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The big questions: Church? do I just turn up?

This year Journey explores questions from the pews, namely from a (fictitious) person exploring faith and the Uniting Church.

This month a friend asks Nova B Lever: Church? Do I just turn up?

A FEW weeks ago a work colleague and I had one of those water cooler conversations about “God, church and stuff”.

I suggested my friend visit a local church but he joked that the roof would fall in if he went into a church.

The next day however, he emailed.

“I have never been in any sort of place of worship,” he wrote.

“Can I just turn up to your church, or are there preparation classes to learn what to do at a service.

Oh, and I hate singing.”

I promised he’d be welcome.

There are millions of Australians like my work friend.

What we do on Sunday mornings is completely foreign to them: sit in rows, stand up, sing along, repeat after me, raise your hands, kneel down, close your eyes and so on.

He didn’t turn up that Sunday and I was nervous when I saw him at the coffee pot on Monday morning.

Maybe my friend was too self-conscious.

I know how it feels to turn up by myself, without a clue.

I was wrong.

He had changed his mind after reading the Weekend Australian magazine letters.

People were responding to an article about young Pentecostal Christians.

Church? Do I just turn up?

One person described them as “Bogans with Bibles”.

Another wrote, “I suspect other churches and their happy clappers are popular because it’s simply easier to go along to
church for a good old singalong than it is to have to wrestle with any of the intellectual complexities of theology.

It’s the dumbingdown of Christianity; and why not?

As a society we’re dumbing down in general, which of course includes our churches.”

My work friend wasn’t ready for intellectual complexities or feeling “dumb”.

I think he’s still feeling his way and we’re talking about going to an Alpha course together or something similar.

I’m praying my friend will turn up one Sunday.

I hope Mr and Mrs Bellamy are at the church door with that special smile and handshake.