Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Guide to joining a new church...

Ten Most Important Steps

  1. Understand the principles
    Remember, joining a church is primarily about what is best for you. The good news is that many churches now see themselves as glorified businesses. This is wonderful news for the "consumer" because "the customer is always right". If you are unable to find a church (Ltd) that completely caters for all of your needs, then find one where you can be vocally belligerent, in the hope that the church (Ltd) will alter its produce and services.
  2. Find the "power families"
    Once you have chosen the right church that will service your needs, the next step is to seek out the people/families in the church who are part of the "inner-circle". These are usually rich, well educated members of the church. This 'inner circle' have quite a powerful influence over the church. Only sometimes are they 'elders' or 'deacons', though the best description is probably 'majority shareholders'. Admittedly, it can be difficult to be accepted into this group if you are not rich and/or educated. However, perseverance is a virtue.
  3. Do not aspire to a Leadership position
    It is important to follow this rule. In churches (Ltd) most forms of official leadership (we shall call them 'management') are fodder for all manner of public criticism. It is far easier to remain a customer, and demand to "see the manager" when you want to influence the direction of the company. Ensure the management do not make the same "mistake" twice.
  4. Get to middle-age as quick as possible
    This is a fundamental part of joining a church. It may seem as though the church (Ltd) directs most of its efforts toward "youth" and the "elderly". However, this is usually because it pacifies them on business matters, leaving the 'inner-circle' to get on with directing the company. Middle-agers will benefit most from many church companies.
  5. Choose a house-group wisely
    This decision could potentially decide how influential you will be in the church that you join. It is absolutely imperative that you join the house-group of one of the 'inner-circle', for numerous reasons. Firstly, they will probably have a nice, big comfortable house. Secondly, it is in this house group that most business decisions will be made. The church management shall be informed in due course.
  6. Learn the jargon particular to your new church
    For effective communication, and to look like you mean business, make sure you use buzz-words often. Naturally, each company has different jargon, and moving from one organisation to another can mean learning almost a new language. Where words such as 'river', 'presence' and 'flow' may be popular jargon in one branch, these can be replaced by 'fire', 'journey' and 'conversation'.
  7. Practise your "mmm"
    "Mmms" are an extension of jargon language. It is the sound of approval, vital for showing allegiance to influential people. When trying to show particular agreement, a "double-mmm" can be employed. You should never do more than a "triple-mmm" - people will think you've gone insane.
  8. Learn golf
    A very effective way of socialising with others in your new organisation is to play golf. Being good (but not too good) at golf will result in many invites to more personal social events. This does work better for male customers, though it certainly does not exclude females.
  9. Buy a Cafetiere
    Coffee is the drink of church. Even if you prefer tea, it is wise to learn to stomach coffee. Furthermore, you can fulfil your charitable duties by buying fairtrade coffee. After this, there is no real need to do much else charitable. Charity is expensive, and hard work, and therefore it is useful to find short-cuts.
  10. Do not commit
    This is the golden rule. Do not commit to your new organisation. This does not mean you should up and leave at the first disagreement. However, always remember that if the management and 'inner-circle' consistently fail to meet your personal needs, it is time to swallow your pride, and admit you may have chosen the wrong church. Be encouraged though, there are plenty more fish in the sea.

(Please note that this is satire. I actually think the Church is a wonderful institute. God loves, and lives in the Church. I hope, though, this article makes you think or at least makes you chuckle.)

God bless

Love will find a way?


On the recent Delirious? DVD (My Soul Sings) of live tracks, there is a version of their top 20 song "Love Will Find a Way". The song portrays a blend of emotions, moving from utter repugnance at the attitude most of us have toward poverty, to the overwhelming sense of hope that love brings - that, little by little, love is breaking through people's indifference. In fact, it is breaking people. Bringing people face to face with the problems in this world, yet encouraging them that they can make a difference.


However, the world is still in a terrible mess. The chaos we find ourselves in is seemingly cataclysmic: MPs claim for multiple properties, while millions sleep on the streets. People are dying from obesity, while millions die of starvation. World leaders pay billions to send probes to Mars (to send back more pictures of nothing), while a beggar is £5 short of eating today. Of course, what the world needs is another picture of a desert on a planet which is 266 million miles away...

In the creation poem of Genesis, there is an odd Hebrew phrase - תהו ובהו (tohu vavohu) - usually translated formless and void. However, it can give the impression of very chaotic - where תהו means chaos and ובהו means empty. If there is one thing that typifies the world today, surely it must be "tohu vavohu". We are in chaos. We are "empty". The emptiness is filled with material things that pull our attention from the real problems we can help to solve. After all, another private jet for [unnamed evangelist] is what the poor really need. Furthermore, if I contribute to that, I am giving to the Lord, aren't I?


Pondering the Delirious lyric, I wonder what "way" love will find. Will it lead us into a river, like an early 21st century Sat-Nav? Will it spend most of the journey "searching for a satellite"? I have spent a lot of time reading great books, and hearing great songs that inspire me to make a difference - yet here I am, sat at my computer having done very little; still reading. Still hearing. When will we wake up? Love, show us the way. Press into our faces the issues that we have the resources to solve. Do not let us drown you out with worry over maintaining our riches, or affording the best cut of meat.

The Bible says that God is love. So I have confidence in the Delirious? lyrics that "love" will find a way. He always does.

Love Will Find a Way