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My tips: Linda Woodhead

03 July 2015

My tips


• Most services are too long and too wordy. People want space to find God. Try not to fill it up with distractions.


• There are people who want to hover round the edges of religion: to look at the graves; sit in an empty church; go to the carol service; run a club. The C of E is as much for them as it is for those who want to plunge in. Make sure there are ways people can engage at all levels.


• Leaders: be open about your doubts and fears.


• If a lay person can do it better, let her/him.


• If you are a preacher or teacher, express yourself clearly, and make your point in five minutes.


• Liturgy works when it's not too relaxed and not too formal. Aim for relaxed formality.


• Don't claim overfamiliarity with God.


• Remember that people love to learn new skills.


• A lot of people aren't looking for community. They're looking for a break from it.


• Churches work when they offer wholeness and holiness.


• Churches grow when they offer people life-giving connection with the sacred.


• Church buildings have things people treasure: history, beauty, continuity. Find ways to let people reconnect with them.


• Work in partnership not competition with other providers of holiness and wholeness.


• Churches grow when they give people have voice and choice. That's a major part of the success of the Charismatic movement. We live in an age of participation; people don't want to be passive.


• Churches should be much more upfront about what they offer. People need to know what they're getting.


• Churches decline when the clergy try to impose a style or theology different from that of the congregation. Obvious, but it still happens much too often.


Linda Woodhead

Professor of Sociology of Religion, Lancaster University

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