At this stage in the project, some questions haunt me.
Concerning the elderly, we’re probably wrongly complacent although I’m not going to fret about it unnecessarily.
No, the question that haunts is the one about the young, or even just those who aren’t elderly. Where will they come from? How will we attract them?
It’s part of the basis of the project, that we recognise that the elderly can find themselves segregated from the rest of society, from the rest of the church. But, why do we think our church will be different? If a handful of us locate a church in the context of the elderly, why would anyone join us, from the rest of society or from the rest of the church. We’re asking people to do something that is, apparently, unattractive to the majority of us.
One response might be to come up with lots of the schemes and plans to attract people, to organise a grans, parents and toddlers morning, to try to bring in the local school. We could try to make our church attractive, enjoyable, surprisingly so. Things like this could prove useful, but not yet.
The primary problem with responding in this way is that it’s back to front. We need to attract people, not primarily because we’ve created something attractive (doubly difficult for us) but because there is an authenticity to what we do, who we are, who we understand ourselves to be. If we are the Church, if God is present amongst us, if we are connect by the Spirit to Christ we will therefore offer something that is unexpected, strange, weird, a genuine alternative to what is available in this world. If this proves to be the case, people will join us because they find Christ here and therefore the challenge of a church that is – in some respects – unappealing can be overcome.
In other words, the Word of God needs to be heard in this place, in this time, amongst these people. We need to be a community of witnesses to God’s Word and a community that this a witness to God’s Word.