Worldwide Church of God

…and another thing  by John Stettaford

I needed something quite mundane and ordinary. No problems, I thought. I’ll be able to get that next time I go shopping in my local town. So I waited a few days. I tried several stores which sell the sort of thing I was looking for. Often they had something similar, but not quite right. At one shop, the assistant even confessed that, No they didn’t sell anything precisely along the lines I was looking for.

Never mind, I thought. I’m going near to [another nearby town] I’ll be sure to get it there. And, to be sure, and I’m sure you’ve guessed it, the answer was also no.

Somewhat annoyed now, because this wasn’t some obscure object; it was an every-day item. So, somewhat annoyed, I fired up my internet search engine. And immediately several, no, make that several dozen items precisely what I needed came up. I had a choice of vendors now, some offering speedy delivery, others free delivery on certain terms.

So, of course, I clicked on one of the items and bought it within minutes. And then they wonder why the high street shops are in such trouble!

Internet shopping is billed as ‘convenience shopping.’ Actually, often it’s the only way to get the shopping you actually want.

One of the ‘names’ mentioned as a company “trying to take over” in the shopping world, often comes to the fore. I have to declare an interest here, in that one of my relatives works for them. But whenever what I want is available through them, delivery is stated to be only a day or so away, and the actual ‘buying’ or ‘paying’ for the goods is made simple, painless and very easy.

And the end result is that the goods are delivered on time promptly and courteously. All of what does not bode well for the shops struggling on the high street.

I remember waiting to be served in Woolworths (of blessed memory!) while two assistants talked among themselves. After a wait, I said, top of my voice, “SHOP!” And this man in a crisp suit immediately planted himself in front of me. “May I be of assistance, sir?” he said, pointedly looking at the two girls. I made my purchase and concluded, “With assistants like those two, I can understand why you’re [shop is] in trouble.”

That’s why stores like John Lewis are going to survive. Look it up and buy it on line, then go into your local store to pick it up.

I find religion is very much the same. Every kind of choice is available on the internet, but, locally, it’s very difficult to find the congregation where you ‘fit’ best. And not just churches, items of belief. If a particular dogma is ‘your thing’ and has to be present in whatever church you follow, it’s easy to find on the internet, but may be impossible to find in a local congregation. Perhaps the answer to why internet churches continue to attract viewers, while local church attendance wanes.

I find, however, that here the same rules do not apply. So far only human rules have been considered, but I believe that where God is concerned, he doesn’t call people to follow him unless there is a suitable church congregation within reach. If the congregation is unwelcoming, isn’t prepared to nurture and assist a new Christian, God will wait. Meanwhile local churches have attendance problems. We have our own problems with that too, because our means of promotion and attraction were originally based on wholly different criteria. And our legacy continues to suffer because, although the church has changed tack, many of us members have not.

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