This topic keeps coming up lately among friends and colleagues. Why are we unable and unwilling to talk about God and talk to God, even among Christians? What stops us? What disempowers us? What could be stranger than Christians who don’t want to talk about God or with God?
Prayer meetings are dying, but on the other hand in my experience they’ve never been popular and it’s also true that Sunday evening church services are dying. A prayer meeting on a Sunday evening maybe a fatal combination. A crisis will galvanise us together, but regular bread-and-butter corporate prayer isn’t attractive.
Conversations after church – we default to the weather and our aches and pains. We might just talk about whether we liked the hymns. Maybe there will be the odd comment about the sermon, but it won’t dominate the caffeinated discussions.
Small groups tend to be just that – small. Some of that is about personality – some people are comfortable in discussion groups, and some indeed get too comfortable, putting others off with their belligerent expositions. Others feel exposed.
The one person who must talk about God and who must talk to God is, of course, the minister. She is our representative. He can do this for us.
And all of this before we even get to the question of talking about God outside the boundaries of the fellowship.
Some years ago, the Methodist Church recognised this problem. A national survey of church life identified that in our tradition we were strong on social issues but weak on talking about our faith. So it produced some material to help: Time To Talk of God. There was a lesser-known follow-up course on evangelism, Talking of God. But how much has changed?
If I am right that little has changed, why might this be? There could be all sorts of reasons:
* Our fear of others is stronger than our sense of God’s love
* We like to have just enough religion to feel we’re ‘in’, but not so much that we’re regarded as fanatical
* Churches (including leaders) are not offering the best education and training in the faith that we could
* Church leaders actually like hogging the power and influence, and don’t introduce more than they have to that would empower others. It’s nice to be the ‘expert’
These are all just some initial random thoughts about the issue. If I sat down longer, I might put together some eloquent piece about our lack of eloquence. But I’d rather just bash the keyboard and get this out quickly to ask – what do you think?