What's the point of going to church - Has the pandemic lockdown made a difference?
We met online via Zoom on Saturday June 7th to discuss this topic. Nine were present.
Andy began with a short Powerpoint presentation, the slides for which can be found in our Resources section. The bullet points were all taken from an article in Progressive Voices (September 2018) written by Christine Whitfield, in which she outlined the reasons why she still goes to church even though she can no longer believe much of traditional Christian doctrine.
In considering our experience of lockdown, Several people said they miss the fellowship of meeting in church. However, one member made the point that online worship is good because it is possible to become more intimate with the content and to spend as much time on it as you wish. Everyone empathised with Christine Whitworth’s list, but the point about an ‘emerging opportunity to discuss faith with others’ was not echoed widely. One person spoke of such opportunities being closed down as the fundamentalist wing of her church has gained influence.
Another person thought that Christine had missed off from her list the ‘looking beyond’ or search for the numinous which for her is part of church going, summed up in the word ‘hope’. She saw this not in terms of having a relationship with a God but more in terms of the numinous which is found in fellowship with others. (Hope I got that right).
We finished up talking about what changes we might like to introduce to our churches when we can resume normal church life. One suggestion was to ask for the chance to organise a service along progressive lines occasionally, perhaps on the 5th Sunday whenever that occurs. We recollected an earlier meeting where a member described a church where such ‘living alongside’ was in the end squashed as the evangelicals took over everything. Another member spoke of how there used to be an atheist who attended her house group who would ask the questions that she wanted to but wasn’t brave enough. Sadly he left the group. One of our members, a preacher, said that the main reason she continues to preach is that in every church there is usually at least one person who is grateful to have the progressive point of view expressed, and if she didn’t they probably wouldn’t have that support at all. Another person suggested that in order to be more open and less dogmatic, there should be more people contributing to a service – and not just by reading set texts.