Does Church need to be fun?

Would you go and watch the same movie over and over again every week – no matter how much you loved it?

Probably not.

So why then should we go to church every week and essentially do the same thing that we do every time we go?

We live in a culture that demands ‘experience.’

We live in a culture that demands ‘experience.’

Shopping is no longer going out to get things we need but it’s an entertainment. We shop for fun.

Similarly, we no longer visit a museum to see the exhibits but to have something like the ‘BODY WORLDS Museum Experience with Unlimited Asian Tapas’ – that was offered to me online earlier this week.

Timothy Radcliffe in his excellent book Why Go To Church? suggests that a church service should ‘take us by the hair and hurl us into the mystery of God.’ Which sounds both exhilarating and painful – but is not something we expect to experience on a Sunday morning at St Michael’s?

So what does he mean?

How can we create and receive ‘the Eucharistic experience’?

How can we create and receive ‘the Eucharistic experience’?

Radcliffe says that the Eucharistic experience does not need to be all about light systems, powerful singing and dancing in the aisles. It works ‘in the depths of our minds and hearts a very gradual, barely perceptible transformation of who we are, so quietly that we might easily think that nothing is happening at all.’

Our transformation by God’s grace is a slow business – and it only happens if we commit regularly to coming to church. And we then find that, little by little, we are formed into people who believe, hope and love. That is, we grow in the great ‘theological virtues’ of faith, hope and love – that St Paul spoke of in his first letter to the Corinthians.
Faith, hope and love are the ways that God makes his home in us and we in him. And this happens through Sunday by Sunday worship.



A huge event that takes and lasts a lifetime

Just stop and think about a regular Communion service. At the beginning we listen to the Word of God and this helps us grow in faith. In the Eucharistic Prayer we remember how, the night before He died, Jesus took bread, blessed it and gave it to His disciples saying, ‘This is my body, given for you’ and we have hope. Hope that failure, violence and death will not have the final say. And then, as we receive Communion, we experience the gift of love – as we encounter the risen Christ who offers to live within each one of us.

All this adds up to a huge event every Sunday. An experience, if you like, of how God – through Jesus – acts powerfully to save us.

This huge experience may not always be very emotional or dramatic but its cumulative effect is that we grow in faith, hope and love.

If we stuff ourselves with junk food every day and go to the gym once a month then those bouts of exercise will be pointless. And it’s similar with going to Church.

There’s no great point in going to Church once in a while – if our whole lives are pointed in another direction.

Going to a Church service is not like going to see a film – that bowls you over by its drama in the short space of a couple of hours. It is the greater and longer drama of your whole life. It reshapes your heart and forms you into the person God calls you to be – your very best and most beautiful self.

So, keep going to Church. Make it a regular habit. And see the difference that it makes to your life and the lives of those around you.