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Source: (consider it) Thread: BCP Evangelism
Baptist Trainfan
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@OscartheGrouch: Your analysis is most helpful. The questions I'd like to ask are: do you have other services that employ a different liturgy? What is their "ambience" like? And are they growing?
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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
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.

Quick tangent: While Presbyterians, like Lutherans, allow flexibility for the order of the service, and while no congregation is bound to a fixed liturgy or order (though there are requirements and principles that must be complied with), what might be called the "Western order"—Catholic Mass, Episcopal Holy Eucharist, Lutheran Divine Service, etc.—has been the standard pattern for American Presbyterian worship (the Service for the Lord's Day) since at least the early 1960s. So while it may be recent in terms of time since the Reformation, it's the only order of worship most Presbyterians these days have ever known. It's deviation from that order, not following that order, that would be considered "optional."

/tangent

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Arethosemyfeet
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Apologies for the tangent, but does that mean US Presbyterians customarily celebrate communion most if not every week?
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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
Apologies for the tangent, but does that mean US Presbyterians customarily celebrate communion most if not every week?

Apologies for starting and continuing the tangent.

Not yet, for the most part. Some congregations do, but monthly is the norm for most congregations. That said, the big shift that came about in the early 1960s was to present the weekly celebration as the expected norm rather than as the occasional add-on.

Because the decision of when to celebrate communion is vested in the Session (the governing council of the congregation), weekly communion cannot be mandated. But the service is presented in the Directory for Worship (obligatory) and in the Book of Common Worship and hymnal (not mandatory) with a "norm" of communion every Sunday, and with alternative instructions for when Communion is not celebrated. In other words, "here's the service and here's how you alter it if there's no Communion," rather than "here's the service, and if you're doing Communion too, here's what you change or add on." In essence, if it's not a Communion service, it's what some call ante-communion or a "dry Mass."

Prior to the 1960s, our liturgical materials contained "Morning services" that led to a sermon at the end. Communion was a stand-alone thing that could be tacked on before the last hymn. It's generally agreed that the adoption of the Service for the Lord's Day in the 60s had a profound effect in terms of shifting people's thinking, prompting most congregations to move from quarterly Communion to monthly, and sometimes, weekly Communion (maybe all year, maybe just during Easter), and gradually shifting perspectives (still in progress) to the idea that the Service is "incomplete" without Communion. It's been slow progress, but it's been progress toward weekly Communion all the same.

The shift began around the time I was born. Maybe by the time I die . . . .

[ 12. January 2018, 18:58: Message edited by: Nick Tamen ]

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Arethosemyfeet
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Interesting. Communion is quarterly (plus Maundy Thursday) here, though I understand some mainland congregations have moved to more regular celebration. The Book of Common Order lists three morning services without communion, and these still seem to be considered the "normal" Sunday service.

[ 12. January 2018, 19:15: Message edited by: Arethosemyfeet ]

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Oscar the Grouch

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
@OscartheGrouch: Your analysis is most helpful. The questions I'd like to ask are: do you have other services that employ a different liturgy? What is their "ambience" like? And are they growing?

a) Yes. Our "main" service is modern liturgy (actually a number of different liturgies).

b) The ambience is similar to the BCP, although this service has music (mixture of trad hymns and more recent hymns/worship songs). For a variety of reasons, there isn't quite the same sense of community and togetherness.

c) Overall, numbers have declined at this service, although there have still been a fair number of new people joining this congregation in the past few years.

I find it interesting that this service seems to fall in line with the experiences of other Anglican churches in the area, whilst it is the BCP service that is bucking the trend.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Baptist Trainfan
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That's very interesting and deserves more exploration.

I think the question I would have to ask is, whether the newcomers to the BCP services are unchurched people, possibly attracted by a sense of continuity, tradition and the numinous; or whether they are disaffected Christians from other, more 'trendy'. churches?

If it's the former, then you're breaking new ground and that's excellent (though I'd be interested to know if the newcomers come from any defined social background). If it's the latter, then you're merely seeing a sideways shift of Christians.

I posted upthread the story of a small rural Nonconformist church I know which has grown in recent years. It prides itself (and I use the phrase advisedly) on being traditional in style, has excellent music and offers a pleasant ambience and a warm welcome. But all the new arrivals have come from other churches that have "gone modern", and after-service conversations can be somewhat negative. Having said this, I always enjoyed preaching there, and the cake was uniformly excellent!

[ 13. January 2018, 08:02: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Gamaliel
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Sure, I get all that, Baptist Trainfan, but surely the reverse was the case back in the day with the rise of the 'new churches'?

They were largely made up of Christians from non-conformist groups of various stripes and what led or lured more of their co-religionists in was largely their style of worship ... lively and contemporary.

Sure, the 'new churches' did pick up the 'unchurched' as time went on but initially at least most of the growth was 'transfer growth'.

I suspect that holds for most churches in the UK - of whatever stripe.

A lot of MoTR and liberal churches seem to me to have mostly 'cradle' folk or else disaffected people from more full-on styles of church.

Other than the 'ethnics', most Orthodox here seem to have been RC, Anglo-Catholic, more broadly Anglican or some kind of Protestant at some point.

I can't think of that many churches that are actually reaching the 'unchurched' in any significant numbers.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Bishops Finger
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Hmm. I suspect that, in a small way, Our Place does reach the 'unchurched' - but only on a few occasions in the year.

I refer to our uniformed organisations' Parade Services viz. 3 x Parish Eucharists and 1 x Christingle service, along with a monthly 'Crafty Church' (like Messy Church, but for a slightly older age group).

Many of those - children and adults - who attend these services and events are rarely, if ever, seen on any other occasion. 'Crafty Church', in particular, has some as yet untapped potential...

We do have new people joining our Sunday morning congregation from time to time, but, as Gamaliel points out, these are mostly sideways transfers.

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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Bishops Finger
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I should have said, of course, that our situation is probably fairly typical of the C of E, and perhaps churches of other denominations, too.

Re the BCP, a neighbouring parish used to have a 630pm service on most Sundays (except the 3rd, when the service was at Our Place). One was a Common Worship Eucharist (the 10am slot being a Family Service), and the other two were BCP Evening Prayer, sometimes choral, and usually with a hymn or two.

There were usually a few people present, who had not been anywhere to church on Sunday morning, but who valued the opportunity to attend a quiet, reflective, and not-too-demanding act of worship.

Worth doing, if a few of the 'regulars' are willing to attend as well, but it need not be Choral Evensong or even BCP, of course.

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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balaam

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I can't think of that many churches that are actually reaching the 'unchurched' in any significant numbers.

In my experience, among the transfer growth of the growing churches there is always some new unchurched, or not churched for a long time, growth. It may be in a minority when compared to transfer, but it is not insignificant.

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Last ever sig ...

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
....who valued the opportunity to attend a quiet, reflective, and not-too-demanding act of worship.

Being Mr Picky - shouldn't worship be very demanding as part of its very nature?
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Baptist Trainfan
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Often, perhaps normally, but not always. There are times when we feel battered, tired and broken and simply need to relax in the restorative presence of God.

Of course, you may or may not feel that BCP evensong fits the bill!

[ 13. January 2018, 15:36: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
Being Mr Picky - shouldn't worship be very demanding as part of its very nature?

Why? Wouldn't that be rather a Pelagian understanding?

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Jengie jon

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
....who valued the opportunity to attend a quiet, reflective, and not-too-demanding act of worship.

Being Mr Picky - shouldn't worship be very demanding as part of its very nature?
No it is not automatically parts of worship. Just as being joyful is not automatically part of worship. There are times when the most a person can do is rest in God's presence, when that is the case then that is worship.

To use an old picture, if I spent all the time with my Dad seeking to be challenged by him it would not be much of a relationships would it? We need to enjoy God in worship after all that is the chief end of humanity.

Jengie

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by balaam:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I can't think of that many churches that are actually reaching the 'unchurched' in any significant numbers.

In my experience, among the transfer growth of the growing churches there is always some new unchurched, or not churched for a long time, growth. It may be in a minority when compared to transfer, but it is not insignificant.
Not insignificant in terms of the numbers involved in these churches, perhaps, but not particularly significant in terms of the wider population at large.

I did say, though, didn't I, that there were numbers of unchurched people who were reached/brought in by the 'new churches'?

I readily acknowledged that.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Enoch
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I agree with Jengie.

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John Holding

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Re Oscar's experience and, no doubt, that of others. While liturgy is undoubtedly a factor in which service people attend, it is unlikely to be the only one. The time of service is likely to be just as important...which service is at a time when people are free to attend, for example. Families with hockey-aged children (or soccer or...) are likely to have conflicts on Sundays which make attendance at one service or another impossible.

John

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L'organist
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posted by Baptist Trainfan
quote:
I think the question I would have to ask is, whether the newcomers to the BCP services are unchurched people, possibly attracted by a sense of continuity, tradition and the numinous; or whether they are disaffected Christians from other, more 'trendy'. churches?
At our place we find that those who could be described as "unchurched" seem to feel more comfortable with Matins than with a eucharist. We have asked why (in a friendly, non-threatening way of course) and although there have been a variety of answers the majority come down in favour of the fact that they can just sit quietly and follow the service in the booklet, listen to the readings and join in the hymns. Those who had previously tried a eucharist did say that they found The Peace and Communion (or rather not being able to receive) particularly off-putting at first and that Matins seemed to require less of them while they tried churchgoing.

Now I'm not saying that is going to be so for 100% of people but that is our experience.

Of course, these responses have been rubbished by people like the Archdeacon and others in the rural deanery but the fact is that this is what the people themselves are saying.

Whether or not people have tried other churches (trendy or otherwise) is not something we tend to ask: we just try to make people feel welcome with being overwhelmed and let them make up their own mind about coming to post service coffee or trying a eucharist.

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

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Oscar the Grouch

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The "growth" is a mixture:
- People moving to the area who were previously regular attenders at a church where they were before.
- People who once were attenders at a church but haven't been for some time and now have "come back" to church.
- One or two people who have had no great church experience at all in the past.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Jay-Emm
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That would make a lot of sense, there's a lot to go wrong as a visitor to the Eucharist (even trans traditions).
In Matins/Evensong (& Hymn sandwiches) there isn't too much to understand or obvious points for people to challenge at.

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
I agree with Jengie.

As ever, I'm going to say it's 'both and ...'


[Big Grin]

An Anglican vicar once told me how he'd asked a Russian Orthodox bishop, during a trip to Russia, why everyone had to stand for the duration of the services (unless they were elderly or infirm).

The Bishop growled that if it didn't 'cost' you anything then it wasn't true worship ...

[Confused]

I can see what he was getting at but yes, it could be construed as being a tad Pelagian - if not Pharisaical.

'Look, I've got a crick in my neck and a dead leg, my worship must have really been of value to God today ...'

Of course, that's not really how they see it and yes, I agree with Jengie on the 'whole duty of man' thing and how worship doesn't have to be some kind of furrowed-brow struggle to get ourselves in the zone as it were ...

I've often been struck by that verse in Hebrews that says that we should 'strive' to enter God's 'rest'.

http://biblehub.com/hebrews/4-10.htm

It sounds counter-intuitive of course - 'make every effort' to 'enter my rest'.

--------------------
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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Oscar the Grouch

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quote:
Originally posted by John Holding:
Re Oscar's experience and, no doubt, that of others. While liturgy is undoubtedly a factor in which service people attend, it is unlikely to be the only one. The time of service is likely to be just as important...which service is at a time when people are free to attend, for example. Families with hockey-aged children (or soccer or...) are likely to have conflicts on Sundays which make attendance at one service or another impossible.

John

I think you're spot on.

For some people, anything that doesn't involve singing would be acceptable! For others, anything that was at 8am would be acceptable, as that gives them the rest of the day to do family stuff or whatever. Some, though, do seek out the service as a style that they want.

My gut feel is that almost ANY service - be it "modern" or "traditional" - can bee a place of growth, if it is done well and with integrity and if the people involved are truly caring and welcoming.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Jay-Emm:
That would make a lot of sense, there's a lot to go wrong as a visitor to the Eucharist (even trans traditions).

Our Eucharist (only we don't call it that!) is explicitly open to all, including children, and we do give instructions during the service as to what to do (remember this is Nonconformist liturgy with "wee cuppies").

So we'll say that anyone may take Communion, whether they are members of this church, of another church, or of no church at all (we sometimes use the Iona welcome which talks about coming to the Lord's Table especially if you feel you haven't much faith). We also explain how to take the bread when it is passed (eating at once to symbolise one's personal faith) and taking a cuppie of wine (but then waiting to drink it together to symbolise our unity with each other and communion with all Christians). We also say that, if for any reason, a person does not wish to partake, they can simply nod to the person serving them and need not feel embarrassed.

All this takes much longer to write than to say, and need not be in the slightest bit intrusive. Obviously Anglican practice is different and may be more complex.

[ 13. January 2018, 17:39: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Jay-Emm
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
All this takes much longer to write than to say, and need not be in the slightest bit intrusive. Obviously Anglican practice is different and may be more complex. [/QB]

We (Anglican), sometimes, say something vaguely similar.
It's slightly more complex, you have to realise when it's time to move, move in a queue, [find the right time and gap to kneel/stand at the right distance from the server], [hold your (I want a blessing) book clearly/take the bread without double stepping] etc...
None of which are very complex, but services without them don't have them.

When I've gone to a wee-cuppie place, the issue I find is how to deal sensibly with there being loads of juice in the wee cup afterwards. (Which is a bit silly).
I think we passed along, which again left a bit of a 'what do I say' moment, and I'd imagine no matter how perfectly arranged, the process of declining is going to make you feel like you stand out just a little.

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Jengie jon

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I did not say that challenge was unacceptable in worship, just that it was not an essential element of every single act of worship.

I am an Iona Associate and have been using the response
quote:
I will not offer God
that which cost me nothing

but cost is not the same as challenge. The answer to worship and cost is that, that yes a cost fits with worship but remember the widows mite. Sometime the person who stopped for five minutes in a busy week for a familiar worship, is offering more than those who make the effort to go everyday to worship that challenges them.

Jengie

--------------------
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Back to my blog

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Gramps49
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Quick note to Ian

When I say we change our liturgy about every six weeks, I should have said the basic outline stays the same. The chants and the Eucharistic prayer change. (Don't tell anyone, we have stopped using the traditional creeds. We use A New Creed which was developed by the United Church of Canada in 1968. Our confirmation kids just did a side by side comparison of it to both the Nicene and Apostles' Creed. They ended up liking the UCC creed the best. We still use the Apostles' Creed as the baptismal creed.

[ 13. January 2018, 21:07: Message edited by: Gramps49 ]

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by Bishops Finger:
....who valued the opportunity to attend a quiet, reflective, and not-too-demanding act of worship.

Being Mr Picky - shouldn't worship be very demanding as part of its very nature?
No it is not automatically parts of worship. Just as being joyful is not automatically part of worship. There are times when the most a person can do is rest in God's presence, when that is the case then that is worship.

To use an old picture, if I spent all the time with my Dad seeking to be challenged by him it would not be much of a relationships would it? We need to enjoy God in worship after all that is the chief end of humanity.

Jengie

Get that but sometimes silence and resting is demanding in itself ...

[ 14. January 2018, 05:32: Message edited by: ExclamationMark ]

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Jay-Emm:
There's a lot to go wrong as a visitor to the Eucharist (even trans traditions).

Our Eucharist (only we don't call it that!) is explicitly open to all, including children, and we do give instructions during the service as to what to do (remember this is Nonconformist liturgy with "wee cuppies").

So we'll say that anyone may take Communion, whether they are members of this church, of another church, or of no church at all (we sometimes use the Iona welcome which talks about coming to the Lord's Table especially if you feel you haven't much faith).

IME there's a widespread assumption that if visitors don't present themselves for communion it's because they think they don't have enough faith, or aren't worthy enough. But as L'organist has suggested, there could well be other reasons.

They may simply not see the point in participating in a ritual that doesn't mean anything to them. The idea that this ritual is somehow essential even if they don't believe much or any of the liturgy that accompanies it may not make much sense. (Many visitors probably haven't yet understood that Christian liturgy includes a lot of statements that individuals don't actually have to 'believe'.....)

If they were baptised as babies but are only just feeling their way towards faith they may be holding off on communion until it does feel meaningful to them. After all, where else can they deposit their desire for some kind of grand ritual of transformation? If it's a traditional church then a full immersion dedication won't be available.

Or they may just want to observe proceedings or take in the atmosphere, as has been said. And if the congregation is small perhaps they just fear standing up for everyone to see them!

I wonder if there's any research into attitudes towards communion among clergy, congregations, occasional visitors and the unchurched. I think it's one of those rituals around which the chance for mutual misunderstanding is high.

[ 14. January 2018, 12:10: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Of course, theological disagreements about communion exist throughout organised Christianity, but I'm thinking about the various perspectives that exist without much comment at a more grassroots, untutored level.
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Baptist Trainfan
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This is interesting. At our church leaders' meeting this week I ventured the opinion that our Christmas Eve "midnight" (8pm!) service, which normally attracts a number of visitors and irregular attenders, ought to not be a Communion Service as this could cause precisely the difficulties you mention. The general consensus though was that not only our members but outsiders are used to the idea of "Midnight Mass" and would expect this and feel cheated if Communion was not offered. My suggestion was "not carried".
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Perhaps it's true that for some people, the appeal of communion lies for a large part in its status as a traditional ritual. In the CofE I suppose this is particularly important on Christmas Eve. Traditionalists who go to church infrequently might be expecting the traditions to be upheld on such rare, momentous occasions - even if they don't necessarily want to participate in them.

Midnight Mass isn't something I'm used to, but I went to one last year. Lots of Muslims were in attendance. They'd been invited because their mosque maintains very good interfaith relations with this particular CofE church. They even brought along roses, which they handed out to the large congregation at the end of the service.

In this instance, the vicar clearly couldn't offer an 'all are welcome' invitation as that would have been somewhat embarrassing. I can't remember what she did say, but I think some Muslims did queue up, perhaps for a blessing. The others observed with respect and curiosity.

Perhaps the situation for these Muslims was actually less awkward than it would be for indigenous, non-religious attenders, since the Muslims knew they were guests who weren't expected to participate in everything, whereas at a different time of year less obvious 'outsiders' might be urged to participate even though they felt anxious about something that was confusing and unfamiliar to them.

This is just conjecture, though. Who knows what anyone in the pews thinks about these things?!

[ 14. January 2018, 15:41: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Aravis
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Several years ago I knew a Japanese family who lived near us for a few years before returning to Japan. The mother was keen to learn about all aspects of British culture in her spare time and I took her to a number of things - but never to church. I didn't want to take her to one of our few non-Eucharistic services as they were poorly attended, and I knew that to take her to a Eucharist would have caused her great social embarrassment; she had no Christian belief and would have been unsure about participating, the shared cup would have worried her from the point of view of hygiene, and she would have felt embarrassed about sitting out.
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If you include the Nonconformists there are plenty of options that don't include communion. Where they exist, Anglican evening services don't normally include it either. And why must a church be full in order to be presentable?

OTOH, since 'British culture' has relatively little use for church life, perhaps a church wouldn't have been a very useful place to go.

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