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Crazy Golf, Crazy Mentality

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Let us suppose that you are a senior clergyman in charge of evangelism and outreach. You see the numbers of people entering your church building dwindling. You see that there are youngsters who have never entered a church building before and that your church has practically lost the young.

Your church has a long history stretching back centuries. It has a faith which goes back to Christ Himself and further to when Man looked first into the face of God and fell on his knees and worshipped. Your church has a dignity of marking important milestones in the lives of individuals, communities and nations. It has been open for the Godly and Godless alike to come in and experience the Divine touch through stillness, silence and prayer. History is written into every stone laid. The graves of bishops, dukes, princes and martyrs stand as a testament to the reality of Death and the hope of Resurrection. Your church is a place where Eternity and Temporary meet.

What do you do?

Of course you turn your church into.a Crazy Golf course.

Your reasoning:

Children like fun. Crazy Golf is fun. If you turn the church into a Crazy Golf course, children will come in to the church and experience the real Christianity.

There is, of course, a hidden assumption.

Are Children going to even notice the church if they're having so much fun?

Will they notice the church when you take away the golf course and replace it with pews for your services, or will they be disappointed and not come back til you do?

Ah! But if one person comes to faith through Crazy Golf, that would make it all worth it. True, there would be much rejoicing in Heaven but what about the one who falls away from the faith because of a lack of confrontation with the glory of God normally inherent in your church?

Again the CofE shows itself to be utterly concerned with appearances, accidents and superficialities rather than integrity, substance and conviction. For Rochester Cathedral - the place where I was formally and formerly admitted and licenced for lay ministry - had indeed betrayed the faith of St Justus by becoming a house of fun.

Yes, numbers of Christians are dropping, but the Church will not win souls by changing into the very thing that it wants to win souls from. The prodigal son realises for himself the predicament he's in for himself, not because his father kept phoning him, dropping round and visiting him and giving him more of what he wanted.

Crazy Golf proves to be a distraction away from one's poverty of spirit because it scratches an itch. But scratching an itch causes more damage: one needs to address the cause, not the symptom.

What prayer will take place in a building meant for prayer when there are screams of laughter pinging around the vaults? Many churches indeed used to be little more than a cattle market on a Sunday morning which necessitated the need for the elevation of the host and chalice to the sound of bells. Yet, the church was still the centre of the community because it was the house of God.

Or perhaps, with the decline in numbers, Rochester Cathedral is merely trying out a few options before it finally closes as a place of worship and is sold to the secular community. 

Perhaps that has already happened.


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