As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol this morning, responding to the news that the Southville Methodist Church building has been purchased by another faith community (The Church of England) for spiritual use:
My church has no building. Southville Methodists have a building and no people.
The problem with the church in this county is that there are too many churches. Strangely, the answer is to plant more.
Too many of the buildings are in the wrong place - where people used to live rather than where they do live. Or too close together.
But of course these structures are often grand, architecturally interesting and a meeting place for a wider group of people than the Christian community. When they close they are missed.
My church meets in a part of Nailsea that was fields when the big old churches were built. Now we minister to a large suburban housing estate and meet in a local school. We can't rely on people finding us. We have to make contacts and grow community. In fact, we're planting another one, in another school, with our friends at St Andrew's, Backwell. We're calling it 'Andy's'.
This coming Sunday we are organising a Big Picnic Lunch to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday. If you live on Trendlewood Estate come along to Golden Valley school fields at 12.30.
OK. Shameless plug over. What's the thought for the day? Well it's this. Churches are not buildings. They are people. St Peter, the rock on which Jesus said he would build his church, was a person. Sometimes described in the Bible as a body with many parts, or as a temple of living stones, or even as a flock which needs shepherding; the church is people.
I'm glad the Southville Methodist building has a new lease of life. I know that if you took away all the church buildings in the land there would still be a church.