I recently read an article in which (former Bishop) Richard Holloway said “Walking is the new church going for some people.”
(Holloway said some other interesting things in the article – I agree with some; others baffle me!)
I understand what he’s saying about church. As a regular ‘church-goer’ I often feel that the greatest benefit is in the social dimension, rather than the element of worship. In part, that’s due to the changing nature of worship over the last couple of decades as traditional models have been replaced with a more informal and variable approach.
For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not advocating one style over another. Rather, I’m reflection on something that I’ve sensed for a while now – there is a real danger that we come to church with expectations that are too high, too self-centred. We come with the dominant attitude of our society… that of a consumer.
In our crowded everyday lives, where we run frantically from one activity to the next, we have squeezed out time for reflection and stillness and wonder. Instead, we have bundled all of those needs (and probably many others) in to a couple of hours on Sunday mornings. And frequently we leave as disappointed consumers.
This may sound pessimistic. But, for me, it raises questions:
- What if we re-discovered wonder, stillness, deep communion in our lives?
- What if we re-calibrated our expectations around church?
- What if we went for a quiet walk more often?
- What if we asked ‘what if…?’?