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Source: (consider it) Thread: BCP Evangelism
Robert Armin

All licens'd fool
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Currently I am responsible for three churches in England; two of them use Common Worship, and one uses the [English] Book of Common Prayer. All of them need to grow, and there are plenty of resources to help churches do this. However, they all seem to assume that growing churches will be using contemporary liturgy. Is there anything around that thinks about how BCP churches can grow?

(This may not be the right board for such a discussion. In which case I offer my apologies to the Hosts, and ask them to move it.)

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Keeping fit was an obsession with Fr Moity .... He did chin ups in the vestry, calisthenics in the pulpit, and had developed a series of Tai-Chi exercises to correspond with ritual movements of the Mass. The Antipope Robert Rankin

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SvitlanaV2
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I can't recommend worship resources (although this book might be relevant), but just wanted to post a link to a CofE report which asserts that theological tradition isn't the relevant issue in church growth (p. 31). More important than the style of worship is that 'there is consistancy and clarity and the chosen style and tradiiton are wholeheartedly adopted.' (p. 8)
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L'organist
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IME it is not the language of the liturgy that is make or break in seeking to attract people to try church, and certainly there is little truth in the frequent assertion that the BCP is "too difficult to understand".

The church where I play is in a small village, very spread out because the main industry is farming. Population is less than 1200 - and shrinking - and we have an increasing number of holiday homes.

We do have a growing congregation however: some from the village who have been inspired to come following something like a funeral or wedding, others are weekenders from the holiday homes, and a lot who have given up on neighbouring parishes. It is this latter group who are most interesting and they pretty much give one of two responses when asked what attracted them to us:

1. That the services are well-organised, the whole church seems to be well-run, there is no air of amateurish well-meaning waffle.

2. That they like a "proper" liturgy with good music and that we are the choice is they don't want to drive the extra 12 or so miles to our diocesan cathedral.

What is Evangelism? I'd say that the very word may be off-putting to your standard MOTR CofE type. But if you think about special services you might hold: for example, an annual celebration of marriage to which you invite couples who've had weddings in the last 5 years - and most important that you have it at a time when they can bring children and provide a good tea afterwards.

An annual Memorial service for those who have had deaths - whether or not their loved one is in the churchyard - can be bolted onto All Souls.

Get the local school involved in Harvest, ditto the local farming community if you're rural.

Most important: make sure that the Prayer Book Society has details of all services at your BCP churches - there are people out there who look for a church like that.

Good luck with it all, and don't beat yourself up about the BCP - it can (and does) still attract.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Rossweisse

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Do-it-yourself liturgies are seldom worth attending. There are many good reasons why the BCP is still the standard. (I know Baptist ministers who quietly keep a copy on a shelf, mostly for weddings and funerals.) Never dumb down.

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I'm not dead yet.

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Baptist Trainfan
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I think, to be honest, that there are some folk to whom BCP services (and traditional hymns) are a real attraction; and others to whom they are a total "turn off". And I suspect that, as the years pass, the proportion of the first will decline and that of the latter increase.

It's not just an Anglican thing: I know of a small rural URC church which has grown in recent years because it is ultra-traditional, has an excellent organist and is run with care and affection - but most of the newcomers aren't young folk from the village with no Christian background but migrants from other Nonconformist churches which have "gone modern" in their worship. Inevitably the pool of pool such people will diminish over the years.

I think L.Organist makes some excellent points, particularly with regard to things being done well and also evangelism. ISTM that those two issues are crucial, whatever the style of one's liturgy and churchmanship. Doing the music well may be a real problem for some congregations ("Spem in Alium" might have to wait) - but they can at least sing enthusiastically!

[ 09. January 2018, 06:38: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
I think, to be honest, that there are some folk to whom BCP services (and traditional hymns) are a real attraction; and others to whom they are a total "turn off". And I suspect that, as the years pass, the proportion of the first will decline and that of the latter increase.


I suspect it's going to be the other way round - the trendies will die off and the BCP endure...

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And is it true? For if it is....

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by betjemaniac:
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
I think, to be honest, that there are some folk to whom BCP services (and traditional hymns) are a real attraction; and others to whom they are a total "turn off". And I suspect that, as the years pass, the proportion of the first will decline and that of the latter increase.


I suspect it's going to be the other way round - the trendies will die off and the BCP endure...
Having said that, IME no one ever thinks it's going to be their approach/faction/wing of the church that dies with them....

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And is it true? For if it is....

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Baptist Trainfan
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Quite. My feeling is that BCP will continue to attract a niche group of what one might call (and I'm not being pejorative) "antiquarian Christians" with a love of language and tradition - neither of which are to be despised. But I can't see it working for most younger unchurched folk, to whom not only the language but the "feel" are totally alien. The use of BCP in a rich cathedral setting seems appropriate, less so perhaps in a tatty and plain 1960s building on a Council Estate.

(I say this as someone raised CofE who still loves a well-done BCP choral evensong. I seek greater informality when I lead worship but still try to use well-honed language).

[ 09. January 2018, 08:17: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Jengie jon

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quote:
Originally posted by Rossweisse:
Do-it-yourself liturgies are seldom worth attending. .

Go and tell that to your Presbyterian, Congregationalist or Baptist. They have been doing them for 400 years and for some reason people are still attending. Oh and anyone who thinks 'do it yourself' means informal and slapdash has not see a full traditional Presbyterian Communion Service nor really thought about the effort put into many mega churches worship.

There is a huge difference between liturgy done well and liturgy done badly. Unfortunately for my Anglican and Roman Catholic among you If you want good modern liturgy you actually need to give people space to learn that is not solely in their heads and you also need to resource it well. Without doing that you get a lot of bad liturgy.

I would say to any congregation that it is better off doing the liturgy it is good at, than changing the liturgy to suit an imagined group of new people. Set liturgies are easier to get right than do it yourself ones, but they often can feel distant for those unfamiliar with them.

Now let me turn to BCP Congregation.

First of all realise that a visitor to worship probably does not want to stick out like a sore thumb. You can no longer assume that the visitor knows the liturgy. So
  • have print large enough that most people can follow easily without eye strain i.e replace the red tiny books.
  • Actually have the version of BCP that the congregation follows* do not rely on visitors knowing local praxis.
  • include some indication of expected congregation participation (e.g. sit, kneel, stand,bow)
  • make the space feel right for worship. A few people straddled over a large church is going to make worship feel more daunting while everyone crammed together feels over crowded. The aim is balance
  • music appropriate to the style of worship and within the capacity of the local congregation to sustain. Nothing wrong with acapella singing if you have a congregation with a high number of confident singers to support it.
Accessible need not mean modern.

Second while worship is important it is not the be all. There is a broad somewhere between a totally self sufficient community who does not need anyone else and a totally needy community who is desperate to recruit others. A good congregation is somewhere in the middle**.
  • find out why do your congregation come to the BCP? Ask them do not assume. When you know you may well have some idea of the congregations strengths. Then play to these to develop the congregation.
  • seek to follow up visitors. Perhaps an invite to meet for coffee the second or third time they attend, it need not be from the cleric. Chance to get to know them and why they are coming
  • find ways to explore and develop further the ideas that come out of this

Jengie

*my experience tells me that local praxis plays a huge part in what is included, substituted or omitted from a BCP liturgy.

** alright I am mixing appreciative inquiry with Richard Baxter but I think if done well it will work.

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:

I would say to any congregation that it is better off doing the liturgy it is good at, than changing the liturgy to suit an imagined group of new people.

And so often this is totally missed. My own church cycles through BCP HC, CW HC, BCP Mattins, and "family worship". The latter 2 are when we don't get a priest.

I only go the church in my parish, so grit my teeth and go to the lot. It is noticeable however that numbers go through the floor for family worship (we don't actually have any families...), and BCP and CW HC are boosted by people from the other 6 parishes in the benefice turning up - there is a subset of worshippers who "chase communion" round the benefice so that they can get it every Sunday, rather than focusing on their own parish church. On top of that, there are people in my parish who only come when there is communion, but don't go elsewhere when there isn't.

If I was the incumbent, I'd ditch Family Worship (and the Peruvian gloria...) for 2 x HC and 2 x Morning Prayer. For each rotating between BCP and CW. But then what do I know? Except that what we're currently doing causes people to vote with their feet.

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And is it true? For if it is....

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Bishops Finger
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One or two Parish Profiles I've looked at recently (I should get out more) reveal that 'Family Worship/Service' actually has a lower attendance of both adults and children!

Which I think chimes in with what betjemaniac is saying.

Re the BCP, we tried re-introducing the occasional service at Our Place (monthly Evensong, and quarterly Holy Communion, usually in the late afternoon on Sundays), with virtually nil attendance. Listing the services on the Prayer Book Society website had no effect, AFAIK.

However, the concept of doing whatever you do as well as you can, with the resources (musical or otherwise) that you have is IMHO entirely sound, and pleases Our Lord and His Blessed Mother.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:


Re the BCP, we tried re-introducing the occasional service at Our Place (monthly Evensong, and quarterly Holy Communion, usually in the late afternoon on Sundays), with virtually nil attendance.
IJ

Just on this bit, I wouldn't go either - partly because I've usually got other things to do on a Sunday afternoon. My gut instinct is that anything which is made to feel "niche" or "special" is on a bit of a hiding to nothing. The exception I can think of is the church in the next village which only has one service a month (1662 Mattins, Litany, shortened HC) which one month in the summer does evensong and a drinks reception instead, to general approval.

However, when I'm in a town, I actively seek out an 8am said BCP HC.

[ 09. January 2018, 14:45: Message edited by: betjemaniac ]

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And is it true? For if it is....

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Bishops Finger
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Yes, I think I would agree. The idea of the quarterly BCP Communion was our late churchwarden's, and never caught on at all.

The monthly BCP Evensong (which, on account of our being a Nanglo-Carflick parish, was followed by Benediction) had a small, but faithful, attendance of up to 10(!), but has been suspended during our current interregnum. As and when we get a new priest-in-charge, it may be reintroduced in some form...perhaps in conjunction with Food...

Personally, if the only church I could easily attend offered BCP Communion alternately with BCP Mattins (say), I'd go for it. As a Lay Reader, I'd be happy to officiate at Mattins, too.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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I think if you introduce something, you need to stick with it for a while. We (re-)introduced BCP choral evensong a couple of decades ago. Quarterly at first, but then monthly. We got a small handful of regulars, about the size of the choir or less. But then after a couple of years it gradually started to grow, and we get between 20 and 40 now (parish population is 600). Not huge but pro-rata better than quite few bigger churches who offer it.

"Family service" has collapsed round here too. It's been taken off the roster of all CofE churches round this way. If they are not offering HC, then it's likely to be "Morning worship" or some such.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Bishops Finger
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Yes, a fair point. We ran the monthly BCP Evensong for about seven years, but with no appreciable growth in numbers (not that that is necessarily the be-all and end-all).

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:


Personally, if the only church I could easily attend offered BCP Communion alternately with BCP Mattins (say), I'd go for it. As a Lay Reader, I'd be happy to officiate at Mattins, too.

IJ

Quite - I'm actually very happy in my little mud-and-mattins hyper-rural parish. Just not when it's family worship.....!

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And is it true? For if it is....

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
Yes, a fair point. We ran the monthly BCP Evensong for about seven years, but with no appreciable growth in numbers (not that that is necessarily the be-all and end-all).

IJ

Is that fully choral (as per cathedrals) or at some less fulsome point? I've noticed elsewhere that the more it resembles said evening prayer, the more places struggle with it. We always hand out chants/pointing for psalms and canticles (when the latter are not being done to a setting). The congregation does like a good sing here, which most commentators will look askance at, but it works here. Obvs you need a half-decent choir.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Bishops Finger
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No, not choral at all, I'm afraid.

The Preces & Responses, also Lord's Prayer & Lesser Litany, were all chanted, but Psalm(s), Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis were all said antiphonally (officiant vs. people).

We sang an Office Hymn (before the Psalm), another hymn after the Third Collect, then O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo at Benediction, finishing up with another hymn.

It was OK for the few of us, but could, I fully agree, be 'worked up'. Alas, no organist or competent singers were usually available...

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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L'organist
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Yes, for a good Evensong (or Matins, for that matter) I'd say the minimum requirement would be a competent SATB choir who knew their way around Anglican chant.

For us (speaking here for me and my choir) the bonus of Matins is two-fold: first, we can do a setting of the canticles - always one, sometimes two; and it also gives the opportunity for bigger anthems and we're not restricted to eucharistic texts (and if the text of the anthem is in Latin then a translation is provided).

Although I'd like to do different responses we tend to stick to the ferial so that the congregation don't feel excluded.

As has been mentioned above, we provide an Order of Service with a clear layout in reasonable size font and make pointed psalters available.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Baptist Trainfan
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At the risk of derailing this thread (which I suspect has more-or-less run its course) and also recognising that most contributors are people who like traditional liturgy to to exclusion of most other forms, may I ask this question?

Why do you hate "Family Worship" so much? And, as a supplementary (and thinking of what Jengie wrote), is it unpopular or failing because (a) it is alien to what you normally do; (b) it seems irrelevant as the average age of your congregation is well over 60: and/or (c) because it's done badly?

I would contend that it is possible to do Family Worship well (perhaps easier in a Nonconformist setting than an Anglican one), and that it needn't be cringeworthily dumbed-down but can contain something for everyone. However, doing it well requires a lot of thought and work - much more than simply fitting a simplistic talk and a few jolly songs (with actions!) into a minimalistic existing liturgy. I might also dare to say that it requires a certain sacrificial spirit on the part of the "ordinary" congregation.

(I suspect that we may be on a trajectory towards the Deceased Equines' paddock here, but let's give it a go ...).

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Baptist Trainfan wrote:
quote:
Why do you hate "Family Worship" so much?
My comment above related to neighbouring parishes who - if they formerly offered it - now no longer do so. We have never had it here. But from the comments I have heard, people find it falls between two stools and is rather mundane/unchallenging.

One of those parishes is in the same benefice as mine - they now have more focused services/events aimed at children (parents also attend) which I understand are notably more successful. We do have children's events quarterly here and they get an excellent turnout I'm told, though whether we would find that if we did them every week is less clear. But the one before Christmas is standing room only.

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Honest Ron Bacardi:
Baptist Trainfan wrote:
quote:
Why do you hate "Family Worship" so much?
... from the comments I have heard, people find it falls between two stools and is rather mundane/unchallenging.
That's a fair comment. But do they have to be like that, or are there other ways of doing them?

[ 09. January 2018, 19:16: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Arethosemyfeet
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I would say that a good choir is the key to evangelism in a traditional, liturgical church whether they use the BCP or not. If you have something that gets young people through the doors (and I would actually advocate for having completely separate choirs for boys and girls if you can resource it and have them sing on alternate Sundays) then a proportion of them will stay for more than just the music. A choir that demands skill and achievement can compete on an equal footing with sport or learning an instrument as an after school activity and it can provide stability and support for young people who might not get a lot of it at home. As with all things, of course, doing it well is easier said than done.
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Baptist Trainfan
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Dare I say that one doesn't just have to think in terms of traditional choirs? If it works for the church, it could be a Gospel choir, or an "Only Men Aloud" sort of thing ... or even a worship group involving young people. Yes, the traditionalists might complain ... but isn't there an element of "horses for courses" here?

Of course modern worship music would clash horribly with BCP, even though the words of such songs are sometimes remarkably archaic!

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Baptist trainfan wrote:
quote:
But do they have to be like that, or are there other ways of doing them?
Ah, that's the question! It would need someone with a broader experience of the genre than I have to venture an opinion

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Anglo-Cthulhic

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Why do you hate "Family Worship" so much?

You're most certainly right that I need to cultivate a sacrificial spirit. Families are the sizeable population.

But as a 40 yo single it seems to exclude. I know it shouldn't. I know I won't be thrown out where there is weeping and gnashing off teeth. But it doesn't seem "for me".

I'll be honest that poor execution has put me off. And still would.

I know they're not growing at an exponential rate, but I liked the Orthodox services - one was offered and all came. Screaming babies; disapproving babushkas who noticed any wrong movement; bored teenage kids; the enquirer (guilty). Not sure how long this will last. The Catholics, although multiple Masses are held in one day, seem to keep things "inclusive" generally.

An interesting issue.

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Rossweisse

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I grew up with the Book of Common Prayer. Nobody talked down to us because we were children; we learned the prayers and the hymns, and were just fine. I think being treated like an adults helped us to appreciate what the Church has to offer.

Singing in a good girls' choir certainly helped me in every way from appreciating music to musicianship to self-confidence. I am grateful for all of that.

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I'm not dead yet.

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Gwalchmai
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Why do you hate "Family Worship" so much?

The problem with most family services is that they are targeted at families with primary school age children. Nothing much for teenagers and nothing for parents whose children have grown up and left home. Grandparents often enjoy them if they can bring their young grandchildren along. But on the whole a lot of "families" feel excluded.

I think it would be more honest to hold services which younger children are invited to bring their families to, and possibly services for teenagers who almost certainly won't want to bring their parents!

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Dare I say that one doesn't just have to think in terms of traditional choirs? If it works for the church, it could be a Gospel choir, or an "Only Men Aloud" sort of thing ... or even a worship group involving young people. Yes, the traditionalists might complain ... but isn't there an element of "horses for courses" here?

Of course modern worship music would clash horribly with BCP, even though the words of such songs are sometimes remarkably archaic!

Well sure, other forms of music are available, but the context was use of the BCP and if there is a musical tradition that works well with it then I would take the attitude of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Gwalchmai:
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Why do you hate "Family Worship" so much?

The problem with most family services is that they are targeted at families with primary school age children. Nothing much for teenagers and nothing for parents whose children have grown up and left home. Grandparents often enjoy them if they can bring their young grandchildren along. But on the whole a lot of "families" feel excluded.

I think it would be more honest to hold services which younger children are invited to bring their families to, and possibly services for teenagers who almost certainly won't want to bring their parents!

This, basically.

I've got no problem with Family Worship in itself (and in churches/demographics where there's demand for it), but aiming one service a month at 8 year olds when you haven't got anyone in the congregation under 37 does seem rather futile...*

I know there's always "build it and they will come" but so far, er, they haven't. This pattern has been going since about 2006!

*There're about 7 people under 20 in my entire village...

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Dare I say that one doesn't just have to think in terms of traditional choirs? If it works for the church, it could be a Gospel choir, or an "Only Men Aloud" sort of thing ... or even a worship group involving young people. Yes, the traditionalists might complain ... but isn't there an element of "horses for courses" here?

Of course modern worship music would clash horribly with BCP, even though the words of such songs are sometimes remarkably archaic!

Well sure, other forms of music are available, but the context was use of the BCP and if there is a musical tradition that works well with it then I would take the attitude of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
Does this mean that churches that don't have traditional choirs can't be 'BCP churches'?
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Albertus
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Surely not, given that for most of the first couple of hundred years of the (current) BCP almost no parish churches, if any, had what we'd now call a 'traditional' choir.

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Baptist Trainfan
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I think the question wasn't "Can churches without a choir be BCP churches?" (as, of course, they can); but "Can churches which have a non-traditional choir be ...?"

[ 10. January 2018, 11:13: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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L'organist
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posted by Baptist Trainfan
quote:
Why do you hate "Family Worship" so much? And, as a supplementary (and thinking of what Jengie wrote), is it unpopular or failing because (a) it is alien to what you normally do; (b) it seems irrelevant as the average age of your congregation is well over 60: and/or (c) because it's done badly?
I don't hate family worship at all: fact is, I'd contend that ALL services should be considered as being for families.

No, what I can't stand is the pigeonholing implied in titling something as "family" and the fact that in many churches what is offered by something labelled as "family xxx" is dumbed-down Religion Lite.

To take your specific points:

(a)is it alien to what we normally do the answer should be no, but in practice the answer is yes because so many of the other local churches produce in their "family xxx" something that is without structure, frequently shambolic and, despite being labelled as "family" almost entirely adult driven.

(b)seems irrelevant as the average age of your congregation is well over 60 the answer should be no because any liturgy (call it service or worship if you wish) labelled as "family" should be equally for people of grandparent age. However, the problem that I (and I suspect many others) have is that those services labelled as "family" are not aimed at a family at all: they are, at least in the mind of the person devising them if not in practice, aimed exclusively at childrend between 5 and 10 years old. What seems to escape those who would see themselves as an eminence grise of worship "suitable" for families is that NO family is made up exclusively of children within a narrow age-range, but can have people aged from 0 to 90. Thus any liturgy aimed at a family should try to have something for as broad an age range as possible, not as narrow as can be.

(c)because its done badly? Spot on! For three years, to help out a colleague, I "did" the music for a friend's parish "Family Worship" and it nearly killed me. Despite there being seemingly endless meetings for these twice a month services, the bottom line was that they were never (and I mean that) properly prepared: a theme decided on would be changed the night before the service; changes wouldn't be communicated to everyone with an input to the service; service sheets would be produced not only littered with typos but, because of late changes, frequently with no relevance to what was happening on the day. There was an attitude that to apply all the organisational skill of a chaotic 6 year old was a good thing and amateurishness implied virtue.

IMO the application of labels to services as being for "families", "women", "seniors" - whatever - is condescending in the extreme and is frequently the manifestation of a patronising attitude that is un-Christian and has no place in church.

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Enoch
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1662

I agree that all too often 'Family Service' can be an excuse for light-weight, badly prepared kack. Nevertheless, on 1662 and evangelising the vast unchurched masses, a simple and IMHO incontrovertible point.

I go back to the days when all services were 1662. If 1662 had been just what hit the spot, there wouldn't have been the fall-off in belief and practice that there has been more or less continuously since 1945 if not earlier.

Each generation over the last century or so has been less successful in passing on both faith and practice to their children. Most people my age had churchgoing parents, but my short has not kept the faith. Those of us that have kept the faith have not necessarily succeeded in passing it on to our children. We are not now talking of the unchurched not keeping the faith of their parents, but of their grandparents or even great-grandparents.

If the noble language of the Authorised Version and Cramner were what was needed, that leaching would not have happened. The leaching was well under way long before even series 2. It was what prompted it.

Choirs

And on choirs, two things. First, Albertus, what you call a 'traditional choir' is more recent than most people imagine. It was a mid/late C19 century innovation.

Second, fifty years ago, virtually every parish church had a mediocre (often small and very mediocre) choir that included singing boys and could do sung Morning and Evening Prayer. By now, if the adults involved are still singing, they will be doing it on some other shore. But a lot of those singing boys will still be alive.

Even if their voices did not survive breaking, if running a traditional choir were effective evangelism, those people would be committed members of congregations now. Are they? I see no evidence of it.

Warning - gripe alert

If you are running a choir, if you are successfully going out recruiting people, including young people, to be in it, and if what you are doing is keeping them actively engaged in Christian faith rather than just singing, then I'm prepared to listen to what you have to say. But if all you are saying is that that is what 'they', 'churches', 'the vicar' or 'somebody else' should be doing, then I'm not.

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Arethosemyfeet
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I'm not personally doing it (though I am one of those who faith was nurtured through my church choir) but I know reasonably well a parish church that is doing just that with pretty decent success in teenagers coming forward for baptism and confirmation (often having stayed with the choir through their voice breaking). It's not something that will work everywhere because you need people with talent and skill to lead it and they don't grow on trees. Like many things it can be done if the will is there, but I wasn't suggesting it was an easy or quick fix, just that it is one approach to evangelism that can have success in a BCP context. I think setting the bar for an evangelism strategy that it retain as an adult all those who engage with it is a bit demanding - all strategies in any context would fail by that measure.
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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
1662


Choirs

And on choirs, two things. First, Albertus, what you call a 'traditional choir' is more recent than most people imagine. It was a mid/late C19 century innovation.

...

Indeed. That's the point I was making. And as for BT's point of whether you could do BCP with a non-traditional choir/ music group of some form (and I wasn't really thinking Svitlana had a West Gallery group in mind as the alternative [Biased] ): well, I don't know. You'd need to think it through carefully to make it a seamless whole. But it could be worth a try.

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Rossweisse

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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
I don't hate family worship at all: fact is, I'd contend that ALL services should be considered as being for families.

No, what I can't stand is the pigeonholing implied in titling something as "family" and the fact that in many churches what is offered by something labelled as "family xxx" is dumbed-down Religion Lite. ...

...IMO the application of labels to services as being for "families", "women", "seniors" - whatever - is condescending in the extreme and is frequently the manifestation of a patronising attitude that is un-Christian and has no place in church.

Thank you, and amen.

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Pangolin Guerre
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
1662

I agree that all too often 'Family Service' can be an excuse for light-weight, badly prepared kack. Nevertheless, on 1662 and evangelising the vast unchurched masses, a simple and IMHO incontrovertible point.

I go back to the days when all services were 1662. If 1662 had been just what hit the spot, there wouldn't have been the fall-off in belief and practice that there has been more or less continuously since 1945 if not earlier.

Each generation over the last century or so has been less successful in passing on both faith and practice to their children. Most people my age had churchgoing parents, but my short has not kept the faith. Those of us that have kept the faith have not necessarily succeeded in passing it on to our children. We are not now talking of the unchurched not keeping the faith of their parents, but of their grandparents or even great-grandparents.

If the noble language of the Authorised Version and Cramner were what was needed, that leaching would not have happened. The leaching was well under way long before even series 2. It was what prompted it.

As a supporter of the BCP, I think that you're putting too much weight on its shoulders You say that had the KJV and BCP language been adequate to the task of maintaining membership, the leaching would not have happened (which is begging the question in its true sense). I think that that grossly simplifies the complex problem of declining membership. More important than the "remote" language* were sociological and historical factors, such as increased emphasis on science at the expense of faith, WWI, WWII, growing emphasis on individuality (which, arguably, can be traced back to the Priesthood of All Believers), an obsession with modernity. One could make the argument that "Every generation needs its own Homer", but if that were the case, by your own argument, the various new prayerbooks would have pews packed, which they mostly are not. (Though, to be fair, you back away from that.)

* I don't find it remote. I think that one need only be literate and attentive. Moreover, its centuries old language gives me a great sense of belonging to a long and very fine tradition. and that something is solid, not that all melts away.

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Gramps49
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In the Lutheran Tradition, the style of worship is really adiaphora, but generally, our service follows the outline of the catholic mass.

In my congregation, we use what we call balanced liturgies which blend contemporary with traditional. We find if we change our liturgy around every six weeks, worship stays fresh.

Our congregation has a healthy mix of the generations. People are amazed we actually have kids!

Can a liturgy be an evangelism tool? I would have to say yes. One of the things I will ask newcomers is what they thought of the liturgy. Nearly everyone has said they like it, and they will say they will come back. Some do, some don't.

But, to be honest, I think what keeps them coming back is to greet them after service and show an interest in their story. I always make a point to introduce new people to at least three other members if they have the time.

BTW here in the US, the United Church of Christ and Presbyterians, even Methodists have updated their hymnals recently and they also include versions of the catholic mass as an optional form of worship. Even American Baptist Churchs are using the Revised Common Lectionary. I bet some nondenominational pastors are secretly following the RCL.

[ 11. January 2018, 02:51: Message edited by: Gramps49 ]

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Jengie jon

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Not sure it is evensong but I do know of a place with weekly BCP evening prayer and technically a growing attendance (well I think it is from 3 to 5 but still).

No this is not the main worship of the congregation (indeed it rarely even publicised and this is not a BCP Church). My experience suggests that all regular worshippers attend at least another service on a Sunday; some at that Church and some at others.

Jengie

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L'organist
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My understanding of the situation is as follows:

BCP Evening Prayer said = Evening Prayer.
BCP Evening Prayer sung = Evensong

Similarly with Morning Prayer, although you do sometimes get a sort of half-way descriptive of sung Matins meaning with hymns, as opposed to choral which means with a choir so anthem, etc.

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Ricardus
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I think some ministers who don't use the BCP very often tend to assume that, since it's all written down, all they have to do is read the words off the page.

Whereas I think the words do require preparation beforehand, as though you were going to recite a Shakespearean monologue. The problem isn't the thees and thous so much as the syntax which can be quite intricate and not easy to parse:
quote:
O GOD, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
You need to think about where the emphasis and hiatuses should fall in order to guide the congregation through the sentence structure.

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Albertus
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Yes, you're right. And that brings me to a little hobbyhorse of mine (stop me if you've heard me say this before...) - my conviction that the BCP (like Shakespeare) is there to be read aloud and that (again like Shakespeare, or a lot of it) when it's read aloud, if it's done carefully, a lot of its so-called 'inaccessibility' to the modern person melts away. You may not get every word but you get the sense of it very strongly. I suspect that a lot of modern liturgies are, by contrast, written by people who are basically thinking in terms of understandability as a piece of (silently) read text, along the lines of say a newspaper article or a government form. The result may look OK on the page but may well turn out to be rather flat when spoken aloud.

[ 11. January 2018, 20:24: Message edited by: Albertus ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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Conversely, sermons need to be written in spoken English - they are primarily aural communication, rather than scholarly essays or newspaper articles which are designed to be read.
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Ian Climacus

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Hi Gramps49,

quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
We find if we change our liturgy around every six weeks, worship stays fresh.

The entirety? Or a certain part/certain parts?
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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
Yes, you're right. And that brings me to a little hobbyhorse of mine (stop me if you've heard me say this before...) - my conviction that the BCP (like Shakespeare) is there to be read aloud and that (again like Shakespeare, or a lot of it) when it's read aloud, if it's done carefully, a lot of its so-called 'inaccessibility' to the modern person melts away. You may not get every word but you get the sense of it very strongly. I suspect that a lot of modern liturgies are, by contrast, written by people who are basically thinking in terms of understandability as a piece of (silently) read text, along the lines of say a newspaper article or a government form. The result may look OK on the page but may well turn out to be rather flat when spoken aloud.

Albertus, I think there's something in that. I think it's also something to do with why of the modern or semi-modern translations, I feel that despite its faux trad second persons, the old RSV reads better than the NRSV. Although the latter's quite a good translation in the technical sense, it really is a bit cloth-eared.

I also think - and here I'm sure there'll be screams of outrage - that the CofE writers of modern language liturgy are better at it than the RC ones. I think they just are, even when they aren't doing it all that well, historically more instinctively attuned as to how to produce vernacular liturgy.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
As for BT's point of whether you could do BCP with a non-traditional choir/ music group of some form (and I wasn't really thinking Svitlana had a West Gallery group in mind as the alternative [Biased] ): well, I don't know. You'd need to think it through carefully to make it a seamless whole. But it could be worth a try.

A few years ago I started a thread in which I asked whether Evensong had been or ever could be re-imagined in a charismatic or contemporary worship setting.

People seemed to think the question was rather odd. The impression I got was that Evensong didn't arise or maintain itself out of any evangelistic or popular impulse, and so the idea of adapting it with any such agenda in mind didn't make much sense. I'd made a sort of category error that emphasised my lack of belonging, so to speak.

Maybe the idea doesn't seem quite so bizarre now.

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Oscar the Grouch

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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
I think some ministers who don't use the BCP very often tend to assume that, since it's all written down, all they have to do is read the words off the page.

Whereas I think the words do require preparation beforehand, as though you were going to recite a Shakespearean monologue. The problem isn't the thees and thous so much as the syntax which can be quite intricate and not easy to parse...

You need to think about where the emphasis and hiatuses should fall in order to guide the congregation through the sentence structure.

Absolutely! BCP services can be a joy to lead, but you have to get accustomed to the sentences and how they flow.

In my present parish, our weekly BCP service is actually growing in congregation. Over the past three years or so, our average weekly congregation has gone up from 21 to 26 and if everyone who might be termed a "regular" was there at the same time, we would have about 35. This congregation isn't just retirees - it includes two (unrelated) people with teenage children (one of whom also attends from time to time).

Why has this service grown? I don't think there is one single reason. Here are some factors:

  • I enjoy leading the service and I think that this comes across. I am comfortable with the language of the BCP and so everyone else relaxes too.
  • The regulars are genuinely welcoming and warm. Any stranger is accepted, respected and included.
  • Coffee and cake (and chatter) after the service is as important as the service itself. There is a genuine community feel.
  • We use specially produced service booklets with large type (14pt) and only include the bits we actually use. In addition, the congregational bits are highlighted, making it easier for visitors to participate.
  • Most of all, we laugh a lot!


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Arethosemyfeet
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I have to say that, while I have grown to love the BCP, I don't share others' dislike or more modern liturgies. I was raised on ASB and CW (and now am most familiar with SEC's 1982 communion office and modern daily offices) and they are normative for me. Likewise I find the NRSV fine for spoken delivery - certainly far superior to the likely alternatives of the NIV or GNB or (worse) The Message.
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