This is another post from my wife reflecting on the struggles of finding a suitable playgroup for our grandson.
Finding a playgroup to take my grandson to has not been easy. It’s also revealed some worrying aspects of how the church sees its role in the world. Let me explain.
I have been involved in many playgroups since I took toddler Jeanette and baby Kathryn to the first in a church hall in Kingston, Tasmania, in 1977. I’ve been both participant and organiser, in both community-run and church-run groups. So I kind of know what I want for my grandson, and armed with the right questions I picked up the phone. Several churches in our neighbourhood run playgroups so I started with them.
The people I spoke to didn’t know me, I could have been anybody.
Question one: Is your playgroup run by the church? “Well, um, yes, sort of …”
Question two: Is there any Christian content? “What do you mean?”
Question three: Do you talk about God? Do you sing Christian songs, or tell Bible stories? What about saying thanks before snack time?
“Oh no! No, no, no!! I can assure you that we don’t ever do THAT! No, we provide a service to the community, that’s all.”
Okay, so I did fess up and told them that I was a Christian, looking for a playgroup that would help my little grandson explore and enjoy God’s world. I wanted a place filled with adults and kids ready to acknowledge Christ’s Kingship, at least by pausing before snack time, or by telling the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. But preferably much more than that.
But then I got an explanation of why they couldn’t do that. “We believe Jesus told us to just love people into the Kingdom.” And “the Bible says they will know we are Christians by our love”.
Church-run playgroups used to excite me. They were urban mission fields. I fear we have forgotten our calling.
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
My wife and I are church nerds. We love visiting old churches in particular. Over the last few days we have seen a few. One was located at Wharram Percy which is the site of a deserted medieval village but the ruins of the church still exist. This church is particularly interesting because it shows evidence of 12 distinct phases starting with a timber church in the 900s through to a stone church that was last used in the 1800s long after the village had been deserted.
These changes, indicating the growth and the decline of church numbers, are reflected in the stone work.
One of the other churches we visited was at Beverley – the largest parish church in England. It has all the hallmarks of a Cathedral but it is not the seat of a bishop. It is quite a magnificent building and showed signs vigorous use as a church – which is not always the case.
The church at Wharram Parcy
Here we can see and earlier round column being covered by a later square one
This photo shows an arch that has been in filled with wall and window
Inside Beverley Minster
Tags: churches, travel