To Men Who Do Not Go To Church
By REV. CANON C. W. CHANDLER OTUDDERT KENNEDY (Woodbine Willie) wrote a little book entitled "Why Aren't All the Best Chaps Christians?" How often have we not asked ourselves the same question?
How comes it that so many husbands of devout wives never bother about going to church themselves, while ■ often being very particular about the rest of the family being consistent worshippers? Is it because in their heart of hearts they don't believe in the Articles of the Christian Faith, or is it just because they don't care and because they have so many other things that seem to be so much more important to care about? Apathy and unbelief—are they the culprits?
I have myself been on the verge for I don't know how long of visiting some of the leading townsmen in my parish, who are so friendly and so decent but who seem to be so indifferent to the claims of God and His Church.. My hesitancy in the matter has been occasioned not by fear but rather by uncertainty as to the advisability of this course of action. But I'm terribly curious and I'd really like to know. An Invitation
I wonder if some of you would drop me a line and tell me frankly of some of your reasons as to why you go or do not go to church. Be as brief as you like or as lengthy as you like, just so long as you speak your mind upon the matter. The names of contributors would be withheld from publication, but some of the reasons given will be considered in future articles. Now, men, let 1110 hear from you. Box 1, Cambridge will find me. I am convinced that we clergy go on in blissful ignorance of a situation that could be remedied if once made clear and courageously faced. We should not be content to maintain our services with attendances at one monotonous level, be that level high, low or medium, for there is no reason why "multitudes both of men and women should not be added daily" (Acts 5:14). There must be something blocking the way and that something need not of necessity be sin, unbelief or apathy in the lives of those who do not respond. It can just as easily be the fault of Christian leaders themselves. Are our methods antiquated? Has there got to be a fresh approach? Are we as clergy too satisfied with doing the same thing in the same way day after day, while knowing that the response so far as the daily worship of the Church is concerned is negligible and not much better on Sundays? I do not write as one weighed down by discouragement, but as one who is buoyant with hope—as one who believes that men are only waiting to discover something vital, pulsating and alive in us and in our message in order to remedy the situation and be "manpowered" of their own volition for God and His Church.
A Social Animal Those who belong to friendly societies and lodges of various kinds know how consistently the members foregather and how lustily they sing and how conscientiously they play their part in the ritual and ceremony of their respective societies. Men, even more than women, have a passion for fellowship. They are social animals, and I'm convinced it's fellowship far more than the beer that makes for crowded bars around six o'clock. The Christianity of the early Church .was very alive. It appeared to the outsiders of. those days that those on the inside had something. And so they had. They were filled with power and enthusiasm. They belonged to a society that met behind closed doors, although they themselves went out into the open and were dragged before magistrates because they wouldn't "shut up" about it. They wouldn't be silenced. If the Good News they proclaimed is still the Good News to-day, how comes it that the Church is so very respectable, so very safe and so very quiet about it? As it is, those husbands of devout wives who stay at home while the rest of the family goes to church are well nigh convinced that it's a woman's "outfit" anyhow. -They probably look upon us parsons as a little that way, too. They are terribly mistaken, I know, but the trouble is it's so very hard to tell them so. They really don't know what they're missing, neither do they know what a difference it would make if they came with their wives and children and made it a real family affair. But they don't, and that's all there is to it, and if their devout wives can't make them, who else on earth can? Perhaps it's a iob for the Holy Spirit, for we read in Acts 2:47 that "the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved." Maybe there's something in the doctrine of election after all.
Common Excuses Be that as it may, I am certain that before ever I receive one contribution as asked for herein I know what will be the main tenor of many of the reasons given. "I went to church too often as a child"; "I don't believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith"; "I don't like some of those who do go"; "The seats are too uncomfortable and the hymn books are shabby and poorly printed, and there's not enough friendliness in the atmosphere. and I hate hypocrisy, for I know I should feel like a hypocrite, if I came. And what's more, I'm shy without knowing .it." (Men are far more shy than women in this respect.) . , Anyhow, do let me hear from some of you men who read this column as to the reason why you do' or do not go to church. Complete anonymity will be preserved as to the source of each contribution, although the name and address of sender should be given if only as an evidence of good faith. Remember, P.O. Box 1, Cambridge—not c/o the Star. ___
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To Men Who Do Not Go To Church, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 183, 4 August 1945
To Men Who Do Not Go To Church Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 183, 4 August 1945
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