Friday, 5 February 2010

A roomful of dog collars

Yesterday, I was on a diocesan training thing. I was a running late and just managed to walk into the event just on time. Entering the room I was confronted by about 30 men and women seemingly all wearing dog collars and black shirts.

Now, I shouldn't have been surprised at this, I'm a vicar you know, but I was. In fact I was shocked at my feelings as I must admit to feeling a little scared. It felt like going back 30 years, maybe more. It felt oppressive. It felt odd.

Now, obviously as the event went on I discovered these were very nice people who were doing some good things.

But really, is it any wonder the Church is struggling to reach out effectively in the 21st century? If I, a rector, found it hard to deal with it what chance the people who have no experience of Church.

One of the significant things I've found since I've stopped wearing clerical dress is that people relate to me much more openly and honestly. It's led to me having more significant pastoral converstions and greater opportunities to talk about what I really believe. They say that they can relate better to me because I don't wear a collar.

I'm sure our move to informality, in Aldridge, has led to church growth. It seems to declutter any explanation of the Gospel. There's less barriers to get through. It shows people that Church Leaders can be normal. A common thing I'm told, as a compliment, is 'you're just like one of us.'

That to me seems incarnational, so I'm going to stick with it. I can't think of any theological or Biblical reasons why I need to change (my clothes)?

Should someone kill off Deanery Synods?

I've just been reading loads of tweets about people who are going off to Deanery Synods up and down the country. The common feature is they're all negative. In fact when I think about it I've never been to a useful synod. The only time I go is when they talk about money how it might effect the share we have to pay in Aldridge.

I can't believe that for 14 years I've put up with mediocrity of all this. This can't be the way to do it. I'm virtually always the youngest in the room (and I'm 42). The tendency is always to avoid change. The rooms tend to be full of ancient suspicions of the next door parishes. The debates are almost certainly thin and don't have much, if at all, to do with sharing the Good News of Jesus let alone the Kingdom of God.

I know a few years ago there was a CofE report which suggested Deanery Synods should end. I think the Deanery Synods voted this down. Isn't it time some bishops got together and sorted this out. We need some fresh vision invested in them or else someone should take the 'bull by the horns' and kill them off.

If we are being negative about them, we need to sort them.