A friend of mine described on facebook how, during these summer holidays, she tried to find out when services were in church whilst on her holiday. She couldn’t. She names the place. I want to make a similar point – I will be mostly more general: I was in holiday in Tasmania. The point of this post is not to name and shame particular churches in Tasmania. The point of this post is for you to use what is written here to review and reflect on your own context wherever you may be. This is not about Tasmania. This is about you, in whatever country you are reading this. Imagine yourself a visitor, a holidaymaker, in the area where you go to church – a non-churched visitor or holidaymaker if you like. How easy or how difficult is it for you to get to a church service?
Many of the church buildings were locked. I would say most were. Roman Catholic church buildings are more likely to be open than others [Striking exceptions to follow]. And when open, there would mostly be people coming in to pray. Or just to be. Whatever happened to the Anglican tradition expressed in the Book of Common Prayer: “And the Curate [we would now say Rector, or Vicar, or Priest in Charge] that ministereth in every Parish-church or Chapel, being at home, and not being otherwise reasonably hindered, shall say the same in the Parish-church or Chapel where he ministereth, and shall cause a bell to be tolled thereunto a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear God’s Word, and to pray with him.” Twice daily, this vision has it, clergy and people would gather to hear God’s Word and to pray. In the church building.
Finding out Sunday service times – even for someone committed to going to church – is embarrassingly difficult – sometimes nigh on impossible. The 20th century invention of the Internet has often not reached the church. Google Maps has gifted the churches that people can easily locate the church building, but, whilst other organisations have quickly taken up Google Maps’ opportunity to add information (opening times, descriptions, website), is your church information complete and up to date on Google Maps?
Often there is no website for the church. Or if there is one, it is out of date – I found one that didn’t even have 2019 Christmas information on it. Others, if I found a site, had nothing after Christmas Day 2019. Other sites were essentially directed to regulars, not visitors, holidaymakers, or newcomers. How hard is it to find your church site, and to find information on your site? Imagine yourself a visitor. Remember, no one driving into your township will know to search for your church’s name, Saint Ethelred. The Tasmanian Anglican diocesan website looks really attractive, but “Find a Church” NEVER gave a church’s website – even when I know a particular church had a good site! Church Information only gave phone numbers and sometimes an email address. [Kudos to those who did reply to me using these media that old people still use].
To be continued…