I had dinner with my family this week.
As lovely as it always is, on the surface that hardly sounds blog-worthy. However: my family live some 2,000km away - this was not a matter of just popping down the road to split a pizza. What it was, though, was a fun conversation and a good meal; me in my home, and them in theirs. Over Skype, we had dinner together. We had decided that distance is not going to get in the way of our relationship; we made it work. We found a way to overcome the obstacles so that we could all benefit. It was great!
In contrast, this week I finally got feedback on some paperwork I submitted to a small organisation not known for being user-friendly. Despite the unusual circumstances of moving (and various equipment being inaccessible for several weeks) they would not allow any discrepancy in their paperwork submission process. It felt as though they were putting up obstacles just for the fun of it; setting my work back several weeks and making me consider removing myself from said organisation. (The work is lovely, the bureaucracy is suffocating).
Given these two extremes, I pondered what I might learn about church, and how we access the church. For those of us with a comfortable pew, we may not notice that our ways might in fact be preventing the Gospel from being spread. The average person on the street would likely struggle to comprehend a church sign that read "BCP 8 / BAS 10 wSS" and thus may never darken the door. Even writing "All welcome!" may not have the intended effect, despite best efforts.
If we are not careful, we will be the church community that (intentionally or otherwise) puts up barriers: using insider jargon, leaving newcomers to navigate the service alone, making indistinguishable references (inviting folks to speak to Mary about a luncheon is only effective if they know who Mary is, and how to reach her).
If we are careful, however, we can be the church community that is intentional about making church happen: Skyping in a godparent for whom distance would prevent attendance at a baptism, providing large-print bulletins and reading lights for those with vision challenges, having volunteers host a Sunday School pizza party so their parents can go out without the (often prohibitive) cost of a babysitter.
If we want to BE the church, we will find a way to make it happen. We will overcome the obstacles which would give us the easy way out; we will choose to intentionally engage with God and one another in the world as we live it.
It means thinking outside the box. And it won't always be successful. But it just might be worth it to try.
And in my opinion, the Good News is always worth it. Let's make it work.
 "Book of Common Prayer at 8.00am, Book of Alternative Services at 10.00am with Sunday School" - this was a real sign on a church whose leadership did not understand why there was declined connection to the local community