Meeting people where they are

I’ve always had a bee in my bonnet about meeting people where they are.  It’s why I’m a fan of Ministers in Secular Employment, of Chaplains in hospitals, prisons, schools and workplaces.  It’s why I wear normal(ish) clothes with my cheerful clerical shirts.  It’s why I say hello to people when I’m out and about.

The Church of England has decided to use reality TV for its latest Lent Course.  When I saw this, I rejoiced. Then I followed the link and discovered the programmes they were using.  Come Dine With Me; Ground Force; How Clean Is Your House.   I’ve watched all of them (I’m not actually a reality tv addict, honest).  There doesn’t seem to be a current series of HCIYH.  Ground Force stopped being made by the BBC in 2007.  That’s five years ago.  Since then, there must have been a couple of Celebrity Big Brother series, The Only Way is Essex has arrived (TOWIE to aficionados), we’ve seen Reality TV shows about choirs, about a school in Educating Essex (and I watched every second of that, it was brilliant and inspirational), there’s more ‘real people’ doing ‘real things’ on TV than you can shake a stick at.

So please, CofE, and lovely Bishop Steven Croft,  when you get a great idea, and decide to engage with what’s on our televisions, please try to make sure you do.  I know you can get the clips on YouTube, I understand that you are trying to link with your chosen themes.  But in order to meet people where they are, we have to go to their (and our) places.

If you are wondering how much Theology there is in TOWIE, try finding out about the budding and breaking relationships; about the friendships and enmities;  the joys and the sorrows.  Try seeing what people do, where they go, how they function, what they need.  What are they seeking, where do they search?  God is there, in the midst of it.  And if we don’t point that out, who will?


4 responses to “Meeting people where they are

  1. I do agree with you.
    The use of 'How Clean is Your House?' and 'Ground Force' in 2011 would be perfectly fine in an academic seminar as examples. And it may be there are no suitable recent programmes.
    But choosing programmes which are no longer being screened does play into the hands, I'm afraid, of those who accuse the Church of England of being out of touch with the real world. It might have been better to start with viewing figures (I expect Coronation Street is still up there) and try and draw lessons from these? 20-20 hindsight, I know.

  2. Thanks Laura! I think the idea of using reality tv is superb – there is a huge choice of midwives, vets, police, priests, celebrities etc to draw upon. Or the soaps would be a great alternative. I can think of groups for whom both would work – and I guess there is a group of people watching Ground Force DVDs too!

  3. I was just thinking that the New Programme on Midwives in fifties London gives loads of scope. That was the London where I was raised. In the East End, with all its problems, broken up in the sixties as they built high rise to become the new Ghetto for the poor and vulnerable.

    And, the angle of being with an Anglican Religious order and all of the work they did, making lives better, must provide much material for the course.

  4. Yes, there's a rich seam of historical material too – Downton Abbey anyone? Recent James Herriot (with apologies I can't remember how to spell his surname)?

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