Wifi Church
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Andrew Lloyd Webber's vision to drag churches into the 21st century

 

Seemingly from out of nowhere, Andrew Lloyd Webber, who we might expect to be a little distracted by his ‘babe’ Nicole Scherzinger performing in the recently revived Cats, has announced that he is on a visionary mission to restore churches to the centre of their communities once again. The key to this ambitious plan is to fit our church buildings with Wi-Fi and make it available to the general public. And just in case any church treasurer might be getting a little nervous at the thought of finding the funds to implement such an initiative, Lord Lloyd Webber’s intention is that government stumps up the cash. Apparently, he’s been discussing his proposal with Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey, who is reported to be actively considering the project. “We are keen to ensure our heritage is preserved,” he said.

Centuries ago, churches were the most dominant buildings in their towns and villages. They weren’t simply used for services – the naves would ‘belong’ to the parishioners and played a central role in hosting all sorts of secular activities. With the installation of pews, much of this ceased, so when Lord Lloyd Webber talks about a curious juxtaposition of returning to medieval traditions and providing 21st-century communication technology, how exactly would it work? Even for churches which have done away with their pews or are modern enough not to have them in the first place, what would the benefit of free Wi-Fi be beyond simply allowing congregations to check Facebook more easily when the sermon starts to drag on a bit?

Talk of installing Wi-Fi suggests that no one has thought of this already (at least from the Daily Mail‘s point of view). Even though there are still some churches for whom the thought of having a flushing toilet is a novelty, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are plenty which are offering a digital connection to the rest of the world.

There is one church in particular that I have been visiting for over 30 years, and which has used Wi-Fi to great advantage.

When I was young we would regularly visit Polzeath on the north coast of Cornwall. On the other side of the road from the beach stood the Methodist Chapel, which would draw in many visitors, but the regular congregation was made up of a diminishing number of very committed but mostly elderly members. By the early 2000s the end was nigh. The few remaining members had a decision: either sell the chapel for a decent sum, or find someone with a vision to take it in a new direction.

Tubestation Polzeath OutsideConvinced this was not the end of the road, in 2007 the chapel was handed over to a pair of Christian surfers who had a heart for the local community. It was renamed Tubestation, turned into an internet cafe during the week, and had a skate ramp installed. By offering the only free public Wi-Fi in the town and a place for visitors and locals to relax, it has developed into an important hub for those living in the area. It now has an art gallery with local artists, its own blend of coffee, and hosts the annual ‘Jesus Longboard Classic’ surf competition. Service attendance continues to grow, as does its reputation. Location, Location, Location‘s Phil Spencer is a big fan and regular visitor.

Phil Spencer Tubestation tweet

I continue to visit Tubestation regularly, and it’s been quite incredible to see it develop and grow, becoming the sort of church that Andrew Lloyd Webber is probably talking about. It is valued by many people who would not normally have any intention of going near a regular church, and by doing so they have discovered that the Christian faith has meaning and relevance. In this case, the Wi-Fi is just a small part of the jigsaw that makes this church so vibrant and engaged.

Tubestation Polzeath CafeIf the Lloyd Webber plan ever comes to fruition, the whole concept of Church Wi-Fi will only be of any value if churches actually do something proactive with it. In its own way it will act as a potential catalyst for them to reach out and offer something bigger that can bless their communities. It will only succeed, though, if churches have an understanding of the needs around them, and the vision to put something together that is dynamic and relevant to the 21st-century lives of those who visit.

Traditionally, churches tend to lag behind the prevailing culture and technologies, often playing catch-up when it comes to taking advantage of the opportunities on offer. The gospel has no need at all to be tampered with – God’s truths are eternal – but the method of delivery needs to updated with every generation if the message is to be effectively presented. Andrew Lloyd Webber is no fool with a harebrained scheme: he sees the potential for churches to be vibrant and provide the lifeblood for the communities around them. The more we see the lead of pioneers such as Tubestation being followed, the greater the likelihood that churches – and the Christian faith – will regain local prominence and community approbation. And if free Wi-Fi comes as standard, then that just makes things better still.

  • sarky

    All very well, but it will never happen. Actually think churches are afraid of change and are afraid of success, you dont know what sorry of riff raff you might get through the doors.

    • Nick

      We want the riff raff, but I bet people would only be able to stream Lloyd Webber musicals on a loop. I speak as a musicals fan, but I don’t want to hear: “If you’d come today you could have reached the whole nation, Israel in 4BC had no mass communication” on a data allowance plan set up by the Government. Although Superstar may be more edifying than some sermons.

      I suggest, just as an alternative, that instead of this Government wi-fi plan (which some people would resent as an unnecessary expense) that we learn to love each other and others. That way we really could be the centre of the community.

    • The Explorer

      What, in your view, would constitute success for a church?

      • sarky

        Bums on seats.

        • The Explorer

          Do the bodies on the seats contain souls?

          • sarky

            You believe they do.

          • The Explorer

            If you DON’T believe they have souls, then what is the point of the bodies being there?
            Paradoxically, from a secular point of view, those churches that have compromised least with the World (in its biblical sense) are the ones with thriving numbers. Those that have accommodated themselves most to the World, in terms of method and lack of belief, are empty.
            And so they should be. After all, what’s the point of going to a religious environment in order to be secular? Why not just stay in a secular environment in the first place?

          • sarky

            But how will they learn about their soul’s if you don’t get them through the door? Seems to me that you want christianity to be an exclusive club of people who believe the same as you.

          • The Explorer

            Loads of places offer free Wi-Fi these days. Why should I bother to go to a church to get it?
            Exclusive? Remember what Christ said about tax gatherers and prostitutes. Or the Parable of the Wedding Feast.
            Believing the same as me. You make me sound like the originator of the beliefs. But yes, about the essentials of the Faith. Isn’t that true of every group? Suppose you joined your local socialists and said how you wanted to extend private education, increase the gap between rich and poor, and dismantle the Welfare State. They might disagree with you. They might even expel you.

          • sarky

            Loads of places have free wi-fi?? Not outside towns and cities they don’t.

          • Nick

            Would free wifi get you into a church sarky?

          • sarky

            Free beer wouldnt get me into a church 😉

          • Nick

            You understand that new ideas like that can flourish in the Christian community without criticism or question? Free beer could be the key to a new revival. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would resist that kind of change.

          • sarky

            Until the punters get a little too full of the spirit!

          • Pubcrawler

            It’s the thirst after righteousness, as a bishop once described the post-Evensong tipple to me.

          • Pubcrawler

            Restoring the tradition of the ‘parish ale’ would certainly get my vote!

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parish_ale

          • grutchyngfysch

            ” Seems to me that you want christianity to be an exclusive club of people who believe the same as you.”

            10/10, would be trolled again.

        • Martin

          Sarky

          And “bums on seats” is not an indicator of a church’s success.

          • sarky

            Nor is an empty church.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            As has been said, the church is the people, not the building.

        • Anton

          Sarky, if bums on seats are an indicator of a church’s success then you must long for mediaeval Catholicism.

    • Martin

      Sarky

      Only riff raff are welcome in the Church.

      • sarky

        So why don’t they go then?

        • Martin

          Sarky

          They do.

  • Nick

    I’m not sure how comfortable I would be if the Government offered to install free wi-fi into my home. Would we be allowed to change the password?

  • Graham Wood

    A piece of mind boggling irrelevance to the gospel of Christ – completely remote from the New Testament. It also confuses the medium and the message. WI-Fi,
    Like a book, phone, or TV screen is merely the means of communication, not the end.
    In any event, a church building is not essential for access to any of these.
    The church is comprised of people, and not buildings.
    Christian churches, far from absorbing or being influenced by current culture is to act as salt and light and a radical counter-culture to the prevailing and passing culture of secularism.
    Gillan to use the title of John Stott’s booklet – “Your Mind Matters”. Try and think through what “church” is in NT terms.

    • sarky

      You have just proved my earlier point! Christians are unwilling to change and will therfore wither and die. All this salt and light stuff is totally meaningless to people outside the church. How do you expect to be salt and light if you just shut your doors and expect people to come in? Because they won’t. Whether you like it or not electronic communication and social media is how people communicate these days, even politicians have cottoned on to this. Sticking up a poster and having a ‘messy church’ once a month is not reaching people. If people hadn’t engaged with new forms of communication you wouldn’t have a bible would you? And christianty wouldn’t have spread round the world.
      With your attitude you deserve to go the way of the dodo.

      • The Explorer

        Christians, surely, have seen the benefits of electronic communication. Otherwise, this blog would not exist.

        • sarky

          But this blog exists primarily for christians. How is it reaching people? Also do you think it gives a good impression of christianity to those outside the church?

          • Dreadnaught

            But this blog exists primarily for Christians and still welcomes the like of you and me: that’s a good isn’t it? People from all corners come here for the OP; whether they write/read the comments (without moderator approval) is left to their choice – that is democracy in action. If Christians wants to claim this exercise as a product of their religious influence that’s fine by me, I don’t necessarily have to agree with them.

          • sarky

            Totally agree!! However, I was just making the point that the whole social media thing has been around for a while and christians are only now trying to catch up.

          • Phil R

            “the whole social media thing the whole social media thing has been around for a while and christians are only now trying to catch up.

            Why?

            Change the sentence to read

            abortion/homosexuality/dishonesty/the occult has been around for a while and christians are only now trying to catch up.

            so I still ask

            Why should we?

          • sarky

            Because if you dont you will decline to nothing.

          • The Explorer

            There are those who contribute here. There are also those who read. I don’t know their composition, or their numbers. Do you?
            The Christian message is that humanity is in a state of rebellion, and the way back to God is through repentance. That message is inevitably unwelcome to those still in rebellion: especially if they do not concede they have anything to repent.
            I’m off blog for a while. Thank you for the discussion.

      • dannybhoy

        Sarky,
        ” Whether you like it or not electronic communication and social media is
        how people communicate these days, even politicians have cottoned on
        to this.”
        Yes, but you can never use a smart phone to replace human contact can you? It seems to me that electronic communication is becoming a substitute for human interaction, and does nothing to teach about caring for people and healing broken relationships.
        I don’t blame people for not coming to church because often the people of the church expect non Christians to understand their church’s services and symbolism.
        Christianity has to be relevant, and it seems to me anyway, that people are getting lonelier and more isolated. That’s where we Christians need to be.

        • sarky

          But to be relevant doesn’t it need to adopt some of the underlying culture?
          I would say that interaction has increased, it’s just that this interaction has changed. People are now more in contact with eachother than ever before. Human interaction still exists but is bolstered by electronic communication.

          • dannybhoy

            “But to be relevant doesn’t it need to adopt some of the underlying culture?”
            What do you mean by ‘the underlying culture’ Sarky?
            It is inevitable that older people will find it more difficult to understand the younger generation simply because social behaviour and values change. I personally like being around youngsters.

            I love their energy and their idealism and that they see things usually in black and white. That doesn’t mean though that I can accept their values or behaviours.

            There is a great deal more moral relativity than when I was young and an acceptance of cheating or lying “if it makes you happy” or achieves a desired goal.
            There is far more instant gratification too, and often people are embarrassed to talk about meaningful things.
            So again, what exactly were you meaning by ‘underlying culture’?

          • sarky

            Your going a bit deep there Dannyboy!! All I meant was communicating the way the world communicates and using language the world understands.

          • dannybhoy

            Well, in a way you prove my point!
            Of course we Christians communicate with people, but there’s no easy or acceptable way to explain what sin or salvation is.. Basic Christian beliefs were mostly understood when I was a kid in the ’50s. even the ’60s and ’70s, but have largely been swept away now.

          • sarky

            But this is my point, the world has changed and of you don’t learn to get your message across in a way people understand, then christianity will die.

          • dannybhoy

            I don’t think Christianity was initially very popular with the rulers of the Roman Empire or under Soviet Russia, China, Nazi Germany, even North Korea!
            But the thing is that Christianity will ultimately be the only thing left!
            We believe that God has a plan for this world. It has a “shelf life” if you will, and God allows mankind to exercise freewill for as long as His celestial timetable allows.
            Then the closing programme will be initiated, just like the process a computer goes through when it closes down… 🙂

          • Phil R

            No Western people no longer think need the message of Christianity whatever format you use.

            Unless God makes them listen the message will always be unacceptable to them.

            God chooses the poor and those on the margins of society for some reason and makes them listen.

            In the main, Christianity moves away from wealth and power.

          • sarky

            Because wealth and power = education

          • Phil R

            Wealth and power make you think that you do not need God.

          • dannybhoy

            No no no Sarky. You’ve got that wrong. We are all for education.

          • Phil R

            “Your going a bit deep there Dannyboy!! All I meant was communicating the way the world communicates”

            Yes…e.g.

            We could all pose in our underwear and let our “mates” rate us.

          • sarky

            Thought I recognised you from somewhere! My mrs only gave you a 2/10 😉

          • dannybhoy

            No offence Phil, but that’s a great comeback!

      • Pubcrawler

        “even politicians have cottoned on to this”

        Though their expectations of it might be a litle on the high side:

        http://order-order.com/2015/01/05/social-media-sentiment-is-a-myth-just-ask-alex-salmond/

        ” If people hadn’t engaged with new forms of communication you wouldn’t have a bible would you?”

        Very true; the early church was an ‘early adopter’ of the codex while everyone else was still fumbling around with scrolls. Where electronic communication is the best tool for the job, there is no reason for the church not to use it, and every reason for it to do so.

    • Dreadnaught

      How can it be a piece of mind boggling irrelevance?
      Do you think that if this facility was available at the supposed time of Jesus or birth of Christianity that they would not have set up a Skype link and used or would have and chosen instead, to skin a sheep,manufacture a parchment, find a scribe, dictated it and send it by a messenger in dusty sandals?

      • Graham Wood

        Thanks for your comment. I am not a Luddite, and do not despise technology or its potential for the spread of the Gospel, but that it is not what the article is about, for it misunderstands why Christians gather together.
        I use the Internet in various forms daily, but I repeat, the medium is not to be confused with the message.
        As for Gillan’s article, perhaps much depends on what you think the church actually is and how it should function.
        I see little point in a gathering of people, particularly Christians, all tinkering with their tablets and mobiles, texting away & etc. I would have thought their first inclination would be to fellowship with one another!

    • Martin

      And of course the means of spreading the gospel is specified in the Bible.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Yes, it is.

    • The church is comprised of people, and not buildings
      Yes!

  • The Explorer

    Ed VAazey: ” We are keen to ensure our heritage is preserved.”
    Fine, unless it means that Christianity is something that happened in the past; rather than something that is still happening now.
    What is Christ? Someone who died, and whose memory must be preserved; or someone who rose from the dead, and is a living presence in believers through the Holy Spirit? Big difference.

  • Dreadnaught

    a central role in hosting all sorts of secular activities

    At last! someone who can chose the word ‘secular’ in a non-ad homininem sense.

    • Athanasius

      “Non-ad hominem”?

      • Dreadnaught

        Agreed; non-pejorative would have been better.

  • len

    In many parts of the World the Gospel is only available through the Internet, the Gospel can go out through the Internet into places that preachers cannot go!.
    The church should be a place for Christians to recharge their batteries and then go forth (fully charged) into the World to spread the Good News
    His Graces esteemed blog is an example of how the Word can go out into all the World and people may attend his Cyber Church to receive the Good News.
    There are many bad points about the Internet but God is able to use the bad to bring about the good which of course is the Good news that salvation is possible through Jesus Christ…

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    What a splendid idea! The Bishop (and I agree with him) has decided to throw open the cathedral here at Barchester to ‘the whole community’, so I have been organising all sorts of things to lure them in. The pews have been removed, cut up into bundles and distributed to the poor as kindling. This has created a glorious space, and by flooding it during these cold winter months we have created a skating rink, which is proving very popular. Mr. Harding plays popular songs on the organ each afternoon, when there is a tea dance in the Chapel of the Foolish Virgins. Mr. Slope attracts a diverse bunch with his Pleasant Afternoons in the Chapel of St Peter of Tatchell and the old gentlemen from Hiram’s Hospital sell produce from their allotments in the North Transept. Meanwhile, I am in charge of refreshments, offering my Hobnob specialities and warm buns for Jesus.

    • len

      This could catch on Mrs Proudie I have a Church near me that has been deserted for years I will suggest they follow your example and re -open and welcome the public in !.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        That’s the ticket, dear Len…

    • dannybhoy

      What a provocative woman you are Mrs Proudie!
      Cheeky, even…

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Provocative? Moi? Goodness! Like the church, which is one foundation, my foundations are sound, my stays robust. I do have a fondness for buildings however, but am enthusiastic about adapting them to suit the diversity of modern life. In my day, only Methodists and Dissenters took to open fields to preach, always a damp experience, especially for Holy Rollers. I am curious about the Divine intervention you mention…but the Lord moves in mysterious ways. The existence of Peter Hain confirms this.

        • dannybhoy

          Giggles!

    • Monica dyer

      My dear Mrs Proudie,
      We actually did get rid of the Pews and I helped by destroying one while putting up Christmas decorations. As well as Church services we have quizzes, barn dances and Christmas Markets in the Church. In theory it would be possible to create a roller skating rink (although the pillars would get in the way), but I’ve been banned from mentioning this to our Youth minister.

      • Phil R

        A local dying Catholic Church recently had a new Priest. He comes from the Philippines. His services are now full and they resemble a “rave” and are full of young people.

        The older parishioners are outraged I am told!

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Dear dear Monica, how wonderful! I have just arranged for the Lady Chapel to host a Black Lesbian Collective Knitting Bee and an ecumenical speed dating evening in the Chapter House. Do come…

  • Albert

    An interesting idea. But the churches I visit midweek are not empty, they have well attended Masses, and when services are not taking place, they have people praying in them. I’m not sure how this plan fits with that.

  • carl jacobs

    WiFi is great I suppose. I have been in churches with poor cellphone coverage and its hard to use an E-Copy of a Bible. And yet…

    I’m not sure why I should care about Webber’s idea to make a church the center of the community. He is basically trying to recast the church into a utilitarian secular mould. This isn’t about growing the church. It’s about sustaining a Christian heritage without growing the church.

  • I seem to recall that when Oliver Cromwell devised a new use for Ely cathedral (I think it was) by stabling his army’s horses there, it didn’t meet with universal approbation….

    • David

      He did the same in other churches as well. It was his “friendly” signal that he was displeased with that community – much better than a musket ball from 15 yards, I’d say.

      • Pubcrawler

        A common practice throughout history, here and abroad. John did it with Rochester Cathedral in 1215, it was endemic in France during the Revolution, etc. . .

  • Andrew Price

    The problem comes the moment we mention sin and the need for a Saviour…

    • sarky

      Probably because you don’t explain it very well or in away that people understand. (All that christian speak makes no sense and puts people off)

      • Andrew Price

        Okay. You’re a sinner. You need a saviour.

        Nope, too hard to understand:-)

        • sarky

          Try explaining without using the words ‘sin’ and ‘saviour’ then you might be getting somewhere! !

          • Andrew Price

            Sorry, can’t do that….

          • The Explorer

            I think Sarky understands perfectly well. He’s just being sarky.

          • sarky

            Exactly!! The words ‘sin’ and ‘saviour’ are irrelevant outside of church circles. You want people to understand then you will have to learn to explain it!

          • The Explorer

            Irrelevant is a different thing from incomprehensible.

          • sarky

            I still stand by irrelevant. The majority have no base line of christianity to start from, therfore, these words mean nothing.

          • The Explorer

            Knowing about something and rejecting it is not the same as not knowing about it in the first place.
            A saviour is one who saves, and sin is estrangement from God by not doing God’s will. One can understand both those concepts perfectly well and find them irrelevant to one’s life: either because God does not exist, or because one does not agree with God’s value system.

          • Dreadnaught

            When you start with a concept ‘Original Sin’ you stop making sense. This Guilt by association – with the human race, is ludicrous and quite unappealing. It only makes sense to those who believe it as viewed through a man made mish-mash of religio-speak and superstition.
            You (not personally) begin your pitch with; God made everything inside and outside of existence; when what is relevant to most people apart from Suicide Bombers and other death cult devotees, is what happens within human consciousness in the here and now.
            It may be a satisfactory explanation of the meaning and purpose of life for some, and no doubt induces a sense of smug self-contentment for others, but to non-subscribers it is an unattractive, un-provable concept with a violent history of enforcement.
            But as you say for some, they find it irrelevant to one’s life.

          • The Explorer

            Interestingly, although Schopenhauer was a Buddhist/Hindu insofar as he was anything (he called his poodle ‘Atma’) he thought the best concept in Christianity was Original Sin. It made sense when you looked at people.
            I will concede that Schopenhauer had a bleak view of life. Having to pay lifelong maintenance to the female cleaner he kicked downstairs (with permanent injury) for interrupting his thoughts may have had a bearing.

          • Dreadnaught

            The lousy bastard 🙂

          • The Explorer

            Couldn’t agree more. Just to look at a picture of him in his old age depresses the hell out of me.

          • William Lewis

            “When you start with a concept ‘Original Sin’ you stop making sense. This Guilt by association – with the human race, is ludicrous and quite unappealing.”

            I never think of it as guilt by association but rather an explanation of an attribute of Man, namely the propensity to do wrong. So in some sense we are all Adam and Eve. This propensity seems to be borne out on a regular basis.

          • sarky

            But most don’t know about it in the first place! Hence my comments on irrelevance.

          • The Explorer

            I think we’ve reached an impasse here. I have a gas attack analogy (not having heard about it doesn’t mean it won’t happen) , but it’s quite long. I’m happy to call it quits on this particular issue, if you are.

          • sarky

            No probs 🙂

          • Andrew Price

            We do explain. We did recently to a packed Church. No free WiFi. No free beer either.

          • sarky

            But was it packed the next week and the week after that?

          • Andrew Price

            Not packed. We’re usually 3/4 full. Come along I’ve got the WiFi password

          • Phil R

            You are right.

            Talk about false Gods rather than sin. Talk about the corruption that occurs if you replace God with Money, power, sex, looks, social status, religion, race, etc at the centre of your life.

            Sin is a concept people don’t understand. They think we are talking about sex.

            Salvation is when you find that these false gods take over your life and you have no peace.

            We can help God offer them that peace, but ONLY if we have a relationship with that person.

            You cannot preach without first having a relationship. (Showing that person love)

          • sarky

            At last someone gets it!!!

          • len

            perhaps you could pass the info on to someone who is really interested?

          • The Explorer

            Thank you, Len. More complicated than the old Google blog isn’t it, with all these sub threads arising from replies? Only the alerts enable me to keep track.

          • len

            I still haven`t quite got the hang of this new format sometimes my posts disappear into the ether (some might be glad of that!) but I will, keep at it…All the best….

          • len

            Not so very long ago many people would have known what ‘sin’ was. But our Christian Foundations have been under constant attack and secular man has set about ‘redefining’ what ‘sin’ actually is. Man has rejected God`s Moral law and made up his own’ moral law ‘. This has been a deliberate exercise to make the Gospel irrelevant and to sideline Christianity. Mankind instead of aspiring to God`s original creation has ‘created himself in the image of fallen man… Sin is a destructive and a deceptive force which draws people in and entraps them then enslaves them and it is not until they try to escape the power of sin that they realise that they cannot .

            So for anyone to understand the gospel we must go right back to the foundations(Genesis) and re state the basics of Christianity.The apostle Paul confronted exactly this same problem when he preached to pagans (which essentially what the culture is going back to in Europe)

            If you are interested in the truth this is a good place to start;

            https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/christianity-is-under-attack/

          • sarky

            Already being there. Prefer my science not to be of the pseudo variety!

          • len

            Perhaps you could pass the info on to someone who is really interested

          • sarky

            Having read quite a bit on the website, I can’t think of anyone (sane) who would be interested, unless they think the flintstones is a documentary.

          • Phil R

            You might be pleased to hear that you do not need to accept that Genesis is literally true to be a Christian.

            I have been a Christian for over 30 years. for 27 of these years I didn’t believe that Genesis was true either.

            Am I now a “better Christian” in the last three years?

            No

            I was acceptable to God the second I knew I was a Christian. I am no better or worse that I was that very second I “chose” to believe.

          • sarky

            If I don’t need to accept that genesis is literally true, then why can’t I apply that to the rest of the bible?

          • Phil R

            The start of my journey was that Jesus believed Genesis was true

          • Phil R

            If you go along that line then you would need to suggest that Jesus did not exist and or he did not make the claims he did for himself etc

          • sarky

            You said it!

          • Phil R

            Presumably you are also skeptical that Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C?

            There are just three surviving books written within 1000 years of that date that we have copies of.

            How many surviving books do we have about Jesus within 400 years of his death?

            Over 3000.

          • sarky

            Ah the old julius caeser argument that
            Always seems to be trotted out. Doesn’t alter the fact that there is not one contemporaneous account of jesus life or death. Bit strange don’t you think? Especially considering the miraculous things that are supposed to have happened (zombie hoards, resurrection etc etc)

          • Phil R

            No contemporary accounts? Try Google!

            http://carm.org/non-biblical-accounts-new-testament-events-andor-people

            The point made was that there are no contemporary accounts surviving of Julius Caesar’s life and death but nobody seriously suggests that he did not exist and he did not die in March 44BC

          • sarky

            Because there is evidence of his existence that goes hand in hand with the accounts.

            Phil, I want you to write about Kepler (the guy who put forward the theory of how planets move about 400yrs ago) however, I only want you to write from what you have been told and not use any historical texts. Get my point?

          • len

            You walked straight into that one Phil R. ‘sarky’ is quite right if you do not believe one part of the bible then why should anyone believe ANY part of the Bible.?

          • Phil R

            You really think that we should start our Evangelism with the need for you to believe that the earth was made in 6 earth days?

            Did Jesus do this? Did Paul?

          • len

            We see that Jesus clearly taught that the creation was young, for Adam
            and Eve existed “from the beginning,” not billions of years after the
            universe and earth came into existence.

            A question how do you know that Jesus rose from the dead?.

          • Phil R

            Len I don’t doubt anything you are saying and I get your point.

            However, we try to add to the Bible when (as sometimes happens) we say that say the Earth was created in 6 days and if you are or want to be a real Christian you MUST believe that.

            We ask for belief in “additions” to what the Bible teaches. In this case we are no better than the liberal Church or indeed the Catholics.

          • Phil R

            So what is “sin” Len?

            How would you describe it in just a sentence?

          • len

            Transgressing the law of God.

          • Shadrach Fire

            Even clerics within the Church do not accept what the Bible calls sin because if they did, they could not continue their lifestyle.

          • Anton

            We just do as John Wesley did: preach 90% law to convict and 10% grace. That means reading out at least those of the 10 Commandments governing interpersonal relations (nobody thinks murder envy lying and adultery are good things) and asking if you have ever done those things. It’s very easy to explain sin and to convict people. The hard part today is convincing them that they will have to answer for their sin and give account of their lives, but even that is not impossible.

          • sarky

            Convict people?? Like to see you try that one and get away unscathed!

  • Shadrach Fire

    Interesting Post Gillan but I’m not sure of the relevance of Andrew Lloyd Webber in this. I like his music but his interest here has dubious connections.

    If WiFi was to be installed in active Church buildings I think like Graham Wood below we would have twittering galore. The young man in one set of pews would be tweeting the pretty girl on the other side of the church. What was wrong with the old fashioned way of stealing glances across the congregation.

    I know Polzeath quite well. It is one of the favored places of our PM. A church friend bumped into him three times this year and was tempted to ask him if he needed a new financial adviser. The Tube Station seems an excellent use for a redundant building. It seems to me that many of our 19th Cent Church Buildings should be transformed into new uses. They are totally useless as places of worship, maybe the conduct of rituals. It might make the living Church think about what real worship is and how it should be conducted.

  • grutchyngfysch

    Old buildings, sure. Tubestation sounds good – lots of churches have outreach cafes/spaces/lofts etc. these days anyway, so I’m not averse to that either.

    Where I begin to get cautious is the talk of government installing WiFi – firstly because it will bring the inevitable talk of “why should my public money pay for internet for the Sky Fairy” type stuff, which frankly we are all better off not having to listen to, and secondly (and more importantly) because it may very well bring requirements or expectations on churches which take up the offer which do happen to (also) be places of worship.

    It will be a bit rich for a pastor or vicar to ask everyone to turn their phones off during a service when there is a big Lottery-Funded WiFi sign up over the door. The return to a “medieval” concept of the nave for the parishioners sounds good and well, but will these parishioners be paying for the upkeep of the nave, as their medieval forebears did, or will they be demanding their free WiFi and complaining about the old grunters at the back who shush them every time they laugh at cat videos in the middle of a service?

    • Pubcrawler

      Turn the Wi-Fi off during services (and half an hour before). Simples.

  • Monica dyer

    I kind of like the idea of tweeting a response to the sermon. You would need someone to read the answers then the preacher could respond at the end.

    • David

      I am not against that, but the service would be lengthened. Some of them even complain against my typical ten minute, 1000 words, sermons.

      • dannybhoy

        One THOUSAND words!!
        You must have a very tolerant (or anaethetised?) congregation David..

        • David

          1000 words is slightly below the local Anglican average. But maybe they’re just good at sleeping with their eyes open !

          • dannybhoy

            🙂

      • Monica dyer

        10 minutes is very modest. If we don’t have communion the sermons are often 3 times that length. But wouldn’t it liven things up to have a response from the congregation?

        • David

          It is an interesting idea which should be piloted.

      • Shadrach Fire

        Ten Minutes David ? What can you convey in that short time. Forty Five minutes should be the absolute minimum. If you can make it interesting that is.

        • David

          I am not boasting about our norms, or even justifying them, merely describing them. Attention spans have shortened and peoples’ lives now contain many more competing attractions compared to the heyday of long sermons in the 19th C. Moreover with very comfortable centrally heated homes tolerance for colder places and hard pews are totally different. If you are fortunate enough to enjoy congregations who are that committed to their faith, and have a warm venue with comfortable chairs, well that’s great, enjoy, as you are a fortunate preacher. Few enjoy such ideal conditions and must therefore use fewer words very effectively.

          • Shadrach Fire

            Sorry, no preacher but preached at. We all have to do what we feel is in Gods purposes.

        • grutchyngfysch

          Amen brother! [Although when I am on Sunday School duty, I am sometimes less enthusiastic about lengthy sermons…]

  • John Waller

    I would have thought the great majority of churches would have wifi already. How on earth is the minister doing his job without it in his office at least?

    A great many will also have these kind of midweek activities taking place already so there is nothing actually new here at all. The problem, of course, is that the lure invariably fails lamentably when it comes to converting midweek droppers-in into Sunday worshippers – and so it ought. Creating Christ-worshippers is the work of the Holy Spirit not the internet.

  • David

    I am very keen on returning our network of parish churches to their historically mixed roles, as the local place of assembly for the secular as well as the spiritual, providing the activities are not blatantly ant-Christian. So a bit of boozing is fine, but not say a strip show !
    I see it as a way of introducing the “un-churched”, the ones who have grown up without experience of Christianity, to the faith in a gentle, non-threatening way. Welby is the archbishop to grasp this idea too, unlike some of our previous ones.
    Mind, some parishes are so blind and set in their views, unaware of the wider historical role of church buildings, they will resist this. I experienced opposition to organising something as benign as a village quiz evening, simply because we ran a “bar” (on a trestle table). The suggestion that a few pews could be removed almost caused suicides ! However I am fairly confident that at least 50% of parishes will react positively.

    • sarky

      Sorry but hate the phrase “un-churched”, has a whiff of superiority about it.

      • David

        That’s a pity, please don’t, as the “whiff”, as you put it, is entirely one that you project onto a simple, non-judgemental and non-hierarchical descriptive word. It simply distinguishes those who attend Christian services, regularly or occasionally, from those who have no experience of this. Taking dislike, or even offence, at words that merely describe or distinguish is part of 21st C life it seems. The danger is that any analysis involving people will be misunderstood.

        • sarky

          Its just that it’s part of the ‘Christian speak’ I was talking about. Why not just say ‘people who don’t go to church’.

          • David

            OK, so it’s the jargon aspect of it that you don’t like. Well I can understand that, and I admit I hadn’t seen it as such. But I can assure you, no superiority is intended. Indeed I dislike jargon myself. Like most jargon it was probably invented by an academic, as a shorthand.

          • sarky

            You have to realise that you exclude people by using such language. Bit like an ‘in joke’ you’re not included in.

          • Anton

            OK sarky, what descriptive word or phrase would you use?

          • sarky

            Already have????

          • David

            I understand your point.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Wi-fi will NOT fill church buildings. Building church may come by preaching the Gospel of Christ, and then praying that the Holy Spirit will bring it into fruition in people’s hearts, now that would be a thing…

    • Phil R

      Agreed but Sarky has a point

      We need to preach it using the language of today and their understanding

      • Dominic Stockford

        I’m not sure what you mean by ‘their understanding’ – I can’t preach the gospel according to the understanding of an unbeliever – that simply wouldn’t work – it couldn’t be the Gospel.

        As for ‘their language’ – anyone who says they don’t being to grasp the idea of what the word ‘sin’ means is probably not being entirely honest – and as a preacher all one has to do is say once – ‘sin is breaking God’s laws’, and they know for ever anyway, and we can go to the biblical word again – which has to be the best word as God gave it to us.

        • Phil R

          ‘sin is breaking God’s laws’

          Most people think that sin is having sex. Any form sex in fact.

          “I can’t preach the gospel according to the understanding of an
          unbeliever – that simply wouldn’t work – it couldn’t be the Gospel”

          You have Sunday School presumably with different age groups catered for?

          What makes adults any different?

          • Dominic Stockford

            We have Sunday School, they are taught from the Bible.

            We have Sunday worship, we are taught from the Bible.

            If I discuss faith with someone I teach them from the Bible.

            The Bible, our sole rule for faith and practice – where else would i go to tell them the truth? Do I think I know better than God?

          • Phil R

            Of course you do.

            3 year olds are pretty sharp at apologetics!

            Have I suggested anywhere that we do not use the Bible?

            However, for younger children and indeed generally, I would not just use the examples and stories from the Bible.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Why not? It is God’s Word? Nothing can better it. The Holy Spirit is pretty good at helping with the understanding, no matter what the age.

          • Phil R

            ” The Holy Spirit is pretty good at helping with the understanding”

            Tell that to Jim Jones……..Or the 300 people he killed.

          • Dominic Stockford

            If you think he sincerely sought the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…

        • sarky

          What are gods laws? Like I said most don’t even have a basic understanding. Remember ‘assume’ makes an ass of u and me!!

          • Dominic Stockford

            In Jesus words – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

            Now you have no excuse for not doing it.

          • sarky

            I have plenty!

          • Dominic Stockford

            None which God will accept. You have heard (read), and you still reject Him & His Son. No excuse.

          • sarky

            If only it was that simple hey??

  • Linus

    Save a few of the more architecturally interesting churches and turn them into state-run Museums of Religion where tourists can come and gawp at the antics of believers past and present. For a modest entry fee, of course. Then at long last churches might actually pay their way.

    The rest, demolish. Mollify the tradition buffs by using the land for another activity that fleeces, then drugs the poor and uneducated and provides a fat living and high social status for a few otherwise unemployable men suffering from varying degrees of psychopathic disorder and its associated power and manipulation issues. Opium dens, maybe. Or for those who wish to continue the tradition of subjugating and humiliating women, brothels.

    Equip the museums and opium dens and/or brothels with WiFi, give each visitor a wireless headset, and broadcast a loop of Andrew Lloyd Webber show tunes into their heads, preferably sung by Susan Boyle and Russell Crowe. I mean, if S&M’s your thing, you may as well do it properly…

    So there you have it: the perfect solution to falling church attendance. Get rid of churches altogether, except for the odd one here and there when the even odder remnant of Christian believers can perform for the public and generate a bit of income for the state. Turn what’s left into revenue generating enterprises where priests can do something useful with all those psychotic impulses rather than just acting them out on defenceless children.

    Of course for the museums, one would probably want to favour the animated evangelical form of worship over dull-as-ditchwater, soporific Anglo-Catholic droning. Play to the crowds of tourists with lots of happy clappy arm waving, theatrical cries of “praise de Lawd!” and stirring, swelling renditions of “Swing Low, Sweet Harriet!” Yes, that’s right: not “chariot”, but “Harriet”. You see, I’m thinking that management of these establishments would probably fall to the Ministry of Culture (such as it is in the UK), so a hymn to the praise of the minister would have to feature. I doubt the lady herself would object. I’m told she has pretensions of a messianic nature that make her uniquely qualified to head up a Department of Religious Legacy.

    Next time I’m in London, I might pop into Westminster Abbey and take in the show. And afterwards a quiet stroll over to the multiplex opium den occupying the site of that happily-now-demolished neo-Byzantine Victorian monstrosity the Catholics used to worship in. A fun evening out on the carcass of a dead and mummified religion with a score beamed directly into my brain by Sirrandrew Lloyd Webber, Baron of WiFi in the London Borough of Hackneyed. What more could a tourist ask for?

    • sarky

      Susan Boyle??? You kinky bugger!!

    • The Explorer

      Linus obviously hankers after the days of Bedlam. The sane might watch the antics of the lunatics; and the lunatics, in their madness, might think themselves the only ones sane.
      Now where in Bedlam would Linus belong? One of the spectators? Or one of the inmates?

      • William Lewis

        It passes the time until oblivion, I suppose.

        • The Explorer

          Linus thinks we’re mad. But how does he know he isn’t mad himself? And from a postmodern take on things, if our opinions are not more valid than his, then, by the same token, his opinions are no more valid than ours.

          • William Lewis

            Linus is an aesthete. That is his objective reality. He thinks he can define sensori-emotional values and that claims/opinions may be assessed by these criteria.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Linus does not think, therefore Linus is not.

    • len

      Quite revealing about yourself Linus.
      I think you are walking a fine line as ‘The Explorer’ states.

      • dannybhoy

        I have to agree Len, but I think what Linus wants is that we turn against him, so he will keep on provoking until he gets the kind of reaction that will justify his rejection of Christianity.
        Rather (and perhaps aptly) reminds me of this the wife and I watched recently from “Les Mis”
        (starting at 22secs in..
        http://www.yourepeat.com/watch/?v=I0kFkXkR_SI&start_at=14&end_at=275

        • William Lewis

          True I think. It’s a familiar pattern.

    • Athanasius

      You’re 12 years old and mummy told you you’re the cleverest little boy in the whole, wide world, didn’t she, Linus?

    • Phil R

      I object to the implication that in your world I would as a man have to live in the opium den rather than the brothel !

    • Mike Stallard

      Linus, I forget – which Diocese are you the Bishop of?

  • len

    Christianity (particularly the bible based variety ) seems to infuriate some of the guests on His Graces esteemed blog.

    Why is that I wonder?. And why do they keep coming back to be further incensed (no pun intended)

    I can only assume that they come to pour scorn and to mock to bolster up their denial of the Truth as revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ…

    Truth cannot be changed as we Christians know, Truth was humiliated and rejected spat upon, mocked then nailed to a Cross but Truth cannot be killed, Truth rose again from the grave and remains triumphant but those with closed minds and closed hearts still stand and mock what they cannot understand.

    Pity them….

  • SidneyDeane

    Free Wifi to all…
    Just don’t google Evolution by natural selection or say, Biblical contradictions

  • SeekTruthFromFacts

    You want to revive churches, meaning groups of Christians.

    I suspect Mr Lloyd-Webber wants to revive churches, meaning historic buildings. At some point, the conflicting meanings are going to cause this plan to come a cropper.

  • Mike Stallard

    We have made our Parish Hall into a centre for immigrants. It is always full of all sorts of people, young mums with kids, dads bringing their teenagers to dance, drunks, Christians behind the bar serving coffee, bureaucrats learning how to discourage rapists…
    It seems to have had absolutely no effect on the building next door which we use for Mass.
    But it is fun and does a hell of a lot of good.