We curently have a couple of guests from USA who are Mennonites - a denomination I knew little about. We talked about their practices and distinctives, and their commitment to community - a major theme for Church Army at the moment.
The most interesting part of the conversation for me was when these two deeply committed young men mentioned that while at University, their church attendance has been minimal, but their faith has been maintained and even strengthened. It is a pattern I see again and again - they have not rejected established church life, or fallen out with anyone, and may well return to it when they have kids to take to Sunday School - but for now they simply don't see regular Sunday worship in a dedicated building as essential for their spiritual health.
Are they losing their faith? I don't think so. Are they following the easy way of non-demanding discipleship? Again, I doubt it. They are expressing both a dissatisfaction with what happens Sunday by Sunday, and their need for an experience of Christian community which nurtures, challenges and informs their faith 24-7, in every situation they face. It is a cry I am hearing more fequently - a longing for authentic, radical Christian community.
It is strange how I can set my alarm for 3am, and spring joyfully out of bed when it calls me - to get up and watch a football match. Hull City against Liverpool, a meaningless encounter as we are relegated regardless of the result - but a final opportunity to give one of the big boys a "bloody nose." I find rising at 3am to pray more difficult - or I would if ever I tried. A chance to talk one-to-one with the creator of the universe - now that is pretty cool, but for some reason my passion levels remain low when it comes to praying. Maybe if Jesus pulled on the number nine shirt for Hull City I'd be more enthusiastic about talking to him. I guess the point is - thank God - that Jesus is passionate about me, he is up at 3am waiting eagerly to chat. If I can bother to turn up.