One of the words so dearly loved in church is ‘relevant’. We seem to think that it would be good to be relevant, and that if we can only attain that holy state, people who are not Christians will flock to our churches.
How wrong can we be, all in one go? Relevance is a myth, one dispelled some time ago by Henri Nouwen (The Way of the Heart). We would be far more use to God if we stopped trying to be relevant, and worked at being deep. Which leads me on to ageism. In our striving to be relevant, we impose a particular world-view on the likes/needs/proclivities of young people (loud music, late nights, flashing images etc). Which does not, of course, suit all young people.
But we impose something equally stereotypical on older people (BCP, contemplation, tradition). But there are older people who don’t want those things (many of them, including my mother in law who would have hated being made to worship in any of the above ‘oldies’ styles).
The thing is, the cynical bit of me wonders if the church is being ageist because it is cheap and easy. We have BCP, tradition is already established and contemplation is mostly free, so that’s give the older people that, because it will keep them happy, and we can go and do something more relevant
How scary is that? And what will the beloved C of E do if it manages to alienate its older people – than we generally won’t have young people or older ones, and even if we do get younger ones, just to remind you, they get older too…
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