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Rugby café worship

v3_webRugby stadiums changing to a new format based on cafes are finding that they are beginning to fill again in comparison to those stadiums not moving with the times and continuing to play Rugby in the way they did in the past.

“People are not familiar with the game of Rugby in the way they used to be,” says Rugby Union spokesperson, U. R. Joking. “Over the years we’ve made some changes to the way Rugby is played – those who haven’t been for a while would be surprised at the changes – but it still hasn’t stemmed the tide of diminishing numbers. Parents and grandparents are no longer bringing children to Rugby games and helping them understand the game in the way they used to.”

Some stadiums and rugby playing fields have taken a leaf out of café-culture books. “Nearly everyone is familiar with going to a café or a night club so we have taken ideas from cafes and night clubs and applied them to the game.”

No more complicated scoring systems – children and the “un-Rugbied” are clearly not familiar with them and find them confusing. They have been scrapped. People generally are much more familiar with cups and mugs than with rugby balls so the game now starts with each of the 50 players (the number has been increased to improve participation) starting holding a cup of coffee (there are no sides – competition is not part of café or night-club culture). Each person who gets more than half of their coffee across the line gets a point. There are clearly checks and balances: those with a short black are at an advantage because the cup is lighter -but it is easier to spill more than half of the contents. Tackling is still allowed. But there are no scrums as they would look out of place in a café or on the dance floor. After scoring a point players can move on to running with a muffin or cake (2 points), mains (3 points), and deserts (4 points).

Traditional Rugby games are still held but they are increasingly attended by diminishing numbers of aging spectators. At fields that offer both traditional and café-style the traditional will be on at a less convenient time. People generally are not trained to play traditional Rugby any more as it is clear where the future of Rugby is going. When challenged that the new café-style Rugby isn’t really Rugby is it, and that when people come to a Rugby stadium they might expect to be part of real Rugby, and that people’s ability to learn is being grossly underestimated, U. R. Joking looks bemused and responds, “the numbers clearly tell a different story.”

Churches changing to a new format based on cafes are finding that they are beginning to fill again in comparison to those churches not moving with the times and continuing to have liturgy in the way they did in the past.

“People are not familiar with the liturgy in the way they used to be. Over the years we’ve made some changes to the way the liturgy is prayed – those who haven’t been for a while would be surprised at the changes – but it still hasn’t stemmed the tide of diminishing numbers. Parents and grandparents are no longer bringing children to church and helping them understand the liturgy in the way they used to.”

Some churches have taken a leaf out of café-culture books. “Nearly everyone is familiar with going to a café or a night club so we have taken ideas from cafes and night clubs and applied them to services.”

No more complicated liturgies or communion – children and the “un-churched” are clearly not familiar with them and find them confusing. They have been scrapped.…

Traditional liturgies are still held but they are increasingly attended by diminishing numbers of aging congregants. At churches that offer both traditional and café-style the traditional will be on at a less convenient time. People generally are not trained to pray traditional liturgy any more as it is clear where the future of services is going. When challenged that the new café-style church isn’t really church is it, and that when people come to a church they might expect to be part of real liturgy, and that people’s ability to learn is being grossly underestimated, …

(This post will count as part 5 in the Liturgy as Language series. Parts 1 to 4 can be found from here)

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5 Responses to Rugby café worship

  1. Absolutely prophetic, Nathan-style.

    I am so tired of churches abandoning our heritage for the sake of appealing to the modern culture. Do you have a link to the original story? It would be interesting to read in its entirety and check out the source.

    …Are you advocating that worship become more like traditional rugby? (Joking)

  2. Sorry, I meant the italicized portion. It read like it was from one of those church growth magazines and the first section like a parody on it.

    But, it is easy to write a compilation of the essence of what is being said out there on the cafe-church “movement(?)”

    Thanks for putting this perspective on it.

  3. The italicised portion is mine as much as the first section. As with any parable I guess it can be read in a number of ways depending on the reader’s context. I had not thought of it as limited to the “cafe-church “movement(?)”” but see your point that it could be applied to that. I hope that focus does not distract from the parable’s wider application. I could have made it football (soccer) instead of cafe (it is more widely played and understood), or baseball, or something else to replace the less-understood Rugby. The point is that we can underestimate visitors’ and seekers’ and children’s ability and interest in participating in good liturgy – and there are good ways of helping them be incorporated into the liturgical community which may be better than abandoning liturgy for the sake of visitors, seekers, and children.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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