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Terry Warburton speculates on what the future holds for our churches.

Strange times we are living through. The future consequences of coronavirus are going to be challenging, to say the least. How will our churches fare when our buildings are allowed to re-open? 

One could say that the reasons for churchgoing can be put into three slots, ‘Culture’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Community’. Many churchgoers would probably recognise in themselves elements of more than one.

Culture is for those who feel comfortable in church. They like the history, the language, the buildings, the liturgy and the music, which have probably been a part of their lives since they were children. All hold comforting memories.

Faith is a link with the meaning of life and its eternal promise, somewhere to seek guidance through worship and sacrament, and on which to lean in times of trouble. A belief in the words of Jesus that they are not on their own, even if sometimes it feels like it in this world.

Community is for those who like coming to church or being associated with it as a flying buttress (a phrase of Winston Churchill, who described himself as someone who supports the church from the outside). They don’t have to have a commitment to the faith of the Church but are sympathetic and don’t mind being with those who do.

It is likely that the ‘old normality’ will not be the ‘new normality’ and this provokes a few thoughts:

* How many people, now out of the habit of regular community worship, will wish to return to it?

* How many people on the periphery of church life, will come back to it, at least in the short term?

* How many of those who have had a regular commitment to the church, for example by serving at the altar or in its refectories, singing in choirs, doing flowers, ringing bells and polishing brasses will feel that this is a good time to make a break and do something different? 

As church people, we must consider where we go from here. The Church, everywhere in the infected world, will need to know our answer to its call. To thrive, it needs us back.

Source : Parish Pump