Bouncy Castles

I left church fairly promptly after the evening service tonight, because I had stuff I needed to do. I was probably one of the first to leave.

As I headed out, a group of youths who were looking across the road at the church with some excitement approached me and asked “excuse me, is that a bouncy castle in there?”

I paused for a moment. No, I had heard them correctly. They asked if there was a bouncy castle in church. It not being a question I am used to being asked, and there being nothing going on after the service that I could imagine being easily mistaken for a bouncy castle party, I wasn’t sure how I should respond.

Should I lie and say “yes” as a way of getting them into church?

Or should I say “no” and disappoint them, leading them to recount in years to come the reason why they never explored faith – there was no bouncy castle in church one night when they were teenagers.

I went for the non-committal and hopefully mysterious “pop in and find out”.

“Are you allowed to go in?” one of them asked. I almost laughed, but managed not to.

Of course, for some people, church is something so off the radar that they wouldn’t have a clue about who can and can’t get in – and such preconceptions are so hard for well-churched folk like me to get their heads around. How appropriate that we heard a bit about the Church Without Walls movement in the service.

“Well,” I replied, “they let me in, so they’ll definitely let you in.”

And so they approached the building. As I continued walking along the road, heading for home, I looked back towards the church myself, and saw through the windows – much as I expected – nothing to suggest any bouncy castle-related activity going on. The three teenagers got close enough to reach the same conclusion themselves, and turned around and ran off up the road in the opposite direction from me.

Now of course, I could have handled that situation better. I could have stayed and talked to them longer. I could have invited them in and shown them round and offered them a tea or coffee (unfortunately we don’t do buckfast after services, or whatever it is kids of that age drink).

I could even have attempted to draw a parallel between jumping on a bouncy castle and our relationship with Jesus, though I imagine even the most creative children’s speaker would struggle with that metaphor.

As it was, I can only hope they come back some other time.

And when they do, there’s a bouncy castle.

In other news, I’m away for work to Thurso and Orkney most of this week, so may not blog until next weekend.

8 thoughts on “Bouncy Castles

  1. Bummer about the bouncy castle. We have had one at my church from time to time, but now that I know what the young masses are calling out for, we should look into getting one permanently.

  2. I wonder where they ever got the idea, though, about the bouncy castle in the first place? Maybe another church member left before you and tried to get those guys into the church by telling them the harmless white lie?

  3. maybe it was a prophetic utterance. Did these kids have long beards?

    Regarding the church without walls thing…

    There’s a church in Paisley is developing its buildings to make the church more accessible to the community. One of the key ways they are planning to do this is to build a large glass conservatory/atrium at the front of the building, and have a coffee shop kind of thing so that people passing by see the church not as a set of thick, foreboding walls to keep them out, but as an open and welcoming place. All part of a drive to make the church a light in the community both physically and spiritually.

    Needless to say, there is significant opposition from the elders and elderly church members who don’t want a building that might get vandalised because it attracts attention from passers-by. They’re worried about ruffians being drawn to the church.

    Windows are fine, so long as there’s another good, sturdy wall outside it!

    It’s sad how some people who have been lucky enough to be included as part of the Church think that they now have ownership by dint of membership, as if it is biblical to protect your comfort zone at all costs!

    If we’re talking prophetically, I think God’s got a mighty big brick waiting to create a church without walls, and it may end up being the stone the builders rejected 🙂

  4. >> to build a large glass conservatory/atrium at the front of the building

    That sounds great, but probably wouldn’t really work here in Australia unless there was some sort of proper roof because we’d all be burnt to cinders! {;->

    >> They’re worried about ruffians being drawn to the church.

    Yeah, because we wouldn’t just any old person wandering in to the House of God… Far out!

    That’s the part that I like about the church I go to. Anyone is welcome, from wealthy business types to the people who live in the park across the street and everyone else in between… even crazy mullet hunters {:->

  5. Interesting… seems to me the church is trying all sorts to get all sorts in. Shame we can’t just be ourselves and watch God work through us.

  6. You should read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell – he draws parallels between trampolines and faith that I’m sure could be applied to bouncy castles too!

  7. Hello Stef (hope you’re well)! Thanks for the recommendation. I saw Rob Bell speak in Glasgow last year and he was excellent. I’ve flicked through both his books and must buy them some time. It’s definitely on my to do list.

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