A creative and fun Vicar did something creative and fun at a wedding. This has gone viral on youtube and led to said vicar appearing on telly and also led to commentators on such things commentating. Vicky Beeching in particular . . .
The Vicar is Kate Bottley, and as far as I can see is doing a great job. I have not had a chance to watch the video as I am bashing this post out on my mobile and the video is not enabled for mobile devices. I will watch it, I like dancing and I especially like to see a bit of movement in church worship. I have now watched it – good moves, especially as the vicar boogied up the isle at the end . . . . 😉
In fact, I (and others I know) have frequently led choreographed dance moves from the front of church – (as far as I know it isn’t a ‘flash mob’)- I also became aware that the Harlem Shake was occurring all over the place in churches – yet neither my choreographed dancing, nor these churches having a crack at the Harlem have hit the news like the wedding thing with Kate.
My own moves are part and parcel of what children’s and youth workers do week in week out in churches. Whether it is called leading action songs, choruses or the kids bit – we are up the front, as part of our jobs, creatively trying to engage the congregation (not just the kids!). I don’t think I can remember someone ever saying that what we are doing in leading songs this way is ‘irreverent’ (which apparently, some burks have said to Kate Bottley), what we are doing is worship -but I guess it is only for the kids, so I can loon about at the front of church to my hearts content and to within an inch of a vicars tolerance level because, well – frankly, because I don’t have a collar!
Yes, there, I said it.
Creative and crazy and fun and hilarious stuff is done by children’s workers and youth workers every week as part of their jobs (for some it is a key feature of their personality and they couldn’t do their job without being slightly off the wall), but – as part of her job – a vicar does something a bit creative and different and its headline news.
I walk past people giving their cars a wash, but grab a local vicar in his or her collar and have them wash the car, or abseil down a steeple, or (as a Vicar did in Chichester, put an ice rink in the middle of the church . . . ) and it is NEWS!
I am sorry, but what does this say about Church? It says to me, if Vicars are doing something it is “happening” and if others do the same, or similar things – well, they are invisible, only lay workers, not ordained people . . . it just strikes me as very weird. Obviously, doing ministry isn’t about getting in the NEWS, it is about sharing, living, laughing, joyously being a loon for Jesus and bringing good news into peoples lives and into our communities. Surely though, we are ALL called to do that aren’t we?
Maybe it is just me.
Nobody should be dissing Kate by the way, what she did was great! It just wasn’t that unusual . . .
The Christian commentators on it, and those looking for “hope” in our churches have jumped on the story though and seem (to me) to have enhanced certain views about what church is that also, I just don’t get!
Maybe it really is me.
Anyway, one of these was about Church being a place where we can participate (Vicky B writing for The Independent) – and I kept seeing the words attendees and congregation and a focus on the building being the church . . . and I felt a bit depressed. In the CofE we continue to gather what we call “mission statistics” about church attendance on a Sunday – as if this is what determines our effectiveness at making disciples. I don’t know how many times I have taught and explored faith questions with young people over the last 25 years, but – 1. The Church is not the building. 2. Turning up at the building on a Sunday does not make you a disciple of Jesus. Yet, in our communication with those who are not yet part of a worshiping community our focus continues to be, it seems, “getting them to church” and “how can we increase attendance”.
So, we still have – it seems –
1. a clerical and hierarchical church (whichever way you cut it, people in collars doing very similar things to people who are not appears to be interesting – not just to other Christians, but also to people looking “in” at the church) . . .
2. a message we reinforce that being “church” means turning up “at”one and being a congregant or an attendee.
Seriously? IF we keep doing this (and part of it seems to be a response to the interest we receive from those who aren’t Christians – so any positive interest is jumped on) what exactly are we communicating to the next generation?