 completely different people - in the first, stumbling, uncomfortable, vague, shy. In the second, fun, sharp, witty, someone full of ideas and enjoyment of life.
The difference is the interviewer. In the Radio 4 case, it's clearly someone looking too hard for deep insights and killer questions. Meanwhile Zane Lowe on Radio 1 plays silly sound effects and shares Coldplays love of music and sense of playfulness, and succeeds in getting answers to some of the Radio 4 questions (e.g. musical influences) without ever having to ask them.
If people are having fun, they're much more likely to be themselves, relax, open up, and enjoy your company. Many people have found church uncomfortable because it's too much like a Radio 4 interview: it's based around someone else agenda, a stress on the 'right answers', formal, serious, and wordy/cerebral, and a clear distinction between insiders and outsiders. In the Radio 1 encounter, it was sometimes hard to tell who was in charge, and what role people were playing.
We tend to like clear roles of worship leader, preacher, congregation etc., and to know which one we are. But that's institutionalised. In a church where relationships aren't institutionalised, everyone can bring something, all you need is a decent host. Teaching, singing etc. are done by everyone, to everyone.
We're off on our parish weekend tomorrow, and leaving all my dog collars at home. It would be lovely if we could break down those barriers between them and us, up front and in the pew, and be more like Radio 1 than Radio 4. Far better to have a conversation people want to join in with, than one which makes them want to get up and leave.